Coach Dale Lennon
Oct. 15, 2012
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki football coach Dale Lennon held his weekly press conference on Monday. Southern Illinois (4-3, 3-1) will travel to face Youngstown State (4-2, 1-2) Saturday at 3 p.m. Central Time. A complete video of the press conference is available on Salukis All-Access.
Q: In its two loses, Youngstown State has struggled in the second half. What are defenses taking away from them?
“Both games were different. North Dakota State just got on a roll, whereas against Illinois State, they just switched up their defense. Illinois State went to more of a three down line, when they are normally a four down line. It was a situation where Youngstown State didn't really make any mistakes. They just weren't getting the ball in the end zone, and that's what Illinois State took advantage of.”
Q: With your three down lineman, do you think you will be able to do some of the things Illinois State did?
“I don't think Youngstown State was expecting that, so I don't think they had prepared for a lot of that. They know we run three down lineman. They will be game planning for that. Their offense is a fun offense to watch. They are very well coached and will find your weak areas and know how to attack you. Every week is different, so they will have a different game plan for us, and they will throw some stuff at us that we haven't seen. That will be the key for us, how we adjust to that and how do we defend it. In our game last year with them, we gave up big plays. We were leading at halftime 17-7 and came out in the second half and just didn't perform well. Their first play of the second half was a 60-yard run. The key for us defensively is we just can't give up big plays.”
Q: After watching the film, the big plays you gave up, were they missed tackles or bad assignments?
“It was pretty much as I expected. When you have a good quality running back, you use your angles, but sometimes a good back can take those angles and use them against you. They got us out of position, and therefore he made us pay for that. That is the mark of any good running back.”
Q: Do you see similarities between the UNI running backs and Youngstown State's backfield?
“They are very similar. They both have a power game. They are tough to bring down, and they both are very good at breaking tackles. We have to make sure we are wrapping up and hanging on the best we can. Just trying to knock them down is not going to do it. That will be something we emphasize this week.”
Q: How do you maintain a confidence going into this game?
“You just have to play the next game. The time of the season is pretty significant. We are going into week eight, and there are only 11 on the season. With that, this would be a good time for us to start to peak. I talked about getting better, and at some point in time we need to be at the top, and we have to find a way to get all facets playing as well as they can.”
Q: Youngstown State is a pretty good place to play, and usually has pretty big crowds, just talk about the environment.
“My theory has always been that you want to go places with big atmospheres. You want to go to places where fans are all over the place. That is fun. The thing that is the most challenging is when you take a team to a place that is empty and there is no atmosphere. That is a difficult road game to play, but when you know you're going to a place that will have thousands of fans screaming against you, there is a little excitement to that.”
Q: Has Emmanuel Souarin brought a sort of toughness to the team?
“Emmanuel from day one has had a quiet confidence. He is not a vocal individual, but the way he carries himself on the practice field, in the game, it has rubbed off on the team. When he introduced himself to the team, he got up and said a few words, and those words were powerful enough for the whole team to get excited and start clapping. He has brought a sort of attitude to the secondary, to the defense that has fit in very well and is kind of what we needed.”
Q: YSU has only given up five sacks. What is your biggest obstacle to get to the quarterback?
“They return a veteran offensive line. All five of those individuals were playing last year. Plus Hess is just good. He is tough to get to. We will have our schemes, and we will have our match-ups. It’s not going to be automatic trying to get pressure on him every time they throw the football.”
Q: Early on in the game Saturday, Pruitt really wasn't involved in the offense. Did you make changes to get him more involved?
“No, in fact, the touchdown catch he had wasn't Kory's read, but he threw a ball where only MyCole could catch it. That one, he just made the play. You just have to keep playing, and that's just football. When your turn comes, you just have to step up and make the play. He is a guy that we are very confident in, so I know our quarterbacks are always looking for him.“
Q: Could you talk about your offense as a whole?
“We are seeing improvement. The biggest thing is if you can have a tie game going into the fourth quarter, and you can go on a 19 play, (8:55) drive to put the winning score on the scoreboard. That is big. That is something you can build upon. It's not always going to be a numbers game because right now we are not putting up the numbers that will put a lot of fear in opposing teams, but we are making the plays we need to sustain drives. We are doing things to give us good field position, and we are playing good defense, so right now our offense is complementing that defense. From where we were five or six weeks ago, we have seen a lot of improvement. I'm still waiting for us to do a little more than we have shown, and I think we are capable of doing that.”
Q: How much are penalties a concern for you?
“The last one that we had was a concern for us. The individual involved just knew that the emotions of the game got the best of him, and you can't do that. You have to have that poise under pressure, and we didn't do that, so that one is a concern. The pass interference calls, that is probably one of the most difficult calls for an official to make just because they are always going to be more forgiving of the offense and more strict against the defense. It is frustrating for defensive players because you can do everything right and be in great position and still get called for the interference. You can't get uptight or upset about those. That's part of the game, and the officials will make their calls. You just want to make sure your players continue to play aggressively. One call that we had, we were saving a touchdown when we got beat. That was a technique I wasn't happy with but we were smart enough to not let the guy get open down the sideline.”
Q: How good do you feel throwing to Adam Fuehne?
“I wish we would do it more. I like having a 6-7 receiver, and he can catch the football. He has had a cast on his hand, but we have had that taken off. He is a guy that will be involved in every game plan we have and even down in the red zone, I think he will be an asset with him and MyCole Pruitt as the two tight-ends. I think that’s a good combination.”