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SIU's Hill looks ahead to Saturday's game with UMass

  • SIU head football coach Nick Hill leads the Salukis onto the playing field last Thursday at SEMO.

    SIU head football coach Nick Hill leads the Salukis onto the playing field last Thursday at SEMO.
    Saluki Media Relations photo

Saluki Media Relations
Posted on 9/4/2019, 10:48 AM

CARBONDALE --Southern Illinois head football coach Nick Hill met with the media on Monday as the Salukis (0-1) prepare for this week's road game at FBS UMass (0-1) on Saturday. Hill announced that starting inside linebacker Bryce Notree will be out 4-to-6 weeks with a broken foot that he suffered during pregame warmups at SEMO. He'll be replaced in the starting lineup by Bryson Strong.

On this week's opponent -- UMass:

For us it's about getting better from Week 1 to Week 2. When you put on the film (versus SEMO) there's obvious room for improvement for our football team. I thought there were some positive things and we have to continue to build on the things we did well. It's a new staff for UMass. We were able to watch the Rutgers game. I know Coach (Walt) Bell is building a program and is an excellent coach and we expect them to come out and play hard and they're looking for their first win. They're going to want to clean things up from the first week, too, and we have to expect for those things to be cleaned up and get their best effort. I think it's a great opportunity for us to go on the road and play our best football.

On Stone Labanowitz's first start:

I thought he gave us a chance. We didn't win the football game and that's how you're graded as a quarterback. There's probably 8-to-12 plays that he has to make better decisions on, just getting us in the right protections, having total control and command out there. We talked about after the game the one decision down on the 4-yard line, the ball gets tipped, probably have a chance to complete the ball, but it needs to be a handoff. That play came up twice later in the game, he handed the ball off and we scored on both of them. It's a tough way to learn that lesson. He was pretty good on third down early in the game. There was some good and some things we have to clean up.

On how Labanowitz responded to loss:

I think he responded well. He gets it. He's hard on himself but has a good outlook on things. He's the first person to take ownership for something, even throwing the ball down on the goal line, he's not looking for excuses. Just some footwork things he has to clean up. We practiced last night and he's diving into those things and even took a step last night on some little things we asked him to do with his footwork that will help him with the timing of things. I go back to my first start (as quarterback at SIU) and we played an NAIA school and my head was spinning. I'm glad I didn't play in a rivalry game right off the bat. I think I threw the ball 12 times. I thought he did some good things but he has to take steps.

On the Nigel Kilby touchdown that was nullified by an illegal formation penalty:

It was a legal formation. We sent it in (to the conference office) and it was, so it should have been a touchdown. We have to find ways to overcome it. Instead of being up 14-0, it's 7-7, and then we don't score the rest of the half. How we handled the last four-and-a-half minutes of the half really wasn't good and it cost us the football game.

On how running back Javon Williams Jr. will be used:

It's hard to take D.J. Davis out of the game. If D.J. is healthy and feels ready to go for the series, it's hard to tell 9 not to go in the game. Against SEMO we had 68 plays. A lot of times, we'll have close to 20 more plays than that in a game. He'll be in the backfield getting carries this year.

On whether it's possible for teams to scheme away from Jeremy Chinn and Anthony Knighton:

All of the passing game (versus SEMO) was on the edges, on 1-on-1 matchups, kind of stayed away from the middle of the field. (Chinn) got down there and obviously made some tackles, had an impact on the game because you're dictating where the ball is probably going to be going. With a defensive end, we'll have guys in our league, based on what he does well or on third downs, where you're sliding your protections, if you're going to keep a back in to help with protections. There's ways to keep somebody like that out of the game.

On how position groups graded:

We gave up 44 points and 529 yards of offense, didn't get a sack and only one turnover, so we have to play better as a unit. As we grade from d-line to linebacker to defensive back, we didn't grade out to win the game.

On Jeremy Chinn being named the top FCS prospect:

He's a fabulous player and I've talked a ton about Jeremy and could go on and on. I think they got the right guy and he's deserving of that. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look out there and say, that guy's probably a pro football player. He could line up on any of those game you watched (last weekend) Oregon and Auburn, and say that guy's a good-looking prospect. We've had just about every NFL team in here already through Week 1, and the Senior Bowl's been here and was there Thursday night at the game. He's a great kid. There's a lot of kids out there that look the part and have good film and then you find out about them. There's no red flags with Jeremy Chinn. It's like, man, I really want to get this kid to be a part of our program. Some NFL club will say, this is the kind of guy you want in your locker room that will end up being a captain for us, too. You tell him to do something, whether it's special teams or anything, more and more teams are starting to find that out about him. They find out what type of student he is and all that stuff matters.

On Australian punter Jack Colquhoun:

He crushed a couple and they look good in the air, but whenever you give a return guy that much room, it's hard to cover those kicks. We have to keep it 40 and four -- 40 yards and four seconds of hang time and make them fair catch it. I thought he did a good job with a couple of the rugbys. That's the first time he's ever even seen a football game, let alone play in one. His energy on the sideline, his attitude, he's a great teammate and locked in to everything. He truly loves being on this team and I'm happy for him to get this opportunity. (Punter) Andrew (Anckle) did a good job in training camp and dressed for SEMO and we wouldn't have had a problem putting him in there, but Jack's variety -- he's a much better rugby guy.

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