With the season beginning on Thursday, we wanted to provide a small primer for each of the OVC Teams. Here are the 10 things you should know about Southeast Missouri heading into the 2013 year.
1) SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS — The game of the season for the Redhawks (and maybe even the OVC) happens on September 21st, as SEMO plays SIU in the first ever football game in Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. It cost SEMO one of their home games this year, but it’s great for Redhawk fans nonetheless. It’s also great for the 24 St. Louis area players on the roster, and the approx. 40% of incoming freshman at Southeast Missouri State University from the same area.
2) CHANGE UNDER CENTER — Last year’s starting quarterback Scott Lathrop might have been named the OVC freshman of the year last season, will be relegated to the backup role this year. Kyle Snyder is back after missing 2012 with a knee injury, and is at the top of the depth chart heading into this week. The move isn’t wholly unsurprising; Lathop threw for just 1,025 yards, as SEMO finished with less than half as many yards through the air as any other conference team. Lathrop did earn more than 800 yards on the ground, the team’s second leading rusher.
3) …AND THIS IS A RUNNING TEAM, AFTER ALL — SEMO didn’t light up the scoreboard, and finished 3-8 for the second straight year, but it’s hard to place the blame on the running game. The Redhawks averaged 262.4 yards on the ground per game last year, 8th best in the FCS.
4) …BUT THEIR LEADING RUSHER IS GONE — The Redhawks biggest loss from last year is the graduation of Levi Terrell, who ran for 1,349 yards last year, third most in the conference.
5) THE PASS GAME SHOULD IMPROVE — Not only is there a change at quarterback, there little change in the receiving corps, which is a good thing. Four top receivers are back, and a year more experienced, which should help elevate the Redhawks passing game.
6) THE ONE TEAM THAT CAN STOP THE PASS? — One thing that got lost in last year’s losing season: SEMO was second best in the OVC at stopping the conference’s pass-happy offenses. Some of that probably had to do with the Redhawks slower tempo on offenses reducing opponents possessions, but the Redhawks were one of just two OVC teams to keep opponents under 250-yards of passing a game. (Tennessee State being the other)
7) THE REDHAWKS ARE STILL REBUILDING — After winning the OVC in 2010, SEMO has fallen on harder times. You would be excused from thinking those were rebuilding years, but this year’s team has just 12 seniors, and 25 juniors.
8) PUNT…RETURNS? — SEMO returned a grand total of…seven punts last year. Seven. In 11 games. They gained a grand total of 49 yards on those seven punt returns. Fair catch!
9) RECORD WATCH — Kickoff returns are another issue entirely. Spenser Davis returned 33 kickoffs for 685 yards last season. Another 494 yards will make Davis the school’s all-time career leader in kickoff returns.
10) KNOWING WHAT’S IMPORTANT — Something I found funny in SEMO’s media guide…every school generally has a section about the school, and academics before you get to the actual football information, and for the most part that’s true for the Redhawks. Only before the info about academics, SEMO has two pages dedicated to their strength and conditioning program, which I haven’t seen in any media guide.