Samuel attributes mistakes to growing pains

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Penalties and turnovers have hurt the Redhawks through their first two games.

Tony Samuel has said all along that he considers his second Southeast Missouri State football team to be talented, with experience the only missing ingredient.

The Redhawks' coach hasn't wavered from that belief through two games, including Saturday's unimpressive 38-17 win over Southwest Baptist.

The Redhawks struggled much of the night in their home opener against the Division II Bearcats, who led 14-7 in the third quarter before Southeast (1-1) took control.

"Oh yeah, this is a very talented team," Samuel said Monday during his weekly media briefing.

But Samuel, who has nearly 60 first-year Division I-AA players and only nine seniors, acknowledged that "this is a work in progress."

Samuel said he hasn't been surprised by all the Redhawks' mistakes in the first two games, including a 59-3 loss at Division I-A Cincinnati in the opener.

Southeast has so far committed seven turnovers (five lost fumbles and two interceptions), although only one of the turnovers came against Southwest Baptist.

The Redhawks have been penalized a whopping 29 times for 256 yards.

"Way too many penalties. We really need to cut that in half," Samuel said. "And we're turning the ball over too much.

"Too many youthful mistakes. You expect it, but we just have to get through it."

Samuel said the Redhawks' goal remains winning the Ohio Valley Conference title, which he doesn't believe is unrealistic.

Toward that end, Samuel said Southeast's final tuneup before starting OVC play -- Saturday night's home game with winless Indiana State -- will again feature he and his staff taking a look at plenty of players.

"We're still going into this thing with the conference title in mind," Samuel said. "We'll still play a lot of people ... just to see what they'll do in a game situation.

"In order to get to a conference title, you have to establish depth, identify people. First you want to win the game, but we have to identify depth."

As has been the case in the first two games, junior quarterbacks Victor Anderson and Houston Lillard will both see action against Indiana State.

Anderson, who will again start, has played the majority of the time so far.

"I think we need to [play both]," Samuel said. "They both do good things. They also make some mistakes. We need to get those guys up and running."

Indiana State (0-2) opened the season with a 55-7 loss at Division I-A Indiana and is coming off a 32-17 home loss to Austin Peay, which is picked to finish last in the OVC.

The Sycamores have only one win since 2005, and they are 1-29 in their last 30 games.

Injury update

Starting rover back Walter Peoples left the Southwest Baptist game with a shoulder injury and is questionable for Indiana State.

Also leaving against Southwest Baptist, with a leg injury, was defensive end Damian Smith, who is questionable this week.

Starting linebacker Nick Stauffer (ankle) missed the Southwest Baptist game and is questionable this week.

Two players who were injured against Cincinnati and did not play against Southwest Baptist, rover Antoine Chillers (leg) and defensive end Brian Turner (knee), are out indefinitely.

Linebacker Joshua Jackson (foot), who made several starts last year, and offensive lineman Matt Paris (leg) missed the first two games and are again doubtful this week.

Samuel said he doesn't believe any of the injuries are season-ending.

With the secondary currently shorthanded because of injuries, Samuel said third-team quarterback Steve Callanan has been moved to safety to help provide depth.

Strength coach leaves

Paul Helsel, who was in his seventh season as Southeast's strength and conditioning coach, has left to accept a similar position at Old Dominion University.

Helsel directed the strength and conditioning program for all Southeast sports, working particularly closely with football.

Southeast athletic director Don Kaverman said the university will conduct a national search for Helsel's replacement and hopes to have somebody hired "as soon as possible."

Added Kaverman: "Paul did a great job. He really built up that program."

Noteworthy

* Senior running back/kick returner Elton Peterson will play against Indiana State after missing 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 had to sit out two games this year as part of the redshirt.

"I know he's excited," Samuel said.

* Southwest Baptist's Trevore Archie, who was injured during a hit on the opening kickoff in the second half Saturday, is reportedly doing well.

Archie remained down on the field for about 15 minutes before being carried off on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital.

Southwest Baptist spokesman Mike Pitts said Archie returned to Bolivar, Mo., Sunday night and is back attending classes. Pitts would not comment on Archie's playing status for the remainder of the season.

* Sophomore linebacker Jared Goodson led Southeast with 12 tackles against Southwest Baptist, including 2 1/2 tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Adam Casper had 11 tackles and junior lineman Hannibal Vaivao had the Redhawks' lone sack.

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