The SFA Football Blog is in its second season as a feature of SFAJacks.com for the 2010-11 year. Director of media relations James Dixon will update this space throughout the Lumberjacks' 2010 campaign with assistance from assistant directors Brian Ross and Ben Rikard. James has been the contact for SFA football since being promoted to his current position in 2005, and is going into his ninth season overall at SFA. The blog will feature content that doesn't quite fit in with the traditional means of reporting found on our department's Web site and will encourage fan feedback and interaction. Some highlights to look forward to are: live chats following the action from select games, fan polls and contests, guest-blogger appearances by SFA players and coaches and the potential for live chats with head coach J.C. Harper. So check in frequently and be sure to contact James (email@example.com) with any ideas you may have for how to improve this Web site feature.
2009 SFA Football Blog entries
Thursday, Sept.23, 2010
Lamar Live Chat
Posted by Ben Rikard 2:11 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010
SFA vs Lamar - The Last Time, To Now
Posted by Ben Rikard 7:38 p.m.
Twenty-one years ago the Lamar Cardinals were riding an early-season high, winning three straight games over UTEP, West Texas State and Sam Houston State, giving the Cardinals visions of a possible 4-1 record in its final season before disbanding the program as they got set to play host to Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 30, 1989.
Meanwhile, the Lumberjacks had vaulted to No. 14 in the nation with a 2-1 record that included wins over Nicholls State and Jackson State, and a tough road loss at Boise State (and yes, the blue turf was installed three years before in 1986). That SFA team was led by record-setting quarterback Todd Hammel, who just one week prior had become just the second Lumberjack ever to pass for more than 4,000 career yards.
That night the Cards jumped out to an early 14-7 lead before SFA scored 31 unanswered points in the second and third quarters and ended up cruising to a comfortable 44-20 win. Hammel went 32-for-42 passing that night, for 394 yards, four touchdowns and not a single pick as the `Jacks outgained the Cards 508 to just 256.
In case your Lumberjack history is failing you at the moment, SFA went on to 10 more consecutive wins and eventually earned a berth in the Division I-AA title game where it lost to Georgia Southern, 37-34. Hammel went on to be named the Southland Conference's Offensive Player of the Year in 1989 and was selected in the 12th round of the NFL Draft.
That was the last time the Lumberjacks and Cardinals met on the gridiron, but that pigskin drought will come to an end on Saturday at Homer Bryce Stadium.
Fast forward to the present day and you will find numerous parallels to that game nearly two decades removed. The Cardinals, who will instead be playing in their program's newfound infancy rather than battling for pride in a doomed season, are riding a major wave of momentum after pulling a near upset at nationally-ranked McNeese State in the season opener, and following that with wins over Webber International and most recently on the road at Southeastern Louisiana in what has to be deemed as the Southland's biggest upset to this point.
The `Jacks, meanwhile, are once again led by a record-setting quarterback, and an offense that has earned national recognition in recent years for its high-scoring and fast-paced play. This Lumberjack team will hit the field on Saturday as the No. 6 team in the country, and justifiably with national title aspirations that only the 1995 SFA squad that advanced to the national semifinals has been close to after the 1989 team.
One week ago Jeremy Moses became the first Lumberjack player to throw for 10,000 yards in a career and will continue his march toward the SLC passing mark this week against Lamar. Moses threw for his 20th career 300-yard game last week at UNI, and if he puts up numbers similar to Hammel's, it could be a long night for the Cardinals.
SFA will come into this game as the favorite, needing this win to maintain momentum in its playoff push. What was once looked at as a guaranteed win when it was scheduled a couple of years ago now has to be looked at as a game against a team that would be a contender for the Southland Conference title if it were eligible this season.
It would be easy to look at this game as a possible letdown for SFA after last week's huge road win at Northern Iowa, but if the Cardinals' near-miss at McNeese was not a wake-up call in the first week, last week's comeback win in Hammond should do just the trick.
