3 takeaways from SIU’s loss to Western Illinois

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

1. The Salukis are going to give a lot of people gray hair

This is the third loss in four games for SIU. The total deficit in the three losses is five points. Each loss has come down to one possession. That means that in any of those games, one extra thing going right would have meant a win for the Dawgs. Sophomore wide receiver Connor Iwema dropped a (probable) two-point conversion at the end of the season-opener. In the Sept. 12 game at Southeast Missouri State, SIU turned the ball over six times — seven before the final gun. If the Salukis hold on to any one of those, they win that game. Junior kicker Austin Johnson missed two field goals against Western Illinois, one of them a chip shot, while senior quarterback Mark Iannotti overshot a wide-open Billy Reed on a two-point conversion. This team is those few plays away from possibly being considered one of the top teams in the FCS.

2. Nikko Watson is a man piece

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Western’s 6-foot, 250-pound senior running back is a force when he gets a running start at the hole. SIU did a good job in the middle two quarters of making him bounce to the outside and shutting him down. But when he started running north and south, the running back carried tacklers on seemingly every run. The Leathernecks have a weapon out of the backfield to go with speedy junior receiver Lance Lenoir.   

3. That’s about it

There really is not much else to say. There isn’t a lot of blame to be placed anywhere other than on the three plays just mentioned. Surely nobody is taking it harder than Iannotti and Johnson. No team is perfect, and SIU isn’t a bad team. But that is what makes these losses frustrating. It’s less enfuriating to be blown out on a weekly basis — at least then they know it’s coming. 

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

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