PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The 2013 football season was a difficult one for Division II Lincoln University. The Lions went just 1-9, losing their final nine games after a season opening win over Cheyney.
But second-year head coach Ramon Flanigan is optimistic that better days are ahead in 2014.
"Everything looks good so far," Flanigan tells KYW Newsradio. "That's the good thing about starting over a new season, everybody says hope springs eternal. Everybody's excited, the guys came back in relatively good shape. We have actually the longest layoff of any school in the country because our school gets out so early, so it is four months between the time that we see our guys at the end of last year and the start of two-a-days for us. The guys did a very good job of keeping themselves in good shape and returning back, ready to go."
When asked about a team strength in 2014, Flanigan points to the experience on his roster.
"We have a four-year starter at quarterback, a four-year starter at center," Flanigan says. "And we have some guys that have played defensively for us that have a lot of games under their belt. There's no substitute for experience and that's one of the things that we're going to lean heavily on this year is that a lot of our guys have been through the CIAA conference rigors, and they're battle tested."
That four-year starter at quarterback is senior Doug Cook, who threw 14 touchdowns last season. His favorite target is talented junior wide receiver Akeem Jordan. He caught 65 passes last season, including 12 for touchdowns.
The Lions have a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball. In 2013, they allowed nearly 47 points a game as teams ripped off more than 280 rushing yards a contest. Flanigan says there were a lot of factors that fed into those defensive struggles.
"Our defense got a lot of blame," Flanigan says, "but we turned the ball over far too much on offense and then we didn't do a good job on special teams of flipping field position. But there were some things that we fixed defensively. First of all, we made a change at the coordinator position, we have a guy in Eric Shumann who has come from every level of Division I that you can speak of, and he's given us a different tempo and a different demeanor over there. We also brought in some junior college guys to help us over there. Then probably, most importantly, our guys have had a whole offseason to understand kind of what their role is. We had a lot of guys last year that it was their first time actually playing and they didn't know what to expect. This year the guys have come back, and they have a better understanding of what it takes to be successful."
Lincoln will open the 2014 season on Thursday night, September 4th, as they host rival Cheyney University.
KYW's Matt Leon spoke with Coach Flanigan about the season ahead for the Lions:
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.
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