SFA is currently riding a seven-game win streak at home after going 6-0 last year at HBS and opening this year with a big win over Albany. One thing every game in that streak has in common is that on every occasion the Lumberjacks got off to a fast start.
Don't believe me?
How about SFA outscoring its opponents 106-48 in the first quarter in those seven games sound? Doesn't sound bad at all.
Nobody knows how this rivalry renewed will turn out come Saturday. The Cards have only three games of history to look back on in recent years. Only three games worth of film for the coaches to look at. Credit Ray Woodard and those guys in Beaumont for putting together a talented group in their first year, which is a feat in itself.
The Lumberjacks need this win, just like all of the rest, but more than likely putting a mark in the left-hand column on Saturday will not be a season-defining win. Not with conference games against McNeese, Central Arkansas, Texas State, etc. remaining on the schedule. However, for Lamar the opportunity for a real attention-grabbing, statement victory is at its fingertips, much like the last time they met 21 years ago.
Axe 'em - BR
Saturday, Sept.17, 2010
Northern Iowa Live Chat
Posted by James Dixon 9:14 p.m.
Friday, Sept.10, 2010
Albany Live Chat
Posted by Ben Rikard 3:26 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010
Finally, some football in Nacogdoches
Posted by Ben Rikard 10:43 p.m.
It's not very often we get a bunch of true Yankees to come to Nacogdoches, but if you've seen any of the player/coach interviews online leading up to Saturday's home opener against Albany you have likely heard a bunch of accents that sound pretty foreign to you and me; albeit, they are likely saying the same about us in their preparation for the week as well.
I doubt that those accents fool our defense when it comes to the Great Danes' quarterback cadence, but if it does then it gives us an instant fallback option for what went wrong.
This game has a number of firsts, but the first thing that jumps to mind is that this is the first time we have played a school from the Northeast Conference, as well as the first time that we have ever taken on a team from the state of New York. The last time SFA took on a school from New England was in our conference title year of 1999 when we traveled to New Hampshire and lost 36-28. Two years before that UNH actually made the trip to Nacogdoches with SFA pulling out a 17-14 win, marking the last time an upper East Coast school trekked to Nacogdoches.
It's not exactly a regional rivalry, but the Great Danes are making an effort to try and make it south at least once a year, which makes a lot of sense considering they have won two of the last three NEC titles and the conference is in its first season of holding an automatic bid to the playoffs. It's hard to say that it's a bad idea to see what the teams south of the Mason-Dixon line have to offer just in case you find yourselves still playing in late November. Last year the Danes traveled to Georgia Southern to open up the year.
To this point both coaches have been very complimentary of the other team, especially Albany's Bob Ford who said not only gave a loose comparison of Jeremy Moses to Dan Marino, but also said that the SFA defense may be the best that his team has ever faced. Those are pretty big words coming from a man that will celebrate his 73rd birthday while his team is on the field Saturday.
Ford's group will have its hands full in a game that looks to give the `Jacks a lot of advantages on paper. The SFA coaches have been stressing to their young receivers of catching the football before trying to do anything else, and we will have our first opportunity to see if that lesson has sunk in or not on Saturday. If it does, and Jeremy Moses is smart with the football like he was for the most part at A&M, it could be very reminiscent of the North Dakota game last season.
The Great Danes are a team built for the run, and built to stop the run, as are so many teams from up north. If they are able to control the clock, they can give the `Jacks some problems, but if SFA is able to use its superior speed and athleticism then we'll be just fine. I'll go with the latter.
So what is on the line on Saturday for SFA? Well, a couple of things, namely the team's six-game home winning streak and its national ranking that still is 10-12 in the various polls. We touched on why the polls DO matter a couple of weeks ago, so we don't beat a dead horse, but keeping things rocking at home is a big deal. There are signs posted throughout the field house in bold letters stating the importance of protecting your own house to the players. The `Jacks went 6-0 at Homer Bryce last year, and with six of the final 10 games of the year at home this season, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if we are able to do that again then this team will become the first back-to-back champion this school has ever had.
