Football hosts Youngstown State on Saturday

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    Oct. 11, 2011

    By John Lock

    Complete Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

    Game Day Quick Facts
    RADIO: Saluki Sports Network with Mike Reis (play-by-play), Gene Green and Joel Sambursky on WVZA 105.1-FM in Carbondale. Other radio affiliates in the PDF at the top of the page.

    It's Homecoming weekend as SIU hosts Youngstown State on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:05 p.m...Fans can listen to the game on the Saluki Sports Network with the call of Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Reis, who will be joined by Gene Green and Joel Sambursky. Tune into WVZA 105.1 in Carbondale to hear Reis' call...SIU is second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in total offense and second in total defense...A crew will televise the game in Youngstown, Ohio, but the game will not be available in Illinois...The 2011 season marks the 99th year of football at Southern Illinois and the 96 season fielding a team (SIU did not have teams in 1918, 1920 and 1943 because of the World Wars)...Safety Mike McElroy is just two tackles away from becoming the 37th player in program history with 200 career tackles...Head coach Dale Lennon needs one win to tie Carmen Piccone for the sixth most victories in school history with 28.

    Saluki Headlines
    • Sunday, Oct. 30, will be the last full day to bid on a jersey for the Black Out Cancer Game on Nov. 12 against Eastern Illinois. Bidding will permanently close at midnight on Sunday night. So far, more than $53,000 has been raised for cancer research. For more information on the game and bidding, go to page five or
    • The Salukis have won nine straight Homecoming games.
    • Head coach Dale Lennon announced that fullback John Goode's career is over due to lingering back issues.

    The Youngstown State Penguins
    After jumping out to a 2-1 start, Youngstown State has dropped its last two contests. After scoring just six points in the first game of the season against Michigan State, the Penguins have scored at least 27 points in each of the last four games, including a 77-point outburst against Valparaiso. The YSU offense is ranked eighth nationally and first in the conference in yards per game. The Penguins have been incredibly efficient in the red zone, converting 17 of 19 opportunities, and all 17 of those scores have been touchdowns. Youngstown State has limited penalties and turnovers. The Penguins are seventh nationally in fewest penalties per game and only have six turnovers in five games, but YSU has only forced six turnovers.

    YSU is led by running back Jamaine Cook, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last four games. Quarterback Kurt Hess has passed for more than 200 yards in each of the last four games and thrown 11 touchdowns on the season.

    SIU vs. NDSU - The Series
    Southern Illinois is trying to even the series at 11 games a piece. SIU is leading the series in Carbondale, 5-4-1. Southern has won six of the last eight against the Penguins. The win proved to be the last win of 2010 for YSU; they dropped their last seven games of the season after beating SIU. In last year's contest, Southern jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but Youngstown scored 31 unanswered points and held on for 31-28 win. SIU turned the ball over four times and couldn't overcome 111 yards from Jamaine Cook. Kurt Hess threw for only 94 yards, but he tossed three touchdown passes to lead the Guins to a victory. Youngstown and SIU both have great ground games, both averaging more than 200 yards on the ground. Both teams have controlled the clock; SIU is 14th nationally in time of possession and YSU is eighth.

    Hampton rushes for more than 100 yards in three straight games
    Transfer Jewel Hampton has seen his production with the Salukis rise each game. After splitting carries with Steve Strother in the first two games, Hampton has taken the bulk of the carries in each of the last three contests. In the Missouri State game, Hampton set a career high with 119 yards rushing, breaking his previous best he set while playing at Iowa. Just one week later, Hampton shattered that mark, rushing for 146 yards on a career-high 22 carries against Western Illinois. His 146 yards rushing were the most for a Saluki since Strother rushed for 150 against WIU last season. Against North Dakota State, Hampton got another career high in carries, 23, and finished with 120 yards rushing. He became the first Saluki to rush for 100 yards in three straight games since Deji Karim rushed for more than 100 yards in five straight contests in 2009.

    Hampton earned his first career start against North Dakota State. Hampton played in 15 contests at Iowa in 2008 and 2010 but never started a game due to a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2009 season. Including his rushing totals at Iowa, Hampton surpassed 1,000 career yards in the first quarter of the North Dakota State game. Hampton now has four career 100-yard games and 385 yards rushing in the last three games.

    The rushing attack hasn't translated into wins for the Salukis. Entering the season, SIU was 16-1 under head coach Dale Lennon when a Saluki rushed for 100 or more yards, but the Salukis are just 1-3 in 2011 when having a 100-yard rusher.

    Defense Solid Through Five Games
    The Saluki defense has been one of the nation's top units through the first half of the season. The defense is ranked in the top 30 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and sacks. The defense now has 14 sacks on the season, including eight in the last two games. Youngstown State is among the national leaders in sacks allowed, only allowing one sack per game on average.

    North Dakota State entered the game averaging better than 38 points per game, but the Saluki defense dominated the Bison for most of the game on Saturday. The Bison didn't record a first down until late in the third quarter and only ended up with nine total first downs--only the second time since 2006 that SIU has held an opponent to single-digit first downs. The Bison only rushed for 60 yards and were limited to 1.8 yards per rush. The unit hasn't allowed an FCS opponent more than 125 yards rushing in a game, and only Western Illinois has passed for more than 170. Opponents are only converting 34% of their third downs.

