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Southeast Missouri State football team prepares for Purdue
Southeast Missouri State football coach Tony Samuel believes the Redhawks made good use of their only open date this season.
Samuel hopes the work the Redhawks put in last week will pay off with an improved performance during their second game.
The Redhawks, who opened the season with a 38-10 home loss to Southern Illinois on Sept. 3, visit Purdue (1-1) on Saturday.
Southeast's first matchup with a Big Ten Conference opponent, set to kick off at 11 a.m., will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
"We focused on ourselves. We didn't really focus on Purdue per say. We went back to the basics, the fundamentals," Samuel said Monday about the Redhawks' practice routine last week. "We stayed in pads all week. We cleaned up a few things, competed against each other.
"I feel like it was productive. We'll see in the next week or so."
The depth chart released Monday was exactly the same as before the SIU game. Samuel said that won't be the case later in the week, although he did not get into specifics.
"There will be some changes in the depth chart by the time we play Purdue," he said.
Purdue, a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision, is paying the Redhawks $315,000. Southeast, like virtually every Football Championship Subdivision team, annually plays an FBS opponent to generate revenue for its athletic department.
The FCS squad generally comes out on the short end, and often by lopsided margins. FCS teams are 2-56 against the FBS so far this season after posting seven wins last year.
Southeast is 1-15 all-time against FBS opponents, the lone victory coming in 2002 at Middle Tennessee State. The Redhawks have been outscored 271-26 in their past five FBS matchups, although they were competitive during last year's 27-10 loss at Ball State.
"We have to do it, so we do the best we can," Samuel said of playing so-called money games.
While the odds of beating an FBS squad are slim -- and even slimmer against a BCS program -- Samuel said the Redhawks never go into a game conceding anything.
"You always want to do well first and foremost," he said, although he did acknowledge that "sometimes these games can get away from you."
Samuel said a big key to at least having a chance at being competitive is for Southeast's players to not feel too overwhelmed, especially the inexperienced ones.
Southeast almost certainly will play in front of its biggest crowd this season as Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium has an official capacity of 62,500.
The Redhawks had 10 first-time starters against SIU and 25 players saw action for the first time in their Southeast careers. Samuel said the Redhawks' experienced performers must lead the way.
"The biggest challenge is getting these guys ready for this type of environment," Samuel said. "I'm counting on the ones who have been in this type of arena."
Samuel is familiar with Ross-Ade Stadium. He spent 2005 as a Purdue assistant under former coach Joe Tiller before taking over the Southeast program.
Samuel said a few people on the Purdue staff remain from when he was with the Boilermakers.
"A few friends I made while I was up there I hope to see," Samuel said.
As for the Boilermakers, they are not predicted to finish high in the Big Ten but should still have an abundance of talent compared to most FCS teams, which are allowed a maximum of 63 scholarships compared to 85 for FBS squads.
"Purdue is a very good team. They've got the size, the length," Samuel said.
The Boilermakers' two games have both been decided on the final play.
Purdue needed a touchdown in the last minute and a blocked field-goal attempt as time expired to beat visiting Middle Tennessee 27-24 in its opener.
Saturday the Boilermakers had a 31-yard field-goal attempt blocked on the game's last play as they lost 24-22 at Rice.