With that being said, a primary piece to the intimidation factor of a home game is the crowd itself and after the year the `Jacks put together last season it should be a large, loud purple mob in the purple haze section on Saturday. Make sure you are there yourself.
A couple of things before we go ... Firstly, we will have another live chat from Saturday's game, beginning 15 minutes before the game starts. Make sure to jump on and join in. We had a great response last week at A&M, but I'd love for us to keep moving up in numbers.
And secondly, if you haven't read AD Robert Hill's latest blog, check it out. He takes a little time to address this claim about our guys faking injuries at A&M on Saturday that I'm sure the majority of you have seen or heard about somewhere or somehow. Robert doesn't spend a whole lot of time on it, as well he shouldn't, and neither will I because it is a non-issue and a non-story. He is absolutely correct when he states that it is unbelievable what people will believe if it is on the internet.
So to quote the timeless Forrest Gump.
It's weird, but that's the best thing I've seen on YouTube all week.
See ya at Homer Bryce on Saturday. Axe `em - BR
Monday, Sept. 6, 2010
Reflections of Aggieland
Posted by Ben Rikard 1:03 p.m.
Now that my equilibrium has re-balanced from the press box swaying (and yes, it really does move from side to side) I can look back on our season-opening Saturday and take in the good, shake off the bad and look back on what, as a fan, is one of the coolest venues to watch a collegiate sporting event.
After listening to the postgame comments from both teams, especially J.C. Harper and Jeremy Moses, I feel confident in my statement from my previous post that the environment would not be that much of a factor in the game. It was the largest opening-day crowd in the history of Kyle Field, but I don't think the Aggie faithful were quite as amped up as they would have been had the Longhorns or Red Raiders been in the house. Nevertheless, 81,000 fans are hard to be quiet, but I thought our guys handled things well.
For those of you that were there in purple, and there were several thousand of you, it was great to see that many people on the road to support the `Jacks. Oh, and for those of you on the live chat, thanks for being part of our largest live chat to date. Over 450 readers took part in the chat and nearly 150 replays of the chat were recorded in less than 24 hours. Not bad at all guys. Of course we'd love to have you be there in person this weekend when we host Albany, but if you cannot, we will once again be doing the live chat on Saturday. So let's see if we can beat the 450+ that we had in Aggieland.
Now that all of the pleasantries are out of the way, let's talk about the game. The consensus is that for the first 30 minutes of Saturday, the `Jacks had played the Ags to near stalemate, and considering that if you were hypothetically able to take away that pick-six and if Andre Banks was able to hold on to an interception in the end zone, it's a 10-7 game. But of course close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades and we weren't able to rid ourselves of those two plays.
Nonetheless, the first thing that came to my mind after the game was that I was impressed with the way that Jeremy Moses played. We have seen him be careless - or risky, depending the result - with the football from time to time, but Saturday saw him make a lot of quick decisions and put the football in good places for the most part. A few dropped balls didn't help, but when your starting receiving corps is made up of three sophomores and a freshman, two of which were making their first start, its fair to give them some slack.
As for the defense, I was impressed, even though the final numbers may not show it. Don't forget that the Aggies were one of the top offensive teams in D-1 last year, and we saw exactly why they are expected to be near the top of all of that again this season. They have a possible Heisman candidate at quarterback, two running backs that could start at nearly any school in the country and a good group of big, strong receivers. Bottom line - they are good.
But the `Jacks came up with some big plays defensively, especially in the first half before the Aggies' depth finally took hold of the game. The first drive SFA buckled down to force a field goal try inside the 10-yard line, and nearly stopped another Aggie scoring drive when Johnson made his only poor decision of the night and nearly was picked off by Banks.
The thing to remember is that the `Jacks won't face a team that good the rest of the year - no matter how far they end up going. We came out of the game relatively healthy and were not demoralized, no matter how lopsided the score may look.
