2018 College Football Team Previews: Southern Illinois Salukis

Southern Illinois Salukis
Location: Carbondale, IL
Coach: Nick Hill (8-14) 3rd Season
Stadium: Saluki Stadium (Capacity: 15,000)

CSJ Projections:
8th: MVFC
6th: Illinois
39th: FCS
158th: Division I

2017 In A Sentence: SIU looked poised to be in the FCS playoff hunt in the middle of the MVFC slate but an injury to QB Sam Straub resulted in the Salukis losing the final four games to finish just 4-7 overall (2-6 MVFC).

Biggest Shoes to Fill: S Ryan Neal led SIU and ranked seventh in the MVFC in tackles per game. He was the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week after eight tackles, a fumble recovery and a 52-yard interception return at Southeast Missouri State. Neal led SIU in tackles six times in 2017 and started all 11 games at safety. He finished his career with 226 tackles.

Key Player: Junior QB Sam Straub as mentioned earlier was a key component in the Saluki offense and to the team winning. Before breaking his wrist last year, he had passed for 1,886 yards and 20 touchdowns. He will be the key player for that reason.

Fearless Prediction: Assuming Straub is back to 100%, the Saluki offense could put up record-breaking type numbers. The biggest question mark will be if the SIU defense can stop the opposition. If that side of the ball can up its game, SIU could be in the upper half of the MVFC.