Mid-camp scrimmage provides Southeast Missouri State football players and coaches chance for run through

Saturday, August 12, 2017
Southeast Missouri State quarterback Jesse Hosket throws a pass during a scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 at Houck Stadium.
Fred Lynch

Southeast Missouri State football coach Tom Matukewicz found plenty of reassurance as his team left the field Saturday morning following its second scrimmage of fall camp.

The first-team offense impressed, while the defense had a pair of takeaways against the two-minute offense. Even the special teams unit showed glimpses of consistency.

The scrimmage, which lasted an hour and a half at Houck Field, also gave the coaching staff an opportunity to work out its own kinks.

"We scrimmage not to win or lose. We scrimmage to find out information about players, find out information about schemes," Matukewicz said, "and as coaches, we need reps, too. This is the first time we put the headsets on. ... These are all things we're not practicing normally, and so as a head coach, I've got to do a great job of communicating to make sure we don't repeat those things that happened today."

Led by senior quarterback Jesse Hosket, the first-team offense amassed 273 of the 430 total yards, moving the chains 14 times and scoring on four of its six drives.

Southeast Missouri State wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson carries the ball as Mike Ford defends during a scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 at Houck Stadium.
Fred Lynch

Hosket completed 15 of 24 passes (62.5 percent) for 201 yards, pushing across the goal line from 1 yard out to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive on the opening possession. While running a two-minute drill toward the end, Hosket also directed a four-play, 58-yard scoring drive, one that ended when he hit wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson in perfect stride for a 33-yard TD along the near sideline.

"It's just the execution," Matukewicz said. "Our problem on offense last year wasn't that we couldn't move the ball. It's just we couldn't execute long enough to score points. At times, it was great, and then at times, we'd have something bad happen and end up in third-and-15. It was just good to have long drives. It tells you our execution is better, and I think Jesse's good. He hit a lot of tight windows today. ... I just think it's comfort. I think it's a great pocket.

"I think Jesse could always throw, but he was always running for his life a lot of times. We've been able to get better there, and now we've just got to be able to continue to improve. We've got to be able to run the ball a little better than we have. We've still got to focus on that."

The defense held the run game in check, allowing just 90 yards on 31 rushes (2.9 yards per carry).

Junior running back Marquis Terry finished with 41 yards on five carries. On the opening series, Terry had a 32-yard burst off tackle, barely stepping out of bounds as he reached for the pylon. It was the only series of the scrimmage for the Redhawks' featured tailback.

"I think he's going to be pretty good," Matukewicz said about Terry. "We limited him pretty good today."

Nine different players recorded a catch, as the sophomore Wilkerson led the way with seven receptions for 101 yards.

Southeast Missouri State coach Tom Matukewicz directs the scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 at Houck Stadium.
Fred Lynch

Junior WR Evan Scales added 76 yards on two catches, including a 62-yard reception from second-string QB Anthony Cooper on third-and-11. The two later hooked up for a TD on a perfectly-executed fade route from 14 yards out.

Cooper had an up-and-down day, while the defense was the beneficiary. He threw for 139 yards on 6-of-14 passing (42.9 percent) with one TD and two interceptions.

Both interceptions were recorded in two-minute situations. Sophomore cornerback Al Young had the first, while sophomore defensive back Isaac Diabagate had the second.

"That's game-changing plays," Matukewicz said. "They can drive it, but you've got to be able to get some takeaways. Last year, we had a bunch of two-minute situations, and we didn't do well. We didn't have one takeaway all year long in a two-minute drive on defense, and then we had two of them today. So that was encouraging."

Outside linebackers Omardrick Douglas, a redshirt freshman, and Justin Swift, a sophomore, each had a sack.

The offense was penalized three times for 15 yards, while the defense had two penalties for 20 yards.

Kicker Nicholas Litang, a junior who transferred from New Mexico Military Institute, converted a 42-yard field goal on his lone attempt. Redshirt freshman Kendrick Tiller, who's currently listed as the No. 1 kicker, missed a 52-yarder after a false start penalty, but he was successful on a 22-yard try.

Southeast Missouri State's Al Young carries the ball during a scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 at Houck Stadium.
Fred Lynch

"My main concern before camp was field goals, and it's starting to sort itself," Matukewicz said. "Both guys are doing a nice job. I'm pretty disappointed with the two kickoffs that went out of bounds, so that'll be a great focus for us."

As for the other 10 players on special teams, Matukewicz believes the unit is "at an all-time high."

"Our roster's better," he said. "You've just got some good dudes running around on special teams, and now we've got to get our specialists better."

With All-Ohio Valley Conference punter Alex Knight gone to graduation, the Redhawks are exploring their potential replacements. Scales and redshirt freshman Jake Reynolds each received reps on Saturday. Scales is currently atop the depth chart, while Reynolds is listed at No. 2. Both were punters in high school.

"We've changed our punts. ... It's a rugby-style punt, so it's not a traditional-style punt," Matukewicz said. "That's new for all of us, so we're all making sure we get that thing detailed and fireproof it before [Kansas]."

Freshman OLB Rashad Hughes (concussion) and redshirt freshman WR Zack Smith (ankle) each sustained a minor injury.

"There were a lot of really nice teachable moments. ... Now it's time to just lock in on what it is we've got to do a little bit better," Matukewicz said. "We've got to take that next step next week before school starts."

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