Southeastern spring game: Lions fans get their first look at their team’s Ron Roberts-led defense _lowres

Southeastern Louisiana coach Ron Roberts

Associated Press photo by JONATHAN BACHMAN --

HAMMOND — If Southeastern Louisiana coach Ron Roberts had his way, the Lions’ open date would be right in the middle of the season so his team could rest up before hitting the home stretch.

Of course, it wasn’t anywhere near the midpoint of the Lions’ 2017 campaign. It was last week, right before Southeastern’s final game this Thursday against Nicholls State. This is the latest the Lions have had an open week during the season since the university revived its football program in 2003.

But Roberts admitted Tuesday that having time off right before the finale — particularly coming off a tough loss to McNeese — might be a good thing.

“You look at it on paper and you say, ‘Week 10, that’s not a great time,’ ” Roberts said Tuesday in his first news conference since Southeastern’s 13-3 defeat in Lake Charles on Nov. 4. “It probably came at a great time for us.”

Granted, Southeastern doesn’t have full control over its schedule. The Southland Conference sets much of the slate, leaving little wiggle room as far as when the open week arrives, Roberts said.

“Ideally, sure, you’d love to have it right there smack in the middle — get five in, have an off week, recoup, re-evaluate, recruit, do all the things you need to do in those off weeks, and then pick back up once you get going,” he said. “But you can’t do anything about it.”

In addition, Roberts said his team had time to rest up after a physical contest with the Cowboys and to get past the heartbreak of losing such a close game — particularly with in-state rival Nicholls coming to Hammond for the River Bell Classic on Thursday.

“I thought we had a real productive off week. We practiced a couple days, we got our coaches on the road,” he said. “We gave them some time off. We needed to get a little rested up, so we gave them Thursday, Friday, Saturday off.”

That being said, Roberts said his team is eager to suit up this weekend after the lengthy delay.

“I feel like we played McNeese last month now,” Roberts joked. “Our guys just want to get this one kicked off and get this thing rolling. I’m excited really to get on the field again. Any time after you lose a ball game, you just want to get on the field and play the next one.”

And hey, now Southeastern will be prepared for next year’s schedule as well.

“We’ll be used to it because it’s what we’ve got next year, too,” Roberts said with a smile.