The Flames won’t open summer camp for several weeks, so it’s a perfect time to start looking ahead to the teams Liberty will face during the upcoming season as they attempt to return to the FCS playoffs for the 2nd consecutive year.
We’ve already previewed the Flames’ first few opponents, and now we turn our attention to its 4th game, Southern Illinois. Liberty travels to Carbondale on September 26th. Kickoff is 7pm.
2014 record: 6-6, 3-5 in MVFC.
Coach: Dale Lennon, in his 8th season.
Starters returning: Four on offense, five on defense, one on special teams.
Offensive system: Spread.
Defensive system: 3-4.
Three significant stats last year:
- Southern Illinois threw for over 230 yards per game in 2014.
- SIU was one of the better teams in the country in returning kickoffs, ranking 18th with over 22 yards per return.
- The Salukis were one of the least penalized teams in all of FCS, finishing 3rd in fewest penalties and penalty yards per game.
Key starters returning:
- Mark Iannotti started 10 games in 2014, throwing for 2,241 yards, 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
- LB Chase Allen led the Salukis with 95 tackles. He also added 6 tackles for loss and 5 QB hurries.
- D.J. Cameron was SIU’s top defensive back, finishing the season with 75 tackles, 15 passes defended, and 1 interception.
How does Southern Illinois match up
No, Southern Illinois doesn’t have the name recognition of Montana or Coastal Carolina, nor are they FBS like West Virginia and Georgia State, but they present just as big of a challenge to the Flames as any team on the 2015 schedule.
Don’t be fooled by their 6-6 record from a season ago, the Salukis compete in the top conference in FCS facing the likes of North Dakota State, Illinois State, and Northern Iowa each year. This program also ran off 7 straight playoff appearances from 2003-2009.