By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Last year’s 5-5 season at Lane didn’t sit well with head coach Derrick Burroughs, especially since he believes his Dragons were much better than that.
“We left too much on the table last year,” Burroughs said during last month’s Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Media Day. “I’m very disappointed in a 5-5 season. I don’t think we were a 5-5 team last year.”
The Dragons were a team that lost two games by a total of six points and lost another to Central State after allowing a 100-yard kickoff return and having an unusually unproductive game on the ground.
A lot of their problems came in the passing game where Lane was the SIAC’s second-worst pass offense in 2016. In eight games last season, dual threat quarterback Marcus Reynolds recessed from a promising 2015 as he threw for just 674 yards (just 84 yards a game).
Reynolds said he has been working on his mechanics, as well as sharpening the timing between him and his receivers.
“I think we have the guy at the quarterback position to do the job,” Burroughs said. “I think he’s one of the most athletic quarterbacks we have in this conference. We just need to settle him down a little more, but I think we have the people to do it.”
The other half of the “Marcus and Marcus Show,” running back Marcus Holiday, didn’t have too many issues last season. He led the SIAC in rushing with 1126 yards rushing and rushing average with 126 yards a game. Holiday is a first team, All-SIAC preseason pick, but he is looking for a better season this year.
“I worked on my acceleration,” Holiday said of his offseason preparations. “I think that’s my biggest problem. My first step is quick, but when it comes to like open field, that’s what I’ve been working on. My open field speed, blocking, catching the ball out of the backfield. Last year, I didn’t have a lot of receiving yards, so I’ve been working on it.”
Stopping the pass was the Achilles heel for a Lane defense that wasn’t that bad last season. Seven starters from a defense that ranked in the top half of the SIAC in scoring defense and was second in pass defense returns. But they were in the bottom half of the conference in stopping the run last season, plus their two top tacklers from 2016 have to be replaced.
“Our intention was to go out and find some defensive lineman,” Burroughs said of the off-season. “Hopefully, we’ve added a little more depth to help our run defense.”
Burroughs and his team of Dragons see 2017 as a redemption season, bettering a 2016 that they thought should have been much better.
“Still have a very sour taste in our mouths because we went 5-5 last year,” he said. “We left a lot on the table so hopefully we can go back and get it this year.”