Coach Lennon football press conference transcript

    SIU Coach Dale Lennon

    SIU Coach Dale Lennon
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    Oct. 7, 2013

    By Jordan Roberts and DeMario Phipps-Smith

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki football coach Dale Lennon held his weekly press conference on Monday. SIU will be on the road to face No. 4/5 Northern Iowa on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 4 p.m.

    Q: What does UNI do well?

    “They don’t have many weaknesses. Offensively, they have a great running game with David Johnson. They also have a solid passing attack with Sawyer Kollmorgen. UNI is also equipped with receivers that can get big plays. When you look at the numbers, they are averaging 195 yards on the rush and 206 yards passing. Northern Iowa is about as balanced as you can be as an offensive football team. They are very protective of the football and come at you with a lot of different schemes. If you take one element away that will leave you vulnerable in another area. The UNI defense is playing really well. They are only allowing 14 points per game. They have had a challenging schedule with wins over Iowa State and McNeese.”

    Q: Have you been impressed with your team’s progression?

    “The thing I was very pleased with is that there were a lot of challenges—such as the condition of the field and the weather—and our guys ignored that. I think we have improved in maintaining our focus for the entire game.”

    Q: Do road games affect the team negatively?

    “The road game is not a factor. I think our mentality has changed to where we like road games. I like road games. I like getting out the office and getting away from everyone. There’s a part of that that is good for the team. We get to hang out together Friday night before a game, which is very relaxing and encouraging. Right now, going on the road is not a big thing for us.”

    Q: What do you have to do to become better on third-down defense?



    “Third and short is always going to be a challenge because it is usually a 50-50 guessing game. Where we have to become better is third-and-long. Schematically, we have to look at some of the things we’re doing and try to put our players in positions to make plays. Any time you allow the quarterback to sit back into the pocket, he will have some success connecting with his receivers. This is pretty common in our league. If you give any of these quarterbacks enough protection he will find the open guy.”

    Q: Given the experience you had returning this year, are you surprised with the struggles in the secondary?

    “I’m disappointed that we haven’t made more plays in the secondary, especially in some of the third-and-longs. Against South Dakota State, we had them at 3-and-19 and they got us with a middle seam. This is a work in progress.”

    Q: Conditions limited your play calling. SDSU Coach John Stiegelmeier said that you couldn’t really go side to side as much as you would like. How do you see the Salukis being successful with that situation?

    “This wasn’t our first time coaching at a muddy field, so there were things that I thought we adapted well to and our players were more prepared for. We knew early on in the week that we would probably be playing on a muddy surface so we had that mentality early on to with our game planning. You really have to give credit to the offensive coaches for creating a pretty good game plan.”

    Q:  You may not have played with your best five offensive linemen yet. How much better do you think you would be?

    “We’ve played enough with the five guys up front that our comfort level is high. Part of the challenge is knowing how to call a game with what you have up front and with what they are capable of doing. That’s why you don’t see offensive linemen running on and off the field mainly because it changes the personality of the offense.”

    Q: Did you emphasize this year to be more unpredictable on offense?

    “I think in the past we’ve done that, and it’s just that now we are having success with those plays. There’s nothing more ugly than a trick plays that doesn’t work, and it’s a thing of beauty when the trick play does work. The trick plays are really something that expands our offense and adds variety to our play calling.”

    Q: With your success running up the middle in Saturday’s game was it the scheme or your men just beating the opposing team?

    “The big challenge is always the push, and I was happy with the push of the offensive line just establishing some type of space for a running game. Our whole goal for our running backs is just to get to the second level, and once that happens they are on their own. I think that happened Saturday.”

    Q: Can you talk about the development of John Lantz?

    “Well I think what’s deceiving with John is I think he is the leading receiver in the league with yards per catch. He’s that fifth-year senior that really knows how to run his routes and create separation. He is confident with catching the football, and at the same time he is athletic enough to have the type of year he is having.”

    Q: What’s the difference between how Kory Faulkner responded to the interception and how he would’ve responded last year?

    “He looks like an experienced quarterback now. You’re going to make mistakes out there, but you can’t worry about making a mistake. You just have to deal with it and bounce back. He is now at that point in his game where he is capable of doing that.”

    Q: Can you talk about senior punter Austin Pucylowski’s performance through out this season and throughout his career?

    “Austin is at the position where I never want to see him on the field. I think he had only two punts on Saturday. Austin is going to be an extremely valuable weapon for this next game. Football is all about field position, so your kickers are correlated with that. Especially your punter, seeing that he can be the difference in a football game.”