More luck brewing for Salukis

By Gus Bode

Take an obscenely talented backfield, an intelligent quarterback, an All-American center surrounded by huge offensive linemen, a few big-play receivers, a big defensive line, a fast secondary, a few lethal linebackers and some of the best kickers in the country.

Now add a coaching staff that is not only one of the nation’s best, but one that has stuck together for four years, and you’ve concocted the football equivalent of arsenic.

Normally arsenic is plenty if you want to kill someone, but the Salukis, who have been somewhat greedy this season, have decided to take their murder weapon to a whole new level.

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They have added luck to the most lethal poison in I-AA, dumping 10 gallons of tetrodotoxin, a poison found in Puffer fish, down the throats of their respective opponents during, and even before, every game.

There really is no logic to it.

Every decent team the Salukis have played this season seems to suffer from a voodoo curse – in the form of an injury to a superstar – at the most opportune time. It may have helped the team stay with Northern Illinois, and it certainly played a role in the Northern Iowa victory.

Now, in time for what will be the biggest non-playoff game of the year, the curse of Tut has struck again. No. 4 Western Kentucky’s best running back, junior Lerron Moore, may not play Saturday.

According to Hilltoppers head coach David Elson, Moore, his injured hamstring and his 6.2 yards per carry are day-to-day. Actually, Elson doesn’t know this because he had molasses legs back in his playing days and knows nothing about hamstrings. He’s just taking the trainer’s word for it.

“He’s day to day right now,” Elson said. “To be honest, I don’t really know hamstrings. I never was fast enough to have a hamstring to pull, so it’s hard for me to relate to a hamstring injury.

“I just listen to the trainer, and he says it’s day to day.”

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Trainers giving bad news to coaches on the eve of a game with SIU has become as much a trademark of this team as the running backs, Joel Sambursky and personal fouls. There is certainly a paranormal power working in SIU’s favor.

I present exhibits A, B, C, D, and E in support of the 2004 Saluki curse:Exhibit A – SIU vs. SEMO

As if Southeast Missouri State did not have enough problems matching up with the Salukis, the Indians came to Carbondale without its best cornerback. The Salukis promptly ran over SEMO’s defense and started the season with a convincing victory.

Exhibit B – SIU at Northern Illinois

There were a couple miracles here. In the previous week, Northern Illinois stud quarterback Josh Haldi suffered an injury, leaving Phil Horvath to start his first-ever game in Division I-AA. Not only that, but two Huskie starting receivers were suspended for the SIU game after breaking unspecified team rules.

Exhibit C – SIU vs. Northern Iowa

There were no major injuries going into this game, but Mark Philipp could take credit for the victory after cracking quarterback Tom Petrie’s ribs. The injury left Northern Iowa without its leader and best player, all but sealing the game for SIU.

Petrie’s replacement came in and threw a few wobblers, an interception and stepped out the back of the end zone for a safety.

Exhibit D – SIU at Youngstown State

Already knowing it was next to impossible to run on SIU, Youngstown State played without Kentucky transfer Monquantae Gibson. Gibson was listed as day-to-day, but watched from the sideline as the Penguins could muster only 2.6 yards per carry.

Exhibit E – SIU vs. Western Kentucky

We’ll see. This may be thrown out as hearsay and conjecture, but even if Moore does play, he’ll never be 100 percent. SIU, once again, will not be forced to face the full brunt of an opponent.

The Salukis do not need any help to win, let me make that perfectly clear, but one has to wonder if this is simply their season when, come Saturday, SIU receives another assist from the Saluki curse.

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