#21 Southeast Missouri State FCS Football 2019 Preview

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks
Overall Rank: #21
#2 Ohio Valley
 Southeast Missouri State Logo
Southeast Missouri has not had too much success since joining the FCS in 1991, but the program finally appears to be having consistent success. Last year the Redhawks reached the playoffs for the second time ever and won their first ever playoff game, a 28-14 victory over Stony Brook, and they have the tools to repeat that success.
2018 Record: 9-4, 6-2
2018 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Tom Matukewicz (24-34 at Southeast Missouri State, 25-34 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeremy McDowell
Defensive Coordinator: Bryce Sala
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Mark Robinson, RB, 364 yards
Passing: Daniel Santacaterina, QB, 2,844 yards
Receiving: Kristian Wilkerson, WR, 894 yards
Tackles: Zach Hall, LB, 168
Sacks: Justin Swift, LB, 8.5
Interceptions: Justin Swift, LB, 4; Zach Hall, LB, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Zion Custis, WR Zack Smith, LB Omardrick Douglas, DB Bydarrius Knighten, DB DJ Freeman, CB Al Young, DL Clarence Thornton
Key Losses: RB Marquis Terry, WR Jerrick Orr, OL Drew Forbes, OL Lucas Orchard, LB Demarcus Rogers
Quarterback Daniel Santacaterina returns after throwing for 2,844 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2018. The senior is a consistent passer and will have his two favorite targets back as well. Kristian Wilkerson caught 61 passes for 894 yards and an amazing 14 touchdowns. Zack Smith added 44 receptions for 477 yards and five scores. The ground game has a few more concerns after ranking fourth in the OVC in rushing offense last season. Marquis Terry needs to be replaced and SEMO will rely on Mark Robinson and Zion Custis to fill that void. But behind an inexperienced offensive line, the Redhawks may have to rely on their pass game more than they would prefer.  
Linebacker Zach Hall returns after winning the Buck Buchanan Award last season. He tallied 168 tackles, 12.0 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles. That is some amazing production and he will put up similar numbers again in 2019. With Justin Swift and Omardrick Douglas also back, this is a great group of linebackers. The front line is not flashy, but this is an experienced group led by second-team All-OVC tackle Clarence Thornton. The secondary returns intact too. DJ Freeman and Al Young combined to break up 25 passes and are two very good cornerbacks. Strong safety Bydarrius Knighten had a very productive sophomore season, tallying 88 tackles; and free safety Taj Jenkins is an experienced senior who helped Southeast Missouri rank first in the FCS in turnover margin by picking off a couple passes.
The Bottom Line:
If Southeast Missouri can again have such a terrific turnover margin, they will get back to the playoffs. That is not an easy thing to do, but with a consistent quarterback and a defense full of playmakers, the Redhawks can certainly have the best turnover margin in the country again. The schedule may be the bigger issue. SEMO starts with games against Southern Illinois, Montana State and Missouri and that is not an easy way to start the season.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 177.3 (50th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 231.5 (45, 6)
Total Offense: 408.8 (45, 6)
Scoring Offense: 37.1 (12, 2)
Rushing Defense: 183.9 (70, 6)
Pass Defense: 295.0 (122, 9)
Total Defense: 478.9 (110, 7)
Scoring Defense: 31.0 (81, 4)
Turnover Margin: 1.85 (1, 1)
Sacks: 2.23 (46, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (79, 7)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#253 Rashaan Palmer