Central Arkansas – Clint Conque, Head Coach
“Of course, when we finished first in the league with a 6-1 record in 2008, I think we were picked third in the league,’ said UCA head coach Clint Conque. “So I don’t put a whole lot of stock into preseason polls. With the great run Sam Houston State had last year, and they return something like 19 or 20 starters, certainly they will be the team to beat. Sam Houston is first and we’re all chasing after them.
“I think we’re ahead of the curve, but I’d like to think there is much work we can do. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves because we have actually been more successful in our first six years at the Division level than we were my first six years at the Division II level. But I think that speaks to the ability of our coaching staff to recruit good student-athletes, our tradition, the name we represent. We’re blessed to have excellent coaches and excellent student-athletes.
Lamar Head Coach Ray Woodard
“I knew the top of the conference would be very good and the bottom would still be pretty good. I thought we competed every week and finished higher than we were supposed to. This is a great league and you’ve got to be ready to play every week.”
“We had the first year where I think everybody was excited just to see us field a team and we almost beat McNeese and everybody almost counted that as a win and we won some games and even after losses, people still got excited. Then we got into year two and into Southland play and our expectations were even higher. Now we’re past all that new and it’s time to focus on building our football team like everyone else is trying to do and let’s just see how good we can be. What we need this year, not out of this player or that player, but out of the entire program is to see the entire program improve.”
McNeese State – Matt Viator, Head Coach
“Most of kids are coming back and that is exciting, we went through a stretch last year where we lost a couple of close game but then we rebounded from that. I’m encouraged because we get a lot of the kids back that were injured last year. I’m very excited for not only have the players we have coming back but we have the right players coming back. To have the kids coming back on offense and the one’s we are getting back from injury and also the ones we have on defense is very excited about the season.
“We have great senior leadership, we have young men that were playing and starting in 2009, the last time we won it, there is a hunger to get back and I think they understand that. Jonathan Landry represents six seniors on the offensive line. We have all our kids back with the addition of Miguel Gauthreaux who gets his season back after being injured prior to the season last year. He represents a great core of seniors on the O-line that they have all but one that has graduated.”
Nicholls State – Head Coach Charlie Stubbs
“We have a lot of guys back who had significant playing experience last season, but it’s hard to say who are starters will be. It was like a Rolodex last season with our players due to injuries. Against Sam Houston, who was the best team in our conference, we had to start four true freshman on the offensive line, and that’s not a recipe for success, but they did get that experience. We have some all-conference performers, guys who the coaches in the Southland recognized as very good players. Last but not least, we were able to bring in some transfers who should contribute immediately and mix in well with our veterans.”
Northwestern State – Bradley Dale Peveto, Head Coach
“We’ve had a great offseason, we had a fantastic spring, and our senior leadership is really good. We have 13 starters back, seven on offense, six on defense. Any time your starting quarterback returns, it’s good, and when it’s a guy who is a dual threat, who has the leadership qualities that Brad Henderson gives us, your team has a great chance.
“We have to run the ball better. We have a great plan, we’ve made some adjustments, we’ve added four transfers on the offensive line, and we have a great addition to our coaching staff with our offensive line coach, Allen Rudolph. We have seven returning starters and a lot of experience on our offensive unit. We have a great nucleus returning. You look at the games we won in 2011, we ran the ball well. When we lost, we didn’t.
“Two other key areas are discipline and the ability to finish. I thought we could take the little things, coach them better and improve on and off the field, and we’ve done that. I didn’t think we were not disciplined last year, but we needed to take it to a higher level and we have. We’ve really emphasized finishing strong. We’ve been in position to win this conference entering.”
Sam Houston State – Willie Fritz, Head Coach
“We had a great season last year. But that season is over. Every year is a new season. We have a lot of great players coming back but we lost 12 quality seniors who provided outstanding leadership for us. I think we have seniors this year who are capable of filling those roles and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.
“Our team in 2011 did a great job of focusing on going 1-and-oh each week. We have to do that again this season. One of our biggest goals will be to become more balanced offensively. Our quarterback Brian Bell is an excellent passer and we need to take more advantage of his abilities.”
“We face a lot of challenges this year. Everyone in the league is returning a lot of talented players and the league is going to be tough top to bottom. We have a tough schedule with only three home games at Bower Stadium. Nine of our 14 victories last year came at home. We also play to big FBS bowl teams in Texas A&M and Baylor. We’ve got to become a better football team if we’re to succeed again this year.”
Southeastern Louisiana – Ron Roberts, Head Coach
“I think we made tremendous progress. Our players have been outstanding the way they’ve responded to our coaching staff. I’ve got a great coaching staff that makes it a lot easier. Our players have done everything we’ve asked them to do. Their attitude has been outstanding. Their effort has been unbelievable. We asked them to make a huge commitment to be here and closing the gap from 3-8 to the top of the Southland Conference. And we want to be able to compete for a conference championship. Everything has gone pretty smoothly.”
Stephen F. Austin – J.C. Harper, Head Coach
“We have a very strong conference this year. I think we are picked second for a couple of different reasons. First, we closed the season winning our final five games, which is a heck of a way to close the year after starting 1-5. Second we return a talented quarterback in Brady Attaway. Anytime you return a quality player at quarterback you have a shot to win and people take notice.”