SIU's football team didn't set any scoring records, but it took over the game in the opening quarter and ran Mississippi Valley State off the field as it was expected to Saturday.
The Salukis were impressive on both sides of the ball and on special teams in their 55-3 victory at Saluki Stadium. Now it only gets tougher, with three of their next four games on the road, where SIU hasn't won since 2014 (11 straight losses).
Here are three things we learned from SIU's big win:
No. 1 — Daquan Isom may carry the load
Isom missed the last six games of last season with a nagging hamstring injury, but bulked up about 20-25 pounds and still had the wheels Saturday. The 5-foot-8, 186-pound junior nearly took his first carry to the house through a seam on the left side.
He got through the hole and ran between two defenders toward the sideline before getting wrapped up after a 46-yard gain. Isom's run on the first play from scrimmage was SIU's longest of the night.
He carried the ball a game-high 14 times for a game-high 97 yards and one touchdown, a 1-yard plunge in the second quarter. Isom will not likely get 20-25 carries a game, considering SIU's depth at running back, but he may be just as productive with 15-20 a game.
No. 2 — D-line could be strong up the middle
Malik Haynes had three tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, and blocked a punt. And he's a defensive tackle.
SIU's defense could be pretty strong up the middle, with Haynes, ZeVeyon Furcron, Blake Parzych and Quadarius Reed. Ends Anthony Knighton, who had two solo sacks, and Jordan Berner helped the Salukis limit the Delta Devils to minus-8 yards rushing on 29 attempts Saturday night.
Yes, Mississippi Valley State has some work to do to develop some offensive weapons. But, with linebackers like Kyron Watson, Markese Jackson and Airan Reed, SIU should be better against the run. And if the Salukis can improve there, they can begin to pin teams down into third-and-long more often and give themselves a chance in the passing game.
With a lot of backups playing in the second half, Mississippi Valley State threw for 322 yards yet finished the game with three points. The Delta Devils reached the SIU 11 before an incompletion and false start penalty was followed by an interception in the end zone. They got to the Saluki 6-yard line after an 81-yard pass play to Quinn McElfresh, but came up empty again after four straight incompletions.
No. 3 — SIU gets perfect storm for SEMO
Other than the light crowd of under 9,000 for the season opener, SIU's easy win couldn't have gone better.
The Salukis jumped out to a 21-0 lead early in the game and led by six scores at the break. They got their starters out in the third quarter and got their underclassmen, and new upperclassmen, some much-needed minutes in a no-stress environment.
SIU didn't take any serious injuries, moved to 1-0 for the first time since 2014, and didn't have to show much on film to do it. Now it's back to practice, and on to Southeast Missouri State on Saturday night.
"Players will see themselves make a few mistakes, and, how are we going to respond and get better from this?" SIU coach Nick Hill said. "And then we've gotta turn the page and have a great week of preparation for SEMO, and our schedule is set up where if we don't do that, the team that we're playing will beat ya."