Defense looks to trip up opposition

By Gus Bode

After a season of dominating offenses, the SIU football team hopes to keep the pressure on.

The team returns all but one starter from the 2008 season, in which the stout defense led the team to a 9-3 record and a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference championship.

West Frankfort native and senior inside linebacker Ryan Patton said it’s huge for the team not only to be returning so many starters, but also a large number of reserves.


‘The biggest thing is the amount of guys we have behind us coming back in. We have 20, 25 guys that played a lot and that may as well have been starters,’ he said. ‘So we’re excited about that. A lot of chemistry.’

Starting along side of Patton, the linebacker corps brings back two pre-season all-conference players in Chauncey Mixon and Brandin Jordan.

Jordan was a first team all-conference member last season and Mixon was a third team all-conference member.

The linebackers are looking to improve on their already stellar play.

‘We just have a lot of talented guys. We have seven, eight guys that played the position and know their job and do it really well,’ Patton said. ‘We have confidence in each other, and it’s not one guy trying to make every play, and that’s what makes it so great.’

Everything on the defense starts with the big men up front, Patton said, and head coach Dale Lennon agreed.

‘Everything for us with a three-four (defense) starts with the nose guard and we have two good senior nose guards, Chris Arthur and Tony Colletti,’ Lennon said.


The defensive ends, including Dolapo Adubifa, Jason Seaman and Chance Coda, are all capable athletes who look to provide more pressure off the ends next season, Lennon said.

The Saluki secondary players came up big for the team last year as well. Most notably was third team All-American Korey Lindsey, who picked off six passes, two of which came in the team’s first-round playoff loss.

But Lennon said Lindsey’s ball hawking ability is also a credit to his other defensive backs.

‘Brandon (Williams) was kind of overlooked. Teams were throwing away from him last year and that’s where Korey got a little more of the action,’ he said. ‘This year I don’t think that you can pick on either one thinking that that’s a weak area.’

At the safety positions, SIU returns both starters in Marty Rodgers and Mike McElroy. The Salukis also have experience coming off the sidelines at safety in Lance Caldwell and Rashad Graham.

After an early playoff exit last season, the 2009 Salukis look to build in Lennon’s second year as SIU’s head coach, starting with Marshall University on Sept. 5.

‘We are definitely excited about going up there,’ said quarterback Chris Dieker. ‘We’re going to treat that game like any other game. We’re not going up scared. We’re going up there to win the game.’