SLU picked to repeat as Southland Conference champions

Photo provided by staff
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 1:48pm

A year after winning its first Southland Conference championship, the Southeastern Louisiana football team are the prohibitive favorites to return to the top of the league according to the Southland head coaches and sports information directors’ preseason polls, which were announced on Wednesday.

Southeastern and McNeese State were the only teams to receive first-place votes in the polls, which the league released in conjunction with Football Media Day at the L’auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles. Southeastern received 10 first-place nods from the Southland SID’s and nine from the league’s head coaches.

The order was the same in both polls. In the SID’s poll, the Lions and MSU were followed by Sam Houston State, Central Arkansas, Northwestern State, Stephen F. Austin, Lamar, Abilene Christian, Nicholls, Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist. The only difference in the coaches’ poll saw SFA and Lamar tied for sixth.

SLU had a conference-high 15 selections on the preseason All-Southland teams, which were announced last week. The Lions are the overwhelming favorites to repeat as league champions, returning 15 starters from last season’s team that finished 11-3 overall, advanced to the quarterfinals in its first-ever NCAA playoff appearance and was voted No. 6 in the final Football Championship Subdivision preseason polls.

“We can’t get caught up in preseason polls and we have to continue to work hard every day,” Southeastern head coach Ron Roberts said. “We were really pleased with the focus and maturity we showed during the spring. If we continue to concentrate on us and the things we need to do to be a better football team, we’ll be fine.”

The Lions’ strong finish in 2013 has resulted in high expectations for the coming season. SLU was picked No. 3 in the preseason predictions by Athlon Sports and the Sporting News, while Lindy’s College Football forecast the Lions to finish No. 2.

Senior quarterback Bryan Bennett is a candidate for the Walter Payton Award – the FCS’ version of the Heisman – and junior defensive back Harlan Miller is a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is awarded to the top defensive player in the nation. Bennett, Miller, junior wide receiver/kick returner Xavier Roberson, senior linebacker Isiah Corbett, senior defensive lineman Jacob Newman and junior running back Rasheed Harrell have all been named to various preseason All-America teams.

“It is great for our university, our program and our players to receive this attention on a national level,” Roberts said. “But we have to continue to handle it the right way and stay grounded, which I think we will. We realize that we’re all working towards our goals of winning the Southland Conference and competing for a national championship.”

Southeastern will open fall practice on Aug. 4 with a 7 p.m. practice. The Lions will open up the 2014 season on Aug. 30, hosting Jacksonville at 7 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium. That contest will open a six-game home schedule for SLU. Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by contacting the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or by visiting LionSports.net or LionUp.com.

2014 Southland Conference Preseason Football Polls

Coaches’ Poll

Pl. School (First-place votes) Pts.
1. Southeastern La. (9) 99
2. McNeese State (2) 92
3. Sam Houston State 79
4. Central Arkansas 70
5. Northwestern State 59
T6. Stephen F. Austin 52
T6. Lamar 52
8. Abilene Christian 36
9. Nicholls 35
10. UIW 21
11. Houston Baptist 10

Sports Information Directors’ Poll

Pl. School (First-place votes) Pts.

1. Southeastern La. (10) 100
2. McNeese State (1) 89
3. Sam Houston State 78
4. Central Arkansas 72
5. Northwestern State 61
6. Stephen F. Austin 55
7. Lamar 45
8. Abilene Christian 39
9. Nicholls 36
10. UIW 20
11. Houston Baptist 10
   

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