#9 Stephen F. Austin FCS Football 2022 Preview

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Overall Rank: #9
#2 WAC
 Stephen F Austin Logo
Stephen F. Austin returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The trip was short though after an 35-28 overtime loss at Incarnate Word. Close losses like that were not unusual for the Lumberjacks last season. They lost to Texas Tech by six points, Sam Houston by one and Jacksonville State by four. With an experienced group returning, SFA could turn those close losses into wins.
2021 Record: 8-4, 4-2
2021 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Colby Carthel (17-17 at Stephen F. Austin, 76-35 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Storm
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Cauthen
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Miles Reed, RB, 678 yards
Passing: Trae Self, QB, 3,201 yards
Receiving: Xavier Gipson, WR, 1,367 yards
Tackles: Myles Heard, S, 69
Sacks: BJ Thompson, DE, 9.5
Interceptions: Jeremiah Walker, CB, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Jeremiah Miller, WR Josh Thompson, WR Lawton Rikel, OL Clint Lapic, OL Keegan Holm, LB Brevin Randle, DE Amad Murray, LB Jeremiah Davis, DB Tkai Lloyd, CB Bruce Harmon
Key Losses: OL Zach Ingram, DT Rayshad Nichols, CB Myles Brooks, LB Bert Morris, DL Dennis Osagiede, CB Willie Roberts
The potent offense returns nearly intact. That is bad news for the rest of the WAC. Quarterback Trae Self completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 3,201 yards and 28 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. With Xavier Gipson also back, this will be one of the most potent passing attacks in the nation. Gipson had an amazing 2021 campaign, catching 74 passes for 1,367 yards and 14 touchdowns. There is a lot of experience in the rest of the receiving corps too and that means the opposition cannot simply focus on Gipson. The ground game will again be led by Miles Reed. He rushed for 678 yards and three touchdowns a season ago. Stephen F. Austin will not run the ball all that much, but they do have an experienced backfield that can take advantage of their opportunities.
This should again be the best defense in the WAC. The unit recorded 3.75 sacks per game and they should be able to consistently get into the backfield again thanks to the return of BJ Thompson and his 9.5 sacks in 2021. Amad Murray added 7.5 sacks. The experience continues at linebacker where Brevin Randle and Jeremiah Davis are expected to lead the way. The secondary could be the best unit of the defense. Safety Myles Heard led the team with 69 tackles and cornerback Jeremiah Walker picked off four passes. As long as the pass rush stays potent, expect Stephen F. Austin to grab plenty of interceptions in 2022.
The Bottom Line:
With Sam Houston not eligible for the playoffs as they make their move to the FBS, this is Stephen F. Austin’s conference to lose. The biggest games are early in the year with games against Jacksonville State, Louisiana Tech and Sam Houston. If the Lumberjacks dominate the WAC as much as expected, those three games will be the biggest tests to how far this team can go in the playoffs.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 131.5 (79th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 291.6 (13, 1)
Total Offense: 423.1 (21, 2)
Scoring Offense: 34.2 (12, 3)
Rushing Defense: 113.2 (19, 2)
Pass Defense: 198.2 (29, 1)
Total Defense: 311.4 (15, 1)
Scoring Defense: 19.3 (17, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.50 (26, 1)
Sacks: 3.75 (3, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (55, 5)