    NDSU started the game 0-9 on third downs. Seven of those nine plays were passing plays, and the Salukis got two sacks and an interceptions. Only one of the passes was completed, and the Salukis stuffed it short of the first down. Opponents have only converted 34% of their third downs this season, which ranks 35th nationally and third in the conference. YSU enters the game converting 48% of their third downs and leads the conference in both scoring offense and total offense, but the Salukis enter the game second in the MVFC in total defense and third in scoring defense after holding North Dakota State to nine points.

    North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jenson entered the game having not thrown an interception all year, but defensive back Terrell Wilson picked off Jenson in the second half. Wilson only intercepted one pass in his first 12 games for the Salukis, but he now has two interceptions in the last three games.

    Experienced in the Trenches
    Southern Illinois returns nine letterwinners on the offensive line from the 2010 team. The nine letterwinners entered the year with 88 career starts. The group is led by preseason All-Americans Bryan Boemer (center) and David Pickard (left tackle). Both players have started in every game over the past two seasons and were All-Conference selections each year.

    Southern Illinois averaged 189.5 rushing yards per game in 2010, but the group has made it a goal to average over 200 yards this season. SIU is currently third in the conference and 15th nationally with 212.0 rushing yards per game, helping the Salukis win time of possession in each game. Four Salukis have rushed for at least 70 yards in a game: Hampton, Steve Strother, Paul McIntosh and Kory Faulkner.

    In the passing game, the offensive line has protected its quarterbacks well. The Salukis have only allowed five sacks all year, and they have only allowed multiple sacks in one game this season.

    Fuller's Big-Play Ability Leads Receiving Corps
    Cam Fuller has proved a big-play threat in the passing game. Fuller has two 100-yard receiving games this season, and he has caught a pass of at least 31 yards in each game this season, including a career-best 70 yard touchdown against SEMO in the season opener. Fuller has been SIU's lone big-play threat the last two weeks. Not including kick returns, SIU only has two plays of 30 yards or more the last two weeks, both passes to Fuller. In the season's first three games, five different Salukis accounted for a play of 30 or more yards. Fuller is averaging 76 yards per game receiving, which is 44th nationally and third in the conference.

    Kick Returners Prove Dangerous
    Mulku Kalokoh and Steve Strother have proved dangerous kick returners for the Salukis. Against WIU, Strother returned five kicks for 136 yards, including a 45-yarder he nearly broke for a touchdown. NDSU kicked twice to Kalokoh, but after he nearly got loose on a 36-yard return, they kicked short on their final kickoff. Strother is averaging 30.0 yards per kickoff return this season, which leads the Valley. Kalokoh is averaging 27.0, which would rank second in the conference behind Strother, but he hasn't had the minimum returns per game to qualify.

    Faulkner Makes First Career Start
    Kory Faulkner made his first career start on Saturday. Paul McIntosh started the first four games, but he was injured in the first half the Western Illinois game. Faulkner finished the contest and earned the starting duties while McIntosh recovers from a shoulder injury. Faulkner finished the NDSUgame 16-28 with 169 yards, but the Salukis couldn't get in the end zone in the 9-3 loss. Faulkner threw three interceptions in the loss.

    Against WIU, Faulkner entered facing a 14-0 deficit and had only thrown four career passes, but the redshirt sophomore rallied the Salukis for three touchdowns to tie the game at 21 in the fourth quarter. Faulkner threw for 143 yards, and he threw his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter. Faulkner spread his 13 completions around to five different receivers. After starting the game 0-3 on third down conversions, Faulkner led the Salukis to convert eight of their next 10 third-down conversions, including five straight and a third-down touchdown pass to Standiford.

    Faulkner had only played in four career games before Saturday's loss to Western Illinois, two of which were earlier this season. In the season-opening win at SEMO, Faulkner completed one pass for eight yards. He played briefly against Missouri State when McIntosh left to nurse an injury. He had only completed two career passes for a total of 16 yards before the WIU game.

    Faulkner is considered the fastest of the Saluki stable of quarterbacks, which he displayed with 70 rushing yards in the loss to WIU. His arm isn't bad either. In his high school career, Faulkner passed for 8.637 yards and threw 102 touchdowns. He was the Class 3A Offensive Player of the Year and was named first-team All-State by both the coaches and the media. The all-round athlete was also the team MVP of his basketball and golf teams, and he holds school basketball records for points and rebounds.

    Homefield Advantage
    Over the last eight seasons, Southern Illinois has posted a 42-5 record at home in regular season games. Included in that period is a 27-4 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games. If you add in home playoff games, the Salukis are 46-8 overall in Carbondale since 2003. SIU had a couple of home winning streaks snapped last season. It's loss to Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 18, 2010 was Southern's first home non-conference defeat since 2002 (16 games). That loss also ended a 19-game home winning streak in regular season games. Then on Oct. 16 when South Dakota State defeated SIU 31-10 in Saluki Stadium, that loss snapped a 13-game home winning streak in Missouri Valley Football Conference games. The longest home winning streak of all games (including the playoffs) is 12 games, which spanned from 2003-04.