Aug. 28, 2014
Lamar Game Notes | Live Audio | Video Streaming | Live Stats
BEAUMONT, Texas - The countdown clock to the 2014 season opener is almost at zero. The Lamar Cardinals will open the new season with a non-conference matchup against Grambling State Saturday at Provost Umphrey Stadium. Led by head coach Ray Woodard, the Cardinals are entering their fifth season of college football, and a lot of excitement has been centered around Lamar since the final horn sounded last season.
"Obviously, this is a great time of year," said Woodard, who has guided the team since the program was resurrected for the start of the 2010 season. "No matter how old you are, or how long you've been in this business this never gets old. There has been a lot of excitement surrounding the program, due in large part to what we accomplished last year but that was last year. This is a new season and we have to be focused on Grambling State."
The Cardinals set nearly 50 team and individual records last season posting a 5-7 (.417) overall record, and a 2-5 (.286) mark in Southland Conference play. Lamar was 4-2 at Provost Umphrey Stadium last season, with the two setbacks by a combined six points to two nationally ranked opponents.
Lamar's season-opening opponent is Grambling State, which is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 that saw the Tigers finish 1-10 (.091) overall. GSU opens 2014 with a new attitude under the guidance of first-year head coach Broderick Fobbs. A Grambling State alum, Fobbs has a strong knowledge of Southland football, having spent last season at McNeese State.
"Our guys are going to have to be ready to play," said Woodard. "Fobbs is a great coach, and I can assure his guys will be ready. Their record last season wasn't indicative of the talent they have on the team. We need to look no further than last season where Grambling had us down 16-0 in the blink of an eye. This is a very tough season-opening game."
Although Saturday will mark only the second meeting between the two schools, the inaugural game was one to remember for Coach Woodard's team. The Tigers jumped out of the gate leading 16-0 less than 10 minutes into the first half before Kevin Johnson fielded a punt and returned it 48 yards for the score. The momentum changing play not only put Lamar on the scoreboard, but it sparked a rally as the Cards outscored their hosts, 27-0, for the rest of the game.
With a veteran returning offense (eight starters back from last season), the Cardinals will lean on their offense until their youthful defense finds its rhythm (two returning starters from last season).
"I've been happy with how our defense has progressed throughout the fall," said Woodard. "We have a lot of speed on the field and these guys really fly after the ball. I think at the beginning of the season they will be a bit behind the offense, but they will get better. Most people don't remember that our offense was in this situation last season."
Lamar's offense will be led by the return of senior quarterback Caleb Berry, who posted the best single-season performance in program history as a junior. The Needville, Texas native set single-season school records for completions, passing yards, yards of total offense and touchdown passes. Berry also has several weapons at his disposal with return of receivers Reggie Begelton and Mark Roberts, and 2013 freshman All-America running back Kade Harrington.
The Cardinals have had the Southland's top passing defense each of the past two seasons, but Lamar is forced to replace all four members of its secondary. Former Southland Newcomer of Year Kevin Johnson moved to safety from the offensive side ball and now has a full spring and fall camp under his belt. Johnson enters the year as a preseason return specialist All-American.
In addition to Johnson playing full time on the defensive side of the ball, senior Joe Okafor has moved from his tackle position to defensive end. Okafor's experience on the edge gives Lamar more depth defensively.
Saturday's kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. from Provost Umphrey Stadium. Tickets can be purchased through the Lamar Ticket Office at (409) 880-1715 or through by visiting www.LamarCardinals.com.
The Last Meeting
September 28, 2013
Cardinals Rally For Road Win at Grambling State
Lamar (3-2) overcame a 16-point first quarter deficit to knock off Grambling State, 27-16, Saturday night at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium in Grambling, La., equaling its best start since resurrecting the program. After surrendering 16 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, Lamar's defense shutout the Tigers, (0-5/0-2 SWAC) for the final 50:04 of the contest.