Greetings, Lion fans, this week, it’s back to the grind and the opening of Southland Conference play as the Lions take a trip east to Hammond, Louisiana, and a homecoming date with the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana.
Southeastern is currently ranked #20 in the AFCA FCS poll, just two spots ahead of a familiar name, Stephen F. Austin. They are coached by Frank Scelfo, who is 25-19 in his fifth season in Hammond. Scelfo directed the Lions to a third-round playoff appearance in 2019. The city of Hammond is located approximately an hour north of New Orleans. It is very similar in size to Commerce with 12,487 students. Southeastern was the consensus preseason pick to win the Southland Conference in 2022.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Points: 39.2 ppg
Rush: 154.8 ypg
Pass: 227.2 ypg
Total: 382.0 ypg
Points: 24.2 ppg
Rush: 167.8 ypg
Pass: 247.2 ypg
Total: 415.0 ypg
Southeastern, while not particularly big defensively, are very quick, and like to turn their opponents over, having forced 11 fumbles and recovering 6. They will take their chances defensively.
The Lions should have a healthy Eric Rodriguez back this week, as well as several offensive linemen that did not play against North American, and with the off week, should be ready to play.
UP FRONT/TALE OF THE TAPE:
Lion Offensive Line: 6’3″ 293 lbs.
Southeastern Front 6: 6’0″ 245 lbs.
The Southeastern defense is led by the linebackers. Sophomore Donte Daniels (5’11” 195 lbs.) leads the team with 35 tackles (22 solo), junior Anthony Britton Jr. has 32 (14 solo), and junior Herman Christophe (5’11” 225 lbs.) has 29 tackles (17 solo), along with two interceptions They are very aggressive defensively, their secondary likes to attack the line of scrimmage when they smell a running play, and they will blitz quite a bit. If the Lions offensive line performs the way they are capable of, there will be some opportunities downfield in the passing game. David Bailiff and his staff will need to be very aware of when these opportunities present themselves and make the most of them. It could be tough sledding in the running game with the chance’s Southeastern takes, and the Lions will need to be patient with the running game, keep plugging away, and not allow Southeastern to dictate what they do.
The Lion offensive line, led by seniors Rehoboth Chibesa (6’3″ 309 lbs.,) and Solomon Ndukwe (6’3″ 318 lbs,) , along with sophomore Jadin Jones (6’4″ 278 lbs.), freshman Chandler Donaway (6’1″ 268 lbs.0 adn McKenzie Agnello (6’5″ 293 lbs.) have held up well under the bright spotlights so far, and are beginning to jell together very nicely. They ae sure to be tested by a very active Southeastern front line.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Lion Movers and Shakers: 5’11” 194 lbs.
Southeastern Back Line: 6’1″ 185 lbs.
The Southeastern back line is led by sophomore Jack Henderson (6’3″ 205 lbs.) who plays more like a linebacker than a safety. He has 24 tackles (16 solo), and is known for the big hit, and always being around the ball and line of scrimmage. Redshirt senior Fernando Jordan (6’0″ 180 lbs.), sophomore Zy Alexander (6’3″ 185 lbs.) highlight a secondary group with good size and quickness. They will most certainly face a challenge from the Lions this week.
The Lions are still led in passing by sophomore Eric Rodriguez, who, from all indications, should be rested and recuperated from is ankle injury suffered against Tennessee Tech three weeks ago. Rodriguez is 26-38 for 438 yards, 7 touchdowns, and one interception. He has a long completion of 96 yards earlier this season.
Rodriguez leads the Lions in rushing also, with 142 yards on 22 carries, with a long of 27 yards. Junior Spencer Long, (5’11” 196 lbs.) who just always seems to be in the thick of things, has 99 yards on 13 carries, with a pair of touchdowns, and a long of 69 yards.
