HAMMOND - Southeastern Louisiana University football coach Mike Lucas was expecting a fired-up Northwestern State team last week, and that’s exactly what the Lions got in a 51-17 loss.

The setback was the Lions ninth straight in Southland Conference play heading into Saturday’s 7 p.m. nonconference game with Texas State at Strawberry Stadium.

“I said in here last week that I expected a tidal wave at the beginning of the game from Northwestern because it was their homecoming, and knowing coach (Bradley Dale) Peveto, he’d have them cranked up,” Lucas said Tuesday at his weekly media luncheon on the SLU campus. “I felt like we had good enthusiasm in the locker room before the game. I felt like we were ready to play, and it was a tidal wave.”

Northwestern State’s Lamont Simmons recovered a Sam Fairley fumble on the game’s opening play and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. The Demons recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff to open a 10-0 lead, and led 27-3 at the end of the first quarter.

“I have stood in 28 years of coaching and watched probably 10,000 attempts at that specific kick - beat it in the ground, pop up, come down at 12 yards on the sideline perfectly,” Lucas said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more perfect execution of that kick.”

The Lions had 14 penalties for 103 yards, five turnovers and several missed tackles - all of which left Lucas frustrated.

“Those three things, you’re not going to win football games doing those things,” Lucas said. “We talk about them. We do drills to prevent those things. We punish when they happen. We address them verbally. We address them physically. We address them every way you can.”

Now, SLU (1-5, 0-3 Southland Conference) must regroup and turn its attention to Texas State’s (5-2) option-oriented offense.

Working with youngsters

Lucas said some of the Lions’ problems this season stem from having to play a number of freshmen because of a large disparity in the number of players in each class on the team’s roster.

Tuesday’s roster features 38 freshmen (including redshirts), 16 sophomores, 23 juniors and 12 seniors.

“I took out our signing lists from the last four years and sat there and read through those lists with my staff, and there’s 30 guys that aren’t here,” Lucas said.

“Why are they not here? And you go through a list of reasons for each one of them,”Lucas continued. “A bunch of them, their academics - a majority of them.

“I really believe that this freshman class, between the redshirt freshmen and the true freshmen we’re playing right now, there’s some really good players in there that in two years and in three years are going to bring a lot of wins to the Lions,” Lucas said.

Safety envy

Lucas praised the play of Northwestern State safety Jamaal White, who led the Demons with six tackles and two interceptions against Southeastern.

“When I watch No. 2 (White) from Northwestern, I was jealous. Jealous.” Lucas said. “Because we’ve had pretty good safeties, and we’re not getting very good safety play. You watch us run the football against Northwestern, and we pop the crease and we’re out of there for about a 5-, 6-yard gain, their safeties will make the tackle. Our safeties are like Nolan Ryan out there. We’re throwing no-hitters.”

Boutwell, Jones out

Lucas said defensive tackle Devin Boutwell (stingers) is done for the season, and running back Zeke Jones (staph infection) is likely out for the season.

“Devin’s out for the season with two bulging discs in his neck,” Lucas said. “He’s got stingers down both arms. The doctor said he can’t play anymore.”

“I don’t think Zeke will play again this season,” Lucas continued. “Zeke had surgery on his finger last week, and it healed on the outside, but there was still staph inside. It actually got into the bone, and they had to take some bone off of his index finger, which was a very, very bad deal.”