Aug. 25, 2014
- Southern Illinois opens the season at Saluki Stadium on Aug. 28, 2014 at 7 p.m. against Taylor University.
- The 2013 Salukis went 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which tied for second in the league. SIU returns 18 starters from that squad (7 offense; 9 defense; 2 special teams)
- The Salukis were picked fifth in the MVFC and are ranked just outside the top-25 in the FCS Coaches (No. 27) and Media (No. 26) polls.
- Senior tight end MyCole Pruitt and senior placekicker Thomas Kinney have been named preseason first-team All-American by numerous media outlets and were both preseason All-MVFC honorees as well.
- SIU has won 11 of its last 12 home openers. The only home-opening loss by SIU since 2001 was last year's double-overtime loss to Eastern Illinois.
SEASON AND HOME OPENERS
- SIU opens the season against Taylor University at Saluki Stadium on Aug. 28, 2014.
- Since transitioning into I-AA/FCS in 1983, SIU is 16-15 in season openers and 22-9 in home openers.
- SIU's last season-opening win came in 2011, a 38-10 win over Southeast Missouri.
- SIU lost last year's home opener, 40-37 in double-overtime, to No. 14 Eastern Illinois after winning 11-straight home openers between 2001 and 2012.
- Southern's last season-opening game against a lower-division team was a 70-7 win over Quincy in 2010, which was the first game ever played in Saluki Stadium.
- The Salukis have four promotions for the season opener, the (618) Salukis program for Carbondale and Murphysboro, Youth Football Night, the Saluki Sprint and postgame fireworks.
- Residents of Carbondale and Murphysboro can get $6.18 tickets in advance of game day with proof of residents. Pick up your tickets at the SIU ticket office or at Old National Bank at 1709 Walnut St. in Murphysboro.
- SIU students can run the field before the game and be greeted by the community for the Saluki Sprint.
- All youth football players wearing their jerseys can get in free and parents can get discounted tickets. For more information, contact Steve Sowers at (618) 453-5153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Weather permitting, SIU will shoot off fireworks at the conclusion of the game. The Salukis will have postgame fireworks at all five home night games in 2014.
- For a complete list of promotions for the 2014 season, visit http://www.siusalukis.com/fanzone/football-promotions.html.
- Southern has 18 starters returning from 2013.
- The Salukis have seven starters returning on offense, losing QB Kory Faulkner, WR John Lantz, FB Ray Agnew and OL Jarien Moreland.
- On defense, Southern Illinois returns eight starters, losing only LB Bryan Presume and CB Terrell Wilson.
- Southern returns 15 of the 22 players on last year's defensive two-deep, including all six defensive linemen.
- Sixteen of SIU's top 23 tacklers from 2013 return for the 2014 season but lost top tackler Bryan Presume (104 tackles).
- SIU is playing a school-record five night games (6 p.m. or later start times) in 2014.
- The Salukis are 9-7 in night games under head coach Dale Lennon and 9-5 against FCS opponents in night games.
PRESEASON TEAM RANKS
- The Salukis are ranked just outside the top-25 in both the FCS Coaches and The Sports Network media polls.
- SIU is ranked No. 26 in the media poll and No. 27 in the coaches poll heading into the season.
- Southern was picked fifth in the preseason MVFC poll. The Salukis have finished tied for third or better in the league nine times in the last 11 seasons.
PRESEASON INDIVIDUAL HONORS
- Tight end MyCole Pruitt and kicker Thomas Kinney were both named preseason first-team All-Americans by The Sports Network.
- Pruitt was a consensus All-American last year and a third-teamer as a sophomore in 2012.
- Kinney was named to the MVFC All-Newcomer team last year after making 18 field goals, the second-highest single-season total in school history. He also hit a 52-yarder against Western Illinois, the second-longest field goal in the FCS in 2013.
- Pruitt is on the 20-man Walter Payton Award Watch List. The Payton Award goes to the most outstanding player in the FCS after the season.
- Kinney was named to the Fred Mitchell Award Watch List, which is given to the most outstanding placekicker after the season.
