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Valley teams have QB issues
Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa not ready to name starter.
Two of the Missouri Valley Conference’s traditional powers have quarterback questions after surprising home-field defeats.
Neither Southern Illinois coach Dale Lennon nor Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley was ready Wednesday to unveil a starter ahead of this week’s games.
In both cases, it appears to be a choice between a better runner or a more-accomplished passer.
At SIU, the passer (and incumbent) is senior Chris Dieker and the runner is sophomore Paul McIntosh.
Both played Saturday in the stunning 24-21 loss to Southeast Missouri State, a result that sent SIU tumbling eight spots, to 13th, in the Football Championship Subdivision poll.
Dieker threw an interception and fumbled before McIntosh entered and led SIU on two touchdown drives. Lennon brought Dieker back for a final, failed drive.
“We knew that (McIntosh) could do things with his legs that could give us that spark,” Lennon told the Southern Illinoisan newspaper.
As for Dieker returning late in the game, Lennon said he felt the veteran was better suited for the two-minute offense.
“This week, we’ll go through practice and make a decision prior to the game” at Youngstown State, Lennon said during the Valley coaches’ teleconference.
At Northern Iowa, junior transfer and starter Tirrell Rennie left in the second half of a 22-20 loss to Stephen F. Austin and did not return. Junior Zach Davis, a backup the past two years, finished the game.
Rennie is second in the Valley in rushing average (114 yards per game).
Farley said he would be comfortable with either starting Saturday at Iowa State.
The top priority for UNI, Farley said, is easy to pinpoint.
“Securing the football,” he said, noting three turnovers inside the Stephen F. Austin 20-yard line last week.
Asked if the loss to SEMO was a wake-up call prior to the start of league play, Lennon said, “Wake-up calls aren’t very fun. The potential is there, but you don’t want to still be talking about potential in Week 4.”
Youngstown State coach Eric Wolford said SIU should not be underestimated because of one defeat.
“Sometimes when adversity sets in, people step up and get it right,” Wolford said.
You gotta believe
South Dakota State, which plays at No. 6 Nebraska on Saturday, is staring at an 0-3 start. At least, the Jackrabbits will receive $375,000 for the trip to Lincoln, Neb.
“The first thing you have to have is some belief – total belief or partial belief or whatever,” SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said of the challenge facing his team.
Indiana State snapped a 33-game losing streak last year by defeating Western Illinois. The teams open league play against each other this week and the Sycamores are looking to end another lengthy and negative streak.
“We haven’t won a conference game on the road since 2002,” Indiana State coach Trent Miles said. “That’s motivation enough.”
By Lyndal Scranton, News-Leader