Aug. 10, 2012
BEAUMONT - First-year defensive line coach Carey Bailey is leading one of the most experienced groups on the Lamar football team as nine talented players are competing in preseason training camp.
While there is competition for playing time, Bailey has been impressed with the depth and ability of all nine men to effectively fill their roles. Bailey leads a group that includes five returning players and four newcomers as the first week of practice winds down. The Cardinals will hold their first scrimmage of the fall Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at Provost Umphrey Stadium.
"We've had some guys who have transferred in over the years," said Bailey about his unit. "The biggest thing I'm impressed with is the level of effort and the intensity and the way these guys have worked over the summer. I'm feeling quietly confident about the group we have."
What will help the defensive line set the tone is that all nine players will likely see playing time which helps to keep them fresh and playing at a high level. The fact that all nine players are capable is not lost on Bailey, who was himself a defensive line standout at Southeastern Conference power Tennessee during his collegiate career.
"The more guys that you can play, the deeper you become," said Bailey. "The only ways the guys are going to get better is by playing. You can't play three guys for 80 snaps. Everybody that's in the front will likely be in the rotation. Hopefully we'll be in a position where we have guys that can rotate and not have drop-off."
Under first-year defensive coordinator Bill Bradley, Lamar will also switch from the 4-2-5 defense it has played the last two years to a 3-4 formation this season. This is a change that Bailey is excited about in utilizing the talent he has.
"The 3-4 gives us more flexibility in terms of adjusting to different offenses," said Bailey. "It allows us to bring a fourth or fifth rusher that isn't automatically counted to the offensive protection system. It gives us more flexibility to utilize the strengths of our defense which are speed and athleticism. Also, just the element of surprise."
Four of the returnees up front will be suiting up for the third straight season for the Cardinals. Senior Adren Dorsey
(6-foot-3, 275 pounds) and juniors Jesse Dickson
(6-3, 265), Jeremy Kirt
(6-1, 265) and Mark Murrill
(6-2, 255) all have earned two letters for the Cardinals. The final returnee is senior John Prescott
(6-0, 300) who earned a letter for Lamar last year after transferring from Cisco Junior College.
A slimmed down Dorsey, 30 pounds lighter than last year, is coming off a season in which he played in all 11 games and registered 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. The Texas A&M transfer has adjusted easily to the change in defensive formation with the goal of controlling the middle and stopping the run.
"It's the same thing," said Dorsey about the move to the 3-4. "I just need to come off hard and play low. It's not too much different, other than a lot of movement. Controlling the middle is my primary objective. I need to stop the run and do what I can on the pass rush.
"I expect us to make big moves this year - big jumps. We have everyone returning and a couple of new guys, young guys, and everyone is getting along. The biggest thing right now is for us to mesh together, and once we get together on the same page, big things will happen."
A pair of sophomore transfers and a pair of freshmen round out the defensive line. Joe Okafor (6-6, 295) comes to Lamar after playing at Oklahoma State last season, while Marcus Washington (6-3, 295) joins the team after a year at Fort Scott Community College. The two freshmen are Corbin Carr (6-3, 245) and David Hollyfield (6-3, 225).
Lamar ceded over 400 yards per game to opposing offenses in 2011, but with a new scheme and a plethora of talent up front, Bailey believes that the team is ready to turn the corner.
"We have to penetrate and execute with movement and quickness," said Bailey about what he expects from his unit. "At the same time, when it's time to get after the passer, we have to win the one-on-one battles. If we're 90 to 95 percent effective at winning the one-on-one battles, we'll have a pretty good defense. That's pretty much our goal."
Bailey has been working hard to get his group ready for the season, and he certainly has a supporter in Dorsey.
"He's by far one of the best coaches I've been around," said Dorsey. "His words of wisdom and his guidance - we need that across the front and personally I think he's a great guy."
Lamar opens the season at Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. The Cardinals' home opener will be the following Saturday (Sept. 8) at 7 p.m. when Prairie View A&M visits Provost Umphrey Stadium. Lamar will host five games following the Prairie View A&M contest. Highlights of the home schedule include the homecoming contest against McMurray at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 and a Southland Conference game against national runner-up Sam Houston State at 3 p.m. Oct. 27.
Tickets can be purchased at the Montagne Center ticket office, by calling (409) 880-1715, or visiting www.LamarCardinals.com.