Southern Illinois will pit its 1-6 record against Youngstown State Saturday.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Southern Illinois is experimenting with a new practice schedule this week. Teams that are 1-6 tend to try a lot of different things.
The Salukis (1-3 Gateway Conference), will play host to Youngstown State Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The game will be televised live by Fox 17-62.
First-year coach Jerry Kill has practiced in the morning this week in preparation for the Penguins.
"That is something we might do in the future," Kill said. "It gets them out of bed, gets them going, and then they can go to all of their classes and stuff in the afternoon."
Losses: The Salukis are coming off a 20-14 loss at Indiana State in which they committed six turnovers. They have also lost to Southeast Missouri State (24-5), Murray State (24-20), Western Illinois (38-21), Northern Iowa (19-14) and Eastern Illinois (49-21). Their lone victory was 23-17 over Gateway rival Illinois State.
"We are still trying to learn what to do," said Kill. "We made too many mistakes. We have a lot of kids who haven't played. We are still teaching a basic brand of football. We are playing hard and the kids are trying, but we didn't play well at times last week.
"We still don't know what it takes to win here," he added. "We all have to get better."
Impressed: Kill is impressed by Youngstown State.
"There are three or four teams in our league that are very senior oriented, Youngstown State is one of those," he said. "They are senior dominated, you can tell by the way their players play and look.
"They are very strong, very physical and very talented," he added. "In my opinion they have a very talented quarterback who does a lot of things, plus I'm sure they'll be in a real good mood after being beaten by Western Kentucky last week."
The Salukis average 196.9 rushing yards and 158.9 passing per game.
Junior tailback Tom Koutsos is the second-leading rusher in the Gateway behind YSU's P.J. Mays. Koutsos, who needs 116 yards to become the school's all-time rushing leader, has 754 yards on 172 carries and six touchdowns.
Passing: Junior quarterback Kevin Kobe has passed for 861 yards on 81-of-156, but has seven interceptions and two touchdowns. Backup Madai Williams, a senior, has four interceptions and one touchdown.
Senior Mark Shasteen and freshman Justin George have 22 and 20 receptions, respectively, and they have caught all three touchdown passes.
The Salukis allow 27.3 points and 381 total yards per game and is minus-8 in turnover ratio.
Senior linebacker Bart Scott has 83 total tackles, including 15 for loss and 4 1/2 sacks. Senior defensive end Bryan Archibald has a team-high 5 1/2 sacks and also 11 tackles for loss.
Southern Illinois does have six blocked punts this season. Senior defensive back Jason Newell has three of them.