SLU’s Roberts praises Lions’ effort, stresses detail

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Southeastern Louisiana coach Ron Roberts claps his hands after kicker Seth Sebastian made a field goal to increase the Lions' lead against Southeast Missouri earlier this season in Strawberry Stadium.
Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Southeastern Louisiana coach Ron Roberts claps his hands after kicker Seth Sebastian made a field goal to increase the Lions' lead against Southeast Missouri earlier this season in Strawberry Stadium.

The scoreboard showed South Dakota State, the No. 6-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision, was a 34-26 winner over Southeastern Louisiana last week.

But Lions football coach Ron Roberts said that doesn’t mean the best team won the game.

“I don’t think so, but that’s football,” Roberts said Tuesday during his weekly media luncheon on the SLU campus. “I’ve said several times not always the best team wins on Saturday; it’s the team that plays the best. They played better than us.”

But the Lions didn’t help themselves with six turnovers (four interceptions and two lost fumbles) and 12 penalties for 115 yards — in a game they led 19-7 in the third quarter.

“It’s not only hard to beat the No. 6 team in the country or beat any ranked opponent doing that, but it’s hard to beat anybody that’s on the road,” Roberts said. “Again, we’ll take it as a learning experience. We’ll learn from our (mistakes) and move on from there.”

Roberts said the miscues may have come as a result of more intense play from the Lions.

“We played extremely hard,” Roberts said. “We played a lot harder in that game than we played in the previous two. We played at a faster tempo. We played more physical up front on both sides of the ball, and maybe it was a point where we were — I don’t know — trying too hard at a point, where it caused mistakes and we did some things that are uncharacteristic of us.

“I don’t want to change the way we play or any of that stuff,” Roberts continued. “I just want to make sure we tighten the reins up a little bit and don’t commit those same mistakes again.”

Despite the loss, Roberts said the Lions (1-2) have much to build on heading into Saturday’s 2 p.m. game at Samford (2-1). He praised the effort on offense, defense and special teams against South Dakota State as Southeastern rolled up 506 yards of total offense, while surrendering 345 to the Jackrabbits.

Southeastern’s Xavier Roberson was also named the Special Teams Player of the Week by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association and the Southland Conference after putting up 232 all-purpose yards, including an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the final points against SDSU.

“I think we showed physically, we can play with anybody in the country,” Roberts said. “We’ve just got to play a little smarter and make sure we protect the football, and we can’t put ourselves in bad situations.”

Sack attack

The Lions posted five sacks against South Dakota State, coming from Kevin Harmon, Jacob Newman, Kaleb Muse, Justin Church and Greg Triay.

“A lot of them were great calls, putting guys in the right situation by coach (Pete) Golding,” Roberts said, referring to his defensive coordinator. “He had a great game plan ready to go, and our guys, for the majority of the game, physically executed well.”

Stoddard expected back

Roberts said defensive back Tyler Stoddard is expected to return for Saturday’s game after missing last week’s contest with a concussion.

“I think that’s going to help us more from a leadership standpoint back there what he can provide, not just in his play, but his ability to pick the people up around him and make them play at a higher level,” Roberts said of Stoddard’s return.