Two-a-days end without injury

By Gus Bode

Kill says defense stronger against passes this year

SIU football’s two-a-day camps ended Saturday morning with a light scrimmage replete with officials, a smattering of loyal fans and characteristic boiler room temperatures.

Oh, and the most important thing:nobody got hurt during the camps.

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That was the most notable achievement in head football coach Jerry Kill’s mind after the scrimmage.

“I’d like to say I was disappointed all through camp or something,” Kill said. “But really, camp went pretty well.”

Aside from a lack of injuries, Saturday showcased one of Kill’s favorite aspects of his Saluki squad:the defense. One facet of that defense was protecting against the passing game. Perhaps remembering the 437 yards Eastern Washington amassed against SIU in the first round of the 2004 Division I-AA playoffs sparked a more aggressive pass defense.

Kill, however, credited simply throwing the ball more in camp than before. The result is a more prepared defense.

“Sometimes, you have to be a lot like other people you’re going to play,” Kill said. ” I think we’re much more prepared going into our first game.”

Then there was sophomore Nick Hill.

The transfer from Western Kentucky found himself sharing a mass of reps with senior Joel Sambursky throughout camp and made a strong showing Saturday morning.

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Not only did Hill demonstrate his strong arm with close to a 50-yard completion at one point, but when faced with strong pass coverage he darted out of the pocket for decent rushing yardage on several occasions.

“We need Jon Cairns, make no mistake about it,” Kill said, in reference to the injured sophomore quarterback who normally would have received a majority of Hill’s snaps. “But Nick Hill had an outstanding camp and put us in a situation where we have a lot of strength at quarterback right now.”

On the topic of offense, Kill was impressed with his first unit. He said they moved the ball well and passed efficiently with only a couple of sacks being thrown into the mix.

Not as impressive, according to Kill, was the second unit. Of course, that is to be expected from such a young squad.

Overall, Kill believed the camps ended on a good note with Saturday’s early morning scrimmage.

“I just don’t think it was as sloppy as it had been,” Kill said. ” I felt good about it.”

Reporter Gabe House can be reached at [email protected]

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