MVFC Previews: Southern Illinois

Since winning the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2009, Southern Illinois has taken a step back over the past three seasons. The Salukis have compiled a 15-18 overall mark while winning eleven of twenty-four league games.

On October 20, Youngstown State led 21-17 at the half. However, the Salukis scored 21 unanswered points in the final thirty minutes to improve to 5-3 and 4-1 in the league. The Penguins turned the ball over 5 times compared to SIU’s zero turnovers. MyCole Pruitt grabbed 6 receptions for 93 yards from Kory Faulkner who finished with 185 on the day with two six pointers. Southern Illinois scored three touchdowns on defensive plays (2 fumble recoveries and 100 yard interception return by Anthony Thompson).

YSU vs. SIU: Last Five Meetings
Oct. 20, 2012 – Southern Illinois, 38-21
Oct. 15, 2011 – Youngstown State, 35-23
Sept. 25, 2010 – Youngstown State, 31-28
Oct. 24, 2009 – Southern Illinois, 27-8
Oct. 18, 2008 – Southern Illinois, 33-0

Southern Illinois Salukis’ Football Preview
by Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Dale Lennon, 6th Season (35-23) at Southern Illinois
2012 Record: 6-5 (5-3), Missouri Valley Football Conference
2012 Post-Season Finish: Did Not Qualify
Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 4
Offense: Multiple
Defense: 3-4

2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 22.5 (247)
Passing Yards: 172.7 (1900)
Rushing Yards: 123.2 (1355)
Points Allowed: 19.5 (214)
Passing Yards Allowed: 211.2 (2323)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 111.3 (1224)

Returning Leaders
Passing: Kory Faulkner – 1865 yards, 58.8 Comp. % (191-325), 11 TDs
Rushing: Mika’il McCall – 130 att, 489 yards, 8 TDs
Receiving: MyCole Pruitt – 49 catches, 577 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Bryan Presume – 78
Sacks: Tyler Williamson – 4.5
Interceptions: D.J. Cameron – 2

2013 Schedule
Aug. 31 – at Illinois
Sept. 7 – Eastern Illinois
Sept. 14 – Charleston
Sept. 21 – Southeast Missouri State
Sept. 28 – Youngstown State
Oct. 5 – at South Dakota State
Oct. 12 – at Northern Iowa
Oct. 19 – North Dakota State
Nov. 2 – at Western Illinois
Nov. 9 – Missouri State
Nov. 16 – Illinois State
Nov. 23 – at Indiana State

Offensive Strength: The passing game should benefit from having their passer (Kory Faulkner) and a couple of his targets (MyCole Pruitt, LaSteven McKinney, John Lantz) back in 2013. Faulkner completed 191 of 325 passes for 1865 yards last year. Pruitt was named to the First-Team All-MVFC from his tight end position. MyCole made 49 receptions for 577 yards (4 TDs). McKinney (43 catches, 363 yards) and Lantz (26 catches, 250 yards) caught a combined 69 passes for an average of 8.9 stripes.

Offensive Weakness: The offense turned the ball over 22 times (10 INTs/12 fumbles lost) last year. The rushing attack was able to only gain an average of 3.2 yards and the passing game accumulated just 9.7 yards per reception. The Salukis converted 30% of their third down plays (51-169). Each of those numbers will be needed to be improved upon if SIU has hopes of making the post-season.

Defensive Strength: Despite losing seven starters from a year ago, the linebacker tandem of Cory Lee (36 tackles) and Bryan Presume (78 tackles, 2 sacks) along with D.J. Cameron (58 tackles, 2 interceptions) and Terrell Wilson (60 tackles) in the defensive is a good building block for the defensive unit. Last year, the defense forced 24 turnovers (9 INTs/15 fumbles).

Defensive Weakness: Southern Illinois will miss their starting defensive line. Ken Boatright (62 tackles, 5.5 sacks) and Eze Obiora (50 tackles, 8 sacks) manned the ends while Kayon Swanson (53 tackles) filled the middle. Boatright signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Storylines Facing the Salukis
1. Kicking Specialists are Back. Senior Austin Pucylowski punted 71 balls for an average of 40.2 yards as a junior. The 6’4 Honorable Mention recipient placed 23 of his kicks inside the twenty yard line. Sophomore Austin Johnson was 22 of 23 on his extra point kicks and 7 of 12 on his field goals last fall.

2. With Strother Gone…Steve Strother ended his career with the Salukis as 7th on the all-time list in all-purpose yards. Who will take over at running back in 2013? The leading candidate appears to be Mika’il McCall, the former Iowa Hawkeye. Last fall, McCall ran for 489 yards and scored 8 touchdowns on the ground. Mika’il also proved himself to be worthy as a pass catcher as he snagged 17 passes for a 10.2 average and a score. A couple possible candidates to share the load is Oregon State transfer Malcolm Agnew (son of former NFL defensive lineman Ray Agnew) and former Georgia Bulldog Ken Malcolme. Agnew joins his older brother Ray who is a fullback on the team. The 5’9 rusher gained 692 yards in two seasons in Corvallis. Malcolme rushed for 272 yards (2 TDs) as a sophomore last year for the ‘Dawgs. In 2012, SIU only ran for 3.2 yards as a team.

3. On the Rise: Williamson. Junior Tyler Williamson (6’2, 220-lb) appears to be a player on the verge of greatness. Williamson was named to the All-Newcomer Team a year ago. He compiled 32 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks while recovering 2 fumbles and intercepting a pass. He should fit right in with Cory Lee and Bryan Presume.

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