So from the Ags to the Great Danes, that's where the Lumberjacks attention will turn now as the home opener is less than a week away. Albany comes in with a 1-0 record after a mild upset over Maine last week ... by a score of 3-0. I think it's safe to say that the Great Danes will be hard-pressed to hold the `Jacks scoreless at Homer Bryce Stadium.
In case you are wondering about the weather difference from New York to Texas this time of year, the estimated high for Nacogdoches on Saturday is 94 degrees compared to an estimated high of 72 degrees in Albany. Take that climate difference, and pair it with our fast-break offense and the humidity and you may be looking at some Great Danes that are sucking down a lot of fluids on Saturday.
We will get to a preview of Albany a little later in the week, and you can also start to look on our website for some new video as well. We just got some new toys in the office that we are learning how to work, but I think you guys are going to be very pleased with the end result.
Also, if you are not already a fan of SFA Athletics on Facebook or on Twitter, you might want to think about joining. It's a great way to get way to get up-to-date information about all SFA sports, so suggest it to your friends and do your part to support the `Jacks.
Axe `em - BR
Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010
Texas A&M Live Chat
Posted by Ben Rikard 8:57 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 3, 2010
Off To Aggieland
Posted by Ben Rikard 11:41 a.m.
Raise your hand if you have ever felt safe when you were in a structure made of concrete and steel that was swaying from side to side - and no, I don't mean the place playing tricks on your eyes, I mean the structure itself is actually moving. Well, that's what happens at Kyle Field when 80,000 Aggies move in unison, and that's what will be happening Saturday evening when the `Jacks are running their no-huddle offense into the teeth of The Zone.
Annually Kyle Field is voted as one of the top home-field advantages of any place in the country, and for any of you that have had the opportunity to attend a game there, you know exactly why. But it is a safe bet that the majority of those voters have not seen a December playoff game in Missoula like we had last year. I did not get the chance to travel to Missoula for that game, but I have been told by several of our current and former players that have played at large D-1 school that somehow those 26,000 fans in Missoula were louder than some of the most famous crowds in the country.
OK, so I know the score didn't turn out the way that we had wanted, but you can't convince me that there is a better location at the FCS level to prep for Aggieland than Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The other thing that game did was leave a bad taste in the mouth of our team, and finally on Saturday they will have the opportunity to rinse themselves clean of that. Last year's near success at SMU should help with the confidence of this year's group, and with the majority of players back from that squad, this squad has to be relishing this opportunity to butt heads with the big dogs.
In addition the confidence factor, there is also the fact that the Aggies have struggled to bury other Southland opponents early in recent years. Texas State scored 31 points and had nearly 500 yards of offense against the Ags in 2005, the same year the Bobcats advanced to the national semifinals behind quarterback Barrick Nealy. McNeese State also gave the home faithful a run for their money in 2001 when J.C. Harper was on the coaching staff with the Pokes, with the Aggies putting together a late comeback to pull off a 38-24 win in College Station.
What did those SLC teams have in common? They both won a share of the SLC crown that year, something the Lumberjacks are expected to do this year - at a minimum.
But the start of Southland Conference play is weeks away, and now the task at hand is the Ags. Texas A&M had one of the worst defenses in the country in D-1 against the pass, and hopefully that will play to our advantage.
The Aggies have seen the big-level version of our offense every year in the Big XII with Texas Tech, which may help in immediate preparation, but it's not like they have had a lot of success versus the Red Raider passing attack in recent memory. Texas A&M got its first win in a while over Tech last year, but still in the last five years A&M has allowed an average of 431.2 yards per game through the air. Now I realize we are no Texas Tech, but those numbers do stick out.
If we can keep the turnovers down and put up some early points, and maybe, just maybe, we head into the fourth quarter with 80,000 people wondering just hit them.
