What 2 Watch 4: SEMO has 'hard task' at Mizzou

Southeast Missouri State football coach Tom Matukewicz has been in this business long enough to know what is in store for his team Saturday at Missouri.

"They are going to be ready to play us and it is going to be a hard task," Matukewicz said.

The No. 19 Redhawks (1-1) will battle the Tigers (1-1) at 6:30 p.m.

Here is "What 2 Watch 4" in the game from a Redhawk perspective.

No surprises

What crushed any chance of a Southeast road win last Saturday at Montana State was the dominating way the Bobcats ran the football.

Missouri will do the same, so the Redhawk defense will have to handle it much better.

"A little bit of our issue was the ball was surprising us," Matukewicz said. "The more anticipation, and the better you are at fitting and being prepared for these plays, the ball doesn't surprise you.

"You are going to be there and get shoulders on it rather than arm tackles."

The Tiger running back duo of Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie, as well as quarterback Kelly Bryant, have combined for 82 rushing attempts in two games.

"Our run fits need to be really solid," Matukewicz said. "So guys are there waiting for the ball instead of being out of position. "

Takeaways

There wasn't a football team in the country better at generating turnovers a year ago than Southeast. That hasn't been the case this season, but the Tigers could change that situation for the Redhawks.

Missouri has fumbled the ball four times in two games and lost a pair of them.

The Redhawks have to take care of the ball themselves because their margin for error in this game is near zero, while also capitalizing on any opportunity Missouri hands them.

Make plays

The Southeast offense struggled mightily at Montana State, particularly in the second half.

Of the seven offensive series the Redhawks had in the final 30 minutes of action, five of those were three-and-outs. Having said that, Matukewicz felt the film showed his players had opportunities.

"We still got the ball down the field and were able to make several big plays," Matukewicz said. "I feel like, even against Missouri, we should still be able to do it.

"Our wide receivers, who we think are special, are."

Fifth-year senior Kristian Wilkerson leads Southeast with a dozen receptions, while sophomore Aaron Alston has eight.

The game starts at kick-off

A recurring theme in both of the Redhawks' games this season has been getting off to a slow start.

Both Southern Illinois and Montana State dominated Southeast on both sides of the ball early. If the Redhawks don't respond to Missouri immediately, they'll find themselves in a difficult situation before halftime.

"We need to make sure our kids' mindset is that these teams are really excited to play the Redhawks now," Matukewicz said. "So coming out of the gates, you're going to get a team that is ready to go.

"We have to make sure we have that same mentality. Especially when you play the talent level of Montana State and Mizzou."

'Santa' needs to deliver

There is simply no possibility of Southeast making this a competitive game if fifth-year quarterback Daniel Santacaterina doesn't play exceptionally well, which he didn't do at Montana State.

Santacaterina was under a lot of duress against the Bobcat rush, which caused problems for an inexperienced Southeast offensive line. That pressure resulted in him often being uncharacteristically inaccurate.

Southeast does return junior offensive lineman Jaden Rosenthall to the starting lineup this week after he missed last week with an injury.

That also allows regular starting center Tyler Ford to move back to center, after playing guard in Rosenthall's absence.

In addition, Santacaterina injured his groin on the second play of the game, which impacted his play the remainder of the game.

He said at Thursday's practice that he felt fine now, however.

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