Coach Dale Lennon
Sept. 30, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki football coach Dale Lennon held his weekly press conference on Monday. SIU will be on the road to face No. 7/9 South Dakota State on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m.
Q: How much is being at home an advantage for South Dakota?
“Well they got beat last week. Every team is a little bit more solid in their home stadium. That’s just the nature of the league. They have been a good football team, so that’s why they have been successful at home. Sometimes the schedule helps you out with the teams you’re scheduled to play at home. I think what’s unique about them is they play on grass and they are in the Dakotas. People have this image of North Dakota and South Dakota being this really cold, barren place but it really isn’t. It’s actually a really nice place, but that’s part of their image."
Q: Will you guys be practicing on grass all week?
“No, we’re going to do what we do. We have already played on grass at Busch Stadium, so I don’t think that’s going to be an issue with us. We are just going to prepare the best we can and get ready to play.”
Q: What stands out when you watch SDSU’s defensive?
“Well, they’re veterans, and they have played a lot of football, so they are very physical. They do a good job with their penetration. They are a solid unit, and in the right place all the time.”
Q: What makes Zenner such a difficult running back to cover?
“He’s fast. He also runs like a fullback. He could run you over, and then if he gets a step on you, he is flying out of the gate. So he has a really good combination.”
Q: How successful can your team be this year?
“Well, we are going to find out. There’s still a lot of football left to be played. Nobody has thrown in the towel. If anything I think this team has shown that they have that fighting spirit. The best thing for us is that we have another opportunity to show that we are a good team against South Dakota State.”
“There is nothing beyond this week for us. We just want to get ready for South Dakota State, and then we will worry about the next chapter after that. Before we can take care of anything, we just have to have a good week of preparation and be ready to go win a football game on Saturday.”
Q: Are the defensive struggles more of a reflection on the good quarterbacks you’ve played or on self inflicted wounds?
“ We have to get better at defense. We talked about it on Sunday, and the thing that was disappointing was the short yardage defense on Saturday and how we weren’t able to get the stops when we needed the stops. We just have to be more sharp on assignments and have confidence in what were doing.”
Q: North Dakota State shut down Zenner on Saturday. What did they do defensively to shut him down?
“Well they’re good. The thing that helps them is that they don’t need to load the box. They have some good linebackers and play a very aggressive game. North Dakota State and South Dakota State play similar types of games. That’s why it was 7-0 going into the 4th quarter. It’s because both teams are very patient and are going to wait for the other team to make a mistake.”
Q: You mentioned that South Dakota State’s defense is really physical, so how much pressure do they bring on the quarterback?
“They do a good job. It’s not a lot of pressure. Sometimes those are the most dangerous teams because they are very calculated when they do bring the pressure.
Q: How concerned are you with your red zone defense right now?
“Well we need to do better. The percentages aren’t good, and that’s where confidence comes in. You have to be extremely confident that you can make that one play to stop the drive, and that’s an area where we have to get better in.”
Q: Have you lost any faith in your kicking game?
“No. We missed a PAT. I think you see that on Sundays too. It’s just the timing of that miss comes back to haunt you. Right now Thomas Kinney has one missed PAT on the year and I think he is one of the leaders in the country in field goals made, so there’s no panic buttons that we need to push yet.”
Q: Can you talk about Presume’s performance this year?
“Well, Presume is a good football player. He has a knack for the game and is always at the point of attack. He is comfortable in all the schemes he is in because he is always ready to attack.
Q: Can you talk about him being a silent leader?
“It’s tough to comment on someone being quiet. He is really about action. He goes out and plays the game. Ultimately he is a type of player that you would like to have on your team. He is not high maintenance, he’s very aggressive, and he is a team player.”
Q: What do you think you have to do to win this game this weekend?
“Play our game. Offensively, do what we do. It’s nothing fancy or this great game plan. We just have to beat them, and I’m sure that’s their game plan too. The last five weeks, unfortunately, we haven’t found that last play that we need to carry us over, and that’s what we have to find.”
Q: Can you talk about how Saturday may have been a loss for the football team but overall you guys raised over 50,000 dollars for cancer research and what that means for the team?
“It’s something that we talked about in the locker room after the game, so it kept things in perspective for the players. The players all went out and met the people whose names were on the back of their jerseys. It gives them that realization that we are making a difference even if it’s in a small way.”
Q: What has been the key for Kory Faulkner’s improved play this season?
“It’s just confidence. He is a confident quarterback, and he has confidence in his offensive line. He put in the time and effort to improve his game. He is still capable of getting better. He has the skills, and he’s quick on his feet, so we will keep working him on getting better everyday.”
Q: Kory Faulkner worked hard this offseason to get better. What has been his motivation?
“Well, it’s his last year, and he’s a very loyal person and appreciates the opportunity that he has been given. He has not been too happy with his performance up to this point, so he has a drive to get better. He has had to take more criticism than any player on the team, so he has had to stand in there and maintain his pride, believing he can play at a higher level.”