From SLU Athletics
LAKE CHARLES – The Southeastern Louisiana football team was picked to finish fourth and fifth in the Southland Conference by the league's sports information directors and head coaches, respectively, in conjunction with the league's Football Media Day Wednesday at the L'auberge du Lac Resort.
Sam Houston State, the two-time national runner-up, was a majority choice to top the Southland standings by both the head coaches and SID's. In both polls, the Bearkats are followed by Central Arkansas and McNeese State.
In the coaches' poll, Stephen F. Austin edges the Lions for the fourth spot with both followed by Northwestern State, Lamar and Nicholls State. The SID's poll has Southeastern with the slight edge over SFA, followed by Nicholls, Northwestern State and Lamar.
Lion head coach Ron Roberts heads into his second season at the helm of the program with higher hopes. In Roberts' first season, Southeastern posted its best finish in the league standings, earning a third-place showing with a 5-2 conference mark.
"The biggest thing we need to do is take care of the little things and take the next step as a football team and that starts with accountability and being more consistent," Roberts said. "I think we recruited players that will come in here and help us win. We have a good crop of returning players and we've added a bunch of guys to where we should be physically talented. My expectation is to win a Southland Conference championship and participate in the FCS Playoffs."
Southeastern expects improvements on both sides of the ball. Junior quarterback Bryan Bennett joins the team after spending his first two seasons at Oregon, while Wyoming transfer Kody Sutton joins sophomores Rasheed Harrell and Xavier Roberson to form one of the deeper stable of running backs in the league. 2012 All-Southland selection Tony McCrea leads an emerging receiving corps, while multi-time all-conference pick Gasten Gabriel anchors the offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball, Southeastern should also be improved despite the losses of Robert Alford and Devan Walker to the NFL. Butkus Award candidate Cqulin Hubert and 2012 leading tackler Kaleb Muse highlight the Lion front seven. All-Southland performers Todd Washington and Tyler Stoddard will be among a talented Southeastern secondary.
Southeastern opens the 2013 season on Aug. 29, hosting Southeast Missouri for a 7 p.m. contest at Strawberry Stadium. Season tickets are on sale now by contacting the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visiting LionSports.net.
2013 Southland Conference Preseason Football Polls
(First place votes in parentheses)
1. Sam Houston State (6) - 48
2. Central Arkansas (1) – 42
3. McNeese State – 37
4. Stephen F. Austin (1) – 32
5. Southeastern Louisiana – 26
6. Northwestern State – 17
7. Lamar – 14
8. Nicholls – 8
Information Directors' Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Sam Houston State (6) – 48
2. Central Arkansas (2) – 44
3. McNeese State – 33
4. Southeastern Louisiana – 30
5. Stephen F. Austin – 27
6. Nicholls – 18
Northwestern State – 18
8. Lamar - 15