2023 Louisiana Preview: Southeastern Louisiana

Southeastern Louisiana Lions

By Grant Chachere

All Photos Courtesy of Southeastern Louisiana Athletics

Southeastern Louisiana Quarterback Eli Sawyer

Outlook

Southeastern Louisiana head coach Frank Scelfo has made this program into a consistent winner. Scelfo has led Southeastern to four straight winning seasons in which all of them had the Lions finishing in the Top 25 poll. The Lions have also been to the FCS Playoffs three out of the past four years.

The Lions are coming off another successful season where they advanced to the FCS playoffs once again but this time as the Southland Conference champions. They will have a good bit of their key members from last year’s team as well as some transfers.

Offense

Southeastern’s offense returns a decent amount from last year’s squad that averaged over 441 yards per game, which was good for the 19th best offense in the country.

Southeastern Louisiana TE Ivan Drobocky (Photo by Randy Bergeron/SLU Sports Into)

Southeastern has a problem at quarterback. However, it’s not a bad problem to have as the Lions have TWO All-Conference quarterbacks in returning starting quarterback Eli Sawyer (6-2, 230, So.) and Northwestern State transfer Zach Clement (6-0, 220, Jr.). Clement was named to the First Team All-Southland while Sawyer was named second team. It would not surprise me if SOutheastern ran a two-quarterback system.

For the run game, Southeastern returns its third leading rusher in Rodeo Graham, Jr. (6-0, 205, Jr.) and will also have Louisiana Tech transfer Harlan Dixon getting some carries with the rock as well.

Southeastern Louisiana WR Maurice Massey (Photo by Randy Bergeron/SLU Sports Into)

On the receiving corps, they return wide receiver Maurice Massey who had 40 catches for 525 yards and four touchdowns. Massey will share the perimeter with Kennesaw State transfer Xavier Hill (6-2, 200, Jr.) and Darius Lewis (5-8, 150, Jr.). True freshman Jaylon Domingeaux (6-2, 195) out of Comeaux High School in Lafayette will get some reps as well.

The Lions also have three reliable tight ends in Ivan Drobocky (6-4,240, Jr.), Jacob Logan (6-3, 240) and Bauer Sharp (6-5, 245, R-So.). Drobocky led the Lions in touchdown receptions with six last season.

Southeastern’s offensive line returns three First Team All-Southland players: Jalen Bell (6-5, 300, Sr.), Jhy Orgeron (6-4, 285, Jr.) and John Allen (6-1, 310, Sr.).

 

Southeastern Louisiana LB Christopher Hermann (Photo by Randy Bergeron/SLU Sports Into)

Defense

Although the defense hasn’t been bad for the Lions, it has cost them in some big-time games, including last year’s heartbreaking 45-42 loss to Samford in the second round of the FCS Playoffs. The defense allowed 395.1 yards a game, which was 72nd out of 123 teams, and allowed 238 passing yards per game, which was 85th. Those are numbers the Lions not want to improve but need to improve.

However, the Lions have two First Team All-Conference players in its front seven: defensive lineman Arlen Williams (6-1, 210) and linebacker Donte Daniels (5-11, 195, Jr.).

Some other key members of its front seven also earned All-Conference honors: defensive lineman Garrett Crawford (6-1, 240, Sr.), linebacker Hermann Christipher (5-11, 225, Sr.) and linebacker Anthony Britton Jr. (6-2, 220, Sr.).

Southeastern Louisiana Linebacker Anthony Britton (Photo by Randy Bergeron/SLU Sports Into)

Although the Lions lost two-time FCS All-American Zy Alexander to the portal (he is now the starting cornerback at LSU), they still have lots of depth. Southeastern returns Ian Goodly (6-0, 175, So.), Markell Linzer (5-11, 180, So.) and Hester Kunta (6-0, 185, So.). They also return All-Conference defensive back Tyrone Leggette (5-10, 170, Sr.)

Special Teams

Southeastern has one of the best special teams units at the FCS level. They return kicker Riley Callaghan who went 15-for-18 on field goals last season and punter Austin Dunlap, who averaged 43.67 yards per punt, had 14 punts over 50+ yards and landed 14 punts inside the 20-yard line.

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