Oct. 25, 2011
By John Lock
Game Day Quick Facts
TELEVISION: WSIU/Comcast with Scott Warmann (play-by-play) and Darren Kinnard
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.
LIVE STATS: SIUSalukis.com
VIDEO STREAMING: SIUSalukis.com (Premium)
Southern Illinois hosts Illinois State on Saturday, Oct. 29, for the Maroon Out game. Kickoff is set for 2:30 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...Fans can watch the game on WSIU, Channel 8...The 2011 season marks the 99th year of football at Southern Illinois and the 96th season fielding a team (SIU did not have teams in 1918, 1920 and 1943 because of the World Wars)...Safety Mike McElroy became the 37th player in program history with 200 career tackles...Jayson DiManche is 1.5 tackles for loss away from climbing into the top 20 in career tackles for loss...Head coach Dale Lennon needs one win to tie Carmen Piccone for the sixth most victories in school history with 28.
Bidding for Black Out Cancer jerseys ends Sunday, Oct. 30, at 11:59 p.m. So far, more than $63,500 has been pledged.
Steve Strother is third in the nation in kickoff return average. Strother is averaging 32 yards per kickoff return, which leads the MVFC by five yards per return.
Sophomore punter Austin Pucylowski has only allowed two of his last 25 punts to be returned. Fourteen of those punts were covered inside the 20.
The Saluki defense has been a balanced effort this year. The defense has held Northern Iowa to its season low points total and held North Dakota State to only nine first downs, and the D has done it with depth. No player has recorded more than eight tackles in a game this year. Kayon Swanson leads the team with 33 tackles, an average of just 4.7 tackles per game. But 17 players have recorded double-digit tackles this year, including seven with at least 25. Twenty players have contributed to a tackle for loss, and 11 players have contributed to a sack.
The Illinois State Redbirds
Illinois State is coming off its second consecutive victory over a ranked opponent with a big win against Indiana State last week. The Redbirds sit at 5-3, 3-2; they have won three games in a row and four of their last five. ISU has used a stout defense and potent offense to win the last three, its first three-game win streak since 2009. For their efforts against the Sycamores, ISU defenders Shelby Harris and Nate Palmer were named Defensive Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week, respectively. The defense is ranked second in the conference in total defense and first in rushing defense. The Redbirds only give up 73.2 yards per game on the ground--the only MVFC school to allowed fewer than 100 yards per game rushing. The offense is also ranked second in the conference with 383.5 yards per game.
Ashton Leggett leads the rushing attack, averaging 107.4 yards on the ground. Leggett has 10 touchdowns on the season. Matt Brown leads the Redbirds at quarterback. Brown completes nearly 70 percent of his passes and has 1,611 yards and 14 touchdowns, but his six interceptions are tied for second in the conference. Tyrone Walker leads the receiving corps and averages 70 yards per game, tied for fourth in the conference. Walker has caught seven of Brown's 14 touchdown passes.
The ISU defense has 31 sacks on the season. eight more than anyone else in the Valley. Illinois transfer Nate Palmer leads the MVFC with 10 sacks, and Colton Underwood and Evan Frierson join Palmer in the conference's top five. With Eric Brunner tied for ninth in the conference in sacks, Illinois State has four of the conference's top 10 sack machines. All four--Frierson, Palmer, Underwood and Brunner--are also in the top 10 in tackles for loss, with Frierson leading the team and conference with 13.0 sacks.
SIU vs. ISU - The Series
The SIU-ISU series is the second-longest running series for SIU. The teams have played 73 games and have played annually since 1970. The Salukis hold a 38-32-3 lead in the series and have won four straight. In games played in Carbondale, SIU leads the series 22-14-1 and has won four of the last five. Last year, SIU rolled to a 38-17 win in Normal. Chris Dieker only threw for 78 yards, but he only needed to throw 15 times all game; SIU rushed 64 times for 342 yards. Shariff Harris led the way with 37 carries, 163 yards and two touchdowns. Dieker added 91 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Steve Strother picked up 49 yards on seven carries. The Salukis outgained the Redbirds by more than 200 yards, nearly doubling ISU's offensive output. SIU ran 29 more plays than Illinois State and forced three Redbird turnovers. Southern Illinois held the ball for 39 minutes, 57 seconds, including 23 minutes in the second half alone. The SIU defense held Illinois State to 218 yards of total offense and just 69 yards rushing.
Defense Bounces Back at UNI-Dome
The SIU defense was dominating opponents before the Oct. 15 game against Youngstown State. The Salukis gave up 464 yards and 35 points to the Penguins. But the unit bounced back against Northern Iowa. The Saluki D held the Panthers to their lowest point total of the season. UNI came into the game averaging 31.2 points per game and putting up 384 yards per game, but SIU held UNI to 17 points and 288 yards.
The game marked the second time SIU's defense had held down the potent offense of a top-five team. North Dakota State entered the Oct. 8 game averaging better than 38 points per game, but the Saluki defense dominated the Bison for most of the game. 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.
Jewel Hampton: Touchdown Machine
Jewel Hampton has been a touchdown machine in his collegiate career. In fact, Hampton opened his collegiate career with a 22-yard touchdown run on his first career carry while he was a true freshman at Iowa in 2008. On his fifth carry of the 2011 season, he pounded in his first touchdown as a Saluki. He added on two more touchdowns in the SEMO game, giving Hampton three touchdowns in his first 12 touches at SIU.
