"We've pumped some crowd noise into the stadium this week to get used to the noise we'll have to face in front of 60,000 people," said Lucas, in his third-year at the Hammond, La., school. "Our kids are very excited to go up and play a team of that caliber. It's their home opener, and they're ranked fifth in the nation. They're a very, very tough opponent."
Championship teams are often built around strong, talented, deep defensive fronts. Lucas said Ole Miss has that this season.
"They're very physical in their defensive line," he said. "That's the first thing that jumps out at you when you watch them. They are very, very physical up front defensively. They can really get after you. We've got to do a good job trying to protect our quarterback."
The (FCS, formerly Division I-AA) Lions are 2-0 with wins over Division II Texas A&M-Commerce 41-7 and NAIA school Union College (of Kentucky) 69-20.
"We were supposed to play Alcorn State last week, and they dropped us at the beginning of the summer," Lucas said. "We were really scrambling to find a home game. We had the opportunity to get Union College down here. They have a good football team and are very well coached. There were some NFL scouts here looking at some of their players. Things just kinda fell in our lap."
His senior quarterback, Brian Babin, had a solid showing. The Lions scored a lot of points in a short period of time early to roll past Union.
"Brian started out really well," Lucas said of his QB, who was already thrown eight touchdown passes in two games. "We had an interception return for a touchdown, and we had a fumble recovery real quick. We scored 35 points there in the first quarter."
That allowed for a lot of Lions to get into the game. His players should be well rested coming to Oxford.
"We pulled our starters out at the end of the first quarter," Lucas said. "Brian was 16-for-19 with five touchdowns and threw the ball very efficiently. We also had a 100-yard rusher with (RS freshman RB) Zeke Jones getting his first start. We felt good about the kicking game, and it was good to have a defensive score also."
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Babin has thrown for 665 yards this season.
"Brian's been a guy who has worked hard for five years here to bring his game to the level where it is right now," Lucas said. "He's worked hard in the weight room to get more physical and improve his arm strength. He's worked hard on the field to help his foot speed and moving around in the pocket. He's a guy that spends an unbelievable number of hours watching video and reading the keys. He's very good at pre-snap reads and anticipating where to go with the football. He's just made himself a better player by working hard in all those different aspects."
Brookhaven native Simmie Yarbrough, a sophomore, has 16 receptions including four for touchdowns through two games. Jones' 106-yard rushing performance against Union included two rushing scores.
Defensively junior linebacker Ryan Godare leads the team in tackles with 17. Junior LB Mark Newbill and sophomore DE Lindsey Leavoy are next with 10 tackles each. All-American senior safety Tommy Conners plays a key role for the Lions defensively.
The Lions, 5-7 last season, were picked to finish seventh (next to last) in the Southland Conference this season by the league's sports information directors. In a poll of the Southland head coaches, SELA was voted eighth.
Southeastern Louisiana practiced for a week at Ole Miss last season, evacuating its home area because of a hurricane, then headed to Mississippi State where the Lions fell 34-10 to the Bulldogs.
Former Ole Miss head coach Billy Brewer (1983-94) was head coach of the Lions from 1974-79. He compiled a 38-24-2 mark before moving on to Louisiana Tech for three years and then on to his alma mater in Oxford.
SELA did not have a football program from 1986-2002. Former Kentucky head coach Hal Mumme was the Lions head coach for two years (2003-04) when the program was revived.
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