For those of you not traveling to College Station - and by all reports we will have a pretty solid contingent of purple - we will be doing another live chat tomorrow from Kyle Field. The chat will begin at 5:45, 15 minutes before the 6:00 p.m. kickoff.
Our department is also supposed to get some new toys in the mail today, and if they are delivered on time, then those of you tailgating tomorrow may see us walking around and we may be asking to talk to you. So if we do, be friendly and have your axe handles ready!
So that's it for me on this Friday morning. We are now in full swing for the year and we have a full day tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, as should the rest of you. See you tomorrow in Aggieland.
Axe `em - BR
Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010
A few thing s to keep an eye on entering 2010
Posted by Ben Rikard 11:36 a.m.
We did just do a live chat on Saturday for the first SFA football scrimmage, but I want to open up the forum to the rest of you that could not make the chat. I will take questions about the SFA football team for the next few days and you can submit them via email to yours truly. I will keep a running list of questions and after I receive a sensible amount, they will be published on this space for all to read. So feel free to ask about anything from the depth chart to Chief Caddo's new paint job.
OK, now that we have that out of the way ... There are 16 days remaining before the Lumberjacks kick things off against the Aggies and it's about time to take a look at a few quick hitters for 2010. So let's get to it, tackling a few of the things that Lumberjack fans should keep an eye on for this year.
Preseason MVP: Jeremy Moses
Moses is a preseason all-American, the Southland Conference co-player of the year last season and the only quarterback in the league returning who had at least 150 pass attempts in 2009. (Oh, and for those that were counting, he had 566 attempts last season in that case that gives you a firm grip on how big the gap is between Jeremy and every other quarterback in the league this year.)
Yes, he's the headline player for the SLC entering this season, and why not? The credentials are there, and he proved last year that he can lead this team to success. With the `Jacks having to replace a couple of guys on the offensive line, as well as three receivers and a pair of running backs, Moses will be counted on even more this season.
The offense that the Lumberjacks run puts more emphasis on having a savvy quarterback than most offenses, but with three years under his belt and every SFA passing record in his back pocket, look for Moses to take his senior season to new heights in his final go-round. He is going to hold every Southland offensive record that he is up for this year, trailing UCA's Nathan Brown by approximately 1,100 yards and 13 TDs for those all-time league records. And when the year is all said and done, those marks may be well out of reach for anyone that will be gunning for them any time soon.
Toughest Game: October 9 at McNeese State
Boy are the cowbells going to be greased up for this one.
McNeese shared the league title with the `Jacks last season would like nothing better than to reclaim that crown all by themselves this year, and to do that they will have to win this game in Lake Charles.
It will be the conference opener for SFA, but the Cowboys should be 1-0 in league play by this time after opening up league play at Northwestern State the week before while the Lumberjacks are taking their bye week. SFA's win over the Cowboys last year really signaled to the league, and to the country, that the `Jacks were for real and this year it could have that same effect.
A win over McNeese is a solid win no matter the circumstances, but this is easily the toughest road game in the way of a league title for the `Jacks. SFA gets Central Arkansas, Southeastern Louisiana and Texas State all at Homer Bryce Stadium and doesn't have to travel to Huntsville this year to take on rival Sam Houston. The other tricky road contest will be at Nicholls, but with the Colonels going through a coaching change and revamping their offense, it likely will not be as big of a hurdle as it normally is.
If SFA can navigate through this game, then the rest of the schedule is pretty favorable.
Toughest Stretch of Schedule: Oct 9 at McNeese - Oct 30 vs Texas State
After this four-game piece of the schedule the Lumberjacks will know if the final three games of the year will be for a league title or not. SFA has games at McNeese, at home against Central Arkansas, versus Sam Houston at Reliant Stadium and then at home on homecoming against Texas State. That's three teams picked in the upper half of the league in the preseason that SFA has to face in a four-week span.
