Aug 7, 2012
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, IL - Southern Illinois ranked next to last in the conference in pass defense in 2011, giving up 226 yards per game, and that doesn't sit well with junior cornerback Terrell Wilson.
As the team's only returning starter in the secondary, he vowed that Southern will improve in pass coverage this year. He'll see to it personally.
"This year, my game is at its best," Wilson said. "I feel like I'm the guy who is going to shut down your number-one receiver and take half the field away."
Wilson's confidence stems from a sophomore season in which started all 11 games and finished second on the team in interceptions with three.
"It was a break-out season for me to become a starter, but I felt I could've played better and done more things to put the team in position to win more games," he said.
One area where Wilson excels is in open-field tackling. He was third on the club with 50 tackles last year -- an impressive feat for a cornerback. At 6-foot-1 and nearly 200 pounds, Wilson is a big, physical corner -- and those are hard to find.
"My size helps me in press coverage where I can get my hands on the receiver," he explained. "My height advantage helps in jump balls and just coming up and being physical."
After Wilson's 15 career starts, the rest of the secondary has combined to start just two games at SIU. Wilson accepts his role as mentor to the other DBs.
"I see myself as a leader in the secondary," he said. "I need to be a good role model and teach the younger guys what we're trying to accomplish."
"It starts in practice," Wilson continued. "You practice how you play. If we can correct some of those mistakes during practice, come game time, we won't have those problems."
Wilson was born in California but lived in Texas since the age of two. He is one of eight children in his family and has six sisters.
Wilson is grateful to his parents for the love and support they've shown to their children over the years.
"They did a really good job of raising us," he said. "They were there for us with whatever we needed. My parents still come up from Texas to watch my games."
Though his parents are not wealthy, he treasures the memories of growing up in a big family.
"We used to live in an apartment and on birthdays we'd go down to a little creek and have our birthday parties together as one big family," he said. "My whole family loves and supports each other."
There was not a cloud in the sky when the football team took the practice field at 8 a.m. this morning. The temperature was a little warmer than yesterday, but still not unbearable. Two units (the OLBs and DL) were caught walking onto the field as opposed to running. They won't make that mistake again as they paid the price after practice. The OLBs had to crawl the width of the field on their bellies, without using hands or feet. Then they had to roll sideways all the way back. I didn't think a couple of them were going to make it.
There is a sense of urgency in everything the team does. After practice, Coach Lennon told the players they are a 4-7 team that was picked to finish seventh in the league, and thus they have something to prove every time they step foot on the field.
Today's practice was in shoulder pads and helmets, so there was a little more contact than yesterday, but still no full-go. Some of the highlights from 7-on-7 included a bomb from QB Kory Faulkner to WR Luke Standiford and a sensational leaping grab by WR Josh Sullivan over S Anthony Thompson. I haven't taken an extended look at fourth-string QB Ryan West, but the true freshman showed a quick release in 7-on-7.
During the Team portion of practice, Faulkner completed three downfield passes -- a 20-yard curl to WR John Lantz, a deep flag to WR LaSteven McKinney, and a go-route to WR David Lewis. While Faulkner is having a good camp so far, he did seem to favor his left knee a bit on a throw in which he had to roll to his left. He didn't seem to want to plant his foot and was nearly intercepted on the play. Faulkner wears a protective brace on his surgically repaired knee.
Defensive coordinator Bubba Schweigert has a new gimmick he likes to throw at the defense. At the end of a play, he would sometimes toss a ball out on the field and yell, "Scoop and Score!" The entire defense had to find the ball and escort the defender to the end zone. "I'm just trying to make the guys more aware of the ball and scoring on defense from turnovers," he explained. After one Scoop and Score, Schweigert became extremely animated toward freshman S Darius Merriweather, who did not follow the ball to the end zone. "He was worried about a guy who hit him late on the other side of the field," Schweigert said. "We don't want to worry about that stuff. The officials will take care of it."
Cornerback Emmanuel Souarin, the Florida International transfer, made a favorable impression today. During Team, he blew up a screen pass by overpowering the block of David Lewis and wrapping up LaSteven McKinney.