HAMMOND - Don’t get Southeastern Louisiana University football coach Mike Lucas wrong, he’ll take a win. But for the Lions, it’s all about getting better heading into Saturday’s 6 p.m. game at Southern Miss.
Southeastern (1-1) snapped a seven-game losing streak dating to last season with a 63-6 romp over Savannah State in last week’s home opener.
“We talked about it after the game, it’s been a long time since we had smiles after a game,” Lucas said Tuesday at his weekly media luncheon on the SLU campus. “A long time since we had a win. We needed a win very badly, so I think our kids needed that, our coaches needed that, our coaches’ families needed that. Everybody needed a win.”
Lucas said the improvement was evident last week after the Lions’ season-opening loss to Tulane as the Lions rolled up 547 yards of total offense while giving up 211 yards of total offense to Savannah State (0-2).
“I know defensively, we really cut back on the number of things we were doing from the game plan at Tulane and the game plan (last) week, and the kids played well,” Lucas said. “You know, the ability is there. It’s the mental part of things that messed us up Week 1, and so that was good to see.”
But Lucas said the trend must continue, especially with the Golden Eagles (1-1) up next and Southeastern’s Southland Conference opener at McNeese State on Sept. 24.
“I thought we made improvements Saturday in a lot of areas, but as young as we are, I continually get reminded of how young we are of things that the kids say, things that they do,” Lucas said.
“We’ve got a lot of areas we’ve got to continue to work on and continue to improve.”
Going with what works
Nine Southeastern players ran the ball as the Lions rushed 53 times for 270 yards against Savannah State. Jordan Wells led the way with 62 yards and a touchdown on four carries, while former Springfield standout Zeke Jones added nine carries for 25 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think with what we’re doing offensively with our four wide receivers, that if people try to gang up on the run game, you know, we can throw the football with our skilled athletes, hopefully against a lot of people,” Lucas said. “And what’s happening is, people are backing off trying to double-team our receivers, which has opened up the run game stuff. So whatever they’re giving us, we’re going to take it.
“We played, what, six running backs, and all of them played well,” Lucas continued. “We’ve got some threats in that group.”
More on the way?
Through its first two games, Southeastern’s defense has one takeway: a Keiron Jones interception against Savannah State. But Lucas is hoping the Lions, who have several new starters, can add to that total in the coming weeks.
“It’s killing me, absolutely killing me, as much time as we spend on takeaways,” Lucas said. “But it’s not unusual for a group of guys, new guys. They’re more interested in getting lined up right and covering people right and making the tackle. Sometimes those takeaways come from more experience.
“But we dropped six interceptions this week that we had in our hands. We dropped six balls, and I think that’s because our DB coach (Duke Adams) and our safety coach (Matt Webb) can’t throw a lick, and we’re having a hard time throwing ball drills at practice. I’m going to have to warm up the wing, I think, and start throwing them myself, because we’ve got to get better at catching the football in the back end.”
The Lion Athletics Association will host a tailgate party before Saturday’s game.
SLU fans heading to the game can meet in the parking lot adjacent to Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field on the SLU campus at 1 p.m. The caravan will leave for Hattiesburg at 1:30 p.m.
The party will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in location Q on Black and Gold Boulevard, with a hospitality tent near the USM Athletic Building and M.M. Roberts Stadium. Food and drinks will be offered, and those attending are encouraged to bring a favorite tailgating dish.
For more information, contact the Lion Athletics Association Office at (985) 549-5091.