HAMMOND - It’s been a while since Southeastern Louisiana University’s football team has been on the winning end of a Southland Conference football game, and Lions coach Mike Lucas isn’t one to forget.
SLU enters Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Northwestern State at Turpin Stadium on an eight-game league losing streak dating to last season. And the Lions’ last road win came in a 27-0 victory at Northwestern State in 2009.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve won a conference game, and it’s getting under my skin,” Lucas said. “We need to win a conference game badly.”
“You can’t look at their record and judge this team,” Demons coach Bradley Dale Peveto said of the Lions.
“They just scare you to death, and I know that they’ll come in here and be sky-high to play us. We’re going to have to play well in all three phases to have a chance to win the game because they’re a very, very talented, well-coached football team that has had a lot of things not go their way.”
The Demons (3-3, 2-1) are seventh in the SLC in total offense (288.3 yards per game) behind quarterback Brad Henderson (97-145-4, 1,023 yards, 8 TDs), running backs Rumeall Morris (39-163, 0 TDs), Sidney Riley (59-159, 3 TDs), and D.J. Palmer (33-149, TD).
The Demons receiving corps is led by tight end Justin Aldredge (21-304, TD), Phillip Harvey (15-255, TD) and T.C. Henry (13-170, TD).
“One of their best players offensively is their tight end. ? They try to get the ball to him a lot of different ways, a lot of different routes,” Lucas said. “We’ve got to try to slow him down.
“We really haven’t faced anybody that’s thrown it to a tight end as much as they will this week, so that’ll be something a little different again with our safeties in coverage.”
Northwestern is fifth in the Southland in total defense (386.3 ypg), leads the conference in interceptions (10) and is second in turnover margin (plus-4). Safety Brashard Booker is the Demons’ tackle leader with 39.
“The thing that I’m probably most impressed with is their safety play,” Lucas said. “Their safeties will really come down and hit you. Very sure tacklers - something that we haven’t been doing a very good job of. Our safety play has not been good, and when you compare our tape and Northwestern’s tape, it’s just a huge difference.”
SLU (1-4, 0-2), meanwhile, is first in the SLC in total offense (422.6 ypg.), led by quarterback Brian Young (86-155-4, 1,132 yards, 6 TDs), running back Sam Fairley (57-217, 2 TDs) and receivers Brandon Collins (29-348, 4 TDs), Kory Theodore (21-308, 0 TDs) and Simmie Yarborough (21-268, 2 TDs).
Peveto said the Demons’ biggest challenge will be matching up with the Lions’ up-tempo offense.
“It’s one game I thought the clock was broke,” Peveto said. “It looked like it stayed on five minutes for about five plays, and they’re doing a great job. Let me tell you what it does to you. From a defensive standpoint, it just gets you back on your heels. You never get in a comfort zone. You have a hard time signaling, subbing, it’s just, it’s tough.”
The Lions are seventh in the league in total defense (417.8 ypg.) and rank last in turnover margin (-8). Linebackers Tay Alford (45 tackles) and Ricky Irvin (37 tackles) lead the SLU defense.