Southeast Missouri State football team has open week ahead

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Southern Illinois' Steven McKinney attempts to make a catch while being hit by a Southeast Missouri State defender Saturday at Houck Stadium. (Fred Lynch)

An inexperienced team will focus on the basics during a14-day span between games

Southeast Missouri State football coach Tony Samuel ordinarily wouldn't like an open date so early in the year.

But considering how much work the Redhawks need, Samuel welcomes not having a game this week.

Samuel figures the inexperienced Redhawks can use the extra practice time before they visit Football Bowl Subdivision member Purdue on Sept. 17.

The Redhawks displayed plenty of deficiencies during Saturday's 38-10 season-opening home loss to Southern Illinois.

Southern Illinois' Steven McKinney hauls in a pass against Southeast Missouri State during the second quarter Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 at Houck Stadium. (Fred Lynch)

"We need the bye week from a fundamentals standpoint, from a footwork standpoint alone," Samuel said Monday about the Redhawks, who lost 14 starters from last year's OVC-championship team. "Typically you get the biggest rate of improvement from the first game to the second game."

Samuel, after watching the film of Saturday's contest, said the Redhawks had their strong points but simply made too many mistakes and gave up too many big plays against the nationally ranked Salukis.

"We had some good things. In our world we have to identify the bad and fix it," Samuel said. "The good thing is we played hard. Our effort was good. We didn't have an issue with effort. We had an issue with technique, assignment."

Ten players made their first career start at Southeast, while 26 players saw action in their first career game as Redhawks.

"I didn't know it was that much. I was afraid to look," Samuel said with a laugh.

Southeast Missouri State quarterback Matt Scheible runs past Southern Illinois defenders during Saturday's game at Houck Stadium. Scheible led the Redhawks with 91 yards rushing on nine carries. (Fred Lynch)

The inexperience showed as Southeast was dominated on both sides of the ball.

SIU piled up 494 yards of offense -- 254 passing and 240 rushing -- while holding Southeast to 261 yards.

"They were impressive. They're a good team," Samuel said of the Salukis. "I thought we helped them. We can't give up big plays like we did."

Southeast, third nationally with an average of 265.1 yards rushing per game last year, managed just 117 yards on the ground Saturday. And 91 of those yards were by all-conference senior quarterback Matt Scheible, who was about the Redhawks' only offensive threat.

The Redhawks' retooled offensive line -- just one starter returned from 2010 -- struggled opening holes for the running game.

All-conference junior tackle Evan Conrad said he still has plenty of faith in the unit.

"We had some issues. A lot of new players, to simulate that speed they [SIU] play with ... it's a tough game to open with," Conrad said after the loss. "I have no doubt as a group we started coming together tonight, and we'll do nothing but get better."

Several of Southeast's rookies showed promise, including redshirt freshman receiver Spencer Davis and redshirt freshman fullback Ron Coleman.

Davis caught two passes for 28 yards and displayed speed and elusiveness in the return game. He averaged 24.3 yards on six kickoff returns -- with a long of 39 yards -- and returned a punt for 14 yards.

Coleman, a 250-pound bruiser, had two receptions for 26 yards. He turned in one of Southeast's offensive highlights when he caught a short pass and bowled over an SIU defender to gain about 10 more yards.

"I think they did a real good job," Samuel said.

Samuel said the Redhawks will spend this week's practices on themselves before delving into Purdue next week. He hinted that lineup changes could be coming.

"This week we're going to focus on us, not any opponent," he said. "We're going to re-evaulate. We may even make some changes on the depth chart."

While the Redhawks were disappointed they didn't have a better showing -- especially in front of 10,163 fans, the sixth-largest crowd for a Southeast football game at Houck Stadium -- they remained upbeat.

"We didn't get done what we wanted to get done," said junior linebacker Blake Peiffer, who led Southeast with a career-high 12 tackles. "But we'll go back to work and get things corrected."

Noteworthy

* Eight true freshman saw action Saturday -- some on special teams -- including quarterback Trey Lewis and offensive lineman Corey Porter from Sikeston, Mo., and walkon fullback Brandon Beck from Jackson, Mo.

Also getting into the game were Eddie Kocwa, who handled kickoffs, cornerback Tim Hamm-Bey, and linebackers Joey Lohmann, George Neuhaus and Kevin Burns.

* Purdue, which has been down to its third-string quarterback due to injury, needed a touchdown in the final minute to beat visiting Middle Tennessee State 27-24 in its opener.

The Boilermakers play at Rice on Saturday before facing the Redhawks in a game that will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

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