#35 Southeastern Louisiana FCS Football 2017 Preview

Southeastern Louisiana Lions
Overall Rank: #35
#5 Southland
Southeastern Louisiana missed out on a playoff spot last season, finishing with a 7-4 record. They lost their two non-conference games against Oklahoma State and Southern Utah and lost later to Southland foes Lamar and Central Arkansas. With no Sam Houston State on the schedule, it was going to take more than that to reach the playoffs. This year the Lions have the talent to reach the playoffs, but it will likely take an 8-3 record to do it.
2016 Record: 7-4, 7-2
2016 Postseason: None
Coach: Ron Roberts (36-24 at Southeastern Louisiana, 83-40 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Barrett
Defensive Coordinator: Ron Roberts
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Julius Maracalin, RB, 747 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Juwan Dickey, WR, 768 yards
Tackles: Max Lyons, DB, 73
Sacks: Sione Teuhema, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: Demareyeh Lane, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Javon Conner, OL Travis Romero, DB Torrance Mosley, DB Ryan Sigers, LB Lee Spight
Key Losses: QB Justin Alo, RB Rasheed Harrell, RB Kaelyn Henderson, TE Juwaan Rogers, OL Taylor Gadbois, WR Brandon Acker, DB Javon Tillman, LB Tre’ Bennett, DL Anthony Murphy
The return of leading rusher Julius Maracalin and a strong offensive line will keep the offense moving. Maracalin rushed for 747 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016. Eugene Bethea and junior college transfer Darren Johnson are both capable of taking over the starting running back job as well. Regardless of who starts, Southeastern Louisiana has three quality backs. The Lions also have a quarterback battle on their hands. The remaining candidates are 6-5 junior Donovan Isom and South Carolina transfer Lorenzo Nunez. As a true freshman with the Gamecocks in 2015 Nunez started a couple games and completed 32-of-52 passes for 376 yards and rushed for 375 more yards. He is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. So is Isom though and he has starting experience with the Lions back when he was a freshman. Juwan Dickey and Javon Conner lead a decent group of receivers. Dickey is the big play threat and caught 42 passes for 768 yards and seven scores in 2016.
There are some questions on defense, especially on the line where there is very little returning talent. Junior college transfers Jon Miller and Imani Mitchell and less experienced players like redshirt freshman Ron Cherry will have to be ready to perform. Linebacker Sione Teuhema will help the front line get into the backfield. He tallied 4.0 sacks and 8.5 tackles-for-loss last season. With Lee Spight also back, the Lions are in good shape at linebacker. Southeastern Louisiana boasted the second best pass defense in the Southland last season and this should be a dangerous group again in 2017. Senior Max Lyons is the leader of the group and recorded 73 tackles last season. Demareyeh Lane, Torrance Mosley and Ryan Sigers are all experienced seniors who should help turn this into a one of the best pass defenses in the conference. However, they will need a pass rush to help them out.
The Bottom Line:
If the defense can find a pass rush, Southeastern Louisiana could be in for a big year. The offense has a ton of potential to be extremely potent. If the defense follows suit, the Lions have a shot at making the playoffs. The two non-conference games this season are against Louisiana and Bethune-Cookman. The Lions should split those two contests. After that are games against Central Arkansas and Lamar, the two teams that beat Southeastern Louisiana last season. The Lions will likely have to win both of those games with the tougher contests against Sam Houston State, McNeese State and Nicholls State coming at the end of the campaign.
Projected Postseason: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 181.0 (35th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 216.5 (57, 6)
Total Offense: 397.5 (43, 5)
Scoring Offense: 29.0 (41, 6)
Rushing Defense: 184.5 (78, 6)
Pass Defense: 218.8 (63, 2)
Total Defense: 403.3 (71, 4)
Scoring Defense: 29.8 (78, 4)
Turnover Margin: -0.45 (85, 7)
Sacks: 2.09 (49, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.45 (31, 3)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#155 C.J. Turner