Some things change, others stay the same for SIU football

( file photo of SIU football Coach Nick Hill)

( file photo of SIU football Coach Nick Hill)

By Jacob Gaertner, @JGaertnerDE

With Nick Hill replacing Dale Lennon as the head coach of the SIU football team, the offense may look similar, but the defense will undergo drastic changes. 

Hill, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant for the Salukis, said he expects a lot of the same plays and concepts offensively because he is still calling the plays. But the defense will have a brand new style. 

The biggest coaching and scheme change for the Salukis was bringing in Kraig Paulson as defensive coordinator.


Paulson, who served as defensive coordinator for Utah State, Montana and UNLV for a combined 17 seasons, brings a 4-3 defense that involves four linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs.  

“Honestly, it’s the best way to get consistent quarterback pressure with the numbers,” Paulson said, “If you send four, you got a chance for a guy to win a one-on-one [on the offensive line].”

Paulson prefers the 4-3 because he believes it allows the defense to pressure the quarterback without sacrificing too much coverage. 

Hill said he can recruit players for the 4-3 better, which is another advantage to making the switch.

MORE: Nick Hill finalizes coaching staff | Warner leaves SIU for Central Arkansas

Redshirt senior middle linebacker Chase Allen will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the change to the 4-3 scheme.

Allen spent his first few seasons at SIU in Dale Lennon’s 3-4 defense, playing outside linebacker and inside linebacker. 


The change to the 4-3 allows Allen to return to the position he excelled at in high school at Belleville East when he was an 8A all-state middle linebacker. 

“Everybody’s more confident in this defense and we understand why calls are bing made,” Allen said. “I’m liking the change.”

Out of three defensive coaches, the only returning coach from last season is defensive line coach Austin Flyger. 

On the the other side of the ball, things will look much more familiar for the Dawgs.

Last year Hill, who served as quarterbacks coach in 2014 and co-offensive coordinator in 2015, revamped SIU’s offense. He turned it into a more up-tempo, spread attack, averaging nearly 500 yards per game — second most in Missouri Valley Football Conference history. 

Quarterback Mark Iannotti led the nation in total offense per game and finished ninth in national Offensive Player of the Year voting.

“A lot of what you do on offense depends on who your quarterback is,” Hill said.

Wide receivers coach Ashton Aikens is the only offensive coach returning from last year besides Hill.

“I wanted coach Aikens to still be here,” Hill said. “He’s been doing a good job of developing [the receivers] and those guys trust him on and off the field.” 

SIU football kicks off its 2016 season Sept. 3 at Florida Atlantic. 

Jacob Gaertner can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3304.