Lamar set to battle Stephen F. Austin on Saturday
Nov. 1, 2012
NACOGDOCHES - The Lamar University football team will put the Southland Conference's top ranked pass defense up against the nation's most prolific passing offense this Saturday when the Cardinals take on Stephen F. Austin from Homer Bryce Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The Cardinals, who bring a 3-6 overall record and 0-4 conference mark into the game, are giving up just 182.2 yards per game through the air to rank 29th in the country. SFA, which is coming off a 35-24 loss at McNeese State, leads the country with a gaudy 419.2 yards passing per game.
Saturday's contest can be heard live in the Golden Triangle on KLVI 560 AM with Harold Mann providing the play-by-play and former LU linebacker Bo Brown serving as analyst.
This will be the 25th meeting between the two rivals with the Cardinals holding a 14-10 series advantage which includes a 6-5 edge in Nacogdoches. The Lumberjacks have won the last four, however, including a 69-10 victory last year in Beaumont.
"The players are aware of it and you don't have to talk about it a whole lot," said LU head coach Ray Woodardabout the team's understanding of last year's meeting with SFA. "You treat each team differently and each year is a new year but they're aware of what has taken place the last two years. You don't have to use it as motivation. It takes care of itself as the week goes on."
SFA exploded offensively in the first half of last year's meeting, building a 27-7 lead after one quarter and building the lead to 55-7 at the half. Quarterback Brady Attaway finished with 359 yards and five touchdown tosses in the game as SFA outgained Lamar 543-173 in total yards.
Lamar is coming off a 56-7 loss to No. 4 Sam Houston State, its second straight game against a team ranked in the Football Championship Subdivision. Wide receiver Kevin Johnsonfound the end zone for the 12th time this season as he returned a kickoff 89 yards for LU's only score against the Bearkats. The Oklahoma State transfer needs just one more score to match the single-season school record set by Sammy Carpenter in 1952.
The Cardinals' defense is fourth in the conference in points allowed, giving up 28.4 points per game. The Lumberjacks (3-5 overall, 2-2 in Southland play) are last in the conference in points allowed at 35.4 per contest. SFA is scoring just over 34 points per game while the Cards are at 20.1 per outing.
Redshirt sophomore Caleb Berryis expected to get his fifth straight start at quarterback for the Cardinals. Berry is 55-for-107 on the year for 552 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions. The Needville High School product was 12-of-24 in Saturday's loss for 96 yards.
Lamar will look to control the clock by mounting a strong rushing attack. Redshirt junior DePauldrick Garrettstruggled against the Bearkats, but in the two games prior rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns. The former West Orange-Stark star has 344 rushing yards on the season and is getting 4.3 per carry.
A pair of capable freshmen has also run well for the Cardinals this season. Darrell Harris, who finished with 78 yards in Lamar's close loss at No. 17 Central Arkansas, has 217 yards rushing. Desmond Richardshas picked up 117 yards on just 22 carries for a team-best 5.3 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Cardinals continue to be led by junior linebacker Jermaine Longinowho has a team-leading 73 tackles on the season. Longino, who is averaging 8.1 tackles per game, also leads the Southland Conference with 48 solo stops.
The Cardinals' seasoned secondary will be tested by Attaway and the Lumberjack receivers. Junior Chad Allen has registered 55 tackles on the season, while fellow junior Branden Thomasleads the team with three interceptions and is one of three Cardinals with five pass breakups on the season.
Attaway is 261-of-445 on the season for 3,034 yards and a league-high 24 touchdown passes. The junior has passed for at least 300 yards six times this season with a best of 545 yards and six touchdown passes against Sam Houston. Attaway also leads the conference with 15 interceptions.
"They play at a very fast pace," said Woodard about SFA's offense. "Attaway is doing a really good job running their offense. All their running backs run hard and their running game is vastly improved over last year. They're not a one-dimensional team. Offensively they create a lot of problems so you'd like to keep their offense off the field.
"Defensively, they're very good. It's not like they're just an offensive football team. They play more of a base defense and then they blitz a little bit to mix it up and confuse you. They're just a good, sound team."
Senior wide receiver Cordell Roberson is the Southland's all-time leader in touchdown catches with 38. Roberson, who left the field with an injury at McNeese State, has 74 catches this year for 951 yards and nine touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Gus Johnson is the league's second leading rusher this season with 619 yards for an average of 77.4 per game. Johnson is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has scored nine rushing touchdowns on the year.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Collin Garrett ranks second in the Southland with 74 tackles for an average of 9.2 per game. Sophomore defensive end Darren Robinson has 5.5 sacks to lead the Lumberjacks.