Aug. 4, 2011
By Jason Clay
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Head coach Dale Lennon and the Southern Illinois football program held its annual media day Thursday to preview the upcoming season with the start of fall camp right around the corner.
The entire SIU coaching staff met with the media in the Stadium Club on the second floor of the press box at Saluki Stadium to give a run down of the team by position. Lennon told reporters that he is very excited about the overall depth of the team and they enter fall camp "hungry."
"We are hungry and that's the whole thing," said Lennon, who is entering his fourth year at SIU. "When I say we have something to prove, we're being realistic here. We're not good enough to just show up and win it and the theme for the year is `Earn It.' I don't want any of our players with any sense of entitlement, I want that hunger within the team that is genuine."
The Salukis return 14 starters - six on offense, six on defense and two on special teams - and the coaching staff feels good about the overall talent level.
"Right now, it's a team-first mentality that we have and we are going to find a way to do it," Lennon said. "That's our mentality and that is what we are looking towards."
Even with the quality depth returning, there are still positions on the team that enter the season unproven. With the first practice of fall camp coming Sunday morning, the coaching staff will look right away to address those needs.
"There are some things we have to prove in certain areas and we know that there is some inexperience that we need to deal with," Lennon said. "But we also know we got a pretty good attitude coming in this year, and I think that's genuine. I think it was reflected in our summer program with our guys training. I think we had a very productive and energetic summer training session."
Coming off a 5-6 season, Southern's first losing season since 2002 and just the third losing season for Lennon in his 14-year career, he said that the coaching staff's philosophy never wavered.
"We are competitors," Lennon said. "To be in this profession, there is just something about the game you just can't wait until game day. You just want to get out there and see if what you have is good enough. That's what we want our players to be, with that kind of mentality."
So after one long offseason, the Salukis enter the year with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove.
Players report for fall camp on Saturday and the first practice for the 2011 season is Sunday morning at 8:15.