#38 Southern Illinois FCS Football 2019 Preview

Southern Illinois Salukis
Overall Rank: #38
#7 Missouri Valley
 Southern Illinois Logo
Southern Illinois finished dead last in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Salukis went 1-7 in conference play and won just two games overall. In fact, the three seasons of the Nick Hill era have not gone well at all and that needs to change soon or the Coach Hill era will come to an end.
2018 Record: 2-9, 1-7
2018 Postseason: None
Coach: Nick Hill (10-23 at Southern Illinois, 10-23 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Blake Rolan
Defensive Coordinator: Jason Petrino
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: D.J. Davis, RB, 1,118 yards
Passing: Nic Baker, QB, 45 yards
Receiving: Landon Lenoir, WR, 486 yards
Tackles: Bryce Notree, LB, 78
Sacks: Anthony Knighton, DE, 8.5
Interceptions: Jeremy Chinn, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: TE Nigel Kilby, LB Luke Giegling, S Joe Patterson, CB Madre Harper, DE Jordan Berner
Key Losses: QB Matt DeSomer, QB Sam Straub, WR Raphael Leonard
The offense was not bad last year and could be even better in 2019. Of course, much of that will depend on if somebody can step into the quarterback position and be efficient and effective. Nic Baker and Stone Labanowitz have both been around for one year, but junior college transfers Cooper Callis and Kare Lyles will bring the most potential. Lyles spent some time at Wisconsin before heading to Scottsdale Community College last season. The Salukis have plenty of proven playmakers like Landon Lenoir at wide receiver and DJ Davis at running back. Davis rushed for 1,118 yards in 2018 and should be in for a solid senior season. However, there is a lot of young talent here too that could take away some carries and catches. Redshirt freshman Javon Williams will do a bit of everything and the coaching staff will have to find ways to get the speedster some catches. Fellow freshman Romeir Elliott has more than enough talent to come in and be a very productive back. That potential needs to quickly turn into production, and if it does, SIU will be extremely dangerous.
Southern Illinois allowed a shocking 40.7 points per game. That will get you a 2-9 season in a hurry. It will also lead to changes on the defensive coaching staff and the hope is the new system will bring more consistency. At the least this group will have more experience. The top nine tacklers are back, led by Bryce Notree and his 78 tackles. He will be the man in the middle of the defense and fellow linebacker Luke Giegling had a very promising freshman campaign. Getting to the quarterback was one of the few things this defense was decent at last season. Anthony Knighton and Jordan Berner will keep the pressure coming off the edge. The secondary has plenty of experience with upperclassmen Jeremy Chinn, Joe Patterson and Madre Harper leading the way. But they do need to find depth and that is the case across the board. If there is an injury or two, this defense cannot afford to fall apart.
The Bottom Line:
Southern Illinois is going to be better this year. However, going from 2-9 to the playoffs is a tough ask. But even with a trip to the playoffs unlikely, the Salukis will get things moving in the right direction this season. With four of their first five games on the road, the slim hope for the playoffs could disappear quite quickly. The only good news with the schedule is that two FBS teams are going to make SIU some money and they do not have to play Northern Iowa. Home games against Youngstown State and Missouri State are must wins if Southern Illinois is going to push up the standings a few spots.
Projected Postseason: None
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 214.6 (23rd in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 216.3 (58, 5)
Total Offense: 430.9 (31, 3)
Scoring Offense: 30.1 (38, 5)
Rushing Defense: 221.3 (105, 9)
Pass Defense: 262.1 (109, 10)
Total Defense: 483.4 (114, 10)
Scoring Defense: 40.7 (114, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.73 (106, 8)
Sacks: 2.36 (37, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.91 (58, 8)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#72 P.J. Jules
#94 Nate Thurman