Daily Egyptian

Salukis and Redhawks renew rivalry tonight

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

SIU renews its longest-running non-conference rivalry at 6 p.m. Saturday at Southeast Missouri State.

Saluki senior quarterback Mark Iannotti is expecting a battle. 

“Just being a rivalry game, it’s going to be a tough, physical game,” Iannotti said. “As long as we come ready to play and come fast out of the gate, we’ll be able to take advantage of them.” 

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Both teams are coming off losses to Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. The Salukis narrowly dropped their opener 48-47 at Indiana, and SEMO was humbled 34-3 in No. 24 Missouri’s home-opener. 

The Redhawks relied more on the run than the pass in their season opener.

Saluki senior defensive tackle Raysean Golden said the key for the defensive line is to fill the gaps left by pulling guards on outside run plays. 

“They run a lot of stretch plays,” Golden said. “We’ve got to communicate when we see the guards pull. [Defensive line coach Austin] Flyger has been focusing this week on making sure we stay in our gaps.” 

Junior quarterback Tay Bender led SEMO with 79 rushing yards against Missouri. Senior running back DeMichael Jackson compiled 62 yards on the ground to complement Bender. 

Jackson presents a different type of runner than what SIU faced at Indiana. Hoosier junior running back Jordan Howard and sophomore running back Devine Redding used their physical running style to combine for 213 rushing yards. Jackson, a smaller running back, prefers to take his runs outside. 

When the Redhawks take to the air, Bender’s top target is senior wide receiver Paul McRoberts, who gained 40 yards on a game-high four receptions in week one. 

SIU coach Dale Lennon praised McRoberts. 

“I think McRoberts might be the best receiver we see all year long,” Lennon said. “He has hurt us in the past and is definitely capable of being a difference maker in the game. He’s good. He’s fun to watch on film; you just hate to watch him from the opposing sideline.” 

McRoberts caught seven passes for 86 yards and a touchdown against SIU last year in a 50-23 loss at Saluki Stadium.

A week after setting an SIU record with an NCAA-high 517 yards of total offense, Iannotti will face the team against which he threw a career-high six touchdown passes last season.

The Redhawks lead the all-time series 37-35-8. SIU has won the last four meetings and eight of the last nine. 

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

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