Salukis ready for season finale vs. Western Illinois

    Eze Obiora is one of four Salukis in the top 100 nationally in sacks. Southern is 11th nationally with 30 sacks this season.

    Eze Obiora is one of four Salukis in the top 100 nationally in sacks. Southern is 11th nationally with 30 sacks this season.
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    Nov. 12, 2012

    Western Illinois (3-7, 1-6 MVFC) at Southern Illinois (5-5, 4-3 MVFC)
     Date Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012
     Time 2 p.m. CT
     Location Carbondale, Ill. - Saluki Stadium
     Radio Saluki Sports Network
     Game Notes Southern Illinois | Western Illinois | MVFC
     Video Stream Saluki All-Access
     Live Stats Gametracker
     Social Media @SIU_Football


    - Kory Faulkner is the 11th player in school history to throw for 3,000 career yards. He enters the game with 3,218 career passing yards, which ranks 10th on SIU's all-time list.

    Faulkner has thrown for a career-high 1,733 yards this season. That puts him 267 passing yards shy of becoming the eighth player in school history to throw for 2,000 yards in a single season.

    - Faulkner has completed 178 passes this season, the seventh highest total by a Saluki quarterback in a single season. Eight more completions would tie him for fourth place (186), and 25 completions would tie him for third (203).

    Kory Faulkner threw for 384 yards against Southeast Missouri State earlier this year, the third-highest single-game passing total in school history. He also rushed for 15 yards in the game. His 399 yards of total offense are the fourth most in a single game in school history. Faulkner now holds two of the top six single-game total offense marks in school history.

    Sophomore tight end MyCole Pruitt is the 20th player in school history to record 1,000 career receiving yards. He has 1,096 receiving yards for his career, which puts him at 17th on the all-time list. He is 28 yards away from matching his 2011 season total of 562 receiving yards.

    Pruitt ranks 13th on the school's all-time list with 85 career receptions. He has the second most receptions by a tight end in school history, trailing only Damon Jones, who caught 99 passes in his career.

    - Pruitt's next touchdown reception will give him eight for his career, tying him for 14th place on SIU's career list.

    - LaSteven McKinney has a touchdown in each of the last three games. Two of those scores were touchdown receptions, and one was a rushing touchdown. He has three touchdown receptions this season and is the only receiver other than Pruitt to record more than one touchdown reception.

    - After recording zero receptions against both Indiana State and Illinois State, McKinney has 21 catches in the last four weeks and two touchdown catches.

    David Lewis has recorded at least one catch in 13 consecutive games, dating back to last season. Lewis is the only SIU receiver with at least one catch in every game in 2012.

    - After recording just 11 receptions in the first seven games of the season, Steve Strother has caught 10 passes over the last three games. He set a career high with six receptions at Youngstown State.

    - Strother is the 34th player in school history to run for 1,000 yards in a career. He enters the game with 1,362 career rushing yards, 22nd on the school's all-time list.

    - Strother has 464 rushing yards this season, three yards shy of his career-best of 467, which he accomplished as a sophomore in 2010. 

    - Strother has 3,125 all-purpose yards in his career. Strother ranks seventh in school history in career all-purpose yards.

    - Southern set a Saluki Stadium record with 565 yards of total offense against SEMO. SIU outgained SEMO 212 yards to four in the first quarter and 364 to 30 in the first half. Against SEMO, Southern Illinois racked up 272 yards of total offense and 21 points before the Redhawks obtained a single first down.


    - Southern Illinois has returned a fumble for a touchdown three times this season. SIU had never previously recorded more than two fumble returns for touchdowns in any season in school history. 

    - Southern recorded a 100-yard defensive play in back-to-back weeks against Northern Iowa and Youngstown State. Bryan Presume returned a fumble 100 yards against Northern Iowa, and  Anthony Thompson  returned an interception 100 yards against Youngstown State. 

    - Southern Illinois is the only school in MVFC history to record 100-yard defensive plays in back-to-back weeks.

    Before the Northern Iowa game, SIU had only one 100-yard play in its 936-game history--JerMarsh Robinson's 100-yard kickoff return in 2000. 

    Eight of SIU's 27 touchdowns (30 percent) have been on defense or special teams. Seven of those eight non-offensive touchdowns have occurred in the last four games. SIU has a non-offensive score in five straight games and six of the last seven.

    Southern scored on offense, defense and special teams in back-to-back weeks against Northern Iowa and Youngstown State. Southern had never previously scored in all three phases in back-to-back weeks.

    - SIU scored three non-offensive touchdowns against Youngstown State, the first time the Salukis had done that since returning a fumble, interception and blocked punt against SEMO in 2005.

    Southern Illinois' defense is tied for third in the nation with 15 fumble recoveries this season, one shy of the national lead. That is the most fumble recoveries by the Salukis since 2003. The school record for fumble recoveries is 28, which was set during the national championship season of 1983. Southern has recovered at least 15 fumbles in a season four times in the last 25 years.

    Southern is tied for 15th nationally with 23 forced turnovers.

    Against Youngstown State, SIU forced five turnovers. The Salukis hadn't forced five turnovers in a game since 2009. In the Dale Lennon and Bubba Schweigert era, Southern has forced five or more turnovers five times. Under Lennon and Schweigert's leadership, the Southern defense has forced at least three turnovers 25 times in 57 games (44 percent).

    Sixteen players on the Saluki defense have recorded at least 20 tackles. Seven players have recorded an interception. Nine players have recorded a sack. Seventeen different players have recorded at least a half-tackle-for-loss. Thirteen different players have recovered a fumble, and 14 different players have forced a fumble.

