Coach Godding Talks Howard Payne
Lions' 27-17 victory reveals much about team
Turnovers, NAIA-leading players, offense growing pains
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- In the aftermath of a thrilling road victory, Southwestern Assemblies of God University head coach Jesse Godding, his sails filled, addressed questions about the progress of the Lions football team.
SAGU overcame a 17-3 second quarter deficit to upend Howard Payne University, 27-17, on Saturday night in Brownwood. Fueled by a resolute performance by the defense, which forced six turnovers, a resilient Lions offense delivered in the clutch to produce the victory.
Now 1-1 and facing the prospects of back-to-back home games against teams from the NCAA Division III, Southwestern must breed similar effort to get triumphant results. A year ago they got off to a 3-1 start and made their first appearance in the NAIA’s national poll.
Following Tuesday’s practice, Coach Godding took a few moments to field questions about his Lions, who are preparing to host Austin College on Saturday.
The game is set for a 7:00pm start at Lumpkins Stadium. It will also be broadcast live in HD by SAGU Sports Live. The pre-game show begins at 6:45pm (CST).
Q1) Congrats on the big win against Howard Payne. What did the comeback show about your team?
JG: A tremendous amount of persistence and perseverance. We did not start well and could have been out early had they (HPU) capitalized on their opportunities. Our guys kept fighting and, ultimately, saw some good things happen.
Q2) The defense has now forced 10 turnovers in two games, seven coming on interceptions. What do you attribute the takeaways?
JG: The D-Line is young and has not played great, so it doesn't appear to be pressure from the line. We are probably a little stronger athletically than we have been (in previous seasons) overall in the defensive backfield.
While we haven’t applied great pressure (on opposing QB’s) we have generated enough to keep offenses off balance and create some turnovers on hurried throws. The defensive coaches have done a tremendous job of preparing our athletes for these passing attacks as well.
Q3) What kind of production is John Allen (Defensive Coordinator) getting from freshmen this season?
JG: There is a redshirt freshman starting at corner, and both Inside Linebacker positions. True freshman are starting at ILB and about three others are receiving snaps on the d-line and in the secondary.
There are a few true freshman; Jeremiah Maat (Slidell, La / Slidell HS), Billy Manning (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) and Harry Ford (Thibodaux, La / Thibodaux HS), that are playing tremendously well considering the learning curve they are enduring for college football.
Q4) Speaking of freshmen, tell us about Shakeem Taylor (Mesquite, Tx / Poteet HS), who leads the NAIA in interceptions.
JG: Shakeem (shah-KEEM) is physically strong, quick, has great timing as a defensive back and a work ethic that is tremendous.
Q5) His 100-yd return with an interception on Saturday had to be the game's turning point. What happened and how did it affect momentum?
JG: They rolled out the other way and intended to run a throwback. Shakeem read the route, stayed home and stepped in front of a ball that floated and took it down the sideline.
Q6) Another NAIA leader is junior kicker James Gish (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS). He has made all six of his field goal attempts so far. What does he mean to the team?
JG: Gish is an individual who has worked hard on improving his leg strength, flexibility and his conditioning in the past year with the express goal of being one of the top kickers in the NAIA. I’d say it’s starting to pay off.
Q7) The offense is working out some jitters under new OC, Frank Tristan, and new starters. This is probably most evident in the number of penalties against them. How are they adjusting together?
JG: Offense is always a work in progress. Change is always accompanied by discomfort of some kind. The players are aware of the expectation level placed upon them by the coaches and are responding. The penalties are part of the larger whole of mental mistakes we are working through. But we're getting there.
Q8) The ground game seems to be the focus of opposing defenses. In the first two games the production from the rushing attack has been limited. How do you see them getting untracked as the season develops?
JG: We did not expect to be playing four players in new positions on the offensive line. Consistency and preparedness is necessary for success as the season develops.
Q9) Cade Leuschner (Waco, Tx / Robinson HS) had a chance to redeem himself in the fourth qtr. He avenged a first game fumble on first-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Same situation with stakes raised, same direct snap, he delivers.
JG: Cade will rarely make the same mistake twice, especially of that nature. We trust him to come through in that situation and he did.
Q10) The team broke out new road jerseys. Did the players like them? Where did the design come from?
JG: Nike and I put them together. Judging from all their pics on Facebook, I guess they liked them.
A preview of Saturday’s Austin College game will appear on Friday afternoon. They will take on Texas Lutheran University on September 22.
Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at
or at 469-658-2847.