Published: Thursday, November 2, 2006
Coach Kill is back in saddle for SIU after health issues
The No. 12-ranked Salukis invade Stambaugh Stadium on Saturday.
By PETE MOLLICA
YOUNGSTOWN One week after he was hospitalized for seizure treatment, Southern Illinois football coach Jerry Kill says he has resumed full-time coaching duties for the Salukis.
Kill said he is working with a local doctor and a specialist in St. Louis, who are treating his health issues.
"The specialist in St. Louis told me the seizures are brought on by fatigue and lack of sleep," Kill said. "My case is not unusual."
Kill says that he has had difficulty sleeping ever since his cancer-related surgery eight months ago. His doctors are working with him to alleviate discomfort so he can rest properly.
Anxious to return
With the Salukis in the hunt for a I-AA playoff berth, Kill was anxious to get back to work.
"I feel like I have a lot still in me," he said. "If I ever thought I was a hindrance to the program, I promise I'd step away.
"I'm going to need to give all of my energy to our players this week and help them prepare for Youngstown State," Kill said.
Kill will bring his No. 12-ranked Salukis (6-2, 3-2) to Youngstown on Saturday to take on the Penguins in a 1:05 p.m. kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium.
"This might be the best Youngstown State team we've faced since I've been here," Kill said. "What they did to Illinois State was just amazing."
Without Kill on the sidelines last week [he watched from the pressbox] the Salukis had to rely on special teams to pull out a 27-17 win over Missouri State.
Southern Illinois snapped a two-game Gateway losing streak.
Junior defensive back A.J. Wallace blocked a punt with the Salukis trailing 10-3 in the second half and sparked the comeback rally.
It was the third punt that Southern had blocked in the past four games.
Offensively, Southern is led by All-Gateway standout senior Arkee Whitlock at tailback. The 5-10, 195-pound speedster has rushed for 973 yards on 171 carries and scored 11 touchdowns.
The Salukis are averaging 231 yards a game rushing and 139 passing.
Junior quarterback Nick Hill (6-3, 205) has completed 77 of 124 passes for 1,048 yards and only has been intercepted twice. The Salukis have lost six of nine fumbles this season.
Hill's top target is 6-4, 260-pound tight end Brandon Jones, who has pulled in 22 receptions for 347 yards and five touchdowns. It was Jones who caught six passes for 89 yards and a touchdown last year as the Salukis rallied for a 31-17 win over the Penguins in Carbondale.
SIU's defense is ranked No. 2 overall in the Gateway allowing 316 yards per game and No. 1 against the rush allowing 115.5 per game.
The Salukis and Penguins also rank one, two in rushing offense with SIU averaging 231 yards and the Penguins 229 yards a game.
Freshman middle linebacker Brandin Jordan (5-10, 220) leads the Salukis in tackles with 71, while senior defensive end Lorenzo Wims (6-2, 260) has 11.5 tackles for losses, including six sacks this year.
Coffin is kicker
Senior kicker Craig Coffin (5-11, 200) has been perfect this season.
He is 11-for-11 in field goals, including a long of 47 yards and has made all 34 of his point after kicks. Freshman punter Scott Ravanesi is averaging 38.7 on 29 kicks this season.
Junior return specialist Craig Turner (5-10, 195) ranks second in the Gateway in both punt (16.6) and kickoff (23) returns.