Saluki football notebook: Scouting the Western Illinois Leathernecks
The year is almost over and SIU football will have one more chance to taste victory this season when No. 23 Western Illinois comes to town.
It’ll be senior day for the Salukis, but they aren’t the only team with something to play for.
The Leathernecks stand at 6-4, 3-4 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and are on the bubble of the Football Championship Subdivision playoff picture.
A win will likely propel Western in, but a loss to a team with SIU’s record (3-7, 1-6 MVFC) may bump them out.
SIU will send off 15 seniors on Saturday, including preseason All-MVFC linebacker Chase Allen and wide receiver Billy Reed, whose 110 career receptions rank in the top 10 in program history.
After making strong work of one of the nation’s strongest defenses last week, sophomore quarterback Sam Straub should have an easier time this week against one of the conference’s weaker defenses.
Western Illinois has allowed the second-most yards on defense in the conference this season at 431.4 yards allowed per game. However, SIU is not much better by comparison at 430.1 yards allowed per game.
WIU has been especially susceptible through the air, allowing 268.6 passing yards per game, 12th-worst in the country.
Despite all this, the Leathernecks have done a decent job at keeping opponents off the scoreboard in comparison to the rest of the conference. They’ve been consistent too. Only one of their last six opponents have put up a point total outside of the 30s.
Western makes up for their defense on the other side of the ball, averaging 405.7 yards of offense per game.
The Leatherneck offense is run in part by one of the most dynamic quarterback-wide receiver duos in the country with sophomore quarterback Sean McGuire and senior wide receiver Lance Lenoir, brother of SIU freshman wide receiver Landon Lenoir.
McGuire is the conference’s third-leading passer at 257.7 yards per game. He has also thrown for 17 touchdowns to nine interceptions.
Lenoir is also third in the conference in his specialty with 101.2 yards per game, but his 6.9 receptions per game is the second most.
The senior has been setting his own records for over a year now. His 262 career receptions is over 80 more than the next closest receiver, his teammate Joey Borsellino. He also has more than 1,200 more yards than any Leatherneck in program history.
While the WIU pass game is strong, its run game may be the most underrated in the conference.
Sophomore running back Steve McShane is second in the MVFC with 83.5 yards rushing per game with eight touchdowns.
Saturday is sure to be an emotional hard-fought game for both teams and it may come down to whatever team is able to control their emotions better.