- Six SIU players have been named to College Football Performance Awards Watch Lists at their respective positions: Malcolm Agnew (running back), Thomas Kinney (placekicker), LaSteven McKinney (punt returner and return specialist), MyCole Pruitt (tight end), Tyler Williamson (linebacker) and Tay Willis (kick returner).
- Pruitt earned the CFPA's FCS Tight End of the Year award last year, becoming Southern's second CFPA Award winner (Korey Lindsey, Defensive Back Award, 2010).
SIX NEW COACHES
- Southern Illinois has six new coaches on staff for the 2014 season, the most coach turnover for SIU since head coach Dale Lennon was hired before the 2008 season.
- Southern lost last year's offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer to the same job at Eastern Michigan, and last year's defensive coordinator, Bubba Schweigert, left to become the head coach at North Dakota.
- Lennon added defensive coordinator to his head coaching duties and promoted offensive line coach Bill O'Boyle to offensive coordinator.
- Lennon served as the defensive coordinator at North Dakota for seven years from 1990-96.
- O'Boyle was the offensive coordinator at Division II Chadron State from 1999-04 before becoming Chadron State's head coach from 2005-11. O'Boyle was the Division II National Coach of the Year in 2007.
- In addition to O'Boyle, Austin Flyger (defensive line) and Travis Stepps (outside linebackers) are the only other coaches returning from last year's staff. The new coaches are Ashton Aikens (wide receivers), Todd Auer (inside linebackers), David Elson (secondary), Nick Hill (quarterbacks), Keith Murphy (tight ends/fullbacks) and Larry Warner (running backs).
- Hill and Warner were both players at SIU. Hill remains SIU's single-season passing leader with 3,175 yards in 2007, and Warner was an All-American running back in 2008.
- Hill and Warner coached together at Carbondale High School before becoming assistants at SIU.
TEAM DEFENSIVE NOTES
- The Salukis have recorded at least one sack in 50 of the last 52 games.
- The Salukis had a streak of 36-straight games with a sack snapped last year against Illinois State.
- SIU has also recorded at least 5.0 tackles for loss in 17 of the last 22 games.
- Southern has allowed 100 or more yards rushing in only 27 of head coach Dale Lennon's 70 games coached at Southern Illinois.
- The Salukis ranked second in the MVFC and 17th nationally last year in rushing defense at 122.8 yards per game.
- Southern held six opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing and five opponents to 53 yards or fewer on the ground.
- Only one opponent in the last 39 games has rushed for more than 200 yards against the Saluki defense; the Saluki offense has eclipsed 200 yards rushing 14 times in that span, including four times last year.
TEAM OFFENSIVE NOTES
- On offense, the Salukis return 87 percent of their rushing attack from 2013 (1,599 of 1,837 yards).
- The only departing rushers on the team: 2013 starting quarterback Kory Faulkner had 237 yards and wide receiver John Lantz had one yard on one carry.
- SIU also returns five offensive linemen who started at least six games last year, Corey Boemer (all 12 games), Tanner Crum (all 12 games), Jake Notario (6 games), Jamarcus Robinson (6 games), and Ethan Wirth (11 games).
- Jarien Moreland (10 games) is the only departing lineman with more than six starts last year.
- Southern also returns both tight ends from last year, consensus All-American MyCole Pruitt and Adam Fuehne.
- The Salukis led the MVFC in passing in 2013 at 231.8 yards per game but lost starting quarterback Kory Faulkner, top receiver John Lantz and offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer.
- After Lantz, the Salukis return their next top seven pass catchers, including speedsters Tay Willis and LaSteven McKinney and All-American MyCole Pruitt.
INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE NOTES
- Linebacker Tyler Williamson is SIU's top returning tackler. Williamson ranked second on the team in tackles in 2013 with 66. He led the team in tackles for loss with 13.0, which ranked fifth in the MVFC.
- Williamson also tied for the team lead in sacks last year with 4.0. Jordan Poole and Brandon Williams also had 4.0 sacks last year, and both players return.
