CARBONDALE — Mika’il McCall scored eight rushing touchdowns for SIU last year, six of them in the opening three games of the season.
The sophomore transfer from Iowa got going on another hot start at Friday’s spring game, rushing for two short touchdown runs on the way to 33 yards on 13 carries.
His 6-yard scoring run in the second quarter started in the middle of the field and ended up in the left corner of the end zone.
“I tripped up a little bit, lost my footing,” McCall said. “I would have beaten him to the outside, but, it happens, so I tried to cut back a little bit. Initially, I didn’t see anything there.”
SIU coach Dale Lennon saw a 6-foot, 228-pound guy that was a bit more showtime than straight ahead, but also an athlete that could be the Salukis’ best short-yardage back.
“Mika’il is definitely more comfortable with the offense. Sometimes I think he tries to do too much yet,” Lennon said. “He’s always looking for the big play. There are just some times where you need to lower the shoulder and just go north-south. I’d like to see a little more of that, but he’s a force in there and he’s definitely very comfortable now with what we’re asking him to do.”
Georgia transfer Ken Malcolme rushed for 27 yards on 10 carries, mainly with the second unit, and scored from a yard out in the fourth quarter. Tay Willis, a junior college transfer from Highland (Kan.) Community College, had 26 yards on seven carries.
SIU rushed for 110 yards on 41 carries in the 86-play, 86-minute scrimmage at Saluki Stadium. The Salukis threw for 375 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but were also intercepted three times. Kory Faulkner was picked off twice and Matt Vincent was intercepted once.
Three players that are battling for two defensive end spots — redshirt freshman Adam Brandt, sophomore Blake Miller and newcomer Kitray Solomon — had a sack apiece. The defense also recovered one of three fumbles by the offense, which hadn’t fumbled in a scrimmage all spring until Friday night.
“Any time defense gets a turnover, that’s a big win,” Lennon said. “It’s a mixed feeling as a head coach. I’m not happy that we gave up four turnovers, but I’m happy the defense forced four turnovers. That’s what we do. For us to be good, defensively, we gotta have pressure and we gotta take advantage of opportunities, and the defense stepped up and did that.”
SIU now enters summer strength and conditioning. The Salukis will open training camp in August, and officially kick off the 2013 season at Illinois on Aug. 31.
On Twitter: @THefferman_SI