Know Your Opponent: Week 1 Southern Illinois

 Southern Illinois quarterback Mark Iannotti will try to lead the Salukis to another victory in Bloomington.  Image: TheSouthern.com

Southern Illinois quarterback Mark Iannotti will try to lead the Salukis to another victory in Bloomington. Image: TheSouthern.com

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

This Years Record: 0-0 (0-0 T-1st in MVFC East)

Head Coach: Dale Lennon (8th Year)

Overall: 150-67 (.691)

At Southern Illinois 48-34 (34-22)

Playoff Appearances: 2

Last Years Record: 6-6 (3-5 T-7th in MVFC)

Playoff Appearances Since 2000: 7 Appearances (5-7 Record)

Mascot: Gray Dawg and Brown Dawg

Colors: Black and Maroon

Outfitter: Under Armour

National Titles: 1 (1983)

Conference Titles: 8

Fun Fact:

The athletes and faculty members gave a thumbs-up response at the meeting and on March 19, 1951, SIU's student body of 2,000 overwhelmingly voted in favor of adopting "Salukis" as the new nickname for the university's teams.

For the record, there were 536 "Saluki" votes, while 144 chose "Rebels." Other nicknames receiving some support were Knights, Flyers, Marauders and, of course, Maroons.

The uniqueness of "Salukis" as a nickname for SIUC teams may never be understood completely.

For native southern Illinoisans who grew up with the understanding that the area is frequently referred to as "Egypt," there may be hope.

However, even many lifelong residents aren't all that aware of the logical acceptance of "Salukis" or the origin of "Egypt" when speaking of the southern one-third of the state.

1. Been Here, Done That

2006 may seem like a lifetime ago to some people, and it certainly is in the world of college football. Why is 2006 important? Because it was the last time Indiana faced Southern Illinois, a 35-28 Saluki victory.

In his weekly press conference Saluki head coach Dale Lennon claims “What’s been done can be done again” is not a theme for this week, but it is something everyone is aware of, especially when you have coach (Nick) Hill as a coach. Having him coaching the guys brings awareness that that happened. It’s a big moment in Saluki football history; but at the same time, we’re going to focus on making our own history.”

Southern Illinois will not be scared of playing in Memorial Stadium, and if they are left in the game too long that belief that they can win will only grow stronger.

2. Salukis Have a Steady Hand with Iannotti at Quarterback

The Salukis have full confidence in fifth year senior quarterback Mark Iannotti. And for good reason as Iannotti played in all 12 games last season, starting 10. In 2014, his first in Carbondale, Iannotti completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,241 yards with 22 touches and just eight interceptions. Iannotti also scored three times on the ground, but is not a true threat with his feet as he averaged just 2 yards per carry. The Illinois native was named to the MVFC All-Newcomer team for his efforts. He came to SIU after three seasons at Eastern Michigan.

3. They Also Have a Stable of Running Backs

When Southern Illinois came into Bloomington and won in 2006 they put up 254 yards on the ground. The present day Salukis will have four backs ready to chip in on Saturday. Head coach Lennon had this to say about the position group on Monday,I like what we have. Cameron Walter has looked very good. Aaron Stanton I think is going to be the type of player we hoped he would. With the backs we just want to make sure we have solid numbers. To ride one running back specifically, I don’t know if we’re capable of doing that. Daquan Isom has that big-play potential. He’s going to be our return guy on kickoff return. Chris Perkins has showed a very steady development during camp. He’s picked up the blocking schemes very well. We do think that four of them will contribute.”

Walter is a 5-foot-8 195-pound sophomore who played in all 12 games last season (two starts) is listed as the starter for the opener. He ran for 323 yards on 86 carries and scored twice.

His back up will be diminutive back Aaron Staton who stands at just 5-foot-5. Staton rushed for over 1,500 yard the last two years at Ventura C.C. 

4. The Saluki Defense Will Look Very Familiar

Like the Hoosiers, the Salukis run a 3-4 defensive front, which makes sense since it is easier to recruit linebackers than it is to get big body lineman on the field at Southern Illinois. When asked how similar his defense is the IU’s Lennon said, “There are similarities. All 3-4 packages are very similar. In preparation I’m sure they’re doing the same things as we are right now. They spend a lot of time with their defense against their offense because there are some mirrored similarities. It just goes down to personnel. That’s probably the biggest difference, how you use your personnel. Some coverage adjustments are a little different than what we do; but for the most part, the upfront stuff is very similar.”

The defense is led by junior linebacker Chase Allen, who began his career on the outside before switching inside prior to the 2014. Allen adjusted very well to the position and was tops on the team in tackles with 95 tackles, six of them coming for a loss.

The secondary is anchored by safeties D.J. Cameron, a senior, who has five career interceptions and sophomore Kenny James, who had 44 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2014.