After the loss to Ole Miss, Hampton's touches began to increase, and his yards and touchdowns increased with the touches. He scored two more touchdowns against WIU and three more against Youngstown State. Hampton now has five multi-touchdown games in his career; he has 17 touchdowns in 22 career games. In seven games this year, Hampton has nine touchdowns.
While at Iowa, Hampton only received 20 or more carries twice, and he made the most of them. As a true freshman, Hampton set career highs with 22 carries, 114 yards and three touchdowns at Indiana. After a knee injury sidelined Hampton for the 2009 season, in which he was slated to be the starter, he carried the ball 20 times for 80 yards and another touchdown in his first action of 2010. Another knee injury in his next game ended his season and Iowa career.
After 27 carries combined in his first two games, Hampton has gotten 20 or more carries in each of the last five. He has rushed for 530 yards and five touchdowns in the last five weeks. With four weeks to go, Hampton is already just three touchdowns shy of breaking into the top-10 list for rushing touchdowns in a season.
Newcomers and Underclassmen Step Up
A number of newcomers have stepped up for the Salukis. On defense, sophomore Terrell Wilson has been a leader of the defense in the last few games. Wilson started to step up at the end of 2010, starting the last three games of the season. He has started every game of 2011. After recording one interception in his first 12 games of his career, Wilson picked off two passes in a three game stretch earlier this season. He led the team and recorded a career high in tackles against North Dakota State with seven. A week later, Wilson picked up another seven tackles, including a tackle for loss, and is fourth on the team in tackles with 31. Of his 31 tackles, 21 have been solo tackles, which leads the team.
Kenneth Boatright has been a terror on the defensive line. Boatright is fifth on the team in tackles and tied for second in tackles for loss, with six. He leads the team in sacks with 4.5, two more than any other player. Boatright was the lone Saluki able to get to elusive UNI quarterback Tirrell Rennie last Saturday. Boatright finished the UNI game with five tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks and a fumble recovery. He now has a tackle for loss in five straight games and a sack in four of the last five.
On offense, tight end MyCole Pruitt has made himself a force in the offense. The redshirt freshman only caught four passes in his first three career games, but he has caught at least three passes in each of the last four games. Against Youngstown State, Pruitt had a breakout performance with eight catches and 124 yards receiving. Against Northern Iowa, Pruitt hauled in his first career touchdown pass. Pruitt leads the team with 24 receptions. Sophomore John Lantz has 16 receptions and averages more than 25 yards per game through the air. On the offensive line, true freshman Tanner Crum earned his first career start against Youngstown State. At quarterback, sophomore Kory Faulkner had season highs for the Salukis in completions and attempts against Youngstown State. Faulkner has improved each game he has started. Against Northern Iowa, Faulkner threw his first touchdown pass since the WIU game and didn't throw a pick.
Both specialists are underclassmen. Punter Austin Pucylowski was on the preseason watch list for the 2011 CFPA Punter Award. Of his last 18 kicks, Pucylowski has only allowed one to be returned. Ten of his last 18 punts have been inside the 20. Redshirt freshman kicker Jackson MacLachlan has nailed six field goals, including a game winner against Missouri State that earned him MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. MacLachlan has made 15 of 16 PATs.
Defense Turns Over Panthers
Northern Iowa entered last Saturday with only five turnovers all year. The Saluki D forced and recovered three Panther fumbles in the game, marking UNI's first multiple-turnover game of the season. The Salukis have eight fumble recoveries on the season, which already surpasses last year's total. The Salukis went a three-game stretch in 2010 without getting any turnovers, but the Salukis now have forced multiple turnovers in four of the last five games. The other game, against North Dakota State, SIU intercepted NDSU quarterback Brock Jenson, who hasn't thrown any other interceptions this year in 149 attempts.
Kick Returners Prove Dangerous
Steve Strother has proved a dangerous kick returner 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 32 yards per kickoff return this season, which is third in the nation. Youngstown State kicked deep to Strother five times. Strother had returns of 38, 39 and 56 yards before the Penguins kicked short on their final attempt. Strother was twice one man away from taking a kickoff back against YSU, but he couldn't evade the final tackler. For their effort, the entire "house" unit--the kickoff return unit--was given the team's special teams player of the week after the YSU game. Strother's 32 yards per kick return average would be the second best in school history if the season ended today, behind only Gerald Wilson, who averaged 34.4 yards per return in 1970.
Black Out Cancer Game Update
The athletics department announced last week that the final day to bid on a jersey for the Black Out Cancer game will be Sunday, October 30. Bidding will end at 11:59 p.m. Fans have the opportunity to bid on a black Under Armour jersey that will be worn during the Eastern Illinois game on Nov. 12. Jerseys will be selected in rank order, with the highest bid getting the first choice of jersey. Winning bidders will be allowed to put the name of a cancer victim or survivor on the back of the jersey. The NCAA allowed Southern Illinois a one-time waiver to put different names on the back of the jerseys after senior safety Mike McElroy, who proposed the idea, personally petitioned the NCAA. After the game, the game-worn jerseys will be given to the bidders to keep. So far, SIU has raised pledges for $63,655, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to American Cancer Society. The bidding has goes up every day, and the bids have increased nearly $25,000 in the last three weeks.