The Southeast Missourian Previews the JSU-SEMO Game
Two ranked opponents highlight remaining schedule
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian
The Redhawks football team will close the season at Houck Stadium
Southeast Missouri State will try to take advantage of three straight season-ending home games in an attempt to salvage something from this tough year.
But making the task difficult for the reeling Redhawks is the fact two of their final three opponents are ranked nationally.
The rugged closing stretch begins Saturday against No. 15 Jacksonville State (5-3, 3-1 Ohio Valley Conference), which is ineligible for the OVC title and Division I-AA playoffs because of NCAA Academic Progress Rate shortcomings.
Southeast gets something of a minor break when Murray State (2-6, 1-4) visits the following week.
Then No. 3 Southern Illinois (7-1), which is tied for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference, comes to town for the season finale Nov. 21.
“It’s good to be back home,” Southeast coach Tony Samuel said during his weekly news conference Monday. “All [three are] tough games. They should all be very exciting games.”
Southeast (1-7, 0-6) suffered its seventh straight loss Saturday, 20-6 at Eastern Kentucky.
As has been the theme in every OVC game, the Redhawks hung tough and had plenty of chances before coming up short.
Saturday’s contest marked Southeast’s largest OVC margin of defeat this year, but the score was misleading because two-time defending OVC champion Eastern Kentucky scored its final touchdown with 4 seconds left.
“We played hard. We had our opportunities,” Samuel said. “Any time you lose close games … there’s something about the mentality of a close game. It’s tough.”
While Samuel doesn’t like to single out any phase of a team, Southeast’s offense has struggled much of the conference season and particularly in recent weeks.
The Redhawks have scored just five offensive touchdowns in the last four games. Southeast is averaging 13.3 points during that stretch, which has negated some strong defensive performances.
The Redhawks gained just 245 yards on offense and scored their only touchdown with 4 minutes, 5 seconds to play after they trailed 13-0 against Eastern Kentucky.
“The defense is playing good. The defense could play better,” Samuel said. “I’ve never tried to isolate an area. You’d like to score more points. But you could give up less points.”
Southeast will be hard-pressed to score points and keep from giving up points Saturday against a loaded Jacksonville State squad that leads the OVC in the four major team statistical categories.
The Gamecocks are first in scoring offense (34 points per game), scoring defense (16.4), total offense (421.5 yards per game) and total defense (278.2).
Jacksonville State is led by senior quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, the heralded former LSU transfer who leads all of Division I in passing efficiency during his second season with the Gamecocks.
Two of the Gamecocks’ losses were to Division I-A squads, 37-17 at Georgia Tech and 19-9 at Florida State in a game Jacksonville State led until less than one minute remained.
“They’re a great football team,” Samuel said. “But everybody’s beatable.”
Samuel said senior kicker/punter Doug Spada’s availability for Saturday is not yet known.
Spada missed the Eastern Kentucky game after punting but not kicking the previous contest at Tennessee Tech. He is hobbled by a sprained right ankle suffered in a mishap on some steps the week leading up to Tennessee Tech.
Redshirt freshman Curtis Huge handled the kicking and punting at Eastern Kentucky after he kicked at Tennessee Tech.
Samuel said he had been hopeful Spada, an All-American punter, would be available at Eastern Kentucky but “his ankle blew up on him. The swelling was going away, but it was just too sore.”