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Hill reviews win, looks ahead to South Dakota

  • SIU head football coach and Du Quoin native Nick Hill addressed the media Monday.

    SIU head football coach and Du Quoin native Nick Hill addressed the media Monday.
    Saluki Media Relations photo

Saluki Media Relations
Posted on 10/23/2019, 2:17 PM

CARBONDALE -- Southern Illinois head coach Nick Hill met with the media on Monday morning to preview this week's game at South Dakota. The Salukis (3-4, 1-2) are coming off a 35-10 win over Youngstown State and will play the Coyotes (3-4, 2-1) for only the sixth time in school history. The game kicks at 4 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised on ESPN (Plus).

Opening statement

I'm proud of our guys for the way they came out on Saturday and got the job done, and now we're on to a new week. We got to enjoy it for 24 hours and then I like our focus when we came into the building yesterday and really looked at that film just like we have the entire season.

Whether you win or lose, you have to look at that thing and try to get better. We didn't play a perfect game by any means and each week creates its own problems. South Dakota is a really good football team and we're diving into the game plan right now as coaches. I think our team knows that the work is done throughout the week.

You put in a great week of work and give yourself the best opportunity to go out and play well. We had a great week of practice last week and it still doesn't guarantee success, but I know it gives you a lot better opportunity than not being detailed throughout the week.

South Dakota may have the best quarterback (Austin Simmons) in the conference. He's just a hard out. The play's never over. He can make every throw. He creates plays with his feet. He can run the football with designed runs or a lot of his stuff comes off scrambles. There's a pass tag on just about every play with the RPO game.

They snap the ball a lot, they play up-tempo, they spread you out. You're in a dome, so weather conditions are perfect to pass in. Defensively, they create a lot of problems, they move a lot up front. We'll have to be ready for those movements and different looks. We just have to play sound, and like any game you play in this league, you're going to have to play well on special teams, you have to take care of the football and win the turnover battle.

On the team's nine sacks versus Youngstown State:

We had a lot of guys in on the action -- five guys were in on sacks. We dialed up a few good pressures that got us home, a couple times by winning one-on-one matchups, getting off blocks and getting to the quarterback. People try to overcomplicate it sometimes, but when you can get in predictable down and distances, you have a better chance of knowing what they're going to do and setting your defense up accordingly.

On USD quarterback Austin Simmons:

You have to defend two plays -- the one that's designed and the one he creates. The play is never over. He makes some really good throws, off balance, backing up, he's got a really strong arm. He makes a lot of throws that a lot of guys can't make. He's a talented kid. We have to be sound. He's going to hit some throws, but we have to make him earn it. We can't let those explosives go for touchdowns. We have to tackle well. They're going to spread the field so you're going to have to play well in space.

On punter Jack Colquhoun's play:

He's a really good punter. I think PJ Jules has had an incredible season of covering kicks as a gunner. Your goal is 40 yards and 4.0 seconds of hang time and you're going to get fair catches and you're going to be an All-American. Sometimes the biggest returns come when you don't have that hang time and you hit it 48 with 3.8 hang time -- it looks pretty and everybody sees it turn over -- but it puts a lot of stress on your coverage team.

We have to continue to work with our placement and he'll continue to do that. He keeps getting better. Six weeks ago was the first time he was on a football field. I think his confidence and understanding the game, understanding that it's not just how far you can kick it on each one, but allowing your coverage teams. Coach (Jared Petrino) does an awesome job and their relationship is unbelievable.

On Karé Lyles' 7-for-9 passing against Youngstown:

He made two big-time throws. The one that got us going to Landon (Lenoir) -- Landon ran a really good route -- and the one to Javon (Williams Jr.) was a well-timed throw. He put some touch on it. He threw it with great anticipation and put it right where he had to put it. (YSU) recognized it maybe a little bit late, but if he waits just a little bit too long, the play's not going to be there. Sometimes, that's how it's going to be.

I played in a lot of games like that here. Joel (Sambursky) and I -- sometimes you throw it 12, 14, 15 times and you'd run the ball. Those 4-6 plays, they're counting on you to make a big play in the passing game. When you do that, you usually come away with wins. Karé did what we wanted him to do. We need to be better on third down on a couple like we talked about. I think there's still better football out there for Karé to play, but he did a nice job.

On how to utilize three talented running backs -- D.J. Davis, Javon Williams Jr., Romeir Elliott:

We just have to do a good job throughout the week of putting in a good game plan, of getting them the ball, knowing what they do best, and moving them around. I think at times, all three of them had game-changing plays in the game. Romeir (Elliott) didn't have as many carries but had an explosive run getting us down to the red zone.

It was on the drive he ends up scoring on. On that fourth down (play) a lot of guys wouldn't have bounced that thing out, they would have stuck it up inside. He has great vision, he bounced it to the outside and scored a touchdown. D.J. (Davis) got us going and had a few really good runs, and Javon (Williams Jr.) had a really good game.

It's not hard to keep them rested when you can move them in and out. They're unselfish. D.J.'s the most unselfish kid we've ever had, so he's their biggest fan when they're in there. We just need to continue to do a good job of knowing what they do well, not putting too much on them and not being able to execute it, just keeping it simple and getting them the ball.

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