Daily Egyptian

5 takeaways from SIU’s 34-31 loss to South Dakota

Freshman running back Daquan Isom runs with the ball during SIU's 38-31 overtime victory against Youngstown State University during the homecoming game Oct. 24 at Saluki Stadium. (DailyEgyptain.com file photo)

Freshman running back Daquan Isom runs with the ball during SIU's 38-31 overtime victory against Youngstown State University during the homecoming game Oct. 24 at Saluki Stadium. (DailyEgyptain.com file photo)

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

1. Injuries are beginning to catch up with the Salukis. 

Injuries have been a major subplot of SIU’s season so far, but the depth of the team has limited its impact. Against South Dakota, it finally appeared to make an impact.

The offensive line, who had given up five sacks all season, gave up four against the Coyotes with two new starters. Senior center Garrett Clark and junior guard Jake Notario missed the game because of injuries.

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Senior center Matt Griffith and junior guard David Meyerhoff started in their places. It was the first career start for both.

Iannotti’s runs are not always by design, meaning he must read defenses and the offensive line needs to create running lanes. He rarely had a lane to run through Saturday, finishing with 26 yards on 18 rushes. Iannotti averaged 62 yards a game entering Saturday.

2. The run game is lost without Daquan Isom.

With starting freshman running back Daquan Isom suspended indefinitely, the Saluki backfield had a totally different feel to it.

The Salukis gained 139 rushing yards Saturday, an average of 4.1 a carry. Take out a 62-yard run by redshirt freshman running back Jonathon Mixon in the first half, and it is 2.3 per carry.

Mixon was the most efficient runner, gaining positive yardage every time he touched the ball, but does not possess the pure burst and speed Isom does. 

Iannotti and junior running back Aaron Stanton combined for 77 rushing yards. Mixon had 98 on eight rushes.

The offense also lacked jet sweeps and the use of multiple runners in past games.

3. Cameron Walter has lost his role in the offense.

Running backs coach Larry Warner said before the season the backs would be a committee system. With Isom out, it was assumed all Saluki running backs would be used to make up the absence. 

On the updated two-deep depth chart junior running back Aaron Stanton was listed as the starter and sophomore running back Cameron Walter was listed as the backup.

Walter did not register a touch in the game. He hasn’t had a touch in the last three games, and hasn’t registered more than five in a game all season. 

After serving as former running back Malcolm Agnew’s injury replacement at the end of last season, Walter was the leading candidate for the starter job this year. Instead, he is now the eighth-leading rusher on the team.

4. This team will not win if they turn the ball over.

Turnovers have been an issue this season and they were again Saturday. SIU turned the ball over four times. The Coyotes turned those four possessions into 17 points, including the game-winning touchdown.

Three of these possessions for South Dakota started in SIU territory. South Dakota scored on all three of these possessions. 

The Saluki defense is left too young and inexperienced because of injuries to be put into these situations repeatedly and expect success. 

The offense has carried SIU as far as they’ve gone this season. When the offense can’t hang on to the ball, then SIU doesn’t stand much of a chance.

5. Deja vu is a real thing for this team.

All six of the Salukis’ losses this year are by a touchdown or less. 

SIU missed a kick or had one blocked in four of those losses. SIU committed multiple turnovers in five of those losses.

Every loss has the same plot line: grind to within one play of winning and then lose in heartbreaking fashion.

The Salukis have been one less misstep away in every loss, but the same mistakes are repeated.

The “definition” of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. SIU makes the same mistakes over and over, and they keep getting the same result.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @SCarleyDE

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