#35 Southeast Missouri State FCS Football 2021 Preview

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks
Overall Rank: #35
#3 Ohio Valley
 Southeast Missouri State Logo
After back-to-back trips to the FCS Playoffs, Southeast Missouri State got off to a rough start in the 2020-2021 season. After falling to Southern Illinois in the fall and crushing Eastern Illinois in the spring opener, the Redhawks lost three games in a row. Sitting at 1-4, there was not any hopes of a return to the playoffs, but Coach Tom Matukewicz’s team managed to win their last three and head into 2021 with some momentum.
2020-21 Record: 4-4, 4-3
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Tom Matukewicz (37-42 at SEMO, 38-42 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeromy McDowell
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Matukewicz
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Geno Hess, RB, 666 yards
Passing: Jacob Buie, QB, 25 yards
Receiving: Zack Smith, WR, 403 yards
Tackles: Lawrence Johnson, DB, 55 
Sacks: Steven Lewis, DL, 1.5
Interceptions: Shabari Davis, DB, 2; Izeal Terrell, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Zion Custis, WR Johnny King, WR Aaron Alston, OL Jaden Rosenthall, OL Shyron Rodgers, LB Mike Matthews, LB Omardrick Douglas, LB Brandon Mincey, DL Bryson Donnell, P Zach Haynes
Key Losses: QB Andrew Bunch, LB Bryant Pirtle, CB Al Young
Jacob Buie spent last season as quarterback Andrew Bunch’s backup. In total he threw just six passes. He is the most experienced quarterback on the roster, but Louisville transfer Christian Perez is an exciting prospect. Whoever is under center will have some experienced receivers to work with. Zack Smith, Jonny King and Aaron Alston were the only players to catch more than eight passes in 2020-2021 and all three of them are back. Geno Hess leads a ground game that ranked second in the Ohio Valley Conference. He rushed for 666 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Zion Custis missed a couple games last season and only rushed for 184 yards, but back in 2019 he led the Redhawks with 684 yards on the ground.
The SEMO defense was solid in the spring, allowing just 22.6 points per game. The only time they allowed more than 24 points it took double overtime. With much of the unit returning, there should be improvement across the board. However, the team does need to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback. The team as a whole recorded just nine sacks in eight games. The secondary did extremely well, but their life would be much easier if the defensive front could force quicker throws.
The Bottom Line:
SEMO will be tested early. They get a rematch with Southern Illinois to start off the season. The next two weeks they hit the road to Sam Houston State and Missouri. The Redhawks should be ready for OVC play after that gauntlet, but if they start out 0-3, there will be little margin for error should Southeast Missouri not manage to win the conference’s automatic bid.
Projected Postseason:  None
2020-21 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 147.5 (46th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 174.4 (66, 8)
Total Offense: 321.9 (61, 6)
Scoring Offense: 27.6 (25, 3)
Rushing Defense: 174.4 (70, 7)
Pass Defense: 181.1 (28, 1)
Total Defense: 355.5 (45, 5)
Scoring Defense: 22.6 (39, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (44, 4)
Sacks: 1.12 (84, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.62 (29, 3)