5 takeaways from SIU’s loss versus NDSU

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5 takeaways from SIU’s loss versus NDSU

Senior quarterback Mark Iannotti holds onto the ball after getting his helmet knocked off Saturday during SIU's loss to North Dakota State at Saluki Stadium. Iannotti rushed for a total of 88 yards during the game. 

Senior quarterback Mark Iannotti holds onto the ball after getting his helmet knocked off Saturday during SIU's loss to North Dakota State at Saluki Stadium. Iannotti rushed for a total of 88 yards during the game. 

Senior quarterback Mark Iannotti holds onto the ball after getting his helmet knocked off Saturday during SIU's loss to North Dakota State at Saluki Stadium. Iannotti rushed for a total of 88 yards during the game. 

Senior quarterback Mark Iannotti holds onto the ball after getting his helmet knocked off Saturday during SIU's loss to North Dakota State at Saluki Stadium. Iannotti rushed for a total of 88 yards during the game. 

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

1. North Dakota State is really good.

One national championship can be won with a group of special players. But four takes a foundation of quality talent.

NDSU redshirt freshman quarterback Easton Stick, the backup, rushed for 137 yards Saturday in a 35-29 victory against SIU. Stick was in complete control against the Saluki defense, completing 12 of 17 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns in addition to his rushing yards.

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Defensively the Bison held the No. 1 ranked offense in the Missouri Valley Football Conference to 398 yards, far less than SIU’s season average of 531.6 per game. 

2. Third down play-calling and decision-making can be boggling.

The Salukis were five for 16 on third down, or 31.3 percent. Their season average going into the game was 51 percent. Saluki running backs and receivers accumulated 33 yards rushing. Yet, the team used run plays on third and long twice.

There were also two passing plays on third downs where the targeted receiver was well short of the first down and others where passes were dropped short of the first down marker. Getting two yards on third and five usually does very little for a team, and the Salukis settled for this far too often.

3. The injury bug is extremely contagious this year.

SIU’s injury struggles continued Saturday. Senior safeties Anthony Thompson and D.J. Cameron, senior center Garrett Clark and junior Jake Notario all went down in the game.

Thompson and Cameron both missed a majority of the first half and returned for the second. 

Redshirt freshman safety Chris Adkins stepped up, when he was forced to, with an interception in the end zone. He also had a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Clark was carted off the field to the locker room in the first half and Notario did not re-enter the game.

Coach Dale Lennon said it was too early to determine their statuses going forward. Add these to the list of injuries already sustained by the Salukis this year and health has to be a key concern in the future.

4. The Salukis are probably out of playoff contention.

Saturday’s loss probably ruined the faint chance SIU had to make the playoffs.

Lennon said the playoffs are one of the furthest things from the team’s minds and it is out of their control. With the loss, SIU falls to 3-5 on the season and 2-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. 

Even if the Salukis win out, they’ll be 6-5 and 5-3 in the MVFC. However, that does not mean all fun is lost in the season.

With high-ranked opponents like No. 3 Illinois State and No. 21 Northern Iowa left on the schedule, the Salukis can spoil their seasons by worsening their playoff seedings with wins. 

5. The two-minute offense could use some work.

The Salukis’ final drive of the game started with five minutes left on the clock. Needing two touchdowns to take the lead, the Salukis went on a 16-play, 80-yard drive that took 4:16 off the clock.

When the team needs two consecutive touchdowns at the end of the game, taking an average of 16 seconds per play will likely not get it done. The no-huddle style of offense the Salukis run show the capability is there, it just needs work. 

The team used few pass plays, and even when it did, the passes were nowhere near the sidelines to stop the clock. At that point, the clock can’t be toyed with so much.

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

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