Don’t get Southeastern Louisiana football coach Ron Roberts wrong. There’s no denying his Lions would have liked to have picked up a win at TCU last week.
But Roberts said he saw some improvement from his team in its 38-17 loss to the Horned Frogs — a game the Lions trailed 17-14 at the half.
“I think we got better in a lot of phases,” Roberts said Tuesday during his weekly media luncheon on the Southeastern campus. “I was pleased with how our guys handled the environment, handled going into a situation like that, playing in that stadium. I was pleased with how we prepared. I was pleased with how we came out. I thought we played with great effort, great intensity. I thought we played physical football.
“We made our mistakes. I think we showed where we’re at. We’re still not where we want to be.”
Roberts lamented several special teams miscues against the Horned Frogs, including a 51-yard kickoff return by Waymon James to open the game and a 22-yard punt by Southeastern’s Matt McCormick in the first half that set up TCU’s first touchdown.
“You can’t commit those type of mistakes in a big ballgame, but we knew that also tacking that guy (James) in space was going to be a huge problem, and it proved to be.”
But Roberts is hoping the experience of playing against TCU pays off, starting with Saturday’s game at Football Championship Subdivision No. 6 South Dakota State. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings, S.D.
“I think it’s going to pay dividends down the road,” Roberts said. “These next two road games (at South Dakota State and at Samford) are going to be huge in knowing that we’ve been there, and we’ve handled it well. Now we’ve just got to go out and execute and get better as a football team.”
Try, try again
SLU quarterback Bryan Bennett and running back Xavier Roberson were unable to connect for a score after Roberson got open early in the second quarter against TCU. But the Lions ran a similar play which resulted in a 65-yard touchdown pass from Bennett to Jeff Smiley to help tie the game at 14 with 2:38 to play in the first half.
“(Southeastern offensive coordinator) Coach (Greg) Stevens does a great job with that, and he’s got a great mind of how to attack defenses and what he wants to do ... and he had something that (he) felt like he could hit them on a big play with, and we didn’t hit them the first time. (It) was another way to come back basically with the same attack approach but just different personnel, different formation and doing the same thing.”
Defensive back Harlan Miller of Kentwood was the Lions’ leading tackler against TCU with eight, including one for loss and a pass break up, and Roberts said he is hoping it’s the start of a big season for the sophomore.
“He really played well,” Roberts said. “Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come. He’s going to be a special player.”
Southeastern linebacker Cqulin Hubert was ejected from Saturday’s game after receiving two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
But Monday, the Big 12 said the first against Hubert — which he was flagged for participating without a helmet — should not have resulted in an unsportmanlike conduct penalty.
That means the NCAA rule that calls for the automatic ejection of a player for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties should not have applied.
Roberts said Hubert will be able to play Saturday.
Roberts said the Lions came out of the TCU game “pretty good” in terms of injuries, but defensive back Tyler Stoddard suffered a concussion and is “questionable” for Saturday’s game.