Feb. 21, 2014
BEAUMONT, Texas -
With Lamar losing eight starters on defense, a lot of attention has been given to the players whose responsibility it is to stop the ball. Those players will get another crack at impressing the Lamar coaching staff when the Cardinals step on the field at Provost Umphrey Stadium for the second of three planned scrimmages.
The coaching staff will be looking to get approximately 60 plays in on Saturday. The scrimmage is slated to start at 10 a.m.
In the first scrimmage, it appeared that senior-to-be quarterback Caleb Berry picked up where he left off last season completing 10-of-13 passes (.769) for 129 yards and a touchdown. Lamar's signal callers finished the day 13-of-17 (.765) for 222 yards.
If looking only at the quarterback stats, it would appear that the Cardinals' defense did not have good start to the spring but that wasn't the case. Despite facing an offense that is returning the majority of its starters, Lamar's youthful defense finished the day forcing two turnovers and recording two sacks. The defense was led by senior to-be Montez Hunter's team-high five tackles, while linebacker Ronnie Jones added four stops.
"We're coming along defensively," said head coach Ray Woodard. "We are going to have to be patient as we progress through the spring into the 2014 season. There are a lot of young guys on that side of the ball who just haven't played together. We have a number of people who are going to have to step up."
A key figure in Lamar's defense in 2014 could be Kevin Johnson. The former Oklahoma State transfer made a splash in his first season on the offensive of the ball earning Southland Newcomer of the Year honors at receiver. Since his sophomore season, he has become one of the top return specialists in the nation, and last season he made the switch to defense. If Johnson can have the same type of impact on defense that he has had for the offense and special teams, it would be a huge benefit to a secondary that is looking to replace all four starters.
Lamar's secondary helped the Cardinals climb to the top of the Southland over the past two seasons. The top ranked passing defense in the league each of the past two years, Lamar was the only Southland school to hold opponent to under 200 passing yards per game in 2013. The Cardinals also finished the season with the second-highest total of interceptions (16) in the conference.
The Cardinals will host the Crawfish Bowl Saturday, March 1. The Crawfish Bowl will be the final of three scrimmages during the spring but Lamar will have two more scheduled workouts following the spring game.