Number #2 ranked SIU Salukis vs. #11 ranked Fighting Illini.
The SIU Salukis come to Memorial Stadium ranked #2 in FCS Coaches poll NCAA IAA, defeating Quincy in their home opener 70–7. SIU seeks its second win over a Big Ten opponent in the last five years. In 2006 the Salukis upset the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington, Indiana. They come in averaging 316 rushing yards and 189 passing yards per game with total offense averaging 486 yards.
The 70 points scored by the Salukis were the eighth-most in SIU history. Led by RB #11 Lucien Walker who scored three TDs, with five other players also scoring TDs. Though they had 15,276 in attendance marking the second largest crowd for a home opener in school history, I wonder how they will feel about a hostile crowd of 50,000 screaming Illini fans.
This week will mark redemption Saturday for #11 ranked (in the Big Ten), Fighting Illini football squad. I think that it is most appropriate that we face the SIU Salukis on 9/11. QB #2 Nathan Scheelhaase and the Fighting Illini offense will have a chance to redeem themselves. The young Saluki defense which gave up only 194 yards of total offense last week will be tested. I look for #5 Mikel Leshoure and #21 Jason Ford to have huge yardage in the game. I also see #2 Nathan Scheelhaase throwing darts all day in our play action offense. Look for monumental YAC (Yardage After Catch), from the Fighting Illini receiving core including our forgotten TE from last weekend.
Do not expect to see the Fighting Illini defense rushing three and dropping eight this week’ it didn’t work last week and won’t work this week. Expect to see additional pressure to assist #97 Clay Nurse (Bandit) and #93 Corey Liuget coming from everywhere on the field, to pressure QB #5 Chris Dieker and shut down RB #11 Lucien Walker. Linebackers #2 Martez Wilson and #38 Ian Thomas will need to step it up this week against the Salukis, who run a Boise State type offense. Defensive secondary will need to improve from last Saturday and #26 Justin Green will need to grow up in a hurry. Look for some turnovers this week from our secondary, hopefully led by #9 Trulon Henry. I would like to wish good luck to #85 Whitney Mercilus and #59 Tim Kynard who will be replacing #97 Clay Nurse at DE.
Our special teams will have an additional challenge to keep kicker #15 Kyle Dougherty from making a single field goal. If he makes one he will tie the school record for most made in a career at 50. Expect good field position from our KO and PR teams.
Prep Picks Week #3: South Piatt Wildcats, Villa Grove Blue Devils, Tuscola Warriors, GCMS Falcons, Westville Tigers, Unity Rockets, STM Sabers, Monticello Sages, SJO Spartans, Mahomet Bulldogs, and Centennial Chargers. Current record in Prep Picks 16-2.