#25 Southeastern Louisiana FCS Football 2015 Preview

George Hammond

Southeastern Louisiana Lions

Overall Rank: #25
Southland #3

Southeastern Louisiana Team Page#25 Southeastern Louisiana FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy Southeastern Louisiana Football Tickets

In just three seasons, Coach Ron Roberts has created a Southland Conference juggernaut. In that span, the Lions are 25-13 overall and in the last two years, they were 20-7 overall and 14-1 in the league. They made the FCS playoffs the last two years, but in 2014, they were ousted by conference rival Sam Houston State, which got hot at the right time and made the FCS semifinals. Southeastern Louisiana and Sam Houston State shared the league title last year, but the Bearkats are the heavy favorite to win the Southland this year. Meanwhile, the Lions return 15 starters, but must replace all-everything quarterback Bryan Bennett. In 2014, the Lions put together impressive statistical numbers offensively and defensively. Consider this: The lowest they were ranked nationally was 41st in passing offense. Other than that, they were no worse than 28th (sacks). Southeastern Louisiana would love to post those kind of numbers again.
2014 Record: 9-4, 7-1
2014 Postseason: FCS playoffs
Coach: Ron Roberts (25-13 at SE Louisiana and 72-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chet Pobolish
Defensive Coordinator: Blake Williams

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kody Sutton, RB, 630 yards
Passing: D’Shaie Landor, QB, 151 yards
Receiving: Jeff Smiley, WR, 601 yards
Tackles: Micah Eugene, DB, 65
Sacks: Aaron Price, DL, 4.5
Interceptions: Denzel Thompson, DB, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Xavier Roberson, CB Harlan Miller, DB Jordan Batiste, DL AJ Bowen, LB Herbert Harris, RB Rasheed Harrell, WR Jarrell Bennett.

Key Losses: QB Bryan Bennett, LB Isiah Corbett, LB Drew Misita, WR Chris Malott, OL Jonathan Braddock, K Ryan Adams, WR Scott Devante.

The secondary, which helped to key the defense’s No. 1 ranking in pass efficiency defense last year, should be one of the best in the nation. Seniors Harlan Miller (1st team all-Southland), Denzel Thompson (1st team all-Southland), Micah Eugene and Jordan Batiste (second-team all-Southland) all return, plus junior Will Hines, a transfer from Arkansas, will give the unit depth. The defensive line should be solid, too, with the return of linemen AJ Bowen (2nd team all-Southland) and Aaron Price. Senior linebacker Herbert Harris (2nd team all-Southland) leads the linebackers. Senior running back and return specialist Xavier Roberson will team with Kody Sutton (630 rushing yards in 2014) and Rasheed Harrell to give the Lions a solid ground attack. Roberson was third nationally last year in kickoff returns with a 30.8 yard average.

The big concern is at quarterback. The Lions have a talented group: junior D’Shaie Landor, Larry Cutbirth, Justin Alo and Donovan Isom, a transfer from Utah. But are any of them close to Bennett’s talent? That’s the question as Bennett finished his career with 5,522 yards and 39 passing touchdowns. In addition, he rushed for 1,715 yards and a school-record 36 touchdowns. That’s a lot of production. Although Harris returns at linebacker, the Lions must replace Isiah Corbett and Drew Misita as the top three tacklers are gone from last year. In addition, two of the top three receivers, including Scott Devante who had more than 1,000 yards receiving, are gone.

The Bottom Line:
There’s no reason Southeastern Louisiana shouldn’t be in the Southland hunt, although it might be difficult to surpass Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin, both of whom are penciled in as playoff teams from the Southland. What might help SE Louisiana – or it could hurt it – is the fact it doesn’t meet Sam Houston State this year. For the first time since 1976, the Lions open the season with a conference game (at Northwestern State), and they have an interesting nonconference game at Ohio University. But the Lions’ success will depend on the play of the quarterback. If they get production out of that position, they’ll remain in the upper echelon of the conference.

Projected Postseason: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 234.7 (14th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 232.3 (41, 6)
Total Offense: 467.0 (16, 2)
Scoring Offense: 40.2 (7, 2)  
Rushing Defense: 115.1 (17, 2)
Pass Defense: 178.1 (20, 1)
Total Defense: 293.2 (7, 1)
Scoring Defense: 17.7 (8, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.69 (17, 2)
Sacks: 2.46 (28, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.08 (13, 1)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#90 Louis Wings
#106 J.T. Jackson
#120 George Brister
#128 Roderick Simon
#198 Harrison Heim


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