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2019 Season Opponents Preview: Southeast Missouri State Redhawks

Let’s make a good FCS team look like a bad FCS team

NCAA Football: SE Missouri State at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks

Last season: 9-4, 20th in FCS coaches Poll

Southeast Missouri v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Head Coach: Tom Matukewicz – 6th year (former Toledo DC)

Overall Record: 24-34 (18-20)

School Record: 24-34 (18-20)

Offensive Coordinator: Jeromy McDowell – 2nd year (former Colorado Mesa OC)

Defensive Coordinator: Bryce Saia – 6th year (former Toledo Safeties coach)

Last Game Against Mizzou: 2015 at Faurot Field, lost 34-3

This Year: Faurot Field – Columbia, MO – September 14th, 6:30p

Projected Overall S&P+ Rank: x

Projected Offensive S&P+ Rank: x

Projected Defensive S&P+ Rank: x

Returning Production: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Offensive Players to Watch

NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

-Daniel Santacaterina – QB – R-SR: 232-393 (59%)/2,844 yards/28 TDs/11 INTs/29 sacks/6.3 YPA (transfer from Northern Illinois)

-Mark Robinson – RB – JR: 74 rushes/364 yards/4 TDs/4.92 ypc//5 catches/31 yards/6.2 ypc

-Kristian Wilkerson – WR – R-SR: 61 catches/894 yards/14 TDs/14.66 ypc

Defensive Players to Watch

-Clarence Thornton – DE – SR: 36 tackles/12 solo/8 TFLs/3.5 sacks/0 INTs/2 PBUs/0 FFs/15.3% HAVOC

-Zach Hall – ILB – SR: 168 tackles/67 solo/12 TFLs/2 sacks/4 INTs/2 PBUs/4 FFs/7.1% HAVOC

-Bydarrius Knighten – S – JR: 88 tackles/48 solo/1.5 TFLs/0 sacks/1 INT/9 PBUs/1 FF/14.2%


As noted in the “last game against Mizzou” line, this is not the first time the Tigers have played the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri State, but I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you completely blocked that out of your mind. But come, let me take your hand and lead you to a faraway land called 2015 and show you the awfulness that was that game:

-3 minutes into the game: Russell Hansbrough runs 20 yards down the right sideline, injures his ankle on the play, proceeds to contribute 43 carries for 170 yards for the rest of the season.

-20 SECONDS LATER: On a TD pass to J’Mon Moore, starting center Evan Boehm is rolled up on and proceeds to play on and off for the rest of the year.

-The first-team offense, taking snaps until the middle of the 3rd quarter, musters 24 points on an Ohio Valley Conference team that wins 4 games, a terrible harbinger of the season to come.

-I, your intrepid writer, am sitting in the newly minted upper concourse and getting destroyed by the lack of shade on a day that eclipses 110 degrees, at the time the hottest game in recorded history at Faurot Field. I die of heat exhaustion. But I got better.

Few things are the same since that fateful day in September. Only Ronnell Perkins, Justin Smith, Johnathon Johnson, Richaud Floyd, Franklin Agbasimere, and Tyrell Jacobs were on the team at that time. We have a new coach, a new south end zone, and new momentum, while SEMO still has Tom Matukewicz on the sideline, but is fresh off of an FCS Playoff appearance where they advanced to the second round. Since inheriting the program in 2014, Matukewicz steadily digressed in win totals, going from 5 to 4 and then 3 wins in both 2016 and 2017. However, thanks to the transfer of former Northern Illinois QB Daniel Santacaterina, they had the OVC’s Newcomer of the Year, won 9 games, and nearly won the conference (they wound up beating Jacksonville State, the eventual conference champ).

Even without targeting or charting data to dive deeper into SEMO’s 2018 season, I can tell you this was a solid, well rounded team. Santacaterina threw for nearly 3,000 yards and returns two of his top 3 targets. They lose their leading rusher but return his backup, as well as 4 of their starting o-linemen (the one that doesn’t return was an NFL draft pick). Again, as far as tendencies or success rates or any of that goes, I can’t find any. But based off of the play-by-play I can find, SEMO likes to space out the defense (a lot of solo tackles against them) via the pass to open up the run. Wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson will be one to watch, averaging 14 yards per catch last year and scoring 14 touchdowns by himself! Much like Paul McRoberts was the receiving threat to bottle up in ’15, the Tiger secondary will have to keep eyes on him at all times.

Defensively SEMO gave up a generous amount of points and yards (31 ppg, 403 ypc) but feasted on turnovers, forcing 23 interceptions on the year and recovering nearly half of the 27 fumbles forced. They were active and havoc-y, but you could get past them if they couldn’t turn you over. They return 4 of their top five tacklers, with the top three all being linebackers. In particular, starting inside linebacker Zach Hall was an all-conference performer after logging 168 total tackles and nabbing 4 interceptions himself. Obviously, they will be dangerous with the production and experience, but they’ll have to cover for a d-line that returns 3 starters but was not very active at all. Starting safety Bydarrius Knighten was one of the aforementioned top tacklers on the team but it looks like there will be new blood at the cornerback position.

SEMO is a good FCS team, but even good FCS teams lose to bad FBS teams. Hell, they lost to Kansas in both 2014 and 2016 and literally no other team in the world can say that. Upsets can and do happen but in the end, it’s an FCS team with scholarship restrictions and a shallower talent pool, and Missouri will eventually pull away. If they don’t, then we can go ahead and cancel the season and start deer season early.