Coach Dale Lennon
Sept. 16, 2013
By DeMario Phipps-Smith and Jordan Roberts
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki football coach Dale Lennon held his weekly press conference on Monday. SIU will play Southeast Missouri State at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m.
Q: How is Kory Faulkner progressing?
He feels better. He felt good enough to come into my office and say ‘don’t rule me out.’ But that’s the mentality you want from all your players, so that doesn’t mean that he’s going to be cleared to play, but his heart is in the right place. He wants to be out there on Saturday, and in his mind, he says, ‘If it’s hurt, no big deal. Everybody plays with a little pain.’”
Q: What is the injury?
“There is no fracture. That was our concern. We’re looking at an AC strain.”
Q: Is there a feeling among the team that this is a special game with the chance to play at Busch Stadium?
When I had the opportunity to tell the team that this game was going to be at Busch Stadium, it was fun because you could see it in the players’ faces. They knew it was something special. Especially for the kids from the St. Louis area. This is going to be one of those games where it’s fun to be a part of it, but as a coach, there are a lot of distractions that going along with it too. We need to be sure that the focus is on the normal preparation. This is something different than normal. The players are going to be extremely excited to be playing at Busch Stadium, but then again, you like having something special in the season. There’s definitely a different feel to it.
Q: Will the preparation for the game on Saturday be any different this week?
“The biggest thing to account for is that both teams will be on the same sideline. I visited with the officials to find out how substitutions and timeouts would be handled. It’s going to be different."
Q: How will the sideline situation affect how you run red zone plays?
“You have to be prepared for those situations. You have to be efficient with your substitutions, so when you send players in, you won’t be subbing brand new personnel back out after a few plays. Defense is also an area that will be challenging. The rules state that the opposing team needs to allow you enough time to counter-substitute. When the ball is in the red zone Saturday, I’m sure some interesting scenarios will occur."
Q: How would you describe the rivalry with SEMO since you’ve been here?
“It’s gotten very intense. In 2010, they beat us at Saluki Stadium and that intensified everything. They went on to have a great year and won their conference. Our games since then have been very heated and physical. They play a style of football that’s very aggressive and physical—kind of like that old school style. They are well-coached, and I have a lot of respect for those guys. You have to earn everything you get from them.”
Q: How do you gameplan against SEMO’s running game?
“You have to slow them down. They have a few different types of backs, but when they want to be big and physical, they have a fullback that is 5-foot-11, 267 pounds. They also have a tailback that is 5-foot-10 and 240 pounds. So when you see them line up against Ole Miss and run the ball down their throat, there shouldn’t be much surprise. They have two quarterbacks—I’m not sure of the starting situation—but Lathrop played against us last year. He’s really improved and is more comfortable throwing the ball. They have some weapons offensively that can potentially be challenging for us.”
Q: With them being 0-2, do you see any similarities between them and your team from a week ago?
“It’s never any fun starting 0-2. The equation is a little different since we didn’t have a week off after the second game. I’d say to their advantage, they have another week to rest up and get healthy.”
Q: What steps will you take to ensure that Ryan West can be successful Saturday?
“The biggest thing is that he’ll be taking the bulk of the first team repetitions. Usually, your starting quarterback will take about 60 percent of the first team snaps. Also we have to make sure that we have plays in that he likes because every quarterback has a set of go-to plays for certain situations.”
Q: What’s the biggest difference in style of play that you see between Kory (Faulkner) and Ryan (West)?
“Kory is a polished quarterback now, and Ryan West is a redshirt freshmen. So the biggest difference is the polish. Ryan West could do it, but sometimes you might not be too sure what you would get. That’s why we have to put him in positions that he is comfortable with, so nothing gets to overwhelming for him.
Q: What would you consider his biggest strength?
“I think he’s a competitor. I think he has a good quarterback demeanor. When he’s in the huddle, he has the confidence of his teammates, and now it’s just the matter of playing the game.”
Q: When you recruited him what types of things did you see on tape or watching him in games in high school?
“Pretty much just what I said. He just had that demeanor about himself. With a quarterback that’s really what you look for along with arm strength, athleticism and all those traits are there for him.”