Football team hosts annual Spring Game at 7 p.m. on Friday night

    Dale Lennon

    Dale Lennon
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    April 16, 2014

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Saluki Football team will hold its annual Spring Game on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Saluki Stadium. There is no charge to attend the game and gates open at 6 p.m.

    Fans can register to win a game-used Saluki football helmet signed by Dale Lennon. The concession stands will feature $1 items (hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, popcorn and drinks). After the scrimmage, which is expected to last approximately 90 minutes, players will be available on the field for an autograph session.

    Head Coach Dale Lennon met with the media after today's practice.

    Did you get what you wanted from your practices this week?

    "Yeah, it was a good two days. Today was kind of a wrap-up. We did some live drills on Monday and finished with a live team session. Right now, I'm anxious to see where we're at as a football team. You want to make sure Friday night that there aren't missed assignments and errors. You want to evaluate what type of concepts we're good at and you want to evaluate skill. The component for the young guys is skill evaluation -- where they're at as a football player. When you practice as much as we do, you lose that element of being game-savvy. I'm hoping that on Friday night we can be a little more game-savvy, knowing if it's third-and-long, you play it a certain way, or if it's third-and-short. The very good players have that ability."

    How do you expect the defense to respond Friday night after struggling in last weekend's scrimmage?

    "Saturday was good for us (defensively). Up until that time, we'd kind of had our way, and finally on Saturday the offense smacked us pretty good and had some success. Sometimes you need that defensively to keep focus. We watched film on Monday and were able to show it was just the little things that we weren't good at. We were maybe a little overconfident and thought all we had to do was show up. I think Friday you'll see a pretty good battle between the offense and defense. It'll be heated."



    Compare your linebacking corps this year to last.

    "We lost a lot of inside `backers and right now that's where we're the thinnest on defense. We have a lot of outside linebackers returning. The concern now is making sure our inside linebacking corps gets to last year's level. Our outside corps looks to be ahead of last year."

    How's the health of the team?

    "Not too bad. We're a little banged up on the offensive line. We have some players who are not going to play, just to be cautious and allow them to have a good summer and get to 100 percent. Overall, we're going to be able to have a pretty solid scrimmage."

    Can you talk about Carl Bivens and Jordan Poole, the two guys who have the most experience at inside linebacker?

    "Carl really has had a good spring and stepped forward. He has a chance to be that All-Conference type guy and replaces Bryan Presume. He has a good sense for the football. Jordan is developing his game. He has a lot of experience. You're talking about a guy who has played a lot of football, so his improvement level is not going to be that significant because he's already close to the top level."

    Will the quarterbacks continue to rotate as they have in the scrimmages?

    "What's happened is, because of our line strength, you're playing the same guys, and that actually helps you offensively, because you won't have a quarterback behind a third-string line. Protection should be pretty solid come Friday and all the quarterbacks can be evaluated on an equal basis. We'll take the yellow jerseys off them, so it will be live."

    What has encouraged you this spring?

    "I like the chemistry of the team. The reality is we've had an incredible amount of work to do. You don't have the amount of coaching turnover we've had and not have some bumps along the road. You look at us defensively, and you basically have four different defensive philosophies coming together and trying to make it one. We've come a long ways in developing that. You have a new offensive coordinator coming in and a lot of it is brand new. You have a new special teams coordinator coming in. You look at where we were Practice One, to where we are now, we've put some miles behind us."