SIU Football knew coming into its home opener with Mississippi Valley State University it would be a mismatch in the Salukis’ favor. The 55-3 result is about what was expected, but SIU head coach Nick Hill after words said there is serious work ahead for the Dawgs.
“Our schedule is set up that if we don’t get better each and every game, we are playing teams that can beat us,” Hill said.
SIU plays its next two games on the road. The last time SIU won an away game was in 2014. That fact is no joke. Even though SIU’s next game is with 0-2 Southeast Missouri State, played in Cape Girardeau about an hour away, it is still a road game.
After SEMO, on Sept. 23, SIU is off to Memphis. The Dawgs are back at home on Sept. 30, but against FCS and Missouri Valley Football Conference power Northern Iowa.
It behooves Nick Hill’s charges to get better each game. However, this past Saturday, was smooth sailing for the moment. It appeared that the Salukis were well-oiled on both sides of the ball.
But it was more than a win for Hill, who saw his young team get valuable playing time for players who have never competed at the Division I level.
“I predict we’ll look back at this game and some of the guys who got in in the second half may help us win football games later in the season,” Hill said. “You never know when you might need those players because of injuries to starters.”
Hill played all the players dressed for the game (70 plus players). After the first-teamers ran up a 41-3 halftime lead, the second and third stringers finished the final two quarters on both sides of the ball.
Quarterback Sam Straub and running back Daquan Isom starred stat-wise. Staub played one half of a game, yet threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Isom was efficient with 97 yards on only 14 carries and a touchdown. But it was the plethora of players with stats that was most impressive.
“I think we had 25 guys who had at least one tackle,” Hill said. “And we played very everyone dressed.”
Sophomore Anthony Knighton had two sacks for the night. The Dawgs had six sacks on the night — although there are still problems with passing defense. The Devils had 314 yards through the air.
Nevertheless, the Dawgs did stop the Devil’s ground attack. Valley State had negative six yards rushing for the night. And SIU’s defense stopped the Devil inside the red zone. They only got three points out of numerous trips inside SIU’s 20-yard line. But it was a win. That’s the main thing in any sport.
“You never take winning for granted,” Hill said. “When you get a win, it feels good.”