Get to know SEMO.
Junior Tay Bender, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was named SEMO’s starting quarterback on Thursday. [...] He accepted a scholarship from Kansas State – choosing the Wildcats over offers from Tulane and Ohio -- and enrolled early there in the spring semester of 2012. Bender started for the second-team offense during K-State’s spring game that year, and he was expected to compete for the QB2 role behind then-senior Collin Klein in the fall, but, that August, Wildcats Coach Bill Snyder announced that Bender was no longer with the team and had dropped out of school.
Bender landed at NJCAA national power Iowa Western the following semester. He was the backup there his freshman season behind Connor Bravard, who is now at Troy, before taking the starting reins last season. Bender led the Reivers to an 11-1 record and an NJCAA national runner-up finish in 2014. He completed 166 of 282 passes for 1,912 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 184 rushing yards.
Since joining the FCS, formerly Division I-AA, in 1991, SEMO is 1-19 against FBS opponents. The lone win was a 24-14 triumph over Middle Tennessee State in 2002.
Matukewicz is aware of the challenge that awaits his team Saturday.
"We want to be everything that program stands for," he said of MU. "I have a lot of respect for their coaches and players and they’ve done it the right way. They’ve had a consistency that’s not been in college football, or it’s hard to find. That’s what we’re striving for here.
"Obviously you could talk about their players, but overall, it’s just the consistency level of the program that’s just, for the fans of Mizzou, this is the glory years."
Senior Paul McRoberts, out of St. Louis, Mo., has 18 touchdown receptions in his last 19 games. Last season, the 6-foot-3, 197-pound wideout caught 44 passes for 711 yards and nine touchdowns in only seven games. That included a six catch, 173-yard, 2-touchdown day against Kansas, his lone game last season against an FBS opponent.
So, even with Missouri's focus being just one Missouri this Saturday, there's at least some eyes on McRoberts, too.
"You look at his stats from last year," defensive coordinator Barry Odom said. "I mean, nine touchdowns in just seven games. Average over 100 yards per game when he played. You do enough research that you better be aware of him, and where he's lined up, because he creates mismatches.
"They do a great job, one, of getting him isolated and of getting him the football in a number of ways. We'll have our challenges."
If there’s ever proof that Pinkel’s staff favors results over experience, it’s in the form of the new 6-3, 290-pound left guard. Alec Abeln didn’t take any guard reps until midway through camp. He didn’t work with the first unit until the final scrimmage. The leading candidate for the job, senior Taylor Chappell, started 10 games last year, albeit at right tackle. With just two series with the first-team offense in Thursday’s scrimmage, Abeln did enough to win the competition. He’ll make his first career start Saturday against SEMO.
"At the end of the day, we don’t really care how long you’ve been here," Pinkel said. "If you earn the job you earn the job. It’s all based on competition. It’s not based on how much experience you have."
Abeln will start at the safest place on the field — smack dab between senior left tackle Connor McGovern and senior center Evan Boehm, who have started a combined 68 games.
Lock M Nation
Big expectations for Barry
Barry Odom, defensive coordinator, Missouri
Odom returns to his alma mater, where he worked on the football staff from 2003-11, after doing a masterful job with Memphis' defense. Memphis ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards per play allowed and in the top 20 in red zone efficiency, goal line efficiency, points allowed and adjusted QBR. [...]
Several FBS coaches noted Odom's knack for mixing up looks with his base 3-4 scheme. Pinkel noticed, too, seeing the growth in Odom both as a leader and as a tactician during his time away.
"Coordinating is a whole different level, you're like the head coach of the defense," Pinkel said. "The scheme was very appealing, very similar to ours but they did some other things. Being able to get in different personnel sets and depend on the strengths of personnel, defensive line, linebacker, it allowed us scheme-wise to be a little bit more creative.
"The multiplicity of the 30 defense, it was intriguing and there could be value in different years with different circumstances and personnel."
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