PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

September 14, 2013

Johnson, LU out to prove themselves in Stillwater

BEAUMONT — Kevin Johnson definitely wants to remind Oklahoma State’s Cowboys about him today.

Joe Okafor does too.

But when 42-point underdog Lamar enters Stillwater’s Boone Pickens Stadium for a 6:30 kickoff tonight, the reality is an enormous mismatch between the Cardinals and their impressive hosts.

Ranked 12th in the USA Today poll and 11th in the Associated Press ratings, Big 12 pre-season favorite Oklahoma State is expected to win big tonight in front of its largest home football crowd in history.

A renovated facility is expected to welcome 60,218 tonight plus a Fox Sports Southwest audience.

Lamar definitely steps way out of its league in this one even though the Redbirds can their feathers on the back for keeping a most competitive outing close into the fourth quarter of a 27-14 loss last week at Louisiana Tech.

LU is smart enough not to mistaken OSU (2-0) for Tech. Ninth-year head coach Mike Gundy undoubtedly has the Cowpokes raised into the level of elite college teams.

The LU men have two starters who joined the Cardinals after originally signing with Oklahoma State — Johnson and Okafor.

Johnson became the Southland Conference newcomer of the year in 2012. Okafor has cracked the starting lineup at nose tackle this fall after playing extensively last season.

“I’ve been looking forward to this game since I transferred,” Johnson said. “I feel I have a lot to prove going back there.”

It would represent a gigantic plus if coach Ray Woodard’s squad could return home Sunday in the same physical condition and with the same self-esteem as it did from Louisiana Tech.

“We felt that we could build some from playing at Ruston,” Woodard said.

Lamar freshman running back Cade Harrington was even more emphatic.

“We went to Louisiana Tech and came there to win and we definitely got better,” Harrington said.

While both sides will put on their shoulder pads and helmets the same way, they also took the identical approach in refusing comment about this week’s Sports Illustrated magazine feature article.

SI published the first of a five-part series this week. Reporters interviewed more than 60 former players and found evidence of potential NCAA violations including boosters and assistant coaches paying players thousands of dollars for their play; sham jobs arranged by boosters; academic misconduct; and football program hostesses who had sex with recruits.

“I don’t think that will have a bearing on the players that are playing the game now,” Woodward said in his weekly press conference.

“They’ve played two road games. This is their first home game, so they’re going to be jazzed. I’m more concerned about that crowd noise and atmosphere than anything else.”

Thirteen of Oklahoma State’s  first 22 (11 offensive and 11 defensive starters) hail from Texas, including two prominent weapons — QB J.W. Walsh of Denton and Port Arthur Memorial redshirt freshman receiver Jhajuan Seales.

Walsh completed 24 of 27 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns in a near-perfect Alamodome outing last week with UTSA.

Seales snagged a team-high seven receptions and led a crop of talented new receivers to fill Oklahoma State’s pass-happy attack.

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