After three long weeks without ACU football, the Wildcats will be back in action on Saturday against a familiar conference foe, Stephen F. Austin.
“We are really excited, and the team is excited,” said head coach Adam Dorrel. “They are the only conference team that we are playing this year, and it will be great to get back on the football field and play after all that has happened. I have been pleased with our guys and their preparation, but they have had enough football practice and are ready to start playing football games.”
The Lumberjacks are entering Saturday with a two-game winning streak after starting the season with a 0-3 record. Their offense is led by junior quarterback Trae Self with 982 passings yards and six touchdowns, and senior running back Da’leon Ward with 246 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Leading the way for defense is sophomore linebacker Brevin Randle with 19 tackles plus one sack and interception.
“They are a good football team and battle-tested after playing multiple good FBS schools this year,” said Dorrel.” Offensively, they are complete and balanced in running and throwing the football and are doing great on perimeter screens. Defensively, they are sound and do not give up big plays over the top and are very diverse and balanced from man to zone.”
Along with the continued struggle with COVID-19 and player health, ACU lost another key player over the three weeks off. Junior quarterback and captain Sema’J Davis is still in the hospital after his severe car accident on Oct. 8.
This situation has taken its toll on the Wildcats, but Dorrel and the team are doing their best to keep moving forward.
“It has been difficult as a coach and for our team,” said Dorrel, “especially when it is an established player like Sema’J. A player who is not only loved by our football program but across campus. But like always, we have been trying to get up and do the best that we can every day and try to get ready for a football game, like I know he would want us to do.”
With Davis out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, the load of carrying the offense has been placed on junior quarterback Peyton Mansell. In the two games that that Wildcats played this season, Mansell had a 63.2% completion rate, throwing for 476 yards and three touchdowns.
Dorrel had continued to praise Mansell on his offensive ability, competitiveness, and leadership this season.
“He is getting better each and every week, plus he is competitive, which has been great for us,” said Dorrel. I have seen a lot of growth from him this season, plus he is starting to develop chemistry with the receivers. We feel really good about having multiple receivers, having tights ends that can catch the football, the offensive line is doing some great things and we are getting to where we want to be through being balanced.”
The Wildcats and Lumberjacks will kick off the first-ever NCAA football game in Global Life Park on Saturday. The game will be streaming live starting at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN3.