If SFA can get through that with a 3-1, or even a 4-0 record, then the `Jacks will have just games remaining at Nicholls, then at home against Southeastern La. and Northwestern State to end the season. That is a final half of the conference season that, right now, does not seem nearly as daunting as the first half.
Of course playing McNeese is always a challenge, much less actually having to travel to Lake Charles where it is extremely difficult to play, and then a physical Central Arkansas team comes to Nacogdoches in its first year of championship eligibility just one year after losing on its home field to SFA on a last-second field goal. Rivalry games such as Sam Houston are normally closer than anticipated - despite last year's lopsided win for the `Jacks - and we all know how little success we have had in recent seasons against Texas State.
The schedule is about as favorable as we could ask for this year, and hopefully the Lumberjacks can get through this tricky stretch to be able to take full advantage of it in the end.
Impact Newcomer: Ben Wells
Sometimes it's not about what you do, it's about who you know. And in the case of Ben Wells, it's a good thing he knows defensive coordinator David Gibbs.
Wells, a Beaumont Ozen product, is familiar with Gibbs since the `Jacks DC is from the Golden Triangle as well, and when the former Rivals four-star prospect decided he wanted to leave the Texas Longhorns in search of more playing time, Gibbs finally got his man.
At a lean and solid 6-1, 195 pounds he already has the build of a safety in the Southland; however, he's going to play cornerback for the `Jacks and he already has the SFA coaching staff raving. Lockdown defensive backs really come at a premium and J.C. Harper really feels as though he has one in Wells. Getting Big XII experience on the field is certainly a luxury and will instantly make the rest of the secondary better, including opposite corner Josh Aubrey and last year's corner Andre Banks who will make the move to safety this year.
Positions to watch: Offensive line; defensive ends; kicker
We decided to go with one spot on offense, defense and special teams that have all seen exits by key players from last year. Starting with the offensive line, all-conference lineman Karl Glimp as well as center Max Holmes are out and freshman Fitiseula Partsch and big sophomore Corey Dickerson coming in to plug the holes in protecting Jeremy Moses. It's a talented line, no question, with George Bias anchoring the returners, but they are going to have to be solid this year because protecting the Lumberjack quarterback is order-of-business number one when looking at the offense. As long as Moses has time - and he doesn't need much - then this Lumberjack offensive attack should be able to put up gaudy numbers for the third consecutive season.
On defense SFA saw the exit only four players off its much-improved unit last year, with two of those coming on each end of the defensive line. Not only all-America defensive end Tim Knicky is gone, but also his compliment on the other side of the line, Andre Hicks. Those two guys caused tons of havoc last season, with Knicky commanding extra attention every game and still totaling 12.5 sacks on the year. This season Rainey Sterns and Kenneth Charles will get the early call as starters on the ends and they even bring a track record with Charles having racked up nine sacks last year as a junior. Freshmen Garry Williams and converted linebacker Darren Robinson are the early relief corps on the preseason depth chart, while Tyler Francis is listed as an interior lineman after playing defensive end each of the last two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College. In all it looks like the `Jacks will use a pretty steady rotation early on in the season at that spot, and if Jacob Fincher is able to recover from a knee injury then he will provide another option as well.
Finally, on special teams you need to keep an eye on whoever earns the kicking duties this season. The `Jacks improved dramatically last season in the kicking game as freshman Evan Engwall banged through a league-high 20 field goals last year, as well as a league-best 51 PATs. He left the team due to family issues in the off-season and now finds himself on the roster at Kansas State, but his absence left a big void that SFA did not anticipate having to fill. Fortunately, former UTEP kicker Logan Barrett found his way here and seemed to be the logical choice as this year's kicker after booting 13 field goals for the Miners last season; however, a spring knee injury re-opened the job and now punter/kicker Drew Nelson as well as redshirt freshman Thomas Henshaw are getting an opportunity in the preseason. Nelson actually was named a preseason all-league kicker despite not having a single field goal attempt last year. It is an interesting battle, but whoever wins out will need to come in and fill a big pair of shoes. The Lumberjacks made a conscious effort to make sure they came away with points on red-zone drives last year, and finished with the most scores of any league team. That is something that will undoubtedly be emphasized again this season.
