Scouting the leathernecks: Junior duo drives WIU’s offense

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

Saluki football proved last week it is capable of playing the nation’s top teams. The team will need to show the same capability Saturday at Western Illinois. 

SIU and Western Illinois open Missouri Valley Football Conference play in a matchup of 1-2 teams receiving votes in the latest FCS polls.

WIU is fresh off its bye week, having two weeks to prepare for the Salukis after nearly upsetting No. 1 Coastal Carolina on the road Sept. 19.


Leatherneck junior quarterback Trenton Norvell threw for a career-high 370 yards against the Chanticleers, just a week after throwing for 28 in a 44-0 loss at Illinois. 

The Illini shut down junior wide receiver Lance Lenoir, allowing two catches for zero yards in the game.

Lenoir leads the Leathernecks with 22 catches and is fourth in the Valley, averaging 80 yards per game. He was named First Team All-MVFC as a sophomore and made the MVFC’s preseason all-conference team for 2015.

Lenoir is also the MVFC’s top kick returner, averaging 30.2 yards per return. SIU’s kickoff coverage has been the best in the conference this year, allowing an average of 17.4 yards per return.

The Leathernecks lead the MVFC with a plus five turnover margin. The Salukis are last in conference at minus eight. 

Western’s turnover margin includes four interceptions, which is No. 2 in the conference. 

Despite the interceptions, WIU is eighth of 10 teams in pass defense. SIU senior quarterback Mark Iannotti is second in the MVFC in passing yards at 303.4 per game.


Leatherneck sophomore linebacker Brett Taylor is fifth in the MVFC with 28 tackles. 

WIU won its home opener 33-5 against then-No. 25 Eastern Illinois.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269