HAMMOND - Southeastern Louisiana University’s football team would like nothing more than to snap its current four-game losing streak.
And in order accomplish that objective, the Lions must defeat Texas State in a nonconference game on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Strawberry Stadium.
The Bobcats, a former Southland Conference member, is competing as a Football Championship Series independent while transitioning into membership into the Western Athletic Conference in 2012.
The Bobcats (5-2) enter the game on a five-game win streak.
Texas State, coached by former Texas A&M and Alabama coach Dennis Franchione, has shifted to an option-based offense, led by quarterback Shaun Rutherford (94 carries, 459 yards, 2 TDs), Marcus Curry (81-414, TD), Terrence Franks (74-376, 5 TDs) and Tim Hawkins (42-255, 3 TDs).
“They go very, very fast,” SLU coach Mike Lucas said. “They’ve got great speed at quarterback ? and very good speed at running back. If you’re not exactly at the point of attack, they’ll go by you very quickly.
“And if we get to the point of attack, we’ve got to make the tackle. So it will be a very difficult ballgame to slow them down.”
Lucas also said the Lions, who are surrendering 412 yards per game on defense, will likely see a healthy dose of multiple formations from the Bobcats.
“Probably as varied an option attack as I’ve ever seen,” Lucas said.
“On our defensive board, we’ve got 90 different option combinations when you combine the play with the formation and the backfield set and the motions.”
Lucas said the Lions will have to adjust to the option quickly.
“Talking to one of the other head coaches in the league that played against them, he made the statement to me that it took them an entire half to get the speed of their option,” Lucas said. “He said it felt like they played fine in the third and fourth quarter. We can’t let that happen.”
And, Lucas said the Lions can’t forget Rutherford’s passing abilities. Rutherford is 64-for-108 with three interceptions and 11 TDs. His main targets are Darius Bolden (17-217, 0 TDs), Isaiah Battle (14-215, 4 TDs) and Chase Harper (9-151, 3 TDs).
“He’s gotten better every week throwing the football,” Lucas said. “Last week, he made some throws that were unbelievable. He was 17 out of 28 for 243 (yards). You know, sometimes when you’re facing the option, you can ignore the throwing stuff, and he’s gotten better and better and better at it every week.”
Defensively, Texas State is surrendering 380.3 yards per game, paced by safety Xavier Daniels (45 tackles, two interceptions) and lineman Michael Ebbitt (16 tackles, nine sacks).
“They’re very sound,” Lucas said. “They’re always in the right place at the right time. They’re very good with their technique. They don’t do a lot of different things. They’re basic, but they’re strong and make you drive the football to beat them.”
Southeastern (1-5) is averaging 419.2 yards per game behind quarterback Brian Young (113-202-8, 1,487 yards, 8 TDs), receivers Brandon Collins (34-462, 5 TDs) and Simmie Yarborough (29-336, 2 TDs) and running back Sam Fairley (66-243, 2 TDs).
“They’ve got a good offensive team,” Franchione said. “They can hurt you in a lot of different ways. Defensively, they’ve given up some yards and things, but their offense is more than capable of outscoring you.”
SLU’s defense is led by linebackers Tay Alford (54 tackles, one sack) and Ricky Irvin (47 tackles).