#15 Southeastern Louisiana FCS Football 2021 Preview

Southeastern Louisiana Lions
Overall Rank: #15
#1 Southland
 Southeastern Louisiana Logo
Southeastern Louisiana barely missed out on the playoffs last year following a 4-3 season. A close 55-48 loss at Southern Illinois prevented their second straight playoff appearance hopes. But with a Southland Conference high 16 players named to the preseason All-Southland teams, Coach Frank Scelfo has the talent to not just return to the playoffs, but win their first conference title since 2014.
2020-21 Record: 4-3, 4-2
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Frank Scelfo (16-15 at Southeastern Louisiana, 16-15 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Greg Stevens
Defensive Coordinator: Raymond Monica
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Taron Jones, RB, 143 yards
Passing: Cole Kelly, QB, 2,662 yards
Receiving: CJ Turner, WR, 534 yards
Tackles: Alexis Ramos, LB, 80
Sacks: Darrius Harry, LB, 2.5
Interceptions: Jack Henderson, DB, 2; Ferlando Jordan, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: QB Cephus Johnson III, WR Austin Mitchell, OL Jalen Bell, OL Ethan McMullan, DB Donniel Ward-Magee, LB Herman Christophe, K Mateo Rengifo
Key Losses: RB Morgan Ellison, RB Marcus Cooper, WR Javon Conner
The Lions boasted the nation’s second-best passing attack, tallying 391.9 yards per game through the air. Cole Kelley accounted for nearly all of those yards and he is back to lead the offense once more. The 2,662 yards, 18 touchdowns and 68.9 percent completion percentage are very impressive, but Kelley was only intercepted four times in 305 pass attempts. Top receiver CJ Turner is back after catching 44 passes for 534 yards and five touchdowns. Austin Mitchell, Tim Wilson and Nick Kovacs were also involved in the spring and will be asked to step up with the loss of second leading receiver Javon Conner. Texas-San Antonio transfer Brennon Dingle and Missouri transfer Maurice Massey will be in the mix as well. SELA will not run the ball too much and Taron Jones is the only experienced back returning. The unit could see a boost from a couple transfers, but there is not much experience after Jones.
The Lions were happy to win shootouts last season so the defensive numbers are not great. However, there is a lot of talent here and a secondary that will make plenty of big plays. Jack Henderson and Ferlando Jordan both intercepted a couple passes each in the spring and Donniel Ward-Magee broke up five passes and recorded 47 tackles. Alexis Ramos is a stud in the middle of the defense. He tallied 80 tackles in just seven games. Herman Christophe will rejoin Ramos at linebacker and Darrius Harry is a rush linebacker who led the Lions with 2.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman.
The Bottom Line:
The offense is going to be explosive. The defense will be more hit and miss, but unlike last year, this is an experienced defense now and they should be better. Without Sam Houston State and Central Arkansas around anymore, Southeastern Louisiana is heading into the 2021 season as the favorites to win the Southland.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2020-21 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 116.7 (69th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 391.9 (2, 2)
Total Offense: 508.6 (7, 4)
Scoring Offense: 39.6 (6, 3)
Rushing Defense: 245.0 (91, 10)
Pass Defense: 276.4 (90, 8)
Total Defense: 521.4 (94, 9)
Scoring Defense: 36.4 (89, 8)
Turnover Margin: 0.71 (18, 3)
Sacks: 1.57 (63, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 3.43 (88, 11)