Daily Egyptian

Column: Saluki football lacks cohesion necessary to be MVFC contender

SIU+sophomore+quarterback+Matt+Desomer+clings+to+the+ball+during+the+Salukis%E2%80%99+22-14+loss+to+Indiana+State+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+22%2C+2016%2C+at+Saluki+Stadium.+%28Athena+Chrysanthou+%7C+%40Chrysant1Athena%29
SIU sophomore quarterback Matt Desomer clings to the ball during the Salukis’ 22-14 loss to Indiana State on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

SIU sophomore quarterback Matt Desomer clings to the ball during the Salukis’ 22-14 loss to Indiana State on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

SIU sophomore quarterback Matt Desomer clings to the ball during the Salukis’ 22-14 loss to Indiana State on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Sean Carley

SIU football’s homecoming loss to Indiana State on Saturday showed a lot about this year’s squad.

It had already become clear that a Missouri Valley Football Conference championship was an unlikely venture, but now it appears unsure whether or not SIU will leave the cellar of the league.

The logic behind this is now clear. SIU has yet to play a complete game where the entire team has played well.

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Watching Saturday’s matchup made me feel like I had entered a bizarro world because the Saluki defense actually did an acceptable job yesterday.

It held the opponent to 22 points. The last two times it performed at least that well, the game resulted in victory.

If you had told me that SIU would allow only 22 points to the team with the second-worst scoring defense in the conference, I would have predicted a resounding victory.

SIU coach Nick Hill watches from the sideline during the Salukis’ 22-14 loss to Indiana State Indiana State, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

SIU coach Nick Hill watches from the sideline during the Salukis’ 22-14 loss to Indiana State Indiana State, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

The final piece of a complete game was finally there. Then the other two pieces went missing.

SIU’s offense looked stagnant. Granted, four key offensive players — wide receivers Jimmy Jones and Connor Iwema as well as running backs Daquan Isom and Jonathan Mixon — were held out with injuries, but the depth at those two positions should keep the offense afloat.

Saturday’s leading rusher for SIU was sophomore quarterback Matt DeSomer, a rushing quarterback that rarely throws the ball.

The synergy that made Southern Illinois have such an electric offense looked gone, resulting in a season-low 366 yards of total offense.

Saluki special teams underperformed as well.

Freshman kicker Matt Sotiropoulos missed two kicks, one within 30 yards. He had been perfect on field goals before that.

The Sycamores made myriad errors in the game, be it the fumble on its opening drive or the bad snap on a punt that made the punter drop to his knees or its kicker’s total of four missed kicks (two field goals and two extra points).

Good teams seize momentum and take advantage of plays like that. SIU didn’t. The Salukis only scored on drives after two of those six opportunities.

Every team faces rough games where things don’t go its way entirely, but as coach Nick Hill said after Saturday’s performance, “good teams are able to win those.”

I’m not sure how to do it, but the Salukis need some form of cohesion.

Next week’s game at a much improved, but still not great Missouri State will be a test to see what the rest of the season will hold.

SIU got punched in the gut Saturday.

A win in Springfield, Mo., will show this team can shake off big blows and maybe win two more games this season. A loss may signal a possible winless conference season.

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

To stay up to date with all your SIU football news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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