HAMMOND - Southeastern Louisiana football coach Mike Lucas has preached the importance of winning home games during his tenure as Lions’ coach.
And after the Lions went 2-3 at home last season, it’s a familiar refrain as they open the home portion of their schedule hosting Savannah State at 7 p.m. Saturday in Strawberry Stadium.
“Until we get to the point where we go through a season undefeated at home, then you’ll never be satisfied,” Lucas said. “If we’re going to be as good as we hope to be and to achieve our program goals, we’ve got to be undefeated at home and we’ve got to win the ones on the road that we’re supposed to win. If we lose ball games at home, you’re not going to achieve a championship.”
Savannah State (0-1), a member of the MEAC, is coming off a 37-34 loss to Albany State last week in which the Tigers trailed 19-3 at the half and led 27-22 early in the fourth quarter.
Savannah State quarterback Alfred Defilippis completed 15 of 34 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns, while Brian Lackey had three catches for 115 yards and a TD and Dylan Cook had three receptions for 77 yards and a TD. The Tigers put up 382 yards of total offense.
Savannah State’s passing game is a concern for Lucas after Tulane’s Ryan Griffin passed for 267 yards and three touchdowns in SLU’s 47-33 loss to the Green Wave last week.
“They’ve got a senior quarterback, a 6-(foot)-3 kid, that can really throw the football, and they’ve got some extremely dangerous wide receivers - they’re 6-3 and 6-4 at the two split ends - and they can really go up and get the football,” Lucas said. “We’re going to have to play much better in the back end to slow these guys down.”
Lucas said the Savannah State offense could also present another challenge for the SLU defense, which gave up 393 yards to the Green Wave.
“They don’t do any shotgun,” Lucas said. “Everything’s underneath the center, and that’s a little unusual for what you see nowadays, because most people are going to be in the gun.”
SLU’s offense was led by quarterback Brian Young (20-35-1, 249 yards, 0 TDs), receiver Brandon Collins (nine receptions, 94 yards) and running back Zeke Jones (17-65, 2 TDs).
Lucas said Young and Nathan Stanley (5-9-0, 46 yards, 0 TDs) will both play Saturday.
Linebacker Nate Clay led Savannah State with 18 tackles last week, but he isn’t Lucas’ only worry.
“They like to move their defensive linemen around and do a lot of slanting and things like that, more so than what we normally see,” Lucas said of the Savannah State defense. “So we’re going to have to do a good job up front with our offensive line.”