Southeast Missouri State is no Mississippi Valley State. Then again, nobody is probably that bad. MVSU got clocked this past Saturday in Carbondale by 52 points at Saluki Stadium.
It is true that the Redhawks team has yet to get a win in 2017 (0-2) and were beaten by non-scholarship FBS Dayton 25-23 this past Saturday. That game was played in Ohio, but still, dropping one to a team whose players are not on scholarship opens some questions for Head Coach Tom Matukewitcz. Nevertheless, he seems positive about the season.
“I’m happy about how we competed,” said Matukewitcz after his team’s first loss to Kansas (38-16). Maybe so, but the Redhawks are still not getting it done.
However, that does not mean there can’t be an upset by Southeast of the high-flying Salukis. Such a thing happened just two years ago. That game was also in Cape Girardeau. The 27-24 loss by the Dawgs set a bad precedent for former coach Dale Lennon’s final season at SIU before he was fired.
Fact is, this has been a hard-fought series — and for a long time. It all started in 1909 and the Hawks (then named the Indians) actually lead the series 40 wins to 36 (eight ties).
This year look for the Redhawks to be tough defensively. The defensive strengths of Southeast revolve around its linebacking crew, which is veteran and physically imposing.
Preseason Ohio Valley Conference outside linebacker Chad Meredith has 17 total tackles for the year. He gets from sideline to sideline quickly for a big dude. Kendall Donnerson is almost as big and has 11 total tackles.
The Redhawks have two pretty good safeties, too. Omar Pierre has 13 tackles and Bydarrius Knighton has accumulated 10 stops. On offense, SIU will see several outstanding Redhawk performers. Quarterback Jesse Hoskett has thrown for 421 yards and four touchdowns.
Leading the Southeast receiving corps are Theron Billington (198 yards, two touchdowns) and Kristian Wilkerson (156 yards, two touchdowns).
Hoskett’s playing style will make it hard for SIU’s pass rushers to be effective. He usually rolls out to either side instead of sitting in the pocket. Thus, SIU’s secondary may be stressed having to cover for a longer period.
Also, SIU must look out for the running game. They have one of the better junior college running backs now playing at the FCS level — Marquis Terry.
“We actually looked at Terry last year when recruiting,” said SIU coach Nick Hill.
Terry has 198 rushing yards in two games (about 4.1 yards per catch) and one rushing score.
SIU must beware of Hoskett’s fakes to Terry and then his throws vertically to his receivers. The play-action pass may be a game changer.
Chris Barron is a sports columnist and reporter for the Carbondale Times. He is a Terrier and Saluki fanatic.