    Southern is third in the conference in rush defense, allowing 120.8 yards per game. Western Illinois is ninth in the MVFC in rushing offense, gaining 122.8 yards per game.

    Bryan Presume earned National Linebacker of the Week honors from the College Football Performance Awards for his game against Northern Iowa after returning a fumble for 100 yards.

    - Eze Obiora earned National Defensive Lineman of the Week honors from the CFPA after posting 3.0 sacks against Eastern Illinois.

    - Mulku Kalokoh and Anthony Thompson earned Missouri Valley Football Conference Player of the Week honors for special teams and newcomer, respectively, for their performances against Youngstown State. Kalokoh blocked a punt that was recovered for a touchdown and returned four kickoffs for a total of 65 yards. Thompson recorded SIU's first-ever 100-yard interception return for a touchdown and recovered two fumbles.

    - Tyler Williamson was named MVFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Illinois State. He led the team with seven tackles and recorded a sack and his first career interception. He had 2.0 tackles for loss in the game

    The Saluki defense has at least one sack in 25 consecutive games and 38 of the last 39 games. In those 35 games, Southern has avoided being sacked six times.

    - Jayson DiManche has 35.0 career tackles for loss, fifth most in school history. Bryan Archibald holds the school record with 48.0. DiManche passed SIU great Bart Scott with a half-TFL against Indiana State earlier this season.

    SIU held Illinois State to 257 yards of total offense, more than 100 yards fewer than ISU's previous season low. Illinois State had only thrown three interceptions in five games before facing SIU, and the Salukis picked off ISU quarterback Matt Brown four times.

    - Emmanuel Souarin recorded a pick-six in week 4 against Missouri State.  Anthony Thompson's interception return against YSU gave the Salukis multiple interceptions returned for touchdowns in a season for the first time since recording four pick-sixes in 2009.

    - After failing to pick off a pass in the first three games, Southern Illinois has recorded eight interceptions in the last seven games.


    - Southern blocked a punt and returned it for it for a touchdown in three straight weeks against Illinois State, Northern Iowa and Youngstown State. SIU had never previously returned three blocked punts for a touchdown in a season, much less three consecutive weeks. Southern is the first known team in FCS history to block three punts and return them for touchdowns in three straight weeks. 

    Steve Strother is in third place in school history with 1,419 career kick return yards. He is also currently fourth in school history in kick return average, averaging 24.47 yards per return. Larry Warner averaged 26.93 yards per return in 2008 and 2009. 

    - Only 29 of Austin Pucylowski's 119 punts since the start of the 2011 season have been returned. Only 13 of his 65 punts in 2012 have been returned, and opponents have totaled 29 total yards on those returns. Southern Illinois is fourth nationally in punt return defense.

    - Against South Dakota State, Pucylowski pinned three punts inside the 10-yard line in the final seven minutes of the game.

    The Salukis are 18th nationally in net punting (37.73). 

    - Austin Johnson had hit six field goal attempts in a row before having a field goal blocked against South Dakota State. After missing his first three field goal attempts of the season, he has nailed seven of his last nine attempts.

    The Dawgs recorded their first blocked field goal since 2010 during the North Dakota State game. Tyler Williamson blocked the field goal, and the field position resulted in an SIU field goal.

    SIU has blocked five kicks in the last five weeks (3 punts, 1 field goal, 1 extra point).


    - Southern Illinois will wrap up the season at home. Southern is 2-2 at home this year and 44-9 in the last nine seasons. The Salukis are 28-8 at home in conference play during that time.

    The Salukis are 8-7 in their third season at Saluki Stadium.


    - After starting the season 3-2, WIU has lost five straight games to drop to 3-7 on the season.

    The Leathernecks have scored just eight offensive touchdowns this season, fewest in the MVFC. That is equal to the amount of touchdowns scored by SIU's defense and special teams.

    Running backs Nikko Watson and Ray Caulton have combined to average 116.6 rushing yards per game this year. Watson averages 63.7 yards per game, and Caulton averages 52.9 yards per game.


    - Western Illinois leads the all-time series, 34-19-4. Southern has dominated the series in recent history, winning nine games in a row against WIU before losing last year at Western, 27-21.

    This will be only the second time that these two teams meet at Saluki Stadium, where the Dawgs beat WIU, 20-10, in 2010.


    - Southern Illinois' fundraising efforts for the Black Out Cancer game raised more than $45,000 in partnership with Southern Illinois Healthcare to build a cancer treatment center southern Illinois. Each winning bidder will honor a loved one by placing his or her name on the back of one of 80 special black jerseys worn by the Salukis on Saturday. Winning bidders are given the jerseys to keep after the game.

    - Including last year, the Salukis have raised more than $170,000 to fight cancer in southern Illinois.

    - This will be SIU's first game against an opponent that has not been ranked this season since facing Missouri State during the fourth week of the season.

    - Southern Illinois is coming off a bye week. Since 2003, the Salukis are 7-1 following a bye week with the only loss coming in 2010. SIU has also not lost a regular season finale since 2003. SIU has won eight consecutive regular season finales. Four of those games were conferences games.

    - A win against WIU would give Southern its first winning a season since winning the MVFC in 2009 with an 11-2 overall record.

    Southern Illinois is the only team in the MVFC without a 100-yard rusher this season. The most yards by an SIU back in a game this season was Mika'il McCall's 82 yards rushing against SEMO.