All offseason, Illini fans have heard nothing but Southern Illinois out of the mouth of head coach Tim Beckman. Well, the SIU game is five days away, and the Fighting Illini will face off against a FCS team that anyone else would label as a “tune up” game.
Now, Southern Illinois might not be a BCS opponent, but that doesn’t mean that they should be overlooked offensively. The Salukis will return eight starters on their offense this season with one of them being their senior leader QB Kory Faulkner.
Last season, Faulkner threw for 1,865 yards and eleven touchdowns with a 112 QB rating. SIU’s success will be directly related to Faulkner performance.
If Illinois’ defense can get to him and rattle his cage early, then it could be a long day for the Salukis on Saturday.
As far as receivers go, two of Faulkner’s favorite targets from a year ago return for the 2013 campaign. MyCole Pruitt returns at the tight end position. Pruitt recorded the most receiving yards in 2012 for SIU. He had 577 receiving yards on 49 receptions. He also led the team with four touchdowns.
Faulkner’s other favorite target, LaSteven McKinney, will also return at the wide receiver position. McKinney was second on the team in receiving yards right behind Pruitt.
However, two more receivers to keep an eye on for SIU will be John Lantz and Ahmad Hicks. Lantz will most likely start for the Salukis and will be replacing David Lewis. Hicks could also start for the Salukis in 2013 after transferring over from Missouri Western State this offseason.
The biggest loss for the Salukis on offense comes in the form of running back Steve Strother, but it’s not all that bad. Yes, Strother led the team in carries and rushing yards last season, but SIU will be returning their leading rushing scorer from a year ago.
Mika’il McCall will most likely be the #1 back for Southern Illinois this season. He led the team with eight rushing touchdowns last season and was second on the team in rushing yards with 489 yards.
Here is a list of the players that will most likely start on offense for SIU this Saturday:
Southern Illinois’ Projected Offensive Starters:
WR John Lantz #13
SLOT LaSteven McKinney #21
LT Victor Craven #68
LG Nate Haremza #79
C Tanner Crum #65
RG Brad Fisher #76
RT Ethan Wirth #77
TE MyCole Pruitt #85
QB Kory Faulkner #19
RB Mika’il McCall #27
WR Ahmad Hicks #29
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