April 12, 2014
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The quarterback derby at Southern Illinois is starting to heat up after all three signal callers had impressive performances in the team's full-contact scrimmage on Saturday at Saluki Stadium.
Eastern Michigan transfer Mark Iannotti put up big numbers, completing 10-of-14 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns, but Ryan West (9-of-13, 102 yards, 1 TD) and Matt Vincent (7-of-10, 71 yards) were also sharp.
"All three quarterbacks stepped up and made some pretty impressive throws and did a good job of managing the offense," said head coach Dale Lennon. "All three want the spot. They're competing with all their heart and might."
On the opening drive of the scrimmage, West marched the team 70 yards, completing all four of his passes, including a 14-yard scoring strike to LaSteven McKinney. Not to be out-done, Iannotti took the second-team offense 70 yards for a score, hitting tight end Josh Skadeland in stride on a post route for a 44-yard TD. Vincent then joined in the fun, making an 18-yard precision throw down the right sideline to Billy Reed to set up a three-yard TD run by Malcolm Agnew.
McKinney, who led the team with 51 catches and five touchdowns last season, had a big day with eight catches for 76 yards and a score.
"He's kind of been quiet this spring up until today, and part of that is we gave him some alignment advantages that he took advantage of," Lennon explained. "The (offense) got the ball to LaSteven in open space and let him make plays."
"We have some pretty good playmakers that you have to defend, and that was a good wake-up call for us defensively that we need to step up our game."
The running game was solid again this week for Southern. Agnew had 114 yards on just 16 attempts and found the end zone twice. His second score was a 28-yard draw play up the middle that capped off a 97-yard drive. Vincent checked out of a pass play when he saw an advantage at the line of scrimmage and the defense barely laid a hand on Agnew. Backup tailback Ken Malcome added 42 yards on 12 carries, including one touchdown.
"(Malcolm) was close to being a thousand-yard rusher last year, and that's my hopes for any of our backs," Lennon said. "They should be able to be a thousand-yard rusher, whether it's Malcolm Agnew or Ken Malcome. Both backs showed today that they're pretty good."
Starting center Tanner Crum made his first appearance in a scrimmage this spring and anchored SIU's offensive line, which has been nicked up with injuries. Lennon said he likes the progress the line is making and the limited numbers actually plays to their advantage in a scrimmage setting.
"The same group stayed in, which gave them some continuity," he said. "We were rotating in about 30 different players (on defense) and there were a lot of mental mistakes out there."
SIU will play its annual Spring Game next Friday at 7 p.m. at the stadium, and Lennon expects the defense to bounce back.
"We've just been smacked in the face, and now we'll see how we respond," he said. "Up until this point the defense has had the upper hand, so it was really good to see the offense step up and make a statement today."
LaSteven McKinney - 8 rec, 76 yds, 1 TD
Josh Skadeland - 1 rec, 44 yds, 1 TD
Ahmad Hicks - 3 rec, 41 yds
Tay Willis - 5 rec, 40 yds, 2 TD
Billy Reed - 2 rec, 31 yds
Mika'il McCall - 2 rec, 28 yds
Jamaal Flowers - 1 rec, 19 yds
Adam Fuehne - 2 rec, 9 yds
Hans Carmien - 1 rec, 6 yds
Kyle Newquist - 1 rec, 5 yds
Chase Allen - 5.5 Tack, 1 TFL, 1 Sack
Jordan Poole - 3.5 Tack
D.J. Cameron - 3.5 Tack
Brandon Willingham - 3.5 Tack
Anthony Thompson - 3 Tack, 1 Pass Brk
Keith Suggs - 2 Tack, 1 TFL
Carl Bivens - 2 Tack, 1 TFL
Khari Waithe-Alexander - 2 Tack
Leonard Garron - 2 Tack
Kevin Holmes - 2 Tack
Octavian Cooper - 2 Tack
Jermaine Hughes - 2 Tack
Charles Harris - 1.5 Tack, 1 Pass Brk
Boo Rodgers - 1.5 Tack
Courtney Richmond - 1.5 Tack
Tyler Williamson - 1.5 Tack
Garrett Pougnet - 1.5 Tack
Darius Merriweather - 1.5 Tack
Marcus Miller - 1.5 Tack
Brandon Miner - 1.5 Tack
Torre Hopson - 1.5 Tack
Lamonte Edwards - 1 Tack, 1 TFL, 1 Sack
Blake Miller - 1 Tack, 1 TFL
Anthony Greenbow - 1 Tack
Calvin Belts - 1 Tack
Kitray Solomon - 1 Tack
Markese Jackson - 1 Tack
Jory Cunningham - 1 Tack
Dinnus Harding - 0.5 Tack, 1 Int