MATT HAMPTON | Sports Editor
Head football coach Jed Stugart said Lindenwood hopes to adopt the mentality it needs to turn this season’s record into a winning one.
“I think it’s all about mindset,” he said. “I think as far as talent goes, I look at a lot of the other teams in this league, I don’t know why it can’t be us, but we also have to overcome our little demons of the past to be able to handle adversity and have enough confidence in ourselves to be able to put that kind of talent on the field and go play like that.”
The Lions finished last season with a 4-7 record, and they were 2-4 at home. It was their most successful season in five years and Stugart’s first season as their coach.
“It was tough as a head coach. It was my first losing season ever […] but we kind of understand that it’s part of the turnaround,” Stugart said. “We understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
The team’s first test will come at 7 p.m. Thursday, when it faces Washburn University in its season home opener at Hunter Stadium.
Washburn was 7-5 last season. In their last matchup, Lindenwood was up 13-0 at halftime, but the Ichabods came back to score 18 points in the fourth quarter, earning a 26-16 victory.
Stugart said 2017 showed that the missing piece of the team’s success is pushing through until the fourth quarter ends.
“Five of those losses we had were in striking distance in the fourth quarter. In the past we saw point margins in the fourth quarter for some of those teams might have been two, almost three touchdowns,” he said. “We saw that we were competing more, we just needed to learn how to finish.”
Last year, Lindenwood scored 83-63 in the second quarter and 90-66 in the third quarter.
The Lions football players selected four team captains this season: quarterback Cade Brister, tight end Erik Henneman, defensive tackle Jonathan Harris, and defensive back Darrius Williams. Last season, Williams lead the team in tackles, with 100, and Harris had 49.
Lindenwood recruited 28 new players this season, the team’s largest recruiting class in NCAA history.
Thursday’s game will be the first on the new turf in Hunter which was replaced over the summer.
Stugart said he is cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season, and the Lions will “focus on being 1-0 every week. “