For the past two years, the Southeastern offense has been the Bryan Bennett show.
But Bennett is now in camp with the Indianapolis Colts, and presumed starting quarterback D’Shaie Landor wants the the Southeastern offense to be known as simply “SLU’s offense.”
Bennett’s graduation — as well as that of backup quarterback Jordan Barnett — has left one of the FCS’s top offenses without one of its primary weapons.
But Landor said he isn’t worried about the hype or the pressure of filling his predecessor’s shoes, even if he doesn’t post the same type of numbers Southeastern fans were accustomed to the past few seasons.
“People try to make it seem like there’s a lot of pressure, but there’s really no pressure at all,” Landor said. “We didn’t win a lot of games last year just because of the quarterback position, and we won’t do that this year. We have a lot of playmakers around us, a good offensive line and good receivers. It’s just about coming together as an offense.”
Landor is the heavy favorite to earn the starting job after what Southeastern coach Ron Roberts lauded as a tremendous fall camp.
But it’s Landor’s inexperience that prompts questions about his ability to step in under center. The junior out of Lafayette only threw eight passes for 151 yards and an interception last season. He saw slightly more action in the run game with 141 yards and three touchdowns on 21 attempts, as he typically came in to run down the clock with a secure lead in hand.
“Just getting the guys around me to respond, that’s the biggest thing about playing quarterback,” Landor said. “It doesn’t matter how hard you throw or how accurate you are, if you can’t get the guys around you to play hard and respond to you, you won’t win a lot of games.”
A junior college transfer out of Citrus College, California, Larry Cutbirth was listed as the Lions’ No. 2 quarterback following spring camp, but the recent transfers of Donovan Isom from Utah and Justin Alo from Mt. San Antonio College (California) have thrown a wrench in the depth chart.
Both Isom and Alo have spent the majority of camp rotating with the second string. Freshman J.T. Jackson rounds out the quarterbacks for the Lions.
“I think we’ve gone from a position where people had a lot of questions about to, I’m not sure it isn’t the deepest position on our squad right now,” Roberts said. “Right now, (Landor) is playing lights out.
“Those other guys are growing fast and doing a heck of a job, but it is what it is. They’re going to have to play some good football in order to catch him.”
Isom has quickly climbed the the depth chart after his transfer in July in order to be closer to his hometown of Destrehan. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound freshman is embracing his backup role as he works to learn the offense before the Lions open the season at Northwestern State on Sept. 3.
“The stuff I did in high school is similar to what I do now,” Isom said. “It’s just the vocabulary I have to get used to, the terminology.
“As far as the actions I’m doing, it’s similar to what I did in high school.”
DEFENSE DOMINATES SCRIMMAGE: The Southeastern defense showed why it led the Southland Conference last season, as it dominated the offense during the Lions’ roughly 80-play, full-team scrimmage on Saturday at Strawberry Stadium.
Running back Kody Sutton ran into starting quarterback D’Shaie Landor on the opening play of the night, setting the tone for the offense.
The opening drive ended when JQ Sandolph punched the ball out the hands of running back Julius Maracalin.
The second drive, which featured quarterback Justin Alo receiving snaps over freshman Donovan Isom, was stopped with a diving interception by free safety Josh Dakin.
Alo made up for his mistake later with the first of the night’s two passing touchdowns on a perfectly placed ball to receiver Javon Conner in the corner of the end zone. Landor connected with Dylan Bossier on a 60-yard pass for the second score. Sutton recorded the only rushing touchdown on a 28-yard scamper down the right side.
T.J. West tacked on a defensive score when he picked up a fumbled handoff by Jake Ingraffia and took it 82 yards to the end zone.