Offensive Coordinator - Quarterbacks
Landon Keopple enters into his 10th season on the Southern Arkansas football staff, and enters into his eighth season as Offensive Coordinator. In his time as the Offensive Coordinator, Keopple has designed and developed one of the nation’s most prolific and balanced offenses.
With Keopple in charge of the offense since 2011, the Muleriders have averaged 35.0 points per game and 459.9 yards of total offense per game with 292.3 yards coming through the air, and 167.6 yards on the ground. Additionally, Keopple’s offense has produced 25 all-conference players, eight all-region recipients, and four all-Americans.
In each of the past four seasons, Keopple’s offensive attack has led the Great American Conference (GAC) and ranked in the Top-25 nationally in Total Offense with over 5,000 yards gained each season. Keopple’s offense has now amassed over 5,000 yards of Total Offense in five of the seven years with him as the OC.
Last year, the Muleriders ranked 21st in Division II in Total Offense (458.4 ypg). The two seasons prior, SAU ranked 20th in DII averaging 469.8 ypg in 2016 and 471.3 ypg, respectively. The best overall year offensively for the Muleriders came in 2014 as Keopple’s offense ranked 10th nationally going for 505.4 ypg.
The recent success of the Mulerider offense can be directly attributed to quarterback play. Under Keopple’s guidance as the quarterback’s coach and offensive coordinator, SAU has turned itself into “Quarterback U” as the last three starting QBs dating back to 2012 have broken numerous school records and have been lauded with all-conference, all-region and national acclaim.
The first among the trio of standout QBs under Keopple was two-time All-GAC QB, Tyler Sykora. In his three years as a starter, Sykora steadily improved each season and ended his career at SAU holding 17 school records, many of which were career marks.
Following Sykora was Si Blackshire, who was the Muleriders’ signal-caller for the 2014 season. In that year, Blackshire was named to the All-GAC Honorable Mention team as he led the league and ranked ninth individually in DII in Total Offense at 331.1 ypg.
Most-recently, Keopple has kept the successful QB trend going with Barrett Renner taking over as a redshirt freshman in 2015. Renner enters his senior season as a three-time All-GAC honoree with first-team acclaim twice.
In his first season as starting QB, Renner was the GAC’s Freshman of the Year, as well as an all-region selection and regional finalist for the Harlon Hill Award (DII Player of the Year). That year, he set SAU single-season records in Passing TDs (33), Completions (252), Attempts (405), Completion Percentage (62.2), and Total Offense (3,713).
At the completion of his junior season, Renner established five career passing records and has bettered his own season records for Passing TDs (35 | 2017), Completions (279 | 2016), Attempts (430 | 2016), and Completion Percentage (66.7% | 2017).
imagePrior to his position at SAU, Keopple was at Ouachita Baptist University where he spent the 2007 and 2008 season as a graduate assistant in charge of the wide receivers. While at OBU, he coached All-America receiver, Julius Pruitt, who most-recently played with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League (AFL). Upon graduating from OBU, Pruitt was signed as undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins. In his time at OBU, Keopple also helped the Tigers to their first winning season in 25 years.
Before OBU, Keopple spent the 2006 season at Arkansas High School in Texarkana, working as an assistant coach under his father, current Southern Arkansas Head Coach Bill Keopple. While there, (Landon) Keopple worked with the receivers at Arkansas High and helped guide the team to the 6A state championship.
As a prep player, Keopple was an Arkansas All-State quarterback at Fayetteville High School in 2000. Afterwards, he attended the University of Central Arkansas in the fall of 2001 on a golf scholarship before transferring to the University of Tulsa in the spring of 2002. While at Tulsa, Keopple was a three-year letterman in football and served as team captain his senior season of 2005 when Tulsa won the Conference USA championship against Central Florida. The Hurricane defeated Fresno State in the Liberty Bowl that same year, and Keopple also played in the 2003 Humanitarian Bowl against Georgia Tech.
Keopple received his B.B.A. in accounting with a minor in economics from Tulsa in 2006 and a Masters in sports administration from Henderson State in 2009.
Landon and his wife Dana have a daughter, Kinslee and a son, Knox.
Defensive Coordinator - Secondary
Chad Adams enters into his first season as the defensive coordinator on the Southern Arkansas football coaching staff.
Adams comes to SAU after a two-year stint as defensive coordinator at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla. While there, Adams helped lead the Fire to a 15-5 overall record, a pair of conference championships, and consecutive appearances in the NAIA National Championship Series playoffs.
