Redhawks have more at stake vs.Tennessee Tech

Tuesday, September 9, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Southeast's Robert Watley slips past Missouri's Jerrell Jackson during the second half Saturday at Faurot Field in Columbia.

Southeast Missouri State football coach Tony Samuel compared Saturday's matchup at sixth-ranked Missouri to an NFL preseason game.

While few athletes enter a game expecting to lose, just about everybody knew beating the Tigers would be next to impossible.

So the Redhawks' primary focus was on improving for the season that really counts, which is where the NFL analogy came into play.

Well, the season that really counts is just about here for the Redhawks.

Southeast kicks off its Ohio Valley Conference schedule Thursday night against visiting Tennessee Tech in a contest that will be televised nationally by ESPNU.

"This is a big game for us," Samuel said Monday during his weekly media conference. "As the season goes so far, this is our biggest game.

"It's at home, it's on national TV. This is a conference game, this is what you get fired up for."

Southeast is 1-1 after losing to Missouri 52-3. Tech is 1-1 as the Eagles also lost on the road Saturday to a Division I-A program. Louisville routed the Golden Eagles 51-10.

While Thursday's contest, set for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff at Houck Stadium, is the first of eight OVC games for the Redhawks, Samuel believes a victory would boost Southeast significantly.

If the Redhawks beat the Eagles, then they'll remain undefeated in conference play for at least two more weeks.

Following Thursday's game, Southeast has two more nonleague contests — at home against Missouri State and at Indiana State — before playing its final seven games within the conference.

"You'd like to get started well, get that momentum started," Samuel said.

Upon further review

While Missouri, considered a national title contender, had its way with Southeast — as expected — Samuel came away feeling fairly good about the Redhawks' play.

Samuel especially liked the way Southeast moved the ball in the first half against the Tigers' first-string defense.

The Redhawks gained 199 first-half yards, although they failed to score.

"I thought offensively we held our own against them," Samuel said. "It was disappointing we didn't get points, but you could see we executed better."

Samuel said he would have liked to see Southeast's defense slow down the Tigers' first-string offense better, but Missouri generally moves the ball at will against any team it plays.

The Tigers built a 42-0 lead with more than 8 minutes remaining in the second quarter. All-American quarterback Chase Daniel did not play the rest of the way.

"Their offense is a great offense, probably one of the better offenses I've seen," Samuel said.

Injury situation

Southeast came out of the Missouri contest with only one new injury.

Backup defensive back Kris Cottner, a true freshman from Perryville High School who has played sparingly so far, suffered a knee injury. He is listed as doubtful for Thursday's game.

Center Paul McGuire (knee) and tackle Matt James (ankle) did not play against Missouri and are listed as doubtful for this week. James is a Jackson product.

Backup linebacker Patrick Maloney (foot) has not played in either of the first two games and also is doubtful for this week.

Backup tailback Henry Harris, a Memphis transfer who was expected to add speed to Southeast's offense, also has not played this season.

"He'll play this week," Samuel said. "We probably could have played him [against Missouri]."

Noteworthy

* Junior Doug Spada, who averaged 53 yards per punt against Missouri, leads the nation with a 50.8-yard average.

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