Coach Dale Lennon
Oct. 28, 2013
By DeMario Phipps-Smith and Jordan Roberts
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki football coach Dale Lennon held his weekly press conference on Monday. SIU is coming off a bye week and will face Western Illinois on the road on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m.
Q: How does Western Illinois look on offense?
“They have a redshirt freshman quarterback whose performance has been strong. He is also a heck of a competitor and a tough kid. They have a few running backs that are pretty good. Watson is a big back, so they have that ability to pound you. They have two true freshmen who are starting for them at the receiver position and are making big plays. They play a gutsy offense where they battle and find ways to score. They are very creative and determined offensively.”
Q: Steve Crutchley was a member of your coaching staff last year at SIU, and is coaching for WIU this year. Does that impact how you approach the game?
“That was addressed in pre-fall camp. This isn’t the first time we have had coaches leave and go to other teams. We had our terminology changed so when you get to a point like this you don’t have to go through all these extra things to be ready for the game. The coaches probably need to be a little more alert so our signals aren’t being stolen and our communication with the players is effective.”
Q: How do you prepare Ryan West for the possibility of teams pressuring him a little bit more because of lack of experience?
“Well, you just throw him to the wolves, and that’s the only way to see if he is ready or not. In these types of situations, you ask the other players to step it up a notch to support Ryan. We have to make sure he’s not getting hit to shake his confidence. Our receivers also have to be spot on. You just basically have everyone pick up their level of play.”
“Yes, you can see a little difference in the feel of the offense. He seems more comfortable and calm and is establishing himself as the quarterback of the offensive unit.”
Q: Would your game plan be a lot different if Kory Faulkner was playing?
“Well, quarterbacks have different preferences so naturally you call a game plan accordingly. There will be a difference with Ryan.”
“Going back to this past week, these guys didn’t have the opportunity to get the week off because they were trying to get comfortable with Ryan. So that’s part of the confidence that we are trying to build within that unit.”
Q: Western Illinois made some big errors against Missouri State. How important is it that your defense or special teams take a hold of those opportunities that they will probably have?
“Every week its critical. Western Illinois against Missouri State was a chaotic game. That game was a battle. Western Illinois came back from a 21-point deficit. In the game with Youngstown, WIU made some costly mistakes and could have won that game. WIU is young, so they are finding their identity with their new coaching staff. They have the tools. They have a running back that will rush for more than 1,000 yards. They have receivers who are playmakers. They have an experienced O-line.
Q: How was Kory Faulkner’s surgery?
“The doctor was very optimistic. The doctor gave Kory some very positive feedback, and Kory is really optimistic that he can be back soon. I don’t know how soon, realistically, but that’s the feeling you want Kory to have. If he heals like I hope he can, he’ll play.”
Q: How much has Kory helped Ryan West in preparation for this game?
“I think Kory is going to be a very big help, just because he went through it himself. I think Kory can give him some insight and be that calming element. Naturally, Kory will be pretty involved on the sidelines.”
Q: What parts of Ryan West’s game do you like?
“I think he has the full package. His arm strength is good. I think the thing I like about Ryan is that as the back-up quarterback he has spent a lot of time watching film. He’s been preparing every week as much as he can without actually being out there taking the reps. I think he can make the throws he needs to in our offense. He’s been running this system since he was a true freshman, and he is familiar with the schemes. There is no reason for us not to expect the same things from Ryan as we would with Kory. Kory was just making throws with so much confidence; you were left saying ‘wow.’ He elevated his play to that level, I’m not so sure Ryan West will be at that level yet.”
Q: How well, today, do you think the team has moved past Kory’s injury in hopes of a playoff push?
“Our whole focus is winning this week. Are we capable of winning this game on Saturday? The week off has been good for us. The reality that Kory isn’t going to play has sunk in. We have been able to do some things in practice that have been good for Ryan. The ability to have the No. 1 offense go against the No. 1 defense raised the confidence level of the team.