Last Modified: Monday, August 04, 2014 1:04 PMThe new kid in class is usually the first to get shoved into a locker, and the results aren’t expected to be any different for Southland Conference startup program Houston Baptist this year.
The Huskies, playing their first full season of football after a seven-game schedule a year ago, were unanimously picked last in the league by both coaches and sports information directors. HBU’s only game against an established Southland opponent was last year’s inaugural game against Sam Houston State, which resulted in a 74-0 shellacking.
And like anyone with a pulse, the Huskies expect to go beyond their exceedingly low level of expectations.
For his part, HBU coach Vic Shealy is attempting to turn lemons into lemonade, though realistic enough to realize he’s not making a lemon-drop martini out of this. (Proverbially speaking, of course, given the usual attitude towards martinis on a Baptist campus).
“I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t find a way to win a football game in the Southland Conference,” Shealy said. “Obviously it doesn’t take much to look at the preseason polls and what a great honor it is to sit down there at the very bottom, because what that means right now is that no one believes that we can get that done. I know I’ve got a group of coaches and a group of players that have worked too hard to not see a lot of our goals met, so I expect us to finish better than we are predicted.”
Shealy has previous head coaching experience, winning the 1998 NAIA national championship in his fourth and final year at the helm at Asuza Pacific University in California. He was recently in the FBS ranks as Kansas’ defensive coordinator in 2011.
HBU will open in its new on-campus facility on Sept. 6 against McMurry.
Like McNeese, the Huskies will only play 11 games this season though there are 12 dates available. Perhaps for obvious reasons, HBU is foregoing a money game against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent as it focuses on its first full-fledged FCS schedule.
The biggest offensive target will be senior tight end Kenneth Bibbins, who transferred to HBU last year after two seasons on the bench at Houston. He had 17 catches in seven games a year ago.
From a McNeese perspective, it doesn’t matter who the Huskies put on the field. Though HBU is technically eligible to compete for a conference title, the Cowboys and Huskies will not tangle this season.
l HICKEY’S PICK: 2-9, 0-8 in Southland