Salukis hit full stride

By Gus Bode

No rush, no chance

Saluki defense stifles Rush, holds SMS playmaker to less than 100 total yards

Southwest Missouri State’s explosive receiver/kick-returner Steven Rush, despite all the words of praise from SIU coaches, did not leave much of a mark on Saturday’s game.


In some ways, he never even had a chance.

SIU steered clear of Rush Saturday, kicking away from him on six of seven kickoffs and never giving him a chance to return a punt.

The one time the ball actually went to Rush on a kickoff, which was likely a mistake by kicker Craig Coffin, Rush only returned it for 18 yards.

“We worked very hard at the kicking game this week, and I was very concerned about a big return, but then that other youngster had a pretty good return against us,” said SIU head coach Jerry Kill.

That “other youngster” was Scottie Reddix, who provided the Bears’ only kickoff thunder with a 36-yard return late in the game.

Rush’s quiet day came despite a concerted effort by SMS to get him the ball. The Bears completed 10 passes to Rush, many of which were short passes over the middle designed to give him enough space to work his magic.

But SIU literally contained him, keeping him in a small zone in the middle of the defense. Rush had only one opportunity for a big play – which was foiled by a terrific tackle.


“We just filled the gap,” said safety Jamarquis Jordan, talking about the team’s gap discipline. “Everybody’s got their own job – that’s the key. We’re a gap defense, everybody has to do their job.”

The defense also hampered Rush down the field, where the individual coverage of the Saluki defense was solid.

SIU’s defense, as the game progressed, realized SMS was desperately trying to get the ball to its playmaker – something severely hampered by the strong, swirling and unpredictable winds.

“The QB threw it into triple coverage one time in the second quarter, and I thought that was crazy,” Jordan said.

Quarterback A.J. Porter completed 21 of 36 passes, and most of the passes were short, making containment a crucial aspect of Saturday’s game.

The defensive line rushed the passer with authority, but also did not over-commit on screens – yet another reason Rush was unable to make a play Saturday.

“We have people on our team that are not selfish,” said defensive tackle Mark Philipp, who came away from Saturday’s game with a sack and one of the more entertaining celebration dances of the year. “When everyone executes what they’re supposed to do, playing their role on the team, then you have games like this.”