CARBONDALE — SIU football coach Dale Lennon is all too familiar with backup quarterbacks.
Since taking over for Jerry Kill in 2008, Lennon has lost his starting quarterback three times, most recently two weeks ago when fifth-year senior Kory Faulkner broke the index finger in his throwing hand.
Redshirt freshman Ryan West is expected to start this weekend’s game against Western Illinois (3-6, 1-4 Missouri Valley Football Conference) for the Salukis (4-4, 2-2 MVFC).
SIU’s schedule hasn’t allowed any of Faulkner’s backups much action. The Salukis played Division II Charleston (W.Va.) on Sept. 14, but have taken on five teams that are currently ranked or were ranked in both of the two major Football Championship Subdivision polls. Five of SIU’s eight games have been decided by eight points or less, with two going to overtime or double overtime.
“Quarterback is the position that can be the difference-maker for you,” Lennon said Monday at his weekly news conference. “Kory was playing his best game. All of our games, if you look at anything, if we’re guilty of anything, it’s probably having too challenging a schedule, because we’ve never been able to get some of our backup quarterbacks into the game where they could get the reps that they need to get that game experience. There were a couple games where guys got to play, but all of our other games have been a battle to the end.”
West, a 6-foot-3, 222-pound righty, has appeared in three games this season. He has completed 10-of-22 passes for 108 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, most of it against Charleston when he had to come off the bench when Faulkner injured his shoulder.
A.J. Hill, a fifth-year senior who dropped to third string after the start of the season, played against Charleston. Third-year sophomore Matt Vincent played against Western Illinois last year, but has not appeared in a game this season.
SIU hopes West can fill the void at quarterback as well as Paul McIntosh did in 2009, when he stepped in for starter Chris Dieker.
McIntosh led the Salukis to a 5-1 record as a starter the rest of the year, helping them win their second straight Valley Football title and earn a No. 1 ranking.
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