The Lumberjacks will win the SLC if: Injuries don't decimate the roster
We all hate to think back to the first game of the J.C. Harper era, but nobody more so than Harper himself. That evening against Tarleton State the `Jacks saw each of their first three running backs go down to injury in a very short span, as well as a few other key players. That was the beginning of the end that year, and also ignited a change in philosophy by the Lumberjack coaching staff in the way they prepared for games. Although injuries still happen in such a physical game, the `Jacks do their best to minimize the possibility of them in practices. This is a talented team, as talented as has been here in some time, and as long as that talent is able to stay on the field then SFA will reap the benefits.
Don't overlook: Ramonte' Hampton
There is no player that has impressed me more with the transition from 2009 to 2010 so far than Hampton who, as just a redshirt sophomore, is now the veteran of the running back corps. A strong, quick scatback, Hampton is a threat as a receiver and a runner and will top the depth chart in this explosive Lumberjack offense. He has taken on a much more vocal role so far in practice and is doing so from a position that often is overlooked in such a pass-happy attack. Turnovers were an issue at times for him last season, but if he can hang on to the ball then he should be able to provide a vital compliment to the Lumberjack passing game.
Picks for breakout players: Cordell Roberson; Josh Aubrey
No freshmen on the team impressed me more than Roberson and Aubrey last year for SFA, and there is no reason for each of them not to make dramatic strides forward as sophomores. Roberson will instantly be one of the most potent big-play threats as an outside receiver for the `Jacks after averaging 19 yards per catch last year and hauling in four touchdowns with just 20 catches behind Duane Brooks and Aaron Rhea at receiver. The way he attacks the football in the air is the most impressive part and with his size gives him a definite advantage over smaller, more timid defensive backs. He and Jeremy Moses proved that they can co-exist in the end zone late in the year in 2009, with Roberson catching big touchdown passes both at Northwestern State and in the first round of the playoffs against Eastern Washington.
As for Aubrey, he proved last season that he can hold his own as a defensive back at this level and was the best pure cover DB that the `Jacks were able to put on the field in 2009. This year he will be joined on the edge by Texas transfer Ben Wells, and if he turns out to be as good as the coaches say that he is, then that is going to force a lot more throws toward Aubrey - and that is just fine. He started 12 games last year and picked off a pair of passes, and with more throws coming his way, that should mean that those numbers go up.
Often it is difficult to make a name for oneself as a freshman, but these two guys managed to get theirs on the radar of other teams. This year, you may just find both of their names on the all-conference team at the end of the season.
Axe `em - BR
Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010
I'm dreaming of a warm Christmas
Posted by Ben Rikard 4:18 p.m.
With one scrimmage in the books and little more than two weeks remaining before the `Jacks take the field in College Station to battle the Aggies, it's just about time to take a look at what we are working with this season. But before that happens, we need to touch on something that should not be overlooked - the national polls that are being released as we steadily head toward the beginning of the season.
"Why, Ben, do you say that that the preseason polls should not be overlooked? They are just a bunch of voter's opinions that have no impact on anything." -- Sorry folks, I beg to differ.
The `Jacks are ranked No. 8 in The Sports Network poll that was just released yesterday, and expect to see them around that same spot when the coaches' poll is released closer to the start of the season. SFA did not break into the SN poll until after its fifth game of the season in 2009, so that gives a tangible look at how much farther ahead of the game the Lumberjacks are starting in 2010. Obviously any time you can get a head start on the competition, it's a good thing.
