The UAPB Golden Lions are preparing for their SWAC opener this Saturday at Alabama A&M after falling on the road 39-7 last week to TCU.

While the Golden Lions suffered a loss to their Power Five opponent, head coach Cedric Thomas said he was proud of the effort from his team.

“I was very excited about the product (we put on the field), said Thomas. “The product which we are trying to establish here as we continue to change the culture is one of a sense of pride, technique, and being fundamentally sound. I thought we showed that and showed a bunch of toughness. We couldn’t get bullied off the football. The product was sound…We came out of it saying that’s a good start, but at the end of the day, we’re not coaching moral victories. We still lost, and I want the kids to understand that.”

The Golden Lion defense forced TCU to kick six field goals, which showed the defense should be improved in 2019 as they move forward, he said.

“It shows toughness and retention (of concepts),” said Thomas. “That’s two of the main components we really put emphasis on going into the spring and also during summer and into camp, to be mentally and physically tough, and having retention as far as the playbook standpoint. We threw a lot of things out last year, and just rebuilt (the defense) structurally. From a coaching staff perspective, Coach (Torenzo) Quinn and Coach (Jonathan) Bradley and Coach (Deion) Roberson did a great job of helping me lay the foundation down of getting the kids to understand the why (behind the scheme).”

Thomas said that Alabama A&M quarterback Aqueel Glass will pose a challenge to the Golden Lion defense.

“The first thing that stands out is Glass is a big time arm, athletic, can make every throw on the board,” said Thomas. “He’s got some guys on the perimeter that he can get it to. O-linemen that can sit in there and protect and give him time. Then, just watching Coach (Connell) Maynor transform that program is what we’re trying to do over here. I’ve studied some of the things he’s done there. We have our hands full with those guys.”

Notables for the Golden Lions in the loss to TCU:

The Golden Lions forced seven TCU fumbles, recovering two. Isaac Peppers and Shawn Steele each had a recovery. Steele also had four tackles and tied a career-high with two pass breakups.

UAPB was even in turnover ratio for the first time in the Thomas era.

Running back Keshawn Williams played in a football game for the first time since 2017, rushing nine times for 44 yards and a touchdown, a one-yard run in the third quarter. He also had four kickoff returns for 57 yards.

Freshman Punter Myles Pini averaged 42.1 yards on 11 punts with a long of 72 in his first career game. He had two punts of 50+ yards and had two punts downed inside the 20.

Wide Receiver Tyrin Ralph led UAPB with five receptions for 26 yards.

First Time Is Special: Wide Receiver Harry Ballard had three receptions for 38 yards in first game for UAPB; Omar Allen had his first career carry for three yards; Defensive Back Jordan Brown made four tackles including one sack and one tackle for loss in his first career game.