BEAUMONT, Texas — Okay, the headline was misleading. The Lamar University football team didn’t record a program first or set a record Wednesday afternoon, but they did record a first, of sorts, in the Blane Morgan era. With all the precautions and delays that have come with COVID, the Cardinals opened the month of October with their third workout of fall camp – a workout that included players strapping on pads for the first time since Morgan’s arrival.
Following the lead of the NCAA, the Southland Conference put a halt to all spring competitions in March which included spring football. The NCAA’s decision came just days before the Red and White was scheduled to open spring practice.
“I’ve been here in Beaumont 10 months and today is the first day we’ve been able to put on pads. That is a long time,” said Morgan. “It’s really long when you consider we’re used to going through spring camp and then starting preseason camp in August. Our coaches have been waiting for this moment a long time.”
Once the “newness” of putting on the pads was over it was time to get the work. The Cardinals took to the Vernon Glass Field of Champions Practice Fields Wednesday. The Cardinals went through individual and team drills for approximately an hour and 45 minutes before heading to the locker room. For the Cardinals, the primary focus is gelling a very young roster into a cohesive unit.
“We’ve got so far to go,” said Morgan. “We’re looking at the majority of our two deep being in their first two years on campus. Right now, we’re trying to teach those guys how we want them to practice. This is our first day in pads, so we’re calling this a baby step in the right direction.”
The Cardinals will play a six-game spring schedule beginning Saturday, Feb. 20th against Northwestern State in Beaumont. The game against the Demons will be one of three home games for the Cardinals in spring 2021. Big Red will enter that spring season with one of the youngest teams in the nation. The Cardinals return just 34 letterwinners from last year’s squad with only 12 starters, and COVID has only exploited that youth.
“In the 10 months that our coaching staff has been here, five of those have been separated from the players,” said Morgan. “That is pretty obvious right now. We see guys that don’t quite understand how we want them to practice and the effort it takes on daily basis. In order to be good, you have to play hard for an entire game and finish those games.”