This Saturday, the Tarleton State Texans will travel to Hammond to face off with the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana University in a non-conference matchup. Tarleton enters the game 3-1 and sitting atop the UAC, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Power-5 Texas Tech. SLU comes off an ugly 34-19 defeat in a game they were favored to win by 28.5 to HCU, and looks to rebound in a big way in order to save any possibility of a playoff birth.
For the Lions, it was Eli Sawyer who took all but around 5 snaps under center this past Saturday, a major shift from the 70-30ish split favoring Zachary Clement that we have seen in weeks past. Sawyer threw some nice passes and racked up considerable yardage, due to the fact that the Lions played behind for the entire game, mostly down by multiple possessions. The Lions could not get a running game going either, with the leading rusher on the season, Harlan Dixon, only totaling 3 carries, and nobody in the backfield receiving more than 5. The defense also looked suspect for SLU, giving up chunk plays after chunk plays and allowing HCU quarterback to take home Conference Player of the Week honors.
Tarleton is coming off a 27-13 win over Southwest Baptist University, a Division II school from Missouri. The week prior, the Texans lost to Texas Tech 41-3, which was unsurprising, but hung 52 on both McNeese and North Alabama in weeks 1 and , winning by 21 and 18 points, respectively. Tarleton’s leading passer, Victor Gabalis, has been slinging the ball, passing for over 1,000 yards in four weeks, along with 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Darrel Kelley III and Kayvon Britton have both earned equal carries, with 48, and 51, with Kelley outrunning Britton, 282 to 240, with Kelley having two scores and Britton four.
Receiving-wise, Tarleton’s Keylan Johnson has put up an insane statline thus far. Only nine catches, but for 288 yards for an absurd 32.0 yards per catch, along with five of the teams eight passing touchdowns. The top target has been Benjamin Omayebu, who has recorded 31 catches so far in just four games, or around 8 per game.
Two players to watch out for on Tarleton’s defense are Patrick Jones and Blake Smith, who lead the team with 18 and 14 tackles, respectively. Two players are tied at the top of the sack list for the Texans, those two being Ahmir Crowder and Kyle Taylor with two apiece. The defense is also totaling 4 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries a game, and with the Lions’ ball security issues early in the season, this could be a big difference maker.
The game will be played at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, and kickoff will take place at 3PM CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN, and as always, the Southeastern Sports Radio Network.