CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.
– Ben Blake was hired as offensive line coach at Southeast Missouri, head coach Tom Matukewicz
Blake comes to Southeast from the University of Sioux Falls, where he spent the last two seasons in the same capacity.
"We are thrilled to have Ben Blake join our team," said Southeast head coach Tom Matukewicz
. "We interviewed several candidates, and without a doubt, Ben was the best. He has a history with guys on our coaching staff, so we feel like it's a great fit. We are just as excited about his wife, Alyssa, and daughter, Gracie, joining our community."
At NCAA Division II USF, Blake helped lead the Cougars to a combined 20-4 overall record. Last season, the Cougars went 9-3 and tied for second overall in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with a 9-2 mark.
Blake's offensive line led the nation in sacks allowed, giving up only five in 12 contests during the 2015 campaign. The Cougars also ranked 11th
nationally in 3rd-down conversion percentage (48.2 pct.), 16th
in both scoring offense (39.3 ppg) and first downs (285), and 19th
in total offense (472.1 ypg).
USF finished the season ranked 17th
and tied for 21st
in the D2Football.com and American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II Top-25 Polls, respectively.
In his first season at USF, Blake put together an offensive line, which proved to be one of the best in the NSIC. Starting just one senior, the Cougars offensive front played a key role on the nation's seventh-best and NSIC's highest scoring team. USF, which finished 11-1 and #16/18 nationally, ranked first in the NSIC and seventh nationally with 42.7 points (512) per game. Overall, USF produced 58 touchdowns, including 30 rushing (4th
, NSIC) and 28 passing (t4th), a +11 increase in that category from the year before.
The Cougars were 17th in NCAA Division II and second in the NSIC in total offense with 483.2 yards per game. The offensive front, including first team All-NSIC selection Antonio Green (sophomore guard, allowed 1.5 sacks) and honorable mention All-NSIC tackles Terry Huber (sophomore, allowed 1.5 sacks) and Jesse Springer, (freshman) paved the way for a second straight 1,000 yard rusher in Nephi Garcia. USF was 32nd nationally and fourth in the NSIC with 213.3 rushing yards per game. Garcia was fifth in the league with 1,190 yards. USF, which also received 804 yards from quarterback Luke Papilion, averaged 4.6 yards per carry with 2,559 yards on 560 carries.
A Harlon Hill candidate, Papilion helped USF lead the NSIC and rank 14th
in the nation in completion percentage (.640). The Cougars produced 292 first downs that were good for third in the league. In addition, the offensive line gave up one sack or less in four of the final five games of the season.
Blake, who has 13 years of coaching experience, served as the offensive line coach, run game coordinator and strength and conditioning coach at Evangel University (Mo.) for three seasons before going to USF.
In three years (2011-13) with Evangel, Blake coached seven all-conference selections on the offensive line, including first-team honoree Keith Wright in 2012, the Crusaders' first OL first-team selection since 2006.
Prior to his stint at Evangel, Blake spent four years (2007-10) as the co-offensive coordinator at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. He helped SBU finish with a 7-4 record in 2010 while his offensive line paved the way for one of the most prolific offenses in program history. The Bearcats averaged nearly 40 points and 504 yards of offense per game, and the offensive line surrendered just 17 sacks along the way.
Blake also worked as an assistant coach at Highland Community College in Kansas for two years (2005-06) and was a graduate assistant coach working with the offensive line and tight ends at Concordia University-Wisconsin (NCAA-III) in 2004.
Blake played collegiate football at Concordia (Wis.) University and as a senior was named the 2003 Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Illini-Badger Football Conference. A three-time all-conference performer for the Falcons, Blake earned All-North Region honors as a senior.
A native of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, Blake was an All-State and three-time all-conference performer at Prairie Grove High School.
He graduated from Concordia University with an undergraduate degree in business management and minor in public relations. He also earned a Master's degree in business administration with a marketing emphasis.
He and his wife, Alyssa, have a daughter Gracie.