April 13, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - One week after a rough outing in the team's first scrimmage, the Southern Illinois offense bounced back with a much better performance in the second live scrimmage on Saturday morning at Saluki Stadium.
Senior quarterback Kory Faulkner completed 17-of-24 passes for 239 and four touchdowns, leading the offense on a pair of 70-yard scoring drives. Altogether, Saluki quarterbacks threw seven TD strikes during the 93-play situational scrimmage that focused on scenarios such as red zone, goal line and two-minute drill.
"I think you could see the progress from Week 1 to Week 2, especially offensively, standing up and being noticed and making some plays," said head coach Dale Lennon. "The offense has been challenged all week. That's the negative of having a poor performance in a scrimmage -- it stays with you. The defense kind of reminds you every now and then that they dominated you."
Faulkner started the scoring-fest with a 25-yard toss to tight end Adam Fuehne on a skinny post. On his next drive, he found Fuehne again on a 19-yard scoring strike, with the 6-foot-7 receiver hauling down the pass with linebacker Houston Walker draped all over him. Fuehne caught four passes for 53 yards and is emerging as a key threat on offense.
"We've always expected (Adam) to be a good receiver," Lennon said. "What hurt him last year was in the first game, he broke a bone in his hand. He went seven weeks with a cast on his hand. He wasn't a big factor in the passing game, but from here on out, he's going to be a big target for us."
Alongside All-American tight end MyCole Pruitt, who also snagged two touchdowns among his five catches on the day, the Salukis have a pair of formidable receiving targets.
"Kory's biggest challenge is being consistent," Lennon said. "You just can't have the highs and the lows. Naturally, we'll take the highs, but you just can have the lows where one day you're on, the next day you're off."
After surrendering eight sacks last week and allowing frequent penetration in the running game, SIU's offensive line was much improved. The unit allowed just three sacks -- two of them coming on the last drive during a two-minute drill.
"There's no magic protection scheme," Lennon said. "It's just learning -- a process you need to go through. Sometimes, you have to skin your knee a few times and hope that you learn a lesson in the process."
Southern's running backs were the beneficiaries of the improved blocking, as JUCO transfer Tay Willis carried 16 times for 63 yards and a pair of TDs. Although he measures just 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Willis showed great balance and the ability to pick up yardage after first contact.
"He's very strong and has speed, quickness and balance," said Lennon. "The key for us up front is we need to get our backs some seams, and we did that today."
Defensively, cornerback Terrell Wilson made a leaping interception of a Matt Vincent pass, and Tyler Williamson also snared a Vincent attempt that would have been a pick-six had a whistle not ended the play prematurely.
Overall, Lennon was pleased with his team's second live outing.
"It wasn't a shock that we did well," he said. "This is kind of the way it works. Usually, the defense does well the first scrimmage, and the offense comes back and has something to prove and does well the second scrimmage. Then you get a pretty 50-50 (performance) for the spring game, which is what I'm hoping for."
The Salukis invite the public to attend next week's annual Spring Game on Friday night at 7 p.m.
RUSHING: Mika'il McCall (6-23), Tay Willis (16-63, 2 TD), Ken Malcolme (7-25, 1 TD), LaSteven McKinney (1-13), Kory Faulkner (1-2), Matt Vincent (3- -9), A.J. Hill (1-5), Ryan West (1- -4), Shawn Mitchell (3-24)
RECEIVING: Adam Fuehne (4-53, 2 TD), LaSteven McKinney (5-73, 1 TD), Shaq Findlater (1-22), John Lantz (3-26, 1 TD), Tay Willis (1-1), Mika'il McCall (1-19), MyCole Pruitt (5-73, 2 TD), Jamal Flowers (1-28, 1 TD), Billy Reed (1-11), Josh Sullivan (2-56), Shawn Mitchell (2-13), Kyle Newquist (3-11),
TACKLES: Adam Brandt (3), Jordan Poole (5), Luke Thuston (1), Blake Miller (2), Kitray Solomon (1), Calvin Belts (4), David Boatright (2), Carl Bivens (2), Brandon Willingham (1), Q'Niko Thomas (1), Anthony Thompson (1), Bryan Presume (3), Brandon Williams (1), TJ Beelen (2), Houston Walker (4), Bobby Thompson (3), Jordan Bowlby (1), Courtney Richmond (1), Chase Allen (6), Tyler Williamson (3), Tay Griffin (4), D.J. Cameron (4), Keith Suggs (2), Trey Colbert (2), Anthony Thompson (3), Darius Merriweather (1), Blake Mattson (1)