With an explosive offense led by a fantastic quarterback and an opportunistic defense spending a lot of time on the field, it feels like the same UIW we have come to love over the past four years. However, it’s not the same Cardinals - this is the G.J. Kinne era, and I don’t think he will complain about the similarities following a 50-22 victory over Southern Illinois.
The Cardinals took advantage of the Salukis early mistakes and took complete control of the contest in the second half to finish the dominating win. The SIU deep snapper is not wanting me to type his name after two of his snaps sailed over his punter’s head and resulted in a safety and a touchdown to help stake UIW to a 22-0 lead in the first quarter.
Just how it was scripted
The night began with a 1:40 minute weather delay as storms passed through San Antonio. I know how much we need rain in this state, so let’s hold off declaring war on the weather.
Once the game began, UIW started putting points on the board in bunches. Then quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. ran towards the pylon, was hit, spun in the air, and landed in the end zone for a six-yard touchdown.
Then the lights went out in the stadium. I’m sure someone has exclaimed something about catching lightning in a bottle when watching Scott Jr., but that’s crazy. He doesn’t have those kinds of superpowers. Or does he?
The more things change…
Kinne inherited an offense that averaged over 40 points per game last year. Adding Scott Jr. was vital following the transfer of Cameron Ward to Washington State. Many names are familiar to UIW fans outside the new coach and quarterback.
Wide receiver Taylor Grimes received multiple preseason All-American honors and displayed his talent to the tune of 126 yards and two touchdowns, but he is not alone. The Cardinals wide receiver room is filled with talent and depth, which was evident Saturday night.
Former Burkburnett Bulldog and Cisco Wrangler Darion Chafin caught four passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, while Ce’Cori Tolds returned to action following an injury and caught a 60-yard pass. Tolds also showcased his dynamic return ability in the game.
Can I get a break?
UIW opened the game by scoring 22 points on seven offensive plays. That happens when the opponent’s deep snapper is having an off night. But that came with a price - the defense was on the field a lot in the game, especially in the first half.
The final stats show SIU ran 91 total plays compared to 54 from the Cardinals. Part of the discrepancy is the turnovers. The other part results from an offense that can score on every play.
The Salukis kept the UIW defense on the field for 39:50 in the game. That kind of work wears on the defense, and while it didn’t play a factor in tonight’s game, that fatigue can build throughout the season and manifest itself during the playoffs.
The defense sometimes didn’t help itself with two unsportsmanlike conduct plays. It’s one thing to play hard, but the throat slash gesture is a guaranteed flag, and a perceived cartwheel following a key third down stop indicates a team without discipline and needs to be cleaned up before next week.
Game Ball - UIW quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr.
Scott Jr. shined in his first start at UIW after transferring to San Antonio from Southland Conference rival Nicholls. Scott Jr. completed 17 of 25 pass attempts for 391 yards and six touchdowns.
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