HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Southeast Missouri State.
SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE (3-8)
The OVC (Tied for 5th in MEAC)
COACH: Tom Matukewicz – 5th year (15-30)
2017 OFFENSE: 20.5 ppg (89th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 21.8 ppg (32nd in FCS)
SUM IT UP: SEMO was a bit perplexing last year because the RedHawks were hardly an "easy out" for opponents. In fact, five of their losses were by a touchdown or less, proving it could have been an 8-3 season as easily as a 3-8. Now SEMO has to deal with the loss of some vastly underrated studs on defense in NFL Draft Pick Kendall Donnerson, Mike Ford and Chad Meredith, just to name a few. That defense was stingy last year, so it's imperative some new stars present themselves, as only 5 starters return, led by LB Zach Hall. Last year's defense was a bright spot, so it needs to bounce back for this program to be competitive.
On offense, the coaching staff has to be happy with the run-game potential. Three stud linemen return in all-conference left tackle Drew Forbes and center Lucas Orchard and right guard Junior Pierre. Behind them is one of the top running backs in the FCS in Marquis Terry. If the quarterback situation clears up (there were four rotating through the spring — two who were on the roster last year and two who transferred in from JUCO and Northern Illinois) this could be a much improved offense, and there will be weapons to throw to. So … if the QB situation becomes a positive and not a question mark, this team could make some noise in the OVC — but there are questions to be answered on both sides of the ball.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: I think for this to be a year where SEMO finds itself in the top third of the OVC, there are going to have to be All OVC players announced in November who were not on the roster last year. We all know what Terry can do in the rungame, we know Zach Hall will likely lead the team in tackles and negative yardage plays once again, but what this team needs is all-league performers to come from this recent JUCO signing class, or maybe even the high school recruiting class. New names need to emerge, and that opportunity is going to be here. If that happens, this could be a 6 or 7-win program. If it doesn't happen? This could be a brutally tough 4 to 5-win team, just like last year. That seems to be SEMO's bandwidth. It certainly wasn't easy to topple SEMO in 2017.
TOP RETURNEE: RB Marquis Terry (OVC Preseason Off. Player of the year; 1,076 yards rushing)
THE NEXT BEST: OL Drew Forbes (2nd Team 2017 OVC); LB Zach Hall (2nd Team All OVC – 79 tackles, 15 TFLs, 9 sacks); WR Kristian Wilkerson (led team in receiving); DB Bydarrius Knighten (52 tackles); LB Devin Alexander (8 starts, 33 tackles, 4.5 TFL); WR Richie Eisenhart (walk on who earned scholarship and scored TD in spring).
TOP NEWCOMER: WR Jerrick Orr (JUCO transfer caught 41 passes for 543 yards and 7 TDs – 3 star prospect coming out of HS).
DID YOU KNOW?: Southeast Missouri State has had five names since it opened in 1873 as Southeast Missouri State Normal School. In Mark Twain's book "Life on the Mississippi", he describes one of the new buildings on the Cape Girardeau, Mo. campus as "a bright new edifice …".
THE QUOTE: "I really liked how our defense ran to the ball … They tackled well. Showed up early and finished late. I think we still have to build some depth there. I love the way that the offense responded. I thought they came out a little flat and then QB [Anthony] Cooper and the guys put a great drive together and got in the end zone which was great to see." — coach Tom Matukewicz said after the spring game
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #LetsSoar
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @SEMOfootball
2017 Stats | 1076 rushing yards, 7 TDs
— OhioValleyConference (@OVCSports) August 1, 2018
FCS QB TRANSFERS: Who Tops The List?
PREVIEWS: THE REST OF THE OVC
Tenn. State | Tenn. Tech | UT Martin