The really bright spot of the Lions offense has been the receivers, led by sophomore Andrew Armstrong (6’6″ 189 lbs.), who has been on fire from the beginning of the season. Armstrong has 20 catches for 452 yards, seven of them touchdowns, with a long of 96 yards. Senior B.J. Busbee is starting to make his presence known, with 8 catches for 90 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and a long of 22 yards. Sophomore Jaden Proctor (5’8″ 155 lbs.) has been a pleasant surprise, with 7 receptions for 86 yards, a touchdown, and a long of 27 yards. Sophomore Keith Miller (6’1″ 207 lbs.), a transfer from Colorado, and Ke’Andre Street (6’2″ 200 lbs., Jr.), a University of Houston transfer, are beginning to make their presence felt.
The North American game was the 2022 coming out party of senior J.T. Smith (6’0″ 178 lbs.). Smith is a type of player the Lions haven’t really had in a while, a receiver with world class speed. He took a short swing pass and a reverse the distance two weeks ago and is looking for more opportunities.
An encouraging sign for the coaching staff and fans…. despite the injuries, the Lions can now call on two very capable signal callers if Rodriguez is injured again. Junior Zadock Dinkelman (6’3″ 245 lbs.) who had moved to tight end during the spring, was an emergency call up to QB1 the week before the Sam Houston game and performed admirably. With a full week to prepare against North American, Dinkleman looked to be in full control of the offense. Freshman Tyson Oliver (5’9″ 164 lbs.) had more than a full half of work against North American, and held his own. The Lion offense should be in good hands no matter who is under center. Also, let’s not forget about senior Jaiave Magalie (6’2″ 219 lbs.), who was very good at the start of the 2019 season. He is currently rehabbing an injury, and his status is unknown at this time.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED:
The Lion kicking game, while not spectacular, has been very effective. Junior Emmanuel Adagbon is 4 of 4 on field goal attempts, his longest being 27 yards. He has the ability to connect from the 40-50 yard range but has not been called upon so far. He has been perfect on all but one extra point, and that was the result of a bad snap.
Sophomore Mitchell McGarry, like Adagbon, doesn’t have really great numbers on the stat sheet with 12 punts for a 34.5 yard average, and a long of 47, but has been masterful in bailing the Lions out of tight spot after tight spot when they’ve been pinned deep in their own territory. His punts have shown a tendency to have a backspin that any PGA golfer would envy and has been able to keep offenses bottled up.
The Southeastern return game is led in punt returns by redshirt sophomore Darius Lewis (5’8″ 150 lbs.,) with eight returns for a 14.75-yard average, and a long of 38 yards. Sophomore Gage Larvadain (5’10” 160 lbs.) has nine kick returns for a 21.5-yard average, with a long of 43 yards. The Southeastern returners are very fast and are a threat any time a kick is in the air.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF: They are able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by an agressive, pressuring Southeastern defense. Their secondary, particularly Jack Henderson, like to crowd the line of scrimmage, so there will be some chances.
On the flip side, though, much like the Sam Houston game. that pressure will certainly put a strain on a young Lion offensive line. A big key will be, can they hold up under the pressure and give Rodriguez and Armstrong time to work their magic? The running backs, led by Demarcus Hosey (5’10 200 lbs., Soph), Reggie Branch (5’11” 195 lbs., Fr.) and B.J. Phillips (5’11” 217 lbs., Fr.), will need to be patient, and anticipate some tough sledding at times.
Take heart, Lion fans, Yes Southeastern Louisiana has had an impressive start, including a 41-35 win over Incarnate Word, and hanging tough in the opener against Louisiana Lafayette. This is a very winnable game. With 8’42 left in the fourth quarter, Southeastern was 17-7 with Murray State before the wheels came off for the Racers. Their defense likes to pressure and take chances. There will be chances there for the Lion offense.
To add insult to injury, A&M-Commerce comes into the game Saturday as Southeastern’s homecoming game. They may very well be overlooking their Texas neighbors. Commerce is in a very good position to not allow that. If the Lions can keep Rodriguez upright, and pry open just enough holes to balance with the running game, they can pull off the upset.
See You Saturday.
2 thoughts on “The Pre Snap Read: Lion Offense vs. Southeastern Defense”
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Thank you, slulionsden. We’re excited to be in the Southland. Be sure and drop by thelionwire.com. Brian started the website a little while before I got here. I came on board as a fill in during the 2017 national championship run, and went full time in 2018. We’re just two guys with laptops and a good knowing of the game.