LaSteven McKinney caught five passes for 115 yards.
April 19, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Friday night's Saluki football spring game saw precisely the kind of give-and-take that head coach Dale Lennon predicted earlier in the week. The offense made a number of big plays in the passing game, while the defense forced four turnovers and was strong against the run.
"That's the kind of scrimmage we were looking for," Lennon said. "Both teams were trying to flex their muscles. Both teams were having success."
The offense ran 86 plays in the 90-minute scrimmage and was most efficient through the air. Starting quarterback Kory Faulkner completed 11-of-16 passes for 129 yards, and engineered a touchdown drive in the two-minute drill late in the scrimmage, completing a pretty 19-yard TD toss to LaSteven McKinney.
The fifth-year senior was also intercepted twice, however, with linebackers Lenard Garron and Cameron James dropping into coverage and picking off errant sideline throws.
"Kory did a good job of shaking off that last interception and leading us on a touchdown drive," Lennon said. "That's what you have to do as a quarterback. You have to have that Brett Favre mentality that you'll make a mistake from time to time, but you come back and make amends."
SIU's receiving corps, led by McKinney's five catches for 115 yards, came up with a number of big plays. Kyle Newquist hauled in a 43-yard sideline throw from A.J. Hill for a touchdown, and All-American tight end MyCole Pruitt caught a 28-yard play-action pass from Ryan West on a fourth-and-four play that set up a touchdown.
As he's known to do, Saluki defensive coordinator Bubba Schweigert dialed up heavy pressure with the blitz, and that clogged up the running lanes much of the night. The offense averaged less than three yards per carry. Starting tailback Mika'il McCall rushed for 33 hard-fought yards on 13 carries, but he had TD runs of four and six yards.
The Salukis brought in competition for McCall during the off-season by adding Georgia transfer Ken Malcolme and JUCO transfer Tay Willis. Also joining the team in the summer will be Oregon State transfer Malcolm Agnew.
"I thought all the backs had a good spring, especially Mika'il," Lennon said. "He kind of found his identity in the offense and is comfortable with the offensive schemes and how we run the ball."
Although the Salukis lost six starters on defense, including the entire defensive line, the revamped lineup looked just like last year's attacking, big-play unit.
"That's our game defensively - bring a lot of pressure and make the offense make poor decisions," Lennon said.
"Defensively, our identity is pretty well established -- bring pressure, force turnovers, put points on the board," Lennon explained. "Offensively, we want to control the football, and I think with our 12 personnel -- two tight ends, one back -- you'll see us do a lot of that."
The Salukis will start 2013 training camp in August in preparation for the season opener at Illinois on Aug. 31.