Roberts era begins as Lions visit SEC newcomer Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A little more than eight months after being named the 15th head coach in school history, Ron Roberts will officially lead the Southeastern Louisiana University football team into its season-opener on Saturday when the Lions face SEC newcomer Missouri at Faurot Field.

Gametime is set for 6:07 p.m. The game can be heard in the Hammond area on KSLU-FM (90.9) and on the internet at www.LionSports.net. The game can also be seen in the Hammond area on ESPN3.com.

Southeastern begins its 10th season of football since its historic re-instatement in 2003 under Roberts, who posted a 47-16 record in five seasons at Division II Delta State. Roberts, who was named head coach on Dec. 19, 2011, led the Statesmen to four Gulf South Conference championships and a Division II national runner-up finish in 2010.

He will look to lead a Southeastern squad that returns 50 letterwinners and 21 starters while opening the season against its third straight FBS opponent.

On offense, senior Nathan Stanley is expected to direct the Lions' attack with running backs Michael Chaney, Zeke Jones and Blaine LeBlanc expected to carry the load. Looking to replace the receiving trio Simmie Yarborough, Brandon Collins and Kory Theordore, who accounted for 182 receptions in 2011, the Lions will look to a fresh group of players highlighted by returning players Stanley Moore, Tony McCrea, Chris Malott, Reshad Douglas and newcomers Marquis Fruge.

The Lions return four starters on the offensive line, paced by fifth-year senior Paul Roppolo along with juniors Gasten Gabriel and Marshall Paris and sophomore Corey Boothe.

Defensively, the Lions will employ a 3-3-5 scheme with returning letterwinners Justin Church and Tramaine Lucas leading the way up front with newcomer Greg Triay expected to start at left defensive end.

At linebacker, Tay Alford finished tied for the team lead in tackles (90) in 2011 and will be joined by Kaleb Muse and converted defensive end Devan Walker. In the secondary, the cornerback tandem of Robert Alford and Todd Washington rate as one of the top duos in the Southland Conference while returning starters Tyler Stoddard and Marice Sutton will be joined by newcomer John Graves.

The Lions will face a high-powered Missouri squad that finished 8-5 overall in its last season in the Big 12 before moving to the SEC beginning in 2012. The Tigers, who return 37 letterwinners and 15 starters for head coach Gary Pinkel, including quarterback James Franklin, who was named to the Maxwell, Manning, Walter Camp and Davey O'Brien Watch Lists during the off-season.

The game will mark Southeastern's first-ever opener against a team from the SEC and its fifth game against a current league member. Southeastern is 1-3 all-time against schools from the SEC with its lone win coming in a 6-0 victory at Auburn in 1950.