HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Southeastern Louisiana.
SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA (6-5)
The Southland (5th in SLC)
COACH: Frank Scelfo – 1st (0-0 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 34.8 ppg (12th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 25.6 ppg (58th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: Last year, the Lions featured one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the FCS country. Four of five rushers who went for more than 300 yards are back on the roster, but things may change this year and the offense may become more balanced. No matter what happens, the offense is a good place to start for this program. The Lions ended 2017 on a high note by knocking off FCS Playoff-bound Nicholls in the final week, and the team was within a field goal of an FBS team (Louisiana Lafayette) and played Sam Houston State and McNeese to within 10 points apiece. In the middle of the season, the program topped 49 points in every game during a 5-game win streak against the bottom half teams in the Southland Conference.
It leaves one to wonder how good could this program be, especially on offense where former South Carolina QB Lorenzo Nunez now has Fresno State's 2,000-yard passer (in 2016) Chason Virgil on the roster. Virgil was also once a Mississippi State commitment who also took official visits to Louisville and Oklahoma. So to sum up, there is talent here — and the offense can likely score enough points so the defense has time to establish itself, if needed.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Sam Houston State and Nicholls are still the class of the Southland coming into this fall, but Southeastern Louisiana proved last year it can be in the hunt (insert Lion pun here). The past two seasons have been winning ones (13 combined wins) and it wasn't long ago that this program was a playoff participant winning even more games than that. It'll be all about chemistry this fall — a new coach, a talented QB tandem, finding enough touches for this wonderful group of playmakers, and how quickly the defense can get set. It seems like — based on the schedule — this is team with about a best-case-scenario 7-win ceiling. It'll also hang half-a-hundred on some teams. Statistically the defense just needs to hold opponents to what they did last year, which isn't a guarantee with a lot of new faces – but it is possible.
TOP RETURNEE: RS/WR Juwan Petit-Frere (1st Team HERO Sports Preseason All American at KR – 35 yards per return, 2 TDs).
THE NEXT BEST: RB Marcus Cooper (2nd Team Preseason All Southland – leading rusher last year as a freshman); OL Alfred Beverly (2nd Team Preseason All Southland); LB Tamarcus Russell (2nd Team Preseason All Southland); QB Lorenzo Nunez (Southland Newcomer of the Year in 2017); DB Shamar Busby (5 PBUs, 25 tackles); OL Kyle Strickland (returning starter); RB Darren Johnson (571 yards rushing, 4 TDs).
TOP NEWCOMER: QB Chason Virgil (former SEC recruit has transferred in).
DID YOU KNOW?: The Lions once had a fierce annual rivalry with what is now Louisiana-Lafayette (then was Southwestern Louisiana) that began in 1930 and wrapped in 1981 — with the winner receiving the Cypress Mug, a polished mahogany cup. The two teams finally faced off again last year after a 36 year hiatus, and it was the 3-point FBS game mentioned above.
THE QUOTE: "We’ve spent every day since I started evaluating our student-athletes in every facet. We’re excited about what we have in place. We have a lot of talent, but maybe not as much in-game experience as some of the other teams in our league. Our guys want to win. We’ve been impressed with how they come to work every day and have embraced our culture – how we practice and what our expectations are." — coach Frank Scelfo said at Southland Conference media day
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #LionUp
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @SLUFootball
— #LionUp (@sluathletics) July 12, 2018
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