- The trio accounted for half of SIU's 24 sacks last season.
- Southern returnees accounted for 19 of the team's 24 sacks last year (79.2 percent), losing only Bryan Presume's three sacks and Carl Bivens' two sacks.
- Starters D.J. Cameron and Anthony Thompson tied with Chris Davis for the team lead in interceptions last year with two. SIU returnees accounted for seven of the team's 10 interceptions last year.
- Williamson has forced six fumbles in his two seasons in Carbondale, which is tied for the school's career record and the most forced fumbles by any player at SIU in 35 years.
- With one more forced fumble, Williamson would break his tie for career forced fumbles he holds with Ron Geels (1976-79) and John Palmero (1977-79)
- Anthony Thompson is sixth in SIU history with 133 career interception return yards. Thompson had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in 2012 at Youngstown State.
INDIVIDUAL OFFENSIVE NOTES
- Senior MyCole Pruitt returns for his senior season after earning consensus first-team All-American honors in 2013.
- Pruitt was also an honorable mention All-American in 2012. If he earns All-America honors again in 2014, he will be the third three-time All-American in school history, joining Alexis Moreland (2002-04) and Korey Lindsey (2008-10).
- Pruitt is second in SIU history in career receptions with 140. He needs 67 receptions in 2014 to catch Southern's all-time leader, Cornell Craig, who had 207 career catches from 1996-99.
- Pruitt is also fourth in SIU history career receiving yardage with 1,740 career yards. He needs 464 yards to move into second place on SIU's all-time list. Craig had 3,508 career receiving yards, meaning Pruitt would need to more than double his career yardage in one season to break the record.
- Pruitt is SIU's career leader in both receptions and receiving yards by a tight end.
- Pruitt is also seventh on SIU's career receiving touchdowns list (12),
- Pruitt has at least one reception in 31 of his 32 career games, and he has at least two catches in 17-straight games played.
- LaSteven McKinney is eighth on SIU's career receptions list with 110. McKinney needs 28 receptions to move into third on the all-time list behind Craig and Pruitt.
- McKinney also needs 308 yards receiving to break into the top 10 in school history in career receiving yards.
- Tay Willis made the transition from running back to wide receiver in the offseason. Willis was fourth on the team with 794 all-purpose yards in 2013: 321 rushing, 173 receiving and 300 in kick returns.
- SIU will start Mark Iannotti at quarterback. Iannotti transferred from Eastern Michigan after last season and has been with SIU since the spring.
- Iannotti attempted only one pass at Eastern Michigan, and his first completion at SIU will be the first of his career.
- Dating back to Joel Sambursky, SIU quarterbacks who are starting their first career game are 5-1. (For more information on SIU quarterbacks making their first career start, visit page six).
- Each of SIU's last three starting quarterbacks--Paul McIntosh, Kory Faulkner and Ryan West--made their first career start in the middle of the season. Iannotti will be the first SIU QB to have his first career start be the season opener since Chris Dieker started the 2008 season opener.
- Running back Malcolm Agnew was SIU's leading rusher in 2013 with 888 yards despite missing the season-opener at Illinois. Agnew was named to the MVFC's All-Newcomer team after the season.
- Agnew averaged 4.9 yards per rush despite not breaking a rush for longer than 27 yards.
- Agnew had four 100-yard games last year: 127 yards vs. SEMO, 105 yards at South Dakota State, 113 yards at UNI and 107 yards vs. Western Illinois.
Agnew had at least 97 yards in all five games that he carried the ball at least 17 times.
- Backup quarterback Ryan West started four games in 2013 when starter Kory Faulkner was out with an injury. West went 3-1 as a starter.
- West went 53-105 (49 percent) with 567 yards (141.8 yards per game) in his four starts.
INDIVIDUAL SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
- Placekicker Thomas Kinney has earned preseason first-team All-America and All-MVFC laurels after making 18 field goals in 2013, the second-highest single-season total in SIU history.
- Kinney hit a 52-yard field goal against Western Illinois, the second-longest field goal in the FCS in 2013.
