Salukis prepare for first round of FCS playoffs

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Angel Chevrestt | @sobrofotos

Saluki running back, Javon Williams Jr., tries to break free of the Jackrabbits’ defenseman’s grip during Saturday’s game at Saluki Stadium on March 20, 2021. SIU lost to South Dakota State by the score of 44-3.

Southern Illinois football (5-3,3-3 MVC) was selected on April 18 by the playoff committee to face the Weber State Wildcats (5-0,5-0 Big Sky). The Salukis will be making their first playoff appearance since 2009, when the team reached the second round. 

The Salukis were disappointed in 2019 when they  weren’t selected for the playoffs as the team finished (7-5,5-3 MVC). 

Head Coach Nick Hill said Weber State is an outstanding football team.

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“Weber’s a really outstanding football team, number one they just play the game the right way;  tons of respect for them. I haven’t watched them a ton on video just throughout the last few years, not a lot of crossover games but I’ve totally seen the success,” Hill said.

Hill said the team will fly to Ogden, Utah, on Thursday for the game on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Hill discussed how the Salukis are preparing for the Wildcats and said they’re quite a bit different than Southeastern Louisiana who SIU beat 55-48 on April 17.

“Schematically they’re a lot different than Southeastern Louisiana was so I think it’s more so preparation of how’s this team going to attack you. What are their strengths and weaknesses, what they do well, how are we going to try to attack these guys? That’s what we’ve got to get our guys focused on,” Hill said.

The Salukis have had a lot of injuries this season and Hill spoke on the team’s depth in practice.

“The depth, it’s pretty thin out there as far as practicing goes, you think about basically our entire team coming back next fall. We’ll have 30 new guys that we don’t have on our team,” Hill said.

Junior wide receiver Avante Cox and senior wide receiver Landon Lenoir have led the Salukis in receiving yards this season. Hill spoke about what both players do that makes them so good.

“Avante is maybe the fastest guy on our team, and pretty elusive,” Hill said. “Landon does some different things, plays more on the inside, more 12 personnel, when they’re both on the field, and plays outside receiver so Landon can do a little bit of everything.”

Sports reporter Ryan Scott can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @RyanscottDE.

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