Stephen F. Austin preview capsule

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – Southland Conference member Stephen F. Austin is one of 15 FCS programs (out of 127 overall) that has announced it will play at least one nonconference game this fall. Due to coronavirus concerns, the Southland postponed its conference schedule until a potential spring season.

LOCATION: Nacogdoches, Texas

STADIUM: Homer Bryce Stadium

HEAD COACH: Colby Carthel (3-9, one season)

2019 RECORD: 3-9, 3-6 Southland (Tie/8th)

2020 FALL SCHEDULE: at UTEP (Sept. 5), at UTSA (Sept. 19), at SMU (Sept. 26), West Texas A&M (Oct. 3), Angelo State (Oct. 10), Abilene Christian in Arlington, Texas (Oct. 24), at Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 7)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 11 (7 offense/4 defense)

3 KEY RETURNEES:QB Trae Self, WR/KR Xavier Gipson, S Trenton Gordon

BIGGEST SHOES TO FILL: PK Storm Ruiz

OUTLOOK: The Lumberjacks, who are ineligible for the FCS playoffs (if and when they are held this academic year) due to NCAA APR sanctions, are expected to opt out of a spring season after setting a seven-game fall schedule. Their rebuilding program took a nice step by winning two of the final three games in Carthel’s first season. His background is on defense, and this year’s unit is anchored by the secondary, which returns Gordon (team-high 104 tackles) and CB Willie Roberts, who was named third-team All-Southland last year, as well as S Alize Ward from injury. Their work in the back will allow the Lumberjacks to develop the pass rush, which should be led by emerging DE Marcus Mosley Jr. Still, the defense has to improve against the run after it ranked last in the Southland in yards allowed per carry (4.9) and per game (190.6). On offense, Self (212 of 397, 2,550 yards, 12 TDs, 12 INTs) wants to spread the ball around, but the No. 1 weapon is super soph Gipson (52 receptions, 934 yards, 7 TDs), an All-Southland preseason second-team selection.

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