The UAPB Golden Lions (1-1, 1-0 SWAC) are set to host NAIA Langston University at 6 p.m. Saturday after opening Southwestern Athletic Conference play with a 52-34 victory over Alabama A&M last week.

The UAPB Golden Lions (1-1, 1-0 SWAC) are set to host NAIA Langston University at 6 p.m. Saturday after opening Southwestern Athletic Conference play with a 52-34 victory over Alabama A&M last week.

The Golden Lions put up 645 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs, while the defense 464 yards. Head Coach Cedric Thomas said that he was pleased with the effort from his team.

“I thought that the mental focus from all three phases (of the game) really gave us some opportunities,” said Thomas. “The points may seem like a lot from the offensive possessions they scored on, but when you look at those possessions three of those started off on the 40 going in. I thought our defense did a great job. They didn’t get down after giving up that first 14, then they made some big time stops to help the offense get five or six possessions in a row, and our offense did a great job of imposing their will on a good defensive ball club. Special teams came up with a blocked up, then the surprise onside kick, we got that. I just thought it was a solid effort. It was a complete game over all, and we expect the team to keep that going.”

Thomas challenged his team recently to go to work, and to refuse to slack off. The Golden Lions are operating without any off days as they attempt to completely turn the program around.

“My mindset is still the same. No off days,” said Thomas. “That doesn’t mean we are going to practice every day, but like this week the narrative is that just because we are playing an NAIA school, we can’t just show up. We could have a letdown. The battle cry is that we are not good enough to take anybody lightly. We have lost to NAIA schools in the past, we have lost to Division Two schools, so we ain’t in no position to take anybody lightly. We have to work to give ourselves all of the advantages against whoever shows up at 6:00, and we have to have our A game. I’m expecting nothing less than that, so we are going to continue to work with a no day off mentality. We are going to bring our hard hats every day, then go to work.”

He also spoke about the challenges that Langston will present to the Golden Lions.

“Speed and then uncertainty,” Thomas said. “Anytime you deal with NAIA schools there will be roster changes. They get transfers in a lot. They are a physical ball club, and have a lot of speed on the perimeter. They have a lot of Division One transfers. Coach (Quinton) Morgan has been there for several years and has done a great job. Historically Langston has been one of the best NAIA programs. They made it into the second or third round of the playoffs, and we expect those guys to be chomping at the bit.”

Thomas also spoke about what the Golden Lions will have to do to earn a victory against the Bulldogs.

“We have just got to stay sound,” said Thomas. “We can’t turn the ball over. The defense has to eliminate big plays. The kicking game has to change the field around. We just have to play our brand of football. We are starting to establish a brand that is mentally tough with having to mentally process information quickly, then we have to have a bend but don’t break mentality. It is a tough mentality, but it is also a methodical thought process. We’re not just out boxing, we want to go 10 rounds during that process.”

Thomas also highlighted the biggest strides his team has made after playing two games.

“Just the preparation. When you watch them at practice on the sidelines there isn’t a lot of non-Langston communication,” Thomas said. “It ain’t basketball talk, it ain’t girlfriend talk, it ain’t school talk, and it is things associated with what is going on at that moment. If the punt team is going through a drill or looking at looks, you have complete silence. They are really preparing like these coaches have instilled in them to give themselves an advantage. The maturity part of understanding the game plan and being able to apply the game plan has been the biggest growth from game one until now.”