CARBONDALE — One edition forced six turnovers and produced a school record-tying three defensive touchdowns. The other battled a quarterback out of the shotgun and three elite wide receivers that helped produce 76 points.
SIU's front seven today is a little bit of both after a big win at Murray State and a big loss at Ole Miss. Outside linebacker Cody Crider believes people will see a bit more of the group that rattled Racers quarterback Drew Anderson into two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, tonight against Southeast Missouri State (1-1).
"We gotta clean up the little details from the last game, just work on what we've been practicing on. Minor details, but, overall, I think we've been playing pretty well," Crider said.
The Salukis (1-1) were unable to rattle Ole Miss signal-caller Jordan Ta'amu, who completed 23 of 33 passes for 448 yards and five touchdowns. Preseason all-conference wide receiver A.J. Brown caught two of those touchdowns, and three more caught at least one. SIU scored 38 points in the opening half but was unable to keep up with the Rebels (2-0) in the final quarter, when they outscored the Salukis 27-0.
Anderson, a transfer from Buffalo, led two scoring drives against SIU's defense at Roy Stewart Stadium. The Salukis sacked him twice, had three more quarterback hurries, and forced him into a 17-of-30 evening. SEMO's Daniel Santacaterina, a transfer from Northern Illinois that was the Ohio Valley Conference newcomer of the week this week, will be SIU's third straight FBS-caliber quarterback.
"You can tell he's a tough kid. He took a pretty good shot in the first game and had to be taken off on a stretcher, and then he comes back and has the game that he did last week against Dayton, just says a lot about his character and his toughness, and that's the No. 1 attribute of a quarterback," SIU coach Nick Hill said.
Santacaterina threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the Redhawks' 40-21 win over Dayton a week after leaving the game at Arkansas State. He is yet to throw an interception, and looked a lot like an upperclassman quarterback, according to Matukewicz.
"He missed several practices so he really played in that game without a lot of practice, so, his ability to mentally lock in... he's played a lot of football," he said. "A lot of about being great in this game, he already has."
SEMO is yet to turn the ball over in two games, something SIU would love to change in its home opener. The Salukis have their deepest defensive line since Hill took over the program in December 2015 and two of three starting linebackers from last year. Bryce Notree, their new middle linebacker, has nine tackles in two games, and starting safeties Jeremy Chinn (14 stops) and Qua Brown (10) are the team's top tacklers.
When Ta'amu was able to throw the football under pressure, his receivers were able to make plays over the top, around and ahead of SIU's cornerbacks. The Salukis could have better luck against SEMO's passing game, which takes a backseat to OVC preseason offensive player of the year Marquis Terry and the running game.
"I'm encouraged by (the front seven)," Hill said. "They showed they can make plays. We need to get more pressure on the quarterback, but they do a good job in their scheme. If you look at (Ole Miss), they don't take a lot of sacks. The rest of the season they won't take a lot of sacks."
SIU and SEMO have played 85 times in a series that dates back to 1909. The Redhawks hold a 40-37-8 advantage, although SIU has won 10 of the last 12 meetings. SEMO is 21-18-4 against the Salukis in Carbondale but have dropped 10 straight road games, overall. The Redhawks are 3-21 on the road under Matukewicz, a former assistant coach here under Jerry Kill for seven years.