Saluki offense flying high

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

A new up-tempo Saluki offense debuted this year and SIU is leading the conference in many categories. 

The Salukis are first in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in total offense, passing offense and rushing offense, and scoring offense at 543.7, 313 and 230.7 yards per game, respectively.

Co-offensive coordinator Nick Hill said he based the system on a similar one he used to coach high school.

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“We knew that we’re not built to run the ‘We’re going to line up and mash it down your throat,’ pro-style offense,” Hill said. “[Senior quarterback] Mark [Iannotti] is a bigger style runner, we knew we needed to implement a quarterback run game.”

The ability to run and pass the ball has led Iannotti to becoming the third ranked player in the FCS in total offense at 369.5 total yards per game.

Iannotti said he ran a similar system in high school and is comfortable with the offense.

“I knew our offense was going to be explosive,” he said. “We introduced the no-huddle offense coach Hill wanted to run … we knew we were going to have playmakers on this team.”

Before the season, head coach Dale Lennon said he had a team of nobodies.

Iannotti believes that fits the offense perfectly.

“We didn’t have that one standout player that we were going to try to build our offense around,” he said. “Everybody’s been getting the ball and everyone’s been stepping up and making plays.”

Freshman running back Daquan Isom and redshirt freshman wide receiver Jimmy Jones are both part of Lennon’s “nobodies” producing this year.

Isom has 320 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He has 191 receiving yards and has caught two touchdown passes.

Jones has 20 receptions for 341 yards and five touchdowns on the year, which ranks 11th, eighth, and fourth in the conference, respectively.

Even with the offense’s success, coach Hill said his unit has to convert on the crucial drives of the game.

“We’re 2-4, which isn’t where we want to be,” he said. “We’ve got to be good in the red zone. We have to score touchdowns, not kick field goals.”

The Salukis lead the conference in scoring offense with 41.7 points per game. 

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

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