Lions picked 7th in SLC polls

The Southeastern Lions football team was ranked seventh out of eight college teams in the Southland Conference Coaches Poll and the Sports Information Directors Poll for the upcoming season. Head coaches and Sports Information directors from each conference school ranked each team based on three key criteria: experience at the quarterback position, returning number of lettermen and the difficulty of the team’s schedule.

The Lion’s lack of a returning quarterback, low number of returning players, and their difficult schedule resulted in the second to last rating. Despite the Lion’s low ranking, head coach Mike Lucas wants fans to be excited about the upcoming season.

“We would love our student body to get excited about what we are doing,” said . “[We need to] make Strawberry Stadium a place where our opponents hate to come.”

Lucas, who has coached in the Southland Conference for 22 years, said that his team was not dwelling on being ranked second to last and, in fact, was using their ranking as a source of motivation during this summer’s training camp.

“It puts a gleam in their eyes because they are not getting any respect,” said Lucas, on how the rankings will affect their season.

Lucas stated that he warned his players before the polls came out not to expect any recognition based on the Lion’s 2010, 2-9, record. Coach Lucas has emphasized to the team that they must improve in certain areas to not only win more games, but to earn respect in their Conference. Lucas said that penalties, special teams and protecting the football were just a few areas that he expects the team to improve on this season.

Lucas also expects that the team’s large number of transfer students will make a difference this season. The recruiting staff was successful in attaining 12 transfer students, including Nathan Stanley, a quarterback from Ole Miss who started one game for his former college.

Additionally, Lucas said that he was excited about his strong group of wide receivers returning from last season, including two key players in, Simmie Yarborough and Kory Theodore, who will lead the receiving corps. Yarborough became the all time leading receiver in Southeastern history as a junior. Theodore was ranked seventh in the Southland Conference in yards per game for the 2010 season.

“We have a chance to do very special things offensively,”  said Lucas when asked about this group’s potential.

According to Lucas, the Lions have a tough opening stretch, playing three of their first four games on the road, which includes a road game against the number one ranked team in the Southland Conference, McNeese State.

The Lions start the season on Sept. 3 at 2:30 p.m. against Tulane at the Louisiana Superdome. For fans not looking to make a trip to New Orleans, the Lion’s open at home on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. against Savannah State.