In his first year as the DC at Southeastern in 2016, Adams’ defensive unit led The Sun Conference in Scoring Defense (18.8 ppg), Rushing Defense (87.6 ypg), 3rd-Down Conversion % (26.9%), 4th-Down Conversion % (17.6%), and Sacks per Game (3.7). In terms of NAIA national stat rankings, Adams’ initial Fire defense ranked third in Rushing Defense and ninth in Total Defense (304.1 ypg). As a team, the Fire ended the 2016 season ranked No. 18 in the final NAIA national poll.
This past season, Adams’ defense ranked among the upper echelon in the 20-member Mid-South Conference. His overall defense ranked sixth in the league (327.9 ypg), while his scoring defense was fourth (22.9 ppg). Nationally, the Fire ended the season ranked No. 10 as a team, while those aforementioned defensive stat categories ranked 15th and 24th, respectively.
Prior to his time at Southeastern, Adams headed up the defense at a familiar foe of the Muleriders as he spent three seasons at Ouachita Baptist. From, 2013-2015, Adams’ helped the Tigers go 24-8 overall and 24-7 in the Great American Conference. In 2014, Ouachita went undefeated in the regular season (10-0) en route to claiming their first outright conference title, and making their first NCAA Division II Playoff appearance as well after earning a first-round bye.
Statistically, Adams’ defenses at Ouachita ranked among the top-four in the GAC each year in scoring defense.
Ouachita is not the only current GAC-member school that Adams has guided their defensive efforts. Prior to a year-long stop as the assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator at Hutchinson Community College in 2012, Adams spent four seasons as the DC at Northwestern Oklahoma State from 2008-2011, and helped the Rangers begin their transition from NAIA to NCAA DII. Additionally, five years prior to being the DC at NWOSU, Adams was there as a graduate assistant for the 2003 season that saw the Rangers finish runner-up in NAIA after falling in that year’s National Championship game.
In his time in Alva as the defensive coordinator, Adams helped the Rangers capture a pair of conference titles and also make two NAIA playoff appearances.
Adams’ additional coaching experience has seen him spend time at Fort Scott Community College (2006-07), the University of Central Missouri (2005), and Coffeyville Community College (2004).
Overall for his career, Adams has appeared in six national playoffs and coached in four bowl games.
Robert “Boomer” Cunningham
Assistant Football Coach - Offensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator
Robert “Boomer” Cunningham enters into his third season as a member of the SAU Football coaching staff where he will serve as the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the Muleriders.
Over the last two seasons, Cunningham has mentored a talented offensive line unit that have helped protect and pave the way for one of the most prolific offenses in the GAC and all of Division II.
The leader in the GAC in Total Offense each of his first two years at SAU, Cunningham’s offensive line has helped the Muleriders average over 450.0 yards per game and rank in the Top-25 statistically in that category within DII.
On the ground, Cunningham’s 2016 O-Line blocked for a running game that rushed for the most yards in a season since 2005 as the Muleriders ran for just over 2,100 yards. The rushing attack followed that up with over 1,800 yards on the ground in 2017
Through the air, Cunningham’s O-Line has provided protection for one of the top passing attacks in the GAC in recent history with a SAU signal-caller throwing for over 3,000 yards for the fourth-straight year in 2017. Additionally, the offensive line under Cunningham’s direction yielded just six sacks the entire season. That mark was the best in the GAC and second-best in all of DII.
Individually, Cunningham has coached three All-GAC honorees in Colby Geissen (2017), Mark Jenkins (2016) and Chris Paul (2016).
Prior to coming to SAU, Cunningham was at LaGrange College where he spent one season as the offensive line coach/run game coordinator. In that year with the Panthers, Cunningham helped shore up an offensive line that allowed 42 sacks the year prior, to just allowing 25 in the 2015 season. The noticeable improvement in pass protection was bolstered by the fact that the line was very young as it featured four starting underclassmen.
Before LaGrange, Cunningham coached at Division I FCS-member, the University of Central Arkansas for six seasons. During his first three seasons, Cunningham served as an assistant offensive line and offensive quality control coach with the Bears.
Following the 2011 season, Cunningham remained as an assistant offensive line coach, but added responsibilities as the recruiting coordinator and director of football operations. Cunningham would serve in those roles for three seasons from 2012-2014.
In his time at UCA, Cunningham helped coach a pair of standout offensive linemen in Cole Caruthers (2014) and Corey Howard (2012). Both Caruthers and Howard were All-Southland Conference First-Team selections as well as being named as the Offensive Lineman of the Year in the SLC. Both also went on to earn All-America honors from various FCS Football media outlets.
Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Cunningham began his collegiate playing career at Division II-member Missouri Southern State University. After one season with the Lions, Cunningham transferred to UCA where he played three seasons (two as a starter) along the offensive line. Cunningham also handled deep snapping duties for both the Lions and the Bears.
Assistant Football Coach - Defensive Line
Rashad Pittman is in his first season at Southern Arkansas and will serve as the defensive line coach for the Muleriders.
