Sept. 26, 2013
Lamar Game Notes
Coming off their second-straight home shutout, Lamar head coach Ray Woodard takes his Cardinal football team on the road one more time before the start of Southland Conference play. The Cardinals enter Saturday's contest against Grambling State (0-4) with a 2-2 (.500) overall record but looking for their first road win of the season, while the Tigers are looking for their first win of the season.
Lamar comes into the contest having played one of the more unique schedules to this point in the season. LU is 2-0 at home winning its games by a combined score of 128-0, but has come up short on the road. The Cardinals have played two non-Division I teams at home, but the road games have been against FBS opponents (Louisiana Tech and No. 11 Oklahoma State). Saturday's game against the Tigers will be Lamar's first against an FCS-level school.
The Tigers have stumbled out of the gate dropping their first four games of the season by a combined 170-74. Included in those results is an 0-2 start in conference play.
"Every week presents new challenges and our challenge this week is to win a game on the road," said Woodard. "That is something we did not do last year. This is going to be our first FCS opponent of the season. We've played two non-division I games, and we've played two FBS schools, but this is our first game against another FCS opponent. Our goals are to be in the playoffs and have an opportunity at a conference championship. To do that you have to win your FCS games, and a lot of times it can come down to wins on the road. I'm very excited about the opportunity in front of us,"
"At this point, 3-2 is the best we can be so that is definitely where we want to be. We came away from Louisiana Tech feeling like we did some good things, but not enough to win a game on the road. We want to take that next step on the road," added Woodard.
When the Cardinals step on the field at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium Saturday at 6 p.m. they will be bringing the Southland's top defense, and the league's best passing attack to the game. Lamar is holding opponents to less than 294 yards of total offense per game, including less than 130 yards passing. The Cardinals have already picked off seven passes just four games into the season.
Grambling State's offense has struggled at times during 2013 averaging less than 290 yards of total offense, and is seventh in the league averaging 193 yards per game through the air. One area where the Tigers haven't struggled has been on special teams. Grambling State leads the SWAC, and is one of the best in the nation in punt returns averaging nearly 15 yards per return.
"What concerns you as a coach about this game is the fact that Grambling's record is not indicative of how talented they are," said Woodard. "You watch the film and you can tell that they have some very talented players. It's going to happen for them. It's just a matter of time before they put it all together on the field and you hope it doesn't happen against you."
One of the reasons for the Lamar's strong passing attack this season has been the improved play of junior quarterback Caleb Berry. He is completing better than 60 percent of his passes on the season for 815 yards, and has thrown a league-best 11 touchdowns on the year. He also ranks 34th nationally in total offense (240 ypg). In addition to Berry has been the play of freshman Kade Harrington at running back. The Kingwood native recorded a career-high 143 yards on seven carries against Bacone, and is currently the league's top rookie running back.
The Cardinals have also made a name for themselves this season by not making the careless errors. Lamar enters the week as the Southland's least penalized team being flagged less than five times a game.
Saturday's game will be Lamar's final non-conference game before the Cardinals open Southland Conference play. Lamar will get an extra week to prepare for its conference opener against Sam Houston State on Saturday, Oct. 12. The game against the Bearkats will be a 2 p.m. kick.