- Kinney's performance against Western Illinois led to him being named MVFC and National Special Teams Player of the Week.
- Kinney is on the Fred Mitchell Award Watch List, which goes to the top placekicker in the nation after the season.
- Kinney also handled nearly half of SIU's kickoffs in 2013 and recorded 12 of the team's 15 touchbacks.
- Despite playing only one season at SIU, Kinney only needs two more made field goals to crack the top-10 in school history in made field goals.
- Kinney was a second-team All-MVFC selection in 2013 and was also named to the MVFC All-Newcomer team.
- He ranked second in the conference in field goals made (18), field goals attempted (24) and points scored among placekickers (94).
- Tay Willis was named to the CFPA Kick Returner Watch List for 2014. He returned the opening kickoff against Missouri State 92 yards for a touchdown.
- LaSteven McKinney has been named an honorable mention All-MVFC return specialist in each of the past two seasons.
- McKinney ranked second in the MVFC in his freshman season in yards per punt return.
- McKinney is sixth in SIU history in career punt return yards with 422. He needs just 16 yards to crack the top five and 37 yards to move into fourth.
- McKinney is 10th in school history in career punt return average at 7.40 yards per return.
- He is third in school history in career punt returns with 57.
- Four-year starting punter Austin Pucylowski graduated. Since 2010, Pucylowski recorded all but five of SIU's punts. Kory Faulkner had one punt in both 2011 and 2012. Kyle Daugherty had three punts in 2010.
- Nick Neidig is Southern's new starting punter.
TEAM ROAD SUCCESS
- Southern Illinois has exceled in road games under head coach Dale Lennon. SIU is 18-15 overall on the road. in Lennon's six seasons. If you take out SIU's six FBS opponents in that time, Lennon's squads have gone 18-9 in road games.
- SIU went 4-0 in road games against FCS opponents last year, including back-to-back road wins over top-10 opponents with a 27-24 win over South Dakota State and a 24-17 overtime win over Northern Iowa last year.
- The Salukis are 7-1 in MVFC road games the last two years and are 4-1 against ranked MVFC teams on the road.
- Southern's only conference road loss in the last two seasons was at North Dakota State in 2012, and SIU led the eventual national champions in that game entering the fourth quarter.
- The Salukis shut out No. 9 Illinois State in Normal, Ill., 17-0 in 2012 and beat No. 25 Youngstown State by 17 on the road that year.
- Under Lennon, SIU is 16-8 in MVFC road games, and six of his eight road losses were in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. In his other four seasons, SIU is 14-2 in MVFC road games, with both losses coming at the Fargodome against North Dakota State.
- Since 1997, the home team in the UNI-SIU rivalry is 15-2. Lennon has coached both teams that have won on the road. His 2009 squad beat No. 2 UNI at the UNI-Dome and last year's team topped No. 4 UNI on the road.
- SIU has won five games against top-10 teams on the road under Lennon and seven games against ranked opponents away from Carbondale.
SIU VS. RANKED OPPONENTS SUCCESS
- SIU is 11-10 against top-25 opponents under head coach Dale Lennon.
The Salukis have won five games against top-10 opponents in the last six seasons, and all five have been on the road.
- Southern is 27-11 (.711) against non-ranked teams and is 25-12 (.676) as a ranked team.
- Southern has won at least one game against a ranked team in all six of Lennon's seasons in Carbondale.
BLACK OUT CANCER GAME
- Southern Illinois will host the fourth annual Black Out Cancer game on Sept. 27 vs. Western Illinois.
- Fans can bid on a jersey at SalukisBlackOutCancer.com. The top 80 bids will be able to choose a jersey number and place the name of their choosing on the back of the jersey, including the option to honor a cancer survivor or victim.
- The jerseys will then be worn by the Salukis against the Leathernecks, and winning bidders will be presented with their jersey after the game.
- After three years of Black Out Cancer games, the game has raised more than $250,000 for the Hope is Home Campaign, which is Southern Illinois Healthcare's drive for a comprehensive cancer treatment facility in southern Illinois.