#21 Southeast Missouri State FCS Football 2020 Preview

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks
Overall Rank: #21
#3 Ohio Valley
 Southeast Missouri State Logo
After hanging out in the middle of the Ohio Valley Conference for a better part of a decade, Southeast Missouri State has now reached the playoffs two straight times. The Redhawks also tied for a share of the OVC title in 2019 for the first time since 2010. Their postseason success has not come though. SEMO did beat Stony Brook in the first round in 2018, but lost in the first round to Illinois State last season. The next step for the program is to make a deeper playoff run.
2019 Record: 9-4, 7-1
2019 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Tom Matukewicz (34-38 at SEMO, 34-38 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bryce Saia
Defensive Coordinator: Jeremy McDowell
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Zion Custis, RB, 684 yards
Passing: Joe Pyle, QB, 196 yards
Receiving: Aaron Alston, WR, 687 yards
Tackles: Bydarrius Knighten, DB, 75
Sacks: Bryant Pirtle, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Bydarrius Knighten, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Geno Hess, WR Zack Smith, DB Shabari Davis, DB Lawrence Johnson
Key Losses: RB Mark Robinson, QB Daniel Santacaterina, WR Kristian Wilkerson, OL Elijah Swehla, LB Zach Hall, LB Justin Swift, DB DJ Freeman
Eight starters are back on offense, but it is easy to get stuck on the three that are not returning. Elijah Swehla was an All-Conference offensive guard, Daniel Santacaterina holds the school record with 46 career touchdown passes and Kristian Wilkerson was an All-American who tallied 3,540 receiving yards and 33 receiving touchdowns. There are still a couple proven pass catchers returning though in Aaron Alston and Zack Smith. Joe Pyle served as Santacaterina’s backup last year, but the addition of Nebraska transfer Andrew Bunch will give Coach Tom Matukewicz a couple decent options. Zion Custis and Geno Hess combined to rush for 1,259 yards and 11 touchdowns. They could carry more of the offensive load in 2020.
The defense was solid in 2019, but there are some key pieces that need to be replaced. Nose tackle Daterraion Richardson will have to hold down the line with a couple new starters around him. The story is similar at linebacker where All-Conference honorees and top tacklers Justin Swift and Zach Hall are gone. Outside linebacker Omardrick Douglas is an experienced senior and inside linebacker Mike Matthews is coming off a promising freshman campaign. The secondary returns the most experience, led by strong safety Lawrence Johnson and free safety Bydarrius Knighten. The return of senior cornerback Al Young, who missed most of last season with an injury, should help bolster the pass defense.
The Bottom Line:
The OVC should be tough this season, but Southeast Missouri will be right in the mix. The big games will likely be a home date with Austin Peay on October 31st and a season ending road trip to Jacksonville State. We will have to wait and see how the playoffs shape up in general, but in a traditional season, those two games would likely have huge playoff implications as well as OVC title implications.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 161.7 (50th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 203.0 (74, 7)
Total Offense: 364.7 (75, 6)
Scoring Offense: 27.5 (59, 4)
Rushing Defense: 153.5 (52, 4)
Pass Defense: 225.9 (74, 6)
Total Defense: 379.5 (54, 4)
Scoring Defense: 24.9 (37, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.23 (46, 6)
Sacks: 1.85 (74, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (67, 4)
Madness 2020 Recruit Rankings:
#31 Phillip Wilder
#51 Tyler Nelome
#209 Kellyn Tyus
#214 Khalyl Warren