It's always dangerous to look too far ahead, but it is safe to say the Lumberjacks are coming into this season with high expectations after last year's run. There is a lot of work to go in the next 3-4 months to get to where these polls matter in the court of public opinion, but these voter opinions are an advantageous starting point for possible/hopeful games we will be involved in later in the year. Keep in mind, seeding and playoff berths are not determined based solely on record or RPI, even though each of those are large factors in determining who gets in. No, instead there is a committee for the FCS playoffs just like there is for every other tournament the NCAA conducts. You can't tell me that those guys from all over the country don't pay attention to the polls as the year progresses.
Previous experiences have taught us all that the road to a N******* C*********** (sorry, I just can't make myself say the `NC' words before late October) not only goes through Missoula, Montana, but also that It will likely take a national seed to get the Grizzlies out of Montana that late in the winter. Fortunately, last season's success immediately puts the Lumberjacks in an early position to possibly pull off that feat in 2010 - if they can take care of business.
Picture this: Instead of making a December trip to Missoula, maybe the Grizzlies actually have to travel to Nacogdoches. I think we would all like our chances much better to take down the mighty beasts of the Big West in the friendly confines of Homer Bryce Stadium rather than traveling to the proven Southland graveyard of Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
I don't need to spit out the stats, but I will just to emphasize how impactful it would be to have them come to our house.
Take this for instance: Since 1995, Southland Conference schools have traveled to Wa-Griz 11 times during the playoffs to take on the Grizzlies. Southland schools are 0-11 in those games with the Grizzlies winning those games by a margin of 46.6-10.9. Dig a little deeper and you will find that the only two times in that span that the Grizzlies had to come south for the winter, when they traveled to McNeese in both 2002 and 1997. Each time the Cowboys were the team that pulled out the win.
At the end of the day all of that may not matter. The Grizzlies are ranked in the top three in nearly every preseason poll in the country, and if they can get past a couple of early season hurdles at Cal Poly and at Eastern Washington, they could have pretty clear sailing to an undefeated season of their own that would likely secure a national seed and force someone to pull out a frigid win in December to advance to Frisco.
But with this early season respect the Lumberjacks have the opportunity in front of them to take care of business themselves and force the selection committee to make some difficult decisions at the end of the year.
Axe 'em - BR
Friday, Aug. 13, 2010
SFA Scrimmage (No. 1) Live Chat
Posted by Ben Rikard 8:48 a.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2010
Happy New Season
Posted by Ben Rikard 2:25 p.m.
Welcome to 2010 Lumberjack fans. I know it's been a while since we updated this space, but it's a new year and with that it brings a fresh wave of energy that is starting to pick up steam throughout campus and the city of Nacogdoches.
And why not? The Lumberjacks are the consensus preseason favorite to take the 2010 Southland crown, which would give us consecutive conference titles for the first time in school history. Given what we have back on both sides of the ball, there is plenty of reason for excitement around here.
At this time last year we assumed we would be better, coming off a 4-8 campaign, but fast forward 12 months and that 10-3 gives us something that we haven't had in several years entering a season: high expectations.
How will the guys react to those expectations? Considering that we are the only team in the league with a proven quarterback returning, and considering that the majority of our defense is back and led by all-America linebacker Jabara Williams, I think it's a fair bet to say that the `Jacks are well equipped to handle things in 2010.
But it's sports, and college sports at that, meaning that we won't know much at all until the `Jacks step onto the field and start going full speed. We will get our first glimpse of just that on Saturday when SFA takes part in its first full intrasquad scrimmage of the year at Homer Bryce Stadium, and we at SFAJacks.com want you to join in.
We had an overwhelmingly positive response to our in-game live chats last year, and by popular demand they are back for this year. So join me on Saturday at 6:30 pm for the first live chat of the year.
I will post the chat itself later this week for all to see, but in the meantime tell your friends to join in. If you happen to want to come to the stadium to witness it firsthand, we strongly encourage that, and you can even join in on the chat on your iPhone or Blackberry mobile device.
With that being said, welcome to the first installment of the 2010 SFA Football Blog with much more to come ... and it all starts Saturday.
Axe `em `Jacks!