Coach Dale Lennon
Nov. 18, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki football coach Dale Lennon held his weekly press conference on Monday. SIU will close out the regular season at Indiana State on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1:05 p.m.
Q: How deceiving is Indiana State’s 1-10 record?
“At the beginning of the year, they came in picked to finish high in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, so I believe that it’s very deceiving. They have had a hard schedule, so they’ve been playing catch up ball since the beginning of the season. Even with the hard matchups, you can see the fight of the team, which shows how much character they have in their program.”
Q: What styles or system has Mike Sanford put in since he became the new coach?
“Offensively they are very balanced with the run-pass. If you look at the stats it’s almost 50-50. Injuries have been a concern. Anytime you lose a running back like they did– and the other injuries that have happen on the team–it’s hard to bounce back. Defensively they play pretty well. Connor Underwood is having an amazing season with impressive numbers. They have some good young talent to escape from the injuries they have.”
Q: Indiana State has a pretty young defense especially their front seven. How do you plan to take advantage of that?
“You just do what you do. That’s the key. You mainly try to find gaps where your scheme can beat their scheme. Another thing we’ll do is try to find concepts that they have struggled with during the year. That’s how you really piece together a game plan.”
Q: Do you think Ken Malcolm will have a big role again this weekend?
“Well, Ken has an important role. The game kind of controls that to a certain extent. Weather could be an issue since we’re playing in November. Right now our offense is planning on a perfect world as far as the plays that they want to run, but the reality of it is, that game plan can change drastically as we get closer to game day. The nice thing is we have Ken Malcolm, Malcolm Agnew, and Tay Willis, so we have a pretty good running back combo, which we will use effectively.”
“I’m not even going to do that for the simple fact that it’s not over. You can’t sum up the season when you’re in the middle of it. That’s like trying to sum up the game while you’re playing it. It’s never decided until the end, and that’s what we have to do, finish the regular season and see what it looks like.”
Q: What do you think your chances are of making the playoffs?
“All we can do is take care of business. Some people love the MVFC and would want to see five teams come out of the conference, and others think that they should go by the win-loss column only. This the first year with this selection committee. They have rewritten some of the selection criteria, so we just have to see what’s in store.”
Q: What is it like preparing the seniors preparing for their last regular season game?
“Well it’s a sobering effect. You can see it in there eyes that they know it’s all coming to an end. As a head coach you kind of connect with your seniors more, especially in the last couple of weeks because you know after that last game, your relationship is going to change, and you just want to appreciate that coach-player relationship as much as you can and as long as it lasts. I just think the whole appreciation of the process is much more valued and enjoyed.”
Q: Ryan West wasn’t perfect but what positives do you take away from Illinois State?
“I think you have to look at the whole game. He had some difficulties in the first half where you can almost say he struggled. He was then able to overcome and adapt, and the game didn’t overwhelm him. In the second half he had a 94-yard drive for a score where he actually looked like a veteran quarterback. His throws were on the mark. His pocket presence was good. Ryan made some very difficult throws, and the receivers made great catches. I just think you can see him getting more confidence, and I think that was the main reason why you saw his level of play increase as the game progressed because you saw his level of confidence increase.
Q: How important is it to get ahead early?
“It’s always good to get a lead no matter if they’ve won eight in a row or lost eight in a row. You really just have to be ready to battle. This is a team that beat us last year and kept us from going to the playoffs, and a lot of those players are still on the team.”