Cardinals would like to avoid further frights in Houston
Published 1:58 am Saturday, October 31, 2015
It’s Halloween, but the Lamar Cardinals have already been haunted on the football field.
Forty-two days ago, talks of a national ranking and candidacy for an NCAA playoff berth abounded in Beaumont soon after the Cardinals knocked off then-No. 3 Sam Houston State in Huntsville. The talks were still fresh even 21 days ago, when Lamar throttled Abilene Christian before an ESPN3.com audience.
But at times, the Cardinals’ big-game ability — not necessarily their big-play ability; just ask running back Kade Harrington — have been missing since.
Demons have haunted them. Bears have attacked them. The Cardinals (3-4, 2-3 Southland) have slowly come out of the gate the past two games and have looked nothing like a Southland Conference contender, let alone one trying to reach the postseason.
“In regards to the Central Arkansas game and Northwestern State the last week, that’s behind us at this point,” Lamar freshman linebacker Bear Christianson said. “We obviously didn’t come out how we wanted to come out and how we’re capable of coming out. And that goes back on us.”
The last game, a 35-17 Central Arkansas win in Beaumont, left Cards quarterback Joe Minden in tears. He was picked off five times in that game.
“I just got to learn how to handle adversity better,” he said Tuesday, his injured throwing hand close to 100 percent healthy. “I had a couple of days to reflect on it and watch the film and learn from it. Now, I’ve just got to learn to handle adversity and play with better composure.”
Lamar can break its two-game skid today against Houston Baptist (2-6, 0-5 Southland), but nothing is a guarantee in conference play. Northwestern State proved that two weeks ago, throwing early knockout punches in its 48-35 feat over Lamar to break into the win column this season.
“HBU is a program that is this year where we were a couple of years ago,” coach Ray Woodard said in a press release. “When you look at their depth chart you see a lot of freshmen and sophomores on it. There is a senior here or there that are transfers because they haven’t had a full class of players come through the program yet. When you watch the film, you can see a team that has improved so much from last year. Each one of their units are playing better together. They played a good Southeastern football team very tough this past weekend.”
Southeastern Louisiana outgained Houston Baptist 455-199 in total yards in beating the Huskies 22-7 in Houston, the closest conference loss for HBU this season.
The Cards dominate the Huskies in every major yardage category on both sides of the ball. With Carson Earp still awaiting to take the field for the first time in nearly a month, Minden will have an opportunity to make others forget about last week’s debacle.
“Sometimes I just overthink some things,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily the game. I’ve just got to play and have more fun and do things better.”
Christianson knows the Cards can be dominant again.
“We have all the talent in the world to be successful,” he said. “We’ve shown it. I don’t think that’s even a question we’ve shown it. We don’t just score 30 on Baylor [actually a 66-31 Baylor win] and pick them off three times. We beat Sam Houston, whom we’ve never been able to beat [since Lamar restarted football in 2010]. It’s been in the cards, but it’s unfortunate it came to this, and we’re going to do everything we can to get that mentality back and be the best team we can be.”