Injuries will leave defense short-handed for Saturday

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Southeast Missouri State University's defense will continue to be short-handed Saturday when the Indians play their second game of the season, at Division I-A Bowling Green.

Starting linebacker Brandon Colar, who suffered an elbow injury in last Thursday's 42-3 loss at Southern Illinois, won't play Saturday. The same goes for starting cornerback Marco Tipton, who missed the SIU game with a hamstring injury suffered in practice.

Another cornerback, Charles McCoy, also is doubtful for Bowling Green because his official transcripts still have not arrived from Santa Monica (Calif.) Community College.

"We're really thin at cornerback," Southeast coach Tim Billings said. "Once we get McCoy and Tipton back, we'll be fine."

Tunde Agboke, a former Kentucky transfer who saw limited action for the Indians last season, is scheduled to start in Colar's place. Brennan Spain, who suffered a concussion late in the SIU game, appears to be fine and will likely start in place of Tipton.

Offensively, redshirt freshman starting wide receiver Scott NesSmith will -- as originally thought -- almost certainly miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury (torn ACL) against SIU, but the Indians will gain two more players at that position for Saturday's game.

Antonio Scaife, who missed the opener while serving a team suspension, has been reinstated and is slated to start in place of NesSmith. Scaife, who will also return punts after averaging 12.7 yards per return as a true freshman last year, is considered by Billings to be one of Southeast's top playmakers.

In addition, senior Chris NesSmith -- Scott's older brother and one of the Indians' top receivers the past two seasons who was considered doubtful for this year with a torn ACL -- has been running fairly well with a brace, according to Billings, and will attempt to play Saturday.

Billings knows the Indians will need all the reinforcements they can get in order to have any shot of even staying in the game with a Bowling Green squad that went 11-3 last year and was ranked 23rd nationally -- then gave second-ranked Oklahoma all it wanted on Saturday before falling 40-24 in the season opener.

"They have a great football team," Billings said. "They really played well with Oklahoma."

Regardless of how Saturday's contest turns out -- and virtually everybody outside of Southeast's camp expects a lopsided Bowling Green victory --Billings said the main thing is for the Indians to give a much better performance than they displayed against SIU.

"I was really disappointed with the SIU game," he said. "SIU has a great team, but I just felt like we didn't compete like we should have. The most discouraging thing is we didn't play nearly as well as we should have. We just didn't play very well."

Added Billings: "I still feel like we have the nucleus to compete for the OVC title. But we have a long way to go. We're not nearly there yet."

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