Minden cleared to play, but Earp still LU starter
Lamar-SE Louisiana Matchup
• Lamar: 472 yards per game (255 rushing, 217 passing); leaders Kade Harrington (junior RB, 334 yards on 48 carries, 5 touchdowns), Carson Earp (junior QB, 384 yards, 6 touchdowns on 29-of-50 passing) and Reggie Begelton (senior WR, 157 yards on 19 receptions, 3 touchdowns)
• SELA: 336.7 yards per game (251 rushing, 85.6 passing); leaders Donovan Isom (freshman QB, 120 yards on 32 rushes; 214 yards on 26-of-42 passing, 2 touchdowns), Julius Maraclin (freshman RB, 140 yards on 19 carries) and Byron Johnson (senior WR, 52 yards on 3 receptions)
• Lamar: 475.7 yards per game (220.3 rushing, 255.3 passing); leaders Tommie Barrett (junior LS, 19 tackles, 11 solo), Ronnie Jones (senior LB, 14 tackles, 7 solo, 2 sacks) and Larance Hale (junior DE, 13 tackles, 8 solo, 4 tackles for losses)
• SELA: 383.3 yards per game (75 rushing, 308.3 passing); leaders Micah Eugene (sophomore DB, 19 tackles, 12 solo, .5 sack), Herbert Harris (senior LB, 18 tackles, 14 solo, 3 for losses) and Harlan Miller (senior DB, 13 tackles, 10 solo, 3 interceptions, 67 return yards)
• Lamar coach Ray Woodard, on beating a ranked team: “I don’t know if we snuck up on them or not. The Baylor game should open a few eyes. … It won’t be any more sneaking up, and that’s the way it’s got to be.”
• Southeastern coach Ron Roberts: “Lamar is a very talented team and we’re expecting a great game [tonight]. We feel like the bye week came at a good time for us and we’ll have a couple of guys back that have missed some time. We have to continue to get better each week and we’ve got a difficult test ahead of us [tonight].”
Lamar coaches won’t have to be on pins and needles hoping and praying that they don’t lose a second starting quarterback to injury.
The university announced Wednesday that Joe Minden, who started the Cardinals’ first game of the season, has been cleared to play as the team took buses to Hammond, Louisiana, for tonight’s televised game against 22nd-ranked Southeastern Louisiana. Earp, who started the Cardinals’ past two games, is expected to do the same tonight, however.
While Earp has impressed three games into his Lamar career, Minden’s return is a big boost emotionally for the Cards (2-1, 1-0 Southland). They’re trying to improve their conference winning streak to four games and defeat their third straight nationally-ranked team in making an early case for an NCAA playoff berth.
But the boost isn’t for lack of team morale.
“It’s positive, and it should be,” Lamar coach Ray Woodard said.
Tonight, the country will get a third chance in almost four weeks to see how much improved the unranked Cardinals are — or if Southeastern Louisiana, which rebooted its football program in 2003 — are still a step ahead of them.
“If we’re going to stay in this thing, we’re going to play a lot of tight, close games,” Woodard said. “That was a good learning experience for us.”
Where the Cards’ efforts begin, though, isn’t necessarily with Earp, who torched then-No. 3 Sam Houston State for 223 yards and four touchdowns without an interception 12 days ago in a 49-46 win. And it doesn’t entirely begin with junior Kade Harrington, a recent national player-of-the-week honoree whose 230 rushing yards in that game (to go with two touchdowns) are the most in a single outing for Lamar player in 30 years.
It starts on the offensive line. Woodard acknowledged Southeastern’s defensive line is so talented, the Lamar front will have to give Earp an “extra amount” of time. As for opening holes for Harrington, the Lamar O-line is facing a D-line that held Football Bowl Subdivision member Ohio to 10 rushing yards in the first half, according to Woodard.
Good thing for Lamar that its offensive unit is the top-ranked in the Southland (as is Southeastern’s defensive unit).
“They’ll play some zone and try to disguise some things, and then all of a sudden they can man you up as good as anybody we’ve got,” Woodard said. “That’s what they did to us last year.”
Lamar can reach a milestone with a victory tonight. A win will be the 200th in its history as a four-year institution.
Also, senior wideout Reggie Begelton stands 52 yards away from setting Lamar’s all-time record in receiving yards, topping a 45-year-old mark by Ronnie Gebauer. With 18 career touchdown receptions, he needs four more to set the school record in that category as well