Weather ruins Redhawks' spring game

Sunday, April 25, 2010
Southeast quarterback Matt Scheible attempts a pass during Saturday's spring game at Houck Stadium. (KRISTIN EBERTS ~<B>)

Southeast Missouri State quarterback Matt Scheible suggested with a smile that the Redhawks' defense was fortunate Saturday.

Inclement weather, punctuated by lightning, put an end to Southeast's spring intrasquad football game after about seven minutes of play.

The offense held an early 7-1 lead over the defense under a format that allowed both units to score points in a variety of ways.

"We were getting into a rhythm," said Scheible, who just had directed the offense to its only touchdown before lightning forced the contest first to be halted and then canceled. "I guess the defense did a rain dance."

Scheible and the offense wanted to get back at the defense after Southeast's 'D' captured spring game bragging rights the past two years.

Scheible (Matt)

Despite being denied that chance, Scheible and his offensive teammates ended spring practice feeling good about a unit that struggled much of last season before coming on at the end.

"We were trying to build off the last few games of last year," said Scheible, who will be a junior in the fall.

Southeast averaged 21.8 points and 329.6 yards per game during last year's 2-9 season that featured a 1-7 Ohio Valley Conference record.

But over the final two games, the Redhawks averaged 36.5 points and 418.5 yards. That offensive improvement came during a 49-13 rout of OVC rival Murray State and a competitive 42-24 loss to SIU, at the time ranked No. 1 in Division I-AA.

"We finished kind of strong and hopefully we'll get better," said running back Mike Jones, who scored Saturday's only touchdown from 2 yards out.

Southeast running back Mike Jones charges into the end zone for a touchdown during the Redhawks' spring game at Houck Stadium. (KRISTIN EBERTS)

Scheible, whose first season as a full-time collegiate starter was last year, said some tweaking of Southeast's offense in the final two games helped that side of the ball become more productive.

"We kind of switched up our style a little to run more option. I feel we did it well," Scheible said. "It's so deceptive to the defense. They're always guessing where the ball is."

More option fits the athletic Scheible's skill set well and he believes his decision making also was better down the stretch in 2009.

Scheible finished as Southeast's second-leading rusher with 487 yards. He completed 49.6 percent of his passes for 1,596 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

In the last two games, Scheible rushed for 103 yards while completing 53.3 percent of his passes for 343 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

"I thought I got a lot better," Scheible said of the late-season improvement. "And the spring has gone well."

Southeast coach Tony Samuel also is looking for the offense to pick up where it left off last year.

"We added some stuff. We just try to not make it too complicated," said Samuel, whose team ended spring drills Saturday. "The more repetitions, the better we get. We'd like to continue where we left off."

But Samuel doesn't necessarily believe offensive struggles earlier in the season is what kept the Redhawks from reversing some of their close losses.

"It's all three phases," he said. "Defensively we have to tackle better, get more three-and-outs. We have to keep improving on special teams."

Samuel said he liked what he saw at Houck Stadium before the weather forced the cancellation.

"We started out nice and crisp. I liked the tempo the offense came out with," Samuel said. "It [the weather] came on faster than we thought. We thought we'd have another 45 minutes to an hour.

"But once it starts lightning ... that's not something you mess with."


* Jones gained 20 yards on seven carries before play was halted Saturday.

* Linebacker Justin Woodlief led the way with two tackles, including one for loss.

* The defensive point came when that unit forced a three-and-out from the offense.

* Curtis Huge tacked on the PAT following Jones' touchdown.

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