Prior to coming to SAU, Pittman spent the past two seasons at Northeastern State (Tahlequah, Okla.) as the RiverHawks’ defensive line coach.
In his two seasons with Northeastern State, Pittman helped guide a defensive line unit that totaled 48.5 tackles for lost yardage with 14.0 of those coming as sacks.
Prior to his time with the RiverHawks, Pittman spent the 2016 season as the Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Ends Coach at Carthage High School in Carthage, Mo. He also served as the defensive line coach from 2011-13. During the 2016 season, Coach Pittman helped Carthage High School win its’ first conference championship since 1987 and appear in the 5A Missouri State Quarterfinal game.
Pittman also spent two seasons at Pittsburg State University during the 2014 and 2015 season. In his initial season at Pittsburg State, Pittman served as an offensive graduate assistant. Pittman assisted with the interior offensive lineman, and helped coach the 2014 offense to lead the conference in total offense and first downs. The 2014 squad also was named Co-Champions of the MIAA Conference.
During the 2015 season, Pittman served as a defensive graduate assistant and coached the defensive tackles. The defensive unit finished with 33 sacks that season, and 22 of those were attributed to the defensive line.
As a player, Pittman was an All-MIAA performer at Pittsburg State University. While there, he was also a two-time captain and a four-year letterman. Additionally, Pittman was awarded the Ronald Moore team award, which is presented to the most outstanding freshman.
A native of Tulsa, Okla., Pittman graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 2005. In his time as a prep player, Pittman played for two state championships. Additionally, he served as a team captain, was selected as an All-District Performer, and was voted Co-District Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Pittman earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Pittsburg State University. Pittman was also inducted into the collegiate honor society, Phi Kappa Phi.
Pittman and his wife Allison married in the summer of 2017.
Graduate Assistant Coach - Linebackers
Rodrick Johnson enters into his first season as a graduate assistant coach for the Mulerider Football team and will work with the linebackers.
A linebacker himself at Oklahoma State University (2004-2007), Johnson comes to SAU after spending the past two seasons as the co-defensive coordinator at Madison High School in Houston, Texas. While at Madison High, Johnson helped coordinate the run game strategy for the defensive line and linebackers while also assisting in game planning and film breakdown.
Before his time at Madison, Johnson spent a season as the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator at Bay City High School (Bay City, Texas). For four years prior to his appointment at Bay City, Johnson was a defensive line and linebackers coach at Ball High School (Galveston, Texas).
Johnson’s entry into coaching came after a solid four-year playing career at Oklahoma State University. In his time as a Cowboy, Johnson totaled 181 tackles (15.5 TFL), 3.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception. Following his career in Stillwater, Johnson signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets of the National Football League.
Assistant Football Coach - Defensive Backs | Head Strength & Conditioning Coach
Eriq Moore enters into his first season as a graduate assistant coach for the Mulerider Football team. In his initial season, Moore will work with the defensive backs.
Moore comes to SAU after spending last season as a defensive backs coach at Chadron State College (Chadron, Neb.). In his year with the Eagles, Moore helped mentor a defensive backfield that came away nine of the team’s 13 interceptions in 2017. In addition to his coaching the defensive backs, Moore was an assistant academic coordinator and an assistant recruiting coordinator.
Prior to his appointment at Chadron State, Moore played collegiately at NCAA FCS-affiliated Southeast Missouri State (Cape Girardeau, Mo.). A defensive back for the Redhawks, Moore was a three-year starter and scholarship player after walking on to the team in 2012. After a redshirt year, Moore began to see more playing time and was twice voted by his peers as a team captain.
A preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference selection ahead of his senior campaign in 2016, Moore was awarded as the Redhawks’ top defensive back the year prior as he won the Ken Hargens Award. For his career, Moore totaled 178 tackles, picked off eight passes, recovered four fumbles, and forced three fumbles.
Graduate Assistant Coach - Running Backs
Wil Nicks enters into his first year as a graduate assistant for the Mulerider Football team. He will work with the running backs.
Nicks joins the Muleriders after finishing his collegiate playing days as a quarterback at Bethel University (McKenzie, Tenn.). Prior to his time at Bethel, Nicks spent two seasons at Arkansas State University (Jonesboro, Ark.) where he played under SAU Sports Hall of Fame inductee Steve Roberts in 2011 and Hugh Freeze in 2012.
Prior to his time in college, Nicks played his prep career at perennial powerhouse Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.). Serving as the Bruins’ signal-caller throughout his time, Nicks was an Arkansas Class 5A Southwest All-State Quarterback in 2009. He was also tabbed as the Central Arkansas Player of the Year that season and was among the nation’s leaders in passing.