Jeff Kolpack, Published October 09 2012
Salukis host a pivotal Missouri Valley game against UNIFARGO – It was light years from the season-opening loss for Southern Illinois, which gave up points and yards to Eastern Illinois like it was the Christmas giving season.
The Salukis got back into the Missouri Valley Football Conference race last week with a 17-0 shutout of previously undefeated Illinois State. It was a far cry from the 49-28 loss to open the season against Eastern.
“Still alive and breathing down here,” said SIU head coach Dale Lennon. “It will be a week-by-week existence for us. We have a tough game this week.”
The Salukis host Northern Iowa, which is coming off an open week after a
33-21 loss to North Dakota State. The Panthers are also in a must-win situation at
1-4 overall and 0-2 in the league.
Lennon said several defensive players new to his 3-4 system are getting more comfortable with the technicalities of it.
“We’ve learned a lot of lessons,” he said.
Also, Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley said, the pass rush of the Salukis is better and that’s made a difference.
“They’re getting pressure,” he said.
Elsewhere around the Valley:
EYoungstown State travels to Illinois State in a battle of two teams trying to rebound from their first losses of the season. It’s hard to say what was more surprising: the Penguins getting routed at NDSU or the Redbirds being shut out at home on homecoming.
“We stubbed our toe on Saturday,” said ISU head coach Brock Spack. “We didn’t play well and got beat.”
The lost snapped a string of 10 wins in their last 11 games dating back to last season for the Redbirds. Asked for his impressions of the Penguin loss at NDSU, Spack it was uncharacteristic of YSU to turn the ball over like it did.
“They’re much better than that,” he said. “They had the best offense in the league a year ago. Like us, it was an aberration and it happens to offenses sometimes. Their timing was off, but the team you play sometimes has a lot to do with that. North Dakota State is a great football team all the way around.”
ESouth Dakota State, coming off a bye week, hosts Western Illinois, which shook up its offense last week starting senior quarterback Wil Lunt. He rallied his team in the second half in a 24-17 win at South Dakota – Lunt’s first victory as a starting signal caller in eight tries.
The Leathernecks are playing seven true freshmen, mostly due to injuries.
E USD and Missouri State, which have a combined 1-10 overall record, meet in Springfield, Mo.
“We’re similar to South Dakota,” said MSU head coach Terry Allen. “Both teams are struggling for victories but each of us has been in the games.”
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found