Incoming football players participate in spring practices
Southeast coach Tom Matukewicz was able to get his first look at 22 new players on the field with the start of spring practices March 19 at Houck Stadium.
With 14 starters among the returning players, Matukewicz is hoping to find depths among the new additions, especially on defense.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Matukewicz said. “We are definitely losing some guys. Our two outside linebackers, a defensive lineman and a corner. Those are the things we’re trying to do on defense, and fill in that depth.”
Even with the losses, players on defense voiced optimism for the 2018 season. Among them is redshirt freshman and outside linebacker Rashad Hughes, who hopes to move up the depth chart.
“At the moment I’m looking at the person starting, but my guidance and motivation is me trying to move myself up, from third string to two deep,” Hughes said. “I think we’re going to be good. We have a very good defensive coordinator Bryce Saia. He knows the right plays to get us in the right positions to get us to make plays, so I feel pretty confident about that.”
Players on the team are feeling a similar sense of confidence behind new offensive coordinator Jeromy McDowell, who is implementing a new system.
“McDowell brings a lot of confidence to the team,” senior wide receiver Richie Eisenhart said. “He tells us every day that it’s time to be No. 1, that we could be the No. 1 offense in the Ohio Valley Conference. There’s a lot of confidence, and he brings a lot of spunk and a lot of energy, and we all just feed off him.”
Matukewicz voiced excitement about the new class of recruits, and is hoping they can pick up on things quickly and contribute.
“I think right now they’re all just focused on improvement,” Matukewicz said. “I think they’re offensively trying to pick the new scheme up, so they’re really locked in on the details.”
Eisenhart expects to see hard work and willingness to be coached from all players.
“With the new offense and offensive coordinator, there’s a lot of learning,” Eisenhart said. “We just come out here and try to play as fast as possible, and when we get back to the meeting, be coached on other stuff. I think we’ve come together great in the past few years since I’ve been here, and we’re all just hungry to get through spring and get the fall going.”
Matukewicz said he was pleased with his recruiting class, and is eager to see what they will do this upcoming season.
“Some of [the new guys] will be redshirted, but there are some in there that we hope can add some value this year, get two deep, maybe on special teams,” Matukewicz said. “We definitely need some depth at running back. Obviously we have a really good returner, but we need to make sure we have some depth there. We need to also add some depth in the secondary, but you never know. You get them here, hopefully they stay healthy and learn the playbook. It was a really good class.”
Five of the team’s eight losses were decided by less than a touchdown. The others, however, were decided by an average of 18 points.
With a final record of 3-8 in 2017, Matukewicz is still looking for his first winning season after four years at helm. The Redhawks gave up about 22 points on average, but they only scored around 20 points per game.
“The biggest things is we have got to score more points,” Matukewicz said. “And so really I just want to try to get our offense on the same level as our defense. I think that’ll take care of a lot of our problems.”
Spring practices will continue through April 11 and will be culminated with the spring game on April 14. The Redhawks open their season Sept. 1 at Arkansas State.