Salukis searching for first win at home since 2017

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

Southern will be looking to build off of their 45-20 victory over UMASS this weekend against UT Martin.

The win for the Salukis (1-1) marked the first win over an FBS opponent since SIU beat Northern Illinois in 2007.

UT Martin (1-1) will be looking for their second win of the season after they lost 45-0 to the number 10 team in the FBS in Florida.

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Not only will this game be the first home game of the year for the Dawgs, but the weekend will be family weekend for SIU students.

“We’re excited about playing at home,” head coach Nick Hill said. “Whenever your first four out of five are on the road, this is our one home game, so we’re excited about that.”

Looking ahead to UT Martin this week, Hill said they’re a good football team and could create some trouble for Southern.

“They’re a really good football team, and I think they’ve got a great club this year,” Hill said. “I think they do a good job of mixing things up; defensively they create some problems because they run a scheme.”

The biggest factor that led to the 2-9 record last season was a leaky defense.

After the defense gave up 529 yards of offense to SEMO in week one, fans were left wondering if it would be an issue again this year.

The defense responded to that game allowing UMASS only 321 yards of offense, giving up only 129 yards in the second half to go along with two interceptions.

One of the big questions this week is can Southern reproduce defensively as they did in the second half against the Minutemen?

Another question to consider is how much will freshman running back Javon Williams factor into the game-plan this week?

Last week against Massachusetts, Williams turned six rushing attempts into 78-yards averaging a total of 11.3 yards per attempt.

Williams also recorded the first touchdown of the game against the Minutemen where he caught the pass from sophomore quarterback Stone Labanowitz and took it 85-yards for a touchdown.

Looking into the offense deeper for SIU, which Labanowitz are we going to see?

Since earning the starting quarterback job in the fall, Labanowitz has a 65% completion rating on 54 attempted passes.

Labanowitz had a rough start to his Saluki career against SEMO with one interception and completing 16 of his 28 passing attempts.

Last week, Labanowitz completed 19 of his 26 passes and threw for four touchdowns and ended the game with a total of 217 passing yards.

On the defensive side of the ball for UT Martin, sophomore safety Wanya Moton played a big part in their 42-20 victory over Northwestern State in week one.

He picked up seven tackles and two interceptions in that win, which earned him Ohio Valley Conference defensive player of the week honors.

Moton picked up six tackles last week against Florida, but junior safety JaQuez Akins led the team in tackles with 11.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Skyhawks, senior wide receiver Terry Williams led the team in week one earning the OVC offensive player of the week honors. He racked up 199 all purpose yards.

Last week against Florida, Williams was held to 22 yards on four receiving attempts and 38 more yards on kickoffs.

Hopefully the Salukis can claim their first victory at Saluki Stadium dating back to Oct. 14, 2017 when they defeated Illinois State 42-7.

Adam Warfel, Sports Editor, can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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