Coach Dale Lennon
Nov. 4, 2013
By DeMario Phipps-Smith and Jordan Roberts
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki football coach Dale Lennon held his weekly press conference on Monday. SIU returns home for its final two regular season home games beginning this weekend when the Salukis face Missouri State on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. at Saluki Stadium.
Q: How do you think Ryan West played on Saturday?
“Ryan had a good start. That’s exactly what you want from any individual in his situation. He drove down the field, got some touchdowns, and took some hits. He had to run the ball a little bit, so he really got to experience what game speed was like, so that was positive. There were some growing pains that were there, but that’s what you expect from a freshman quarterback starting. We’re just looking at the improvement, which is what we’re mainly focusing on as of now.”
Q: What do you expect from Missouri State?
“You have to be ready for those defensive battles. Right now their defense is pretty good. I think they’re hitting the peak of their performance offensively and defensively. Last week they had three interceptions that they returned for touchdowns. You look at their schedule, and most of their losses were close games. They have lots of potential, and skill and they’re a good team.”
Q: Their top tackler is All-American safety Caleb Schaffitzel. What do you make of that since in a 3-4 your linebackers usually get the most tackles?
“Schaffitzel is pretty aggressive, and he will bate you into situations He does a good job filling the run.”
Q: Do they use both running backs, Mikael Cooper-Falls and Ryan Heaston?
Q: Are they like Crockett and Ojuri from North Dakota State, who are fairly similar to each other?
“They are a little more of speed backs. They’re kind of like the back you saw this past week, J.C. Baker.”
Q: How is MSU’s 3-4 defense different from yours?
“It’s pretty similar to ours. Terry Allen was the head coach at Northern Iowa when we got that package back in 1991, so some of the same roots with some of the schemes.”
Q: What is something that Ryan West is going to have to take into consideration going up against this strong Missouri State defense?
“You have to get the run game going then the play action pass. With the play action pass, you’re controlling the look that you’re giving your quarterback. Anytime you’re relying on straight dropback passing game, it comes down to reads and being able to identify the coverages that are being thrown at you, and the room for error now becomes greater.”
Q: Why have you played better on the road this season?
“The three FCS teams that we have lost to at home, their combined record is 25-2, so it’s a little bit of whom you’re playing. So that road game, home game nonsense needs to stop.
Q: Do you feel good about the plays you are calling and the situations you’re in?
“The game against Western Illinois was just one game that we could analyze. We had a two-score lead, and you just don’t want to put Ryan West, the offense or the team in a bad situation. We can’t be that cautious this week. We have to run our offense to the extent we were running it with Kory. We have to be confident in what we are doing, and we have to be able to execute.”
Q: What do you like most about your team right now?
“Number one, I like the personality of the team. I think that they are a fun group to be around. When we are on the road, there are always things happening that are memorable. You can tell the guys like being around each other. They have that ‘want-to’ desire to win. They are tired of being a middle of the pack team and want to take that next step to separate themselves and to be known as a playoff caliber football team. I think our guys have the desire to be great, and it’s across the board. There isn’t a lot of individualism on the team. It’s all about what do we have to do to be successful.”
Q: How well have the captains kept the team focused?
“Our senior leadership has been solid. I think we have a strong junior class as well. Our captains haven’t had to take complete lead within the team. They have done a good job in guiding the team in the direction it needs to go. The team’s been focused enough where we don’t need that one person to be the point man making everyone fall in line. Everyone is in this together.”
Q: Missouri State is has won three in a row. What do you need to do to stop their momentum?
“Each game is independent. If you are talking playoffs and the other team is talking about playoffs, then you are both playing pretty good football. It’s going to be a very heated, emotional and everything-on-the-line type game. I’m not sure if the fans understand the importance of this next game. This is a big, big game for us and there is a lot riding on it.”
Q: How important is it for the fans to come out and support the team?
“Any time you are playing at home, the more people who are in the stands, the better our chances of success. The players love it when the fans are there making noise. That’s a key ingredient for home field success.”
Q: What was Kory Faulkner’s role on the sideline last week?
“He was pretty important. I think more than anything else, he was there for assurance for Ryan (West). Every time Ryan would come off the field, he would go over and chat with Kory to make sure he was seeing things the right way. Kory knows from playing how to communicate with Ryan. He knows what it is like out there and how things are presenting themselves. I think Kory was that reassurance that Ryan was playing well and seeing what he was supposed to.”