Quarterback Kory Faulkner
Aug 17, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The offense rebounded for a much stronger performance in the Saluki football team’s second preseason scrimmage of the season Saturday morning at Saluki Stadium. After the defense dominated the first scrimmage, Coach Dale Lennon was encouraged by what he saw offensively in the second scrimmage.
“Today was a big step forward,” Lennon said. “We had some success during the course of the week, and with offense it’s always a process. It’s not an overnight thing that you can just put in place. The progression is there, we just need another week to get better.”
With cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 60s mimicking midseason weather, the team mimicked real game scenarios. During the course of the scrimmage, the offense worked on its two-minute drill and red zone attack and even produced a pair of 99-yard touchdown drives.
After a slow start, the offense got rolling. Junior running back Tay Willis started the game with the first-team offense and broke through for the first score of the game when he caught a 55-yard screen pass from Kory Faulkner and broke away down the right sideline.
“Tay Willis has that big play potential so it was nice seeing him make a big play for us,” SIU Coach Dale Lennon said. “We just need to find ways to get him the ball in open space and let him be a big part of our offense.”
The defense made some big plays early before the offense settled in. Jordan Poole and Cory Lee each recorded a sack early, and Luke Thuston picked off Kory Faulkner after Faulkner bootlegged right on a play action pass.
Twice the ball was spotted at the one-yard line to begin a drive, and both times the offense drove the length of the field for a score. Faulkner led the first such drive, which ended with Mika’il McCall’s 10-yard touchdown run. Following a strong showing in this past week’s practice, Faulkner completed over 70 percent of his passes Saturday.
Ryan West then immediately quarterbacked the second-team offense down the field on a 99-yard drive that was highlighted by two completions of over 25 yards. Willis punctuated the drive when he carried the ball on the final two plays for a five-yard run up the gut followed by a one-yard plunge into the end zone.
Lennon credited a more consistent running attack with wearing down the defense.
“You have to be patient with (the running game),” Lennon said. “There are times when it might be a little frustrating for a while, but I think we have the ability to wear down a defense throughout the course of a game, and I think we saw a little bit of that today. Once we had success running the ball, everything else kind of came together for us offensively.”
Lennon said he plans to have the team go live in practice a couple more times in the coming week before following it up with a less extensive closed scrimmage next Saturday. Also, this Thursday, Aug. 22, all fans are invited to walk on the field and interact with the players at the third annual Saluki Football FanFest, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at Saluki Stadium.
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