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Southland Notebook: Interesting solution for SFA’s defensive woes

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 9:25 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Coach J.C. Harper has an interesting solution for fixing Stephen F. Austin’s defensive woes.

“We need to try to score more,” Harper said. “We have four guys in the top 50 nationally in receiving, and we’ll try to find more. We’ll try to find another running back to go with Gus (Johnson), who is No. 12 in country in rushing. Every day we work on trying to score points.

We’re doing everything we can to try and figure out to score more points.”

That hasn’t been much of a problem as the Lumberjacks are averaging 40.6 points per game. The trouble has been the 43.6 points per game that they have allowed, which ranks 117th out of 122 in the country.

Harper’s belief that the offense needs to step up its game isn’t as batty as it sounds when put in the right context.

Though the Lumberjacks are second in the nation in yards per game and ninth in scoring, their inefficiency in the red zone has been a major factor in their three losses. SFA is 69th in the country in red-zone scoring, putting points on the board on 79.3 percent (23 of 29) of its trips inside the 20-yard line.

“If we had scored one or two more in the red zone against Weber, or one more against Prairie View, we win both of them games,” Harper said.

• RETURN TO THIBODAUX: Former Nicholls State head coach Jay Thomas will make his return to Thibodaux when Northwestern State visits the Colonels on Saturday.

He was back once before, when he was a Demons assistant in 2011, but this will be the first time as the head man on the opposite sideline at Guidry Stadium.

“I’ve got a lot of fond memories of being at Nicholls and the things we were able to accomplish being there,” Thomas said. “We were able to bring it through a period of being down and win a conference championship along the way. I’ve still got great friends down there who supported the program and still do.”

Thomas said he does not want to be the focus, though that is the obvious story line for the battle of the NSUs.

“It’s a business trip,” he said. “It’s not about one coach or one player. We’re all in this thing together.”

• KNOCKING ON THE DOOR: Southeastern Louisiana continues to receive votes in The Sports Network Top 25 poll but has yet to earn a spot despite a road win over newly minted No. 23 Samford.

If the Lions win their Southland games, coach Ron Roberts said that won’t be an issue.

“I think if you can win games in the Southland Conference, you can put yourself in Top 25,” Roberts said. “Get some conference wins and all that ranking stuff will take care of itself.”

• GOOD VIBRATIONS: Nicholls (3-2) heads into conference play with a winning record for the first time since 2007, which makes things a lot easier for coach Charlie Stubbs.

“We’re sure not patting ourselves on the back, but it is nice to see smiling faces around here,” Stubbs said. “In my career I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of games, and I just know how the practices are more efficient. When you win you can be highly critical and players will take it well because they always want to get better. When you lose, you have to be very careful because you can make it worse or knock the confidence right out of them.”

• TITLE DEFENSE: Sam Houston State opens its conference schedule this week with a home game against Lamar. The Bearkats are looking to become the first Southland team to three-peat as conference champs since McNeese won the league from 2001-03.

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