First-team offense strong; defense shines again in SIU football’s second scrimmage


Brian Munoz

Coach Nick Hill calls out plays to members of the Saluki Football team Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017 during the second scrimmage of the season at Saluki Stadium. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Dillon Gilliland

SIU football’s first-team offense, led by junior starting quarterback Sam Straub, came out firing in Saturday’s full-pad scrimmage in Saluki Stadium.

In the Saluki’s second scrimmage of the season, they focused more on game-like situations with plays called from the sidelines by coaching staff and enforced penalties. In total, the SIU football team ran 18 offensive drives totaling 94 plays spilt amongst the three rostered quarterbacks.

“I wanted them to come out here and perform,” head coach Nick Hill said. “I wanted to coach this off the sideline to try and create a game atmosphere.”


Straub came out and set the tone for the Saluki’s offense with a 13 play, 74-yard scoring drive, completing six of his eight passing attempts to go along with five handoffs to the first-team running back corps of junior Daquan Isom and sophomore D.J. Davis.

Junior wide receiver Jimmy Jones looks to catch the ball Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, during warmups before the second scrimmage of the season at Saluki Stadium. (Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson33)

Isom’s longest carry of the drive totaled 28 yards, moving the first-team offense down to the defense’s two-yard line. He failed to score on the next play as the Saluki defense stopped him just short of the goal line.

Straub finished off the drive on second down with a one-yard QB sneak up the middle to put the first six points of the scrimmage on the board.

Altogether, Straub participated in five drives, completing 10 of his 18 passes with no interceptions and one rushing touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Tanner Hearn and freshman quarterback Brandon George manned the other 13 drives.

Hearn performed well at the head of the second-team offense through seven drives, with a 50-yard completion to sophomore tight end Jake Varble in the second drive of the scrimmage while finishing with a 6-yard touchdown pass in his final drive.

Coach Nick Hill talks to members of the Saluki football team Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, after the second scrimmage of the season at Saluki Stadium. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

George did not fare as well against the Saluki defense, suffering three sacks and one tipped pass while failing to score in any of his six drives leading the third-team offense.

Isom saw all his reps with the first-team offense, while Davis split reps with first- and second-team and scored on a two-yard run with the first-team in the ninth drive of the scrimmage. Davis also took reps fielding kickoffs and punts during the scrimmage. 


Davis will be serving as primary kick and punt returner for the Salukis this season as well as taking reps as running back.

“However I can make a play, that’s how I’m going to make it.” Davis said.

Freshman running back D.J. Hampton took the bulk of his carries during the scrimmage on the third-team offense while also splitting reps with Davis on the second-team.

The Saluki defense had another strong showing in their second scrimmage of the season. The defense allowed only three scores through 18 drives while forcing two missed field goals.

SIU’s defensive line kept pressure on the quarterback throughout the scrimmage, recording three sacks and continuously driving Straub, Hearn and George from the pocket.

“Our defensive line is going to be young,” Hill said. “There will be some early mistakes, but there is a lot of guys [on the line] that can play.”

Special teams had a few opportunities to practice formations and timing on kick-offs and punt returns, but was not a major focus in Saturday’s scrimmage. Kickers struggled on scoring opportunities throughout, going 0-for-2 on field goal attempts while taking regular second kicks to convert extra points.

“I have an issue when they don’t make kicks,” Hill said. “It has to get better.”

Outside of the troubles with the place-kickers, Hill expressed he was happy with what he saw in Saturday’s scrimmage on both sides of the ball — from both the journeyman players and the new additions to the Salukis.

“It was a good, clean scrimmage,” Hill said. “lot of younger guys got reps … the closer we get to the season we have to have days like this.”

Coach Nick Hill talks to members of the Saluki football team after their first fall scrimmage, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2017, at Saluki Stadium. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Next on the schedule for SIU football is the seventh-annual Saluki Fan Fest beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night in the Saluki Stadium. The Salukis kick off the 2017 season with a home-opener against Mississippi Valley State at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m., with fireworks to follow completion of game.

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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