Southeast Missouri State football team begins work for Central Michigan

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Southeast Missouri State running back Lennies McFerren tries to break free of linebacker David Smart, left, as defensive tackle Josyah O'Keefe-Lopez, right, moves in to assist on the tackle during Saturday's scrimmage at Houck Stadium. (ADAM VOGLER)

Southeast Missouri State will begin to zero in on its season-opening football opponent this week.

The Redhawks also have started to zero in on classes, which coach Tony Samuel said presents its own set of challenges.

Southeast's preseason camp, which lasted a little more than two weeks and ended Sunday, allowed the players to concentrate solely on football with virtually no outside distractions.

That's not the case any longer. The fall semester began Monday, and the Redhawks resume workouts today after a day off from practice. Samuel said the Redhawks had a strong camp but now their mental toughness will be challenged even more.

"It's a whole different animal with classes starting," said Samuel, whose squad opens Aug. 30 at Central Michigan. "They've got to worry about classes and football instead of only football. And there are so many other things going on that they can get distracted by. That's all part of it."

The Redhawks spent preseason camp focused solely on themselves. Southeast now will divide its attention between continuing to work on themselves while also looking ahead to Central Michigan.

"We've still got to fix ourselves in a couple of areas," Samuel said. "We've got to clean up some things, then we'll start working on some of their plays. It's a money game for us, and they're a good football team."

Central Michigan, which is paying Southeast $300,000 for its general athletic department revenue, went just 3-9 in 2011. The Chippewas were a last-place 2-6 in the six-team Mid-American Conference West Division.

But the Chippewas suffered five losses by a combined 19 points with 19 first-time starters. They returned nine offensive starters, seven defensive starters and both specialists.

The Chippewas went 3-9 each of the past two years but they played in four straight bowl games from 2006 through 2009.

"They've got a good history," Samuel said. "It's going to be a big challenge for us."

Southeast junior cornerback Cantrell Andrews, a Central High School graduate, said following Saturday's final scrimmage of preseason camp that the Redhawks are ready to begin focusing on Central Michigan.

"We still need to get a lot better, but it's going to be nice to start looking at them," Andrews said about the Chippewas.

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