Oct. 10, 2011
By Tyler Wooten
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki football coach Dale Lennon held his weekly press conference on Monday. Southern Illinois will host Youngstown State at 2 p.m. on Saturday on Homecoming weekend.
Q: "Is it that (YSU) doesn't trust their kicker enough or that they feel they can go in for the touchdown?"
"I think part of it is you look at the redzone success - they're scoring touchdowns. I don't think they've been in a situation where they've had to kick the field goal because they've been scoring. They've only attempted field goals in two games, and each time it was a different kicker. That is about all we know about the kicking situation."
Q: "What in particular impresses you about their redzone offense?"
"Any time you're getting touchdowns, that's impressive. Redzone offense is challenging. The field becomes smaller, your decision making has to be very good and accurate, which goes back to their quarterback Kurt Hess making good decisions and making good reads, and that's the key to being effective in the redzone. If you make the right choices, you're going to have a better chance of getting the ball in the endzone."
Q: "What adjustments will you be making to your own redzone offense this week?"
"It's going to be an emphasis. Our guys know that's something that we have to get better at, starting with the offensive line, all the way through the backs and receivers. You just want to make sure to make good decisions and make good choices and you have to put points on the board when you're in the redzone."
Q: "What role, if any, do you expect Homecoming to play this week?"
"Well, I think Homecoming is always special. The big thing is that you have former football alums coming back. In talking with the team yesterday, the thing I mentioned is that we have a lot of football alums coming back, and you could see right then the players got a little look in their eye that says, 'Hey, this is something special.' You want to make your alums proud of how you played the game, so that's something that will hopefully help us."
"If we need to increase, we'll increase it. Jewel's been doing a good job, his body has been holding up. We're definitely very comfortable with him in the 20-carry range. Again, it's a little bit of what the defense is allowing you, too. In the second half Saturday, they were really putting people in the box and forcing us to throw. We have to be smart in how we use the run game and not go to the well too often. And when we throw, we have to be efficient with our throws and we have to make the catches when the ball is there."
Q: "His style is a little between Steve (Strother) and Shariff (Harris), so what situations do you use them now?"
"Shariff is a downhill runner and he gives you a good north-south presence, and Steve is a guy in open space who is tough to grab on to. Steve's role is still going to be very significant with us as is Shariff's. Jewel has a little more of a power presence."
Q: "Would you say Jamaine Cook is a lot like Jewel Hampton?"
"Well, he's a good, quality back and he's tough to bring down. It's tough for one tackler to bring him down, and every team in the league has a marquee back that is going to give you fits if you don't tackle him, and he's definitely in that category. We need to get as many hats on him as possible to bring him down."
Q: "Have you been surprised by the immediate success that their young receivers have had this year?"
"I'm not surprised by it. Their offensive scheme, they need that. They need young players to step up. They're very talented, they have some speed, their game is improving as the season is progressing. They have good coaches over there on the offensive side that have been around the block and know what offensive football is about. They will be well prepared when they come into Carbondale."
Q: "Have you gotten a better feel after this game for Kory's strengths and weaknesses? Are there particular things that you will be doing differently?"
"With Kory, we'll be doing a lot of the same, we just have to do it better. There's not going to be a wholesale, reinvent-the-wheel thing. We just need to do what we do a little bit better. Kory has to take that next step with his progression. It's nice having that first game under his belt now, that's not an issue anymore, he knows what it's all about going against as good of a defense as we've seen this year."
Q: "You have a lot of veteran players, but do you feel that your team needs to learn how to win again?"
"Winning is not easy. As soon as you experience a loss you have to reinvent the feel for winning. Losses hurt, and you have to find a way to get that out of your system, and the best way to do that is to win again."
Q: "On the play from their goal line, can anything be changed in the setup as far as blocking assignments to push the ball in?"
"Here's what happened there. First down, we ran the ball. We were on the eight yard line, they were in a base defense. Jewel did a good job, he got in there and took it down to the six-inch line or wherever it ended up being. The next two plays we came in and did a quarterback sneak. We knew they were in a gap-type defense. When you get down in there, you're talking about as many people as you possibly can in a concentrated area, and they had a lot of success in getting penetration upfield, so that's where we felt our best chance for success was going with the quarterback sneak. Didn't get the first one and thought, 'Well, let's do it again.' We knew we were going for it on fourth down, it wasn't even a discussion, we were going for it on fourth down, so that's another reason why we did two quarterback sneaks in a row.
We just felt the percentages were with us to get it in. We didn't get it in and then we went to the handoff with Jewel, where we were thinking like everyone else, let's give it to the best back and power it in, and they did make contact with us in the backfield. That was one of the things we were worried about. They made penetration and they stopped us. That was a situation with the goal line stand where you go, 'Well, why didn't you throw it?' When you have six inches to go, we just thought we could take it in. At that point in time you have to be able to get six inches. If they stop you, they stop you. That was our mentality at that point in time. We weren't going to do anything fancy, we weren't going to try to out-clever ourselves, which now looking back it probably would have been better taking something out on the perimeter or doing a pass, but if that doesn't work then you're criticized for that. I've been coaching a long time, and one thing I know is that when you don't get in on the goal line when you're right there, no matter what you do, if it doesn't work, you're going to be criticized."
Q: "Is everything still in place as far as the field goal unit? Will Jackson (MacLachlan) still be kicking normally?"
"Everything is still set there, he just has to make them. He's capable of doing it, he just has to do it."
Q: "Is Terrence Isaiah doubtful for this weekend?"
"It's too early in the week to know, I don't know what his status will be. He was feeling good yesterday, just don't know with the back, you just don't want to bring them back too soon."
Q: "Would you say that the defensive effort Saturday was one of the best in your time here?"
"No doubt. I don't want to crown it the best ever because we've had some pretty god defensive efforts. -- at Northern Iowa and some other big games that were decided by some big defensive plays and some goal line stands, too. The thing we need to do a little better defensively is to make that one extra play, whether it's forcing a turnover. Scoring on defense is still one of our goals. We can do better."
Q: "Is this a must-win game?"
"They're all must-win. Every single one. Western Illinois was a must-win game, last week was a must-win game, this week is a must-win game. That's the world we live in right now, there's no comfort."
"John will not be playing this year. With LaVarus, he's still rehabbing so I don't know what his status is, it's still a couple of weeks out."
Q: "How has Kayon (Swanson) responded to all the attention he is receiving from blockers?"
"He's done well. That's the 3-4 defense, you build it around your noseguard. The more people aware of our noseguard, the better. We want our noseguard getting double and triple teamed. Kayon may not want that, but we'll keep him moving. He's athletic enough with our movement schemes that he can get penetration. He's a playmaker. You also noticed him on Saturday with the pass rush. Anytime you can get your noseguard to be an effective pass rusher, that bodes well for what you're doing up front."