Golden Eagle Football Countdown: Defending champ SEMO visits Tucker Stadium

Golden Eagle Football Countdown: Defending champ SEMO visits Tucker Stadium

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With 36 days to go until the pigskin (officially) flies through the air for the first time, we'll be previewing all 10 TTU opponents here on

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Game 4

Who: Southeast Missouri Redhawks
What: Game 4
When: Saturday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m. CT
Where: Tucker Stadium, Cookeville, Tenn.
Events: Football Alumni Night

One game that the Golden Eagles have been pointing toward in 2011 is the visit on Sapt. 24 by the defending Ohio Valley Conference champions from Southeast Missouri. The Redhawks edged Tech, 23-21, last year in Cape Girardeau and went on to capture the league crown. Now the Golden Eagles are looking for the home field/home crowd advantage to turn the tables on coach Tony Samuel's team.

Southeast Missouri is still raving about its storybook season a year ago and hopes the magic continues in 2011. For the first time in school history, the Redhawks are defending Ohio Valley Conference Champions. In 2010, Southeast went 9-3 overall and 7-1 in league play en route to its first conference title and NCAA Playoff appearance in the 104-year history of its program.

Samuel earned 2010 Eddie Robinson, OVC Roy Kidd and American Football Coaches Association Region 3 Coach of the Year honors, and won the Fritz Pollard Award after leading Southeast to one of the greatest turnarounds in FCS history.

This season, the Redhawks will feature four new coaches and eight returning starters.

At quarterback, preseason All-OVC selection Matt Scheible returns for his final year at Southeast. Scheible became the first Redhawk quarterback to earn first-team All-Conference honors following a monster 2010 campaign. Scheible has made 24-consecutive starts under center and currently ranks among Southeast’s single-season and career leaders in several categories. In 2010 alone, the dual-threat Scheible completed 109-of-182 passes for 1,246 yards and eight touchdowns. He also finished second on the team in rushing with 887 yards and seven touchdowns on 169 carries. Scheible ranked among the top-10 OVC leaders in passing average (6th, 103.8 ypg), pass efficiency (5th, 128.6 rating) and total offense (5th, 177.5 ypg). In addition, he threw only three interceptions, second-fewest in the league.

Southeast will have some big shoes to fill at tailback following the loss of Henry Harris, a consensus All-American and the OVC’s Offensive Player of the Year. Renard Celestin and Lennies McFerren shared carries at the tailback spot in the spring. Celestin ran the ball just four
times for 15 yards in 2010, while McFerren redshirted as a true

The offensive line will have some new faces after losing three first-team all-OVC selections. Southeast had a banner year up front in 2010, paving the way for the nation’s No. 3 rushing offense.

The Southeast Missouri defense enters the 2011 season under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Brian Mohnsen, who inherits a defense which allowed just 21.5 points per game last season, fewest in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Redhawks also led the league in interceptions (20) and turnover margin (+13), and ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin and 12th in turnovers gained (29).

Southeast’s defensive line combined for four takeways and 24 tackles for loss in 2010. The Redhawks lost their first-team All-OVC nose tackle J.J. Sanchez, but Frankie Davis, Quinn Perry and Josyah O’Keefe-Lopez are expected to fill the void.  A linebacker has led the team in tackles every year since 2006, and Southeast looks to continue that trend this season. Blake Peiffer and Philip Klaproth are the most experienced of the group. Both played in all 12 games and combined for nine starts in 2010. Peiffer, who started six games, was among the Redhawks top tacklers, ranking fifth with 59 stops.

Southeast led the OVC with 20 interceptions in 2010 and 11 of those picks were in the secondary. The safeties are sparked by the return of preseason all-OVC selection Tylor Brock. Brock, who started 12 games at free safety, led the conference and tied for 16th in the nation with six a Southeast single-game record in
interceptions and returned two of his picks for touchdowns. Brock also had 56 tackles and earned both second-team All-America and all-OVC accolades.

On special teams, the Redhawks return both their starting kicker and punter in 2011. Drew Geldbach is back to handle the placekicking duties. Geldbach ranked second among Southeast’s single-season leaders in PATs after making 33-of-38 last season. He also made 12-of-17 field goals, including a career-long 53-yard kick.
Joe Vucic returns at punter.

Quarterback Matt Scheible