Starting QB still a mystery

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Samuel said both Anderson, Lillard will play in Thursday's opener.

Southeast Missouri State football fans eagerly awaiting word on the identity of the Redhawks' starting quarterback for Thursday night's season opener ... well, they'll just have to keep waiting.

The smile on coach Tony Samuel's face at his weekly media briefing Monday hinted that he expected the first question to be about the Redhawks' quarterback situation.

But Samuel would not tip his hand, although he said the plan is for his top two signal callers -- juniors Victor Anderson and Houston Lillard -- to split time fairly evenly against Division I-A Cincinnati.

As far as who will get the first crack at the heavily favored Bearcats -- that is still a mystery, and likely will be until close to the 6 p.m. kickoff.

"It's not necessarily to try and sneak up on anybody," Samuel said. "We want to get there and decide who to start.

"We're going to play two quarterbacks. We're going to play them both quite a bit."

Neither Anderson nor Lillard has taken a snap at the Division I level.

Anderson transferred to Southeast from Mesa (Ariz.) Community College in January.

Lillard transferred to Southeast from Laney (Calif.) Community College in the summer of 2006, but he never played a down for the Redhawks last year after surgery on a right knee that had been giving him trouble.

Both quarterbacks took part in spring practice this year, and they split time evenly in the spring game. They have remained in a virtual dead heat since.

While Samuel said Anderson and Lillard will both play quite a bit Thursday, that is also the plan for many of Southeast's other positions.

"We're going to play an awful lot of people in this game," Samuel said.

Samuel knows he still has a lot to learn about his second Southeast team, which is extremely young and inexperienced -- although he believes quite talented.

Southeast's roster lists 89 players, 59 of them having never played at a level above junior college. The Redhawks have only nine seniors, while there are a combined 58 freshmen and sophomores.

Monday's depth chart showed just six first-teamers -- three on offense and three on defense -- who were full-time starters last year, although several other players received significant action in 2006.

"I really like this team. Now it's just a matter of how they're going to handle themselves," Samuel said. "I want to be able to see us execute our offense, defense and kicking game.

"We had a great camp. Now it's time to see how we do in a game situation."

Kicker added

The Redhawks have dipped into the Southeast baseball program to add some depth to their kicking situation.

Louie Haseltine recently joined the Redhawks and will make the trip to Cincinnati.

Haseltine redshirted as a freshman this year on the Southeast baseball squad. He kicked and punted at DeSmet High School in St. Louis, and was a member of the Spartans' Class 6 state championship team in 2005.

"He's got a nice leg," Samuel said. "He hasn't kicked in a while. He's got to knock the rust off."

Haseltine will back up Doug Spada, who had been the Redhawks' only kicker after Colin Schermann suffered a skull fracture after falling off a ladder just before the start of practice.

Schermann, the Redhawks' kicker the last two years, certainly will miss the season's first few games and there is no guarantee he will return this year.

Spada will also punt for the Redhawks.

Noteworthy

* Senior reserve running back Elton Peterson, primarily used as kick returner last year, will miss the first two games of the season.

Peterson was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA as a redshirt dating back to his freshman season in 2003, when he saw only brief action in two games. He must sit out two games of this year as part of the redshirt.

* In addition to Schermann, linebacker Joshua Jackson (foot) and offensive lineman Matt Paris (leg) will miss the Cincinnati game because of injuries.

Jackson made several starts as a true freshman last year and had been listed No. 1 on the depth chart prior to being injured several weeks ago. Paris is a backup.

* Kyle Hunt, who played defensive end at Southeast last year, was released by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday. He had been signed by the Eagles as a tight end.

Four Southeast products remain in NFL training camps:

Eugene Amano (offensive lineman, Tennessee); Dan Connolly (offensive lineman, Jacksonville); Edgar Jones (linebacker, Baltimore); and Dimitri Patterson (cornerback, Kansas City).

NFL rosters must be cut to 75 by today and 53 by Saturday.

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