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Jeff Kolpack, Published August 28 2012

Southern Illinois coach Lennon hopes to shore up team's defense

FARGO – Southern Illinois head coach Dale Lennon and Salukis defensive coordinator Kyle Schweigert have been a coaching team for a long time, dating back to their days at the University of North Dakota.

The two built their 3-4 defense that was responsible for giving North Dakota State fits over a decade ago. But last year, it showed some flaws in SIU’s 4-7 season – the second sub-.500 season for Lennon.

The Salukis open Thursday night at Eastern Illinois, and Lennon said one of the corrections that must be made this year is not to give up big plays. There were too many of them last year.

“We’ve addressed it,” Lennon said. “It remains to be seen if we’ve addressed it well enough, but I think we’ve improved.”

Last year, the Salukis held NDSU scoreless until a 58-yard flea flicker play set up a field goal late in the third quarter. A fourth quarter interception set up the Bison’s winning touchdown in a 9-3 victory.

Lennon said the Salukis’ 3-4 has evolved a little bit since his UND days, but the zone concepts are the same.

“It’s been good to us,” he said.

Elsewhere around the Valley:

E Northern Iowa and Indiana State will play on the Big Ten Network on Saturday – UNI at Wisconsin at 2:30 p.m. and ISU at Indiana at 7 p.m. Northern Iowa will debut freshman quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen, and the Sycamores will give Mike Perish – a transfer from Western Michigan – his first start at quarterback.

E It appears South Dakota State will be without starting quarterback Austin Sumner when the Jackrabbits open at Kansas on Saturday. He has a hand injury, meaning freshman Eric Kline will start.

“He’s a pup,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier. “If (Sumner) were at full speed, surely that would make a difference in this game.”

E South Dakota head coach Joe Glenn returns to his old coaching grounds when the Coyotes open at Montana on Saturday. They’ll see a Grizzlies team that has a new coach and new quarterback after an offseason of problems.

“When you lose your starting quarterback, that hurts right there,” Glenn said. “They lost their head coach and A.D., who are dear friends of mine. They’ve now been replaced by a wonderful coach (Mick Delaney), but there has to be some linger in Missoula and the campus with the change. That’s hard on people.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.