HAMMOND — With his team’s trip to face FBS opponent Ohio on Saturday set before an open date and the resumption of Southland Conference play, Southeastern Louisiana coach Ron Roberts would like to be able to rest his injured starting quarterback this week.
D’Shaie Landor, who started in SLU’s first two games, was forced from Saturday’s 28-17 home victory over Florida Tech with a sprained knee after his team’s second series of the game.
Utah transfer Donovan Isom of Destrehan stepped in and quarterbacked the Lions the majority of the way with junior college signee Justin Alo also getting his first collegiate action.
Roberts said during his weekly luncheon Tuesday that Landor may be able to play but would prefer to keep the junior UL-Lafayette transfer out of action to rest his knee, while allowing Isom and Alo to divide repetitions in practice this week and alternate in Saturday’s game.
No. 17 SLU (2-0) visits Ohio University (2-0) for a 1 p.m. game in Athens, Ohio. The game will be available on ESPN3.
“Right now I’m probably not looking at playing (Landor) because he needs that rest,” Roberts said. “We have an off week and then conference play. We’ll make that a game-time decision, but we’re going into the game plan with him not available.”
Isom, who redshirted in his only season at Utah, debuted last week and was 5 of 11 for 40 yards, but rushed 13 times for 55 yards. Alo of Mt. San Antonio College had his only pass attempt fall incomplete.
“We’ll play them both and hopefully that way the pressure doesn’t fall on one of them,” Roberts said. “They’re both capable of doing that. We’ll be very thankful for it down the road to get that experience, so when we get to conference play those guys will be ready to go.”
Without Landor, who completed his only pass for 5 yards, Roberts said he opted for an even more conservative approach than the one in SLU’s season-opening 34-20 victory over Northwestern State in which the Lions rushed 61 times for 438 yards.
“For me, it was more important for Donovan to go into Game 1 and get his experience and not put too much on him,” Roberts said. “We probably kept that one a little closer to the vest than I’m even used to playing.”
SLU didn’t score its first offensive TD until Xavier Roberson’s 2-yard run for a 21-17 lead at the 13:09 mark of the fourth quarter.
With the offense limited to 167 rushing yards and 235 total yards, the Lions defense delivered a memorable performance, forcing nine turnovers — five interceptions and four fumbles — that resulted in three touchdowns.
Outside linebacker Demarayeh Lane was named both the Southland Conference and Louisiana Sportswriters Association’s Defensive Player of the Week, registering six tackles and returning one of his two interceptions for a 58-yard score.
“We try and compete with the offense,” Lane said. “We’re used to guys making plays and doing things that like in practice.”
SLU also benefitted from two touchdowns off fumble returns from a pair of 300-pound defensive linemen.
Junior defensive end Solomon Parker and senior tackle Ashton Henderson gave the Lions a 14-0 first-quarter lead with fumble returns of 5 and 45 yards, respectively.
“After the game I thought, ‘Thank the Lord for our defense’ ” SLU center Joe Graves said. “They really saved us with those three touchdowns. That was a special performance. It was also memorable when you have 300-pound defensive linemen running down the field and scoring.”