Saluki coaches in new roles for 2015

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

Saluki football coach Dale Lennon will be able to better oversee his team this fall after making adjustments to his coaching staff.

SIU lost six assistant coaches and returned four after the 2013 season. That turnover left Lennon with several unknowns on his coaching staff in 2014.

During the 2014 season, he absorbed the duties of defensive coordinator and promoted offensive line coach Bill O’Boyle to offensive coordinator with the intention of promoting some of the new coaches in 2015.

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Those promotions have seen O’Boyle become assistant head coach, a vice president-type position in which O’Boyle fills in for Lennon when he is unavailable. O’Boyle now shares offensive coordinator duties with quarterback coach Nick Hill. Secondary coach David Elson has taken over defensive coordinator duties.

Lennon said his responsibilities for this year are not much different than last year, but he can cast a wider net of influence this season.

“The role of a head coach is all-encompassing,” Lennon said. “You do it all. But the thing I like now is I can go back to paying more attention to the offense and the special teams and make more personnel-type decisions.”

Hill joined Lennon’s staff last year after taking Carbondale High School to the playoffs in his lone season as head coach there. Saluki quarterbacks combined to throw a single-season team record 29 touchdown passes under his tutelage in 2014.

This season, Hill will call plays from the press box on game days with O’Boyle serving as eyes and ears for him on the sideline. Hill works with the skill position players in practice, while O’Boyle focuses on the front seven.

Hill said communication is important between himself, O’Boyle and the other offensive position coaches.

“We all watch the same film and put in a game plan,” Hill said. “Then on game days, everybody’s communicating. They wouldn’t be coaching college football if they didn’t know the game.”

Elson was the head coach at Western Kentucky from 2003 to 2009. Before that, he was the Hilltoppers’ defensive coordinator when they won the 2002 NCAA Division I-AA National Championship. He joined the SIU staff to coach the secondary last year.

Elson said Lennon has given him and the defensive staff virtual free reign over the defense.

“He’s been very hands-off and has allowed us to just coach and do our thing,” Elson said. “He certainly has suggestions every now and then, but for the most part, he’s letting us coach.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @tdonleyDE.

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