Daily Egyptian

Saluki football closes out spring practice

By Tony McDaniel

 

SIU football held the annual maroon and white game Friday night at Saluki Stadium. Despite both sides giving their best effort, the game was considered a tie.

The game marked the final official spring practice for the Salukis and is the last time the Dawgs can hold team workouts until the summer.

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While SIU’s offense looked strong for much of the game, junior transfer quarterback Mark Iannotti stood out the most among the offensive unit. Iannotti completed 15 of 26 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown.

Coach Dale Lennon said Iannotti has improved a lot since joining the team this season.

“He’s really stepped forward,” Lennon said. “He’s putting himself in a leadership role which is what you want out of the quarterback. He’s right in the thick of things.”

Sophomore Ryan West also threw for two touchdowns. West said he has worked hard to improve at his position this spring.

“The biggest thing is just being more consistent with my play,” West said Wednesday. “Just coming in day-in and day-out making the right reads, making the right throws, making the right checks. Just doing all the things necessary to make the team better.”

Among the running backs, redshirt freshman Cameron Walter led with 17 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown.

Lennon said the Salukis could expect quality depth from Walter this season.

“[Walter is a] very tough running back,” Lennon said. “He doesn’t go down easy. He has that burst you like in your running back. If he gets a seam he can get to the second level.”

Junior Malcolm Agnew carried the ball three times for just 10 yards.

Senior Ken Malcome, who rushed for five touchdowns in 2013, picked up an injury late in the scrimmage when he twisted his right ankle.

“Those injuries hurt when you have them, and they’re very painful,” Lennon said. “I’m hoping all it is is a low ankle [injury] and not a high ankle which is always a tough one to come off of.”

Sophomore Kyle Newquist and senior LaSteven McKinney had the most productive evening of all the Saluki receivers.

Newquist found the end zone twice and had six catches for 77 yards, while McKinney had 44 yards on just three receptions.

McKinney said the game went well, but the receivers can improve.

“I feel like I had a pretty decent day,” he said. “Of course we want to get bigger and better numbers. There’s always room for improvement.”

On defense, the Salukis combined for four sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception.

Redshirt freshman Khari Waithe-Alexander stood out on defense for the Dawgs. Alexander had three tackles and a sack Friday; Lennon said Alexander is a player he is excited about.

“He’s going to be good,” he said. “He has a knack at getting into the backfield, and he’ll be a pass-rush specialist type guy for us, eventually he’ll be good with the run defense also.”

Sophomore inside linebacker Carl Bivens had a productive defensive game as well. Bivens recorded five tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.

One aspect the Salukis have worked on this preseason is adapting to the five coaching changes the team made during the offseason. Lennon said he thinks the team has adjusted well to the changes.

“It could have been very inhibiting, but I give credit to the coaches that came in. They did a great job of adjusting and adapting,” Lennon said. “It’s probably gone way better than I anticipated and I think we’re ahead of the game from where I thought we’d be.”

SIU will get its first official test of the year Sept. 6 when the Salukis travel to Charleston to take on the Eastern Illinois University Panthers.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], on twitter @tonymcdanielDE or 536-3311 ext. 282

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