Sept. 19, 2013
BEAUMONT, Texas -
Lamar Game Notes
Gameday Tailgating Map
After two weeks on the road the Lamar Cardinals return to the friendly confines of the Provost Umphrey Stadium to host Bacone College (2-1) Saturday at 7 p.m. The Cardinals enter the contest with a 1-2 (.333) overall record, but are coming off two very tough games against FBS opponents. The Cardinals were in Ruston, La., two weeks ago and dropped a heartbreaking, 27-14, decision to the Bulldogs. LU followed that up with a setback at No. 11 Oklahoma State in Stillwater. But the Cardinals will have to put that behind them as they get set to face a Bacone team that is averaging nearly 455 yards of total offense per game, and coming off a win that saw them score 21 unanswered second-half points to pick up the victory.
"It's good to be home," said LU head coach Ray Woodard. "It seems like its been forever since we played here. Our guys have learned a lot in two very tough games against two very tough teams. I think we are stronger for having played those games.
"I told our guys following the (OSU) game that our second season begins now. We've played two FBS schools, we've got two more games to prepare us for conference but every week presents new challenges. The challenge for this week is to put the previous two games behind us and get ready for Bacone," added Woodard.
Lamar's defense continues to be a strength, picking up where it left off last season. The Cardinals rank among the nation's top 40 in total defense, and 29th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Lamar had the Southland's top pass defense last season, and continues that trend this year holding opponents to less than 163 yards per game. Lamar's defense is being led by senior Tyrus McGlothen who currently leads the conference with 27 tackles.
One area of major improvement for the Cardinals from last season has been their ability to cut down on the mistakes. Last season saw the Cardinals ranked next to last in the league in turnover margin, while being flagged seven times a game. The Cardinals are currently second in the conference, and 17th nationally in turnover margin, and ranked among the nation's top 20 in fewest penalties.
"One of the things we've talked about since last season is cutting down on mistakes and I believe we've done that," said Woodard. "If you take a look at the conference stats after three games, which include games against two FBS opponents, we are No. 1 in pass defense, and we are ranked up there in terms of fewest penalties. We are also plus three in turnovers, so we are doing some things right. We're not doing enough right but I like where we are headed."
Despite the two loses, junior quarterback Caleb Berry still ranks among the Southland leaders. He has completed nearly 57 percent of his passes for 642 yards and seven touchdowns. Berry currently ranks fifth in the conference in passing yards per game, and is second in the league with seven touchdown passes.
Berry has two of the league's top receivers to throw to in senior Jordan Edwards and sophomore Reggie Begelton. The Houston, Texas native has hauled in nine catches for 200 yards, and is tied for the top spot in the conference with three touchdown receptions. Begelton leads the team with 14 catches for 129 yards on the season.
Although Lamar's aerial assault is off to its best start since resurrecting the program, it has received plenty of help from the running backs. Senior Payton Ploch got the start in the first two games and has looked strong but it was freshman Kade Harrington who took the reins during the Oklahoma State game. Harrington got the start and rushed for 66 yards on 20 carries against the Cowboys, both marks are career highs.
History appears to be on Lamar's side as they enter Saturday's game. The Cardinals are 8-1 (.889) all-time against teams from the state of Oklahoma, and 4-1 (.800) all-time on games played on Sept. 21st.
Several special promotions will be taking place around Provost Umphrey Stadium Saturday. The game against Bacone College has been deemed a "Red Out" game. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free red rally towel. In addition to the towels, the first 200 fans that come through Gate 2 can participate in a T-Shirt exchange sponsored by Uncle Bob's Self Storage. Those fans can exchange old high school or college shirts for a new Red Out shirt. The Kids Zone is set to open at 4:30 p.m., which will have the Lamar baseball and women's basketball teams on hand to paint faces.
Prior to the game, the Bretten Low Band will be performing on the northwest end of Provost Umphrey Stadium. The performance is slated to begin at 5 p.m., and will end 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Following the contest tailgating will remain open to all fans until midnight.