LU Opens SLC Play Against Nationally Ranked Kats
BEAUMONT, Texas – The Lamar University football team opens Southland Conference play looking to bounce back from an 0-2 start against two very tough opponents – No. 16 Coastal Carolina and No. 6 Houston. For the fourth-straight season the Cardinals will open league play against Sam Houston State (1-0), and just like LU’s two previous opponents the Bearkats enter the contest nationally ranked (No. 3 – STATS FCS Top 25 poll).
“Obviously, Sam Houston is a very good football team,” said LU head coach Ray Woodard. “Offensively, Jeremiah Briscoe looks like confident quarterback who has been taking the first-team reps. I think that was the only thing held him back a bit last season was splitting time. He looked very relaxed in the pocket, making the right reads and had a high completion rate. They return an All-American running back and have a very talented offensive line – this is a good offense overall. They can run and throw the ball very well.
“Defensively, they are very strong as well. P.J. Hall is one of the best defensive linemen in the nation. Their defense is loaded with preseason all-conference selections and talented veterans. This is a very tough team to play, but we have played two tough opponents to prepare us for this week,” added Woodard.
The Cardinals enter the 2016 showdown hoping that history repeats itself, and there are a ton of similarities to last year’s contest. Big Red faces its conference opener after coming off a game against a top 10 FBS opponent (LU faced Baylor prior its game against SHSU). For the second consecutive season the Bearkats come into the Southland opener coming off a bye week and ranked third nationally.
Last season, then junior running back Kade Harrington served notice to the rest of the nation that he would be one of the top running backs. The Kingwood, Texas native rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 83 yards and a score. For the Cardinals to be successful Saturday they will need have a more balanced attack.
Through two games the Cardinals are averaging 106 passing yards per game, compared to last season where Big Red passed for 223 yards and four touchdowns in Huntsville.
“The week off gave us a chance to get a head start on Lamar which is good for us,” said SHSU head coach K.C. Keeler. “Obviously, they have one of the best running backs in the country that did a phenomenal job against us last year. It’s not ideal to have your open week this early but we made the best of it. I think we’re excited to play a very good opponent that has obviously had a very difficult opening schedule – no one in America has played two FBS opponents like (Lamar) did.”
While the Cardinals are looking for more balanced production offensively, they will also look to slow down a Sam Houston State offense that ranks near the top of the league in every statistical category. The Bearkats lead the league in scoring, total, rushing and pass offense. Those stats, however, are based off one game – vs. Oklahoma Panhandle State – while the Cardinals have played two teams ranked among the nation’s top 25.
“When you set up your schedule, you want to play non-conference opponents to help you prepare for conference play,” said Woodard. “We’ve played two good football teams, but I hoped we would’ve played better in those games. I really wanted to see more improvement from week one to week two. We have to continue to get better.”
(© 2016 KBMT)