NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)
Stephen F. Austin begins its 90th season of football when the Lumberjacks travel to Lubbock, facing Big 12 opponent Texas Tech on Saturday, September 3rd at Jones AT&T Stadium. The game against the Red Raiders will kick at 7:07 p.m., airing on FOX Sports Net, as the Lumberjacks and Red Raiders meet for the third time in the series history.
FOLLOWING THE 'JACKS
SFA's 2016 season opener at Texas Tech will air on Fox Sports Net, kicking off at 7:07 p.m. Ron Thulin will handle the play-by-play duties with Gary Reasons handling the color commentary and Abby Hornacek on the sidelines. For cable viewers, the game can be seen on FOX Sports Southwest Plus, which is Suddenlink channel 39 (239 HD) in Nacogdoches and Lufkin. For DirecTV viewers, the game can be found on channel 676-1 as well as channels 754 (SD) and 1754 (HD) on AT&T U-Verse. The game will also be streamed online at FOX Sports Go as viewers will just need their user ID and password to log in and watch. Rob Meyers will return for another season as the "Voice of the 'Jacks," with a number of different ways to listen to the game. Q107.7 FM will once again serve as the radio home of SFA Football, streaming online at Q1077.com. New this year, fans can also catch the game through the TuneIn app on iPhone and Android devices. Search for "Stephen F. Austin" as the new channel will carry all games live worldwide.
LUMBERJACKS AGAINST THE BIG 12
For the fourth-straight season, Stephen F. Austin will go head-to-head against a Big 12 foe as Saturday's game marks the Lumberjacks' 10th game in program history against current Big 12 members. SFA is still seeking its first win against the conference as the Lumberjacks are 0-4 all-time against Baylor, 0-1 against Kansas State and 0-2 against both TCU and Texas Tech. The 'Jacks have played five games against current Big 12 foes since 2008 (TCU - 2008; Baylor - 2011; Texas Tech - 2013; Kansas State - 2014; TCU - 2015), including a game against then-conference member Texas A&M in 2010.
SCOUTING THE RED RAIDERS
2015 Record: 7-6 overall, 4-5 Big 12 (T-5th). Lost to LSU 56-27 in the 2015 Advocare V100 Texas Bowl
Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech, 2001). Fourth season at Texas Tech and overall (19-19, .500)
Key Offensive Players (2015 Statistics):
• #5 Patrick Mahomes (Jr., QB): 364-of-573 (63.5%) for 4,653 yards, 36 TDs, 15 INTs; 131 rushes for 456 yards (3.5 avg.), 10 TDs
• #4 Justin Stockton (Jr., RB): 61 rushes for 367 yards (6.0 avg.), 5 TDs; 22 catches for 341 yards (15.5 avg.), 6 TDs
• #6 Devin Lauderdale (Sr., WR): 43 catches for 639 yards (14.9 avg.), 4 TDs
• #12 Ian Sadler (Jr., WR): 42 catches for 596 yards (14.2 avg.), 3 TDs
• #2 Reginald Davis III (Sr., WR): 38 catches for 536 yards (14.1 avg.), 8 TDs
Key Defensive Players (2015 Statistics):
• #7 Jah'shawn Johnson (So., DB): 85 tackles (45 solo), 4.5 TFL, 2 INTs, 3 PBUs, 2 FF, 4 FR
• #2 Tevin Madison (Jr., DB): 67 tackles (46 solo), 2.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 INTS, 11 PBUs, 2 FF
• #15 Keenon Ward (Sr., DB): 60 tackles (40 solo), 1.5 TFL, 4 PBUs
• #34 D'Vonta Hinton (So., LB): 53 tackles (32 solo), 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FF
• #5 Gary Moore (Jr., DL): 13 tackles (9 solo), 4.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 QBH
Synopsis: Texas Tech, coming off a 7-6 season in 2015, was one of the most potent offensive teams in the country, averaging 388.2 passing yards and 45.1 points per game. QB Patrick Mahomes returns after leading the Big 12 in passing yards (4,653) and three of his top receivers are also back as WRs Devin Lauderdale, Ian Sadler and Reginald Davis III combined for 1,771 yards and 15 touchdowns for Tech in 2015. Defensively, the Red Raiders were suspect at times, giving up 547.7 yards and 43.6 points per game, including 280.5 rushing yards per game. Texas Tech lost its two leading tacklers and top tackles for loss defender, but return DB Jah'Shawn Johnson, who finished with 85 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions. He is joined in the defensive backfield by Tevin Madison and Keenon Ward who combined for 127 tackles and a pair of picks, while LB D'Vonta Hinton is Tech's returning leader in tackles for loss, registering 5.5 with a pair of sacks in 2015.
Stephen F. Austin and Texas Tech meet for the third time Saturday as the Red Raiders have won the previous two games, both of which were played in Lubbock. The Red Raiders defeated the Lumberjacks 58-3 on November 24, 2001, a game that was postponed over two months in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks (the two were originally suppose to play on Saturday, September 15th). Tech then defeated SFA 61-13 on September 7, 2013, using 31 unanswered points to close out the first half and seal the first home victory for head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
CONSISTENCY IN THE COACHING RANKS
When describing the Lumberjack coaching staff, consistency might be the most adequate description. Head coach Clint Conque returns for his third season at the helm of SFA, posting a 12-12 record through his first two years in Nacogdoches and leading the 'Jacks to the FCS playoffs in 2014. Nine of his 10 assistants are also back for their third season under Conque at SFA, including assistant head coach Demo Odems (WR) and defensive coordinator Matt Williamson (LB), as running backs coach Jeremy Moses is entering his fifth year with the program.
REUNITED ONCE AGAIN...
The one coaching change that occurred in the offseason was at the offensive coordinator position as coaching veteran Gary Crowton joined the Lumberjack staff in January, replacing former OC Matt Kubik who took the same position at Louisiana-Monroe. Crowton is well known among the NCAA coaching ranks, having served as the head coach at Louisiana Tech and BYU and as the offensive coordinator at programs such as Oregon, LSU, Maryland the Chicago Bears, winning a national title with the Tigers in 2007. This will not be the first time that he and head coach Clint Conque have shared a sideline, although the tables have turned slightly as Conque served as Crowton's offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech from 1996-98.
Saturday's game at Jones AT&T Stadium will not be the first time starting quarterbacks Zach Conque (SFA) and Patrick Mahomes (Tech) have shared a field this season. The two were both among a handful of collegiate quarterbacks selected to participate in the prestigious Manning Passing Academy this past June in Thibodaux, Louisiana, getting an opportunity to be mentored by future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, current New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and NFL legend Archie Manning.
RETURNING OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER
One source of optimism for Stephen F. Austin heading into 2016 is the number of offensive skill positions that return for the Lumberjacks. SFA returns 100% of its passing offense from 2015, 92% of its rushing production and 74% of its receiving yards, including its top three rushers (Loren Easly, Joshawa West and Zach Conque) and top five receivers (Aaron Piper,Robert Sylvester, Justice Liggins, De'Quann Ruffin and Joshawa West).
QUESTION MARKS ON THE OFFENSIVE FRONT…
The one area offensively that has the most question marks in 2016 is on the offensive line, a stark contrast from 2015 when SFA boasted one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country. The Lumberjacks' five starters from last season combined for 200 games played and 164 starts in their careers, but in 2016 just center Anthony Pullins and left tackle Travis Wiggins return as the duo have each played in 31 games with 27 starts.