Offense shows big-play capabilities on day four of camp

    Senior Cam Fuller makes a leaping grab at Wednesday's practice

    Senior Cam Fuller makes a leaping grab at Wednesday's practice
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    Aug. 10, 2011

    By Jason Clay

    Photo Gallery

    Healthy competition across the board for Saluki Football

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Saluki offense enjoyed a good day passing the ball while the defense had a strong finish Thursday at Southern Illinois' last practice before going in full pads.

    Through four practices of fall camp, the coaching staff has started going through the evaluation process of the team as a whole. They then break it down looking at the offense, defense and special teams before breaking it down to the individuals.

    "There's times where you may not be performing as well as you'd like as a team, but you may have some shining moments with some individuals," head coach Dale Lennon said. "That's the process that you always go through. Usually the rule of thumb is, it is never as good as you think it was and it is never as bad as you think it was."

    As the team moves to its first practice in full pads on Thursday, Lennon is looking for SIU to continue to build on what has been a productive first week of fall camp.

    "I'm not expecting anything different than what we've had the last two days," he said. "It will be a physical practice."

    Lennon said the Salukis won't go live right away in full pads, but they are looking to build on the intensity that has been present over the last two days when the team has been in helmets and shoulder pads.

    It seems with every session the Saluki wide receivers are getting better and better. On Wednesday during skeleton passing drills against the secondary, the quarterbacks and receivers displayed good chemistry and dominated the session. However, that is not uncommon because that drill is set up to give the offense an advantage since there is no pass rush involved.

    "Offensively, we are putting ourselves in position for more explosive plays," Lennon said. "I think that is starting to show itself more, that we could be more of an explosive play offense, which would be good."

    Senior Cam Fuller has established himself as a player that the Salukis can throw the ball up to and he will go get it. Already in camp, he has made several leaping grabs.

    Redshirt freshman LaSteven McKinney, who changed positions from running back to wide receiver, is looking natural at his new spot. McKinney has really impressed the coaches with his speed getting open and how well he is catching the ball.

    After the entire offense and defense came together for the team session towards the end of practice, the defense more or less won the battle.

    "It's early [in camp], so the defense should have the upper hand on what we do, " Lennon said. "In team you get a pretty good feel for the give and take between the offense and defense."

    For the most part though, Lennon has been pleased with the overall execution of his team.

    "It's a little sloppy from time to time and that's why you can't get too caught up on one play," Lennon said. "You just move on and you work on the next component."

    J.R. Woodward, a 6-4, 205-pound transfer from Army has joined the team for fall camp. Woodard, an All-State quarterback at nearby Anna-Jonesboro High School, will play wide receiver for the Salukis and have four years of eligibility remaining.