Dale Lennon talks to the team after Monday's practice.
March 25, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois University football team began Spring Ball on Monday on a cold, snowy morning at Saluki Stadium. The temperature was 32 degrees and an inch or so of slushy snow covered the artificial turf for the team's first practice.
The Salukis, who return eight starters on offense and five starters on defense, will practice 15 times during the spring, including the annual Spring Game, which will be held on Friday, April 19, at 7 p.m.
Head coach Dale Lennon met with the media after practice.
Q: How ironic is it that you come out here for spring ball and it's snowing?"
"It's spring ball weather. We had a good day. I was happy with how the guys handled the weather, they had that mentality of wanting to get at it, and we came out here and had a very good practice, so I'm excited about the start."
Q: "How much of this is about mental toughness and putting the weather aside and going out and practicing?"
"Well, it's football, and you'll play in games in situations like this, so when you get an opportunity to practice in it, you take it. I just wanted to see how the guys were going to handle it, if they were going to be complaining or feeling sorry for themselves, and I didn't hear or see one player complain, and that was good to see. We had a good day."
Q: "How much can you work on the timing with the offense in conditions like this?"
"Well, this is defensive weather, so you're putting your offense at a disadvantage, but, again, that's where you're building that mental toughness of keeping the focus of what you're trying to accomplish on each play, and it does really force you to concentrate on the finer points of executing that play, so this is actually good for an offense to execute plays in weather like this."
Q: "What do you hope to get accomplished Wednesday?"
"Well, I'm hoping the weather is a little bit better, then we can come out here and just work on the fundamentals and work on the timing and all the things that you need to get better at in the spring. So this was a good day just to get a foundation put in place, and from here on out we want to build."
"Well, I feel that we have something to prove. Last season we were so close, and not making it was something that was very disappointing to everyone involved, and we think we're good enough to make a run at it, so that's what we're working on."
Q: "How does MyCole Pruitt fit in with the rest of your offense?"
"We're going to ask a lot of MyCole Pruitt, just to use his abilities and put him in different positions, and we want to make sure that we don't overuse him -- which is always a concern. But right now with his experience factor, we think he can contribute in a lot of different ways, so spring is kind of a great time to experiment with that and find out what his best ways to contribute are."
Q: "You added some competition at the running back position -- what are you hoping to see from that group?"
"Well, I think it's going be one of the most competitive in camp. I saw today that those backs want the reps -- they don't want to be standing on the sideline, they want to show what they're capable of doing, and we've got three high-quality running backs that are gonna be fun to watch."
Q: "What do you like about your defensive line?"
"Well, right now it's tough to tell at the first practice with no pads. The thing I like about them is their athleticism, they run around pretty well, they got a nasty attitude, and I think they feel like they have something to prove, too. Everyone's talking about the graduation of the three seniors and how that's going to be a weak point, but the guys coming back don't think they're going to be a weak point, so that always adds to the competitiveness."