Cards rue more than bad first half vs. Kats
Published 6:52 pm Monday, September 19, 2016
By I.C. Murrell
The old adage of “a tale of two halves,” a play on the much older book title “A Tale of Two Cities”, came into play Saturday night.
The takeaway for many from Lamar’s 44-31 loss to Sam Houston State is either that SHSU led 30-3 at halftime or Lamar won the second half 28-14 against the Bearkats, who elevated from third to second in the latest STATS FCS Top 25 poll with the win. North Dakota State, which shocked Big Ten power Iowa on Saturday, is No. 1, with last year’s runner-up Jacksonville (Ala.) State at No. 3. Jacksonville State beat Coastal Carolina 27-26 on Saturday.
The Cardinals are now 0-3 for the first time in Ray Woodard’s seven seasons as head coach and 0-1 in the Southland Conference. Woodard said they can build on the final 30 minutes against a team with what he called “the best balanced attack [on offense they’ve] seen.”
“I thought Coastal — their quarterback’s first game — they weren’t very efficient yet passing the ball,” Woodard said late Saturday. “I thought [University of Houston], their quarterback injured, they played safe. I thought this was the best running and throwing team we’ve seen so far. They gave us problems in both, and they could do both well.”
SHSU’s 598 yards Saturday (including 328 yards passing by Jeremiah Briscoe) is the most Lamar has given up so far, but that’s on the heels of giving up 511 total yards at Houston (which had three 100-plus yard rushers) and 407 total (269 rushing) against Coastal Carolina. Woodard said his defense was on the field too much Saturday — although Lamar possessed the ball for more than 31 of the game’s 60 minutes — but was aware of the Bearkats’ quick-strike ability.
“Briscoe has a great command for what they’re doing,” he said. “He’s a good fit for what they’re doing it. And he’s got very good receivers to go along with it.”
Andrew Allen earned the start for Lamar because, Woodard said, he gave the Cards the best chance to move the football. Despite throwing for two touchdowns, he cooled off to finish 19 of 36 passing after a 6-of-8 start.
“At the start of the game, you have to get rid of the opening-drive jitters,” Allen said. “But after that, everything fell into place. We just need to do a better job of executing the offense.”
Despite the yardage Lamar has allowed in three games, Woodard expressed disappointment in the Cards’ running game didn’t harp after the game on any defensive struggles. The Bearkats’ defense had plenty to do with holding All-America running back Kade Harrington to 76 yards on 25 carries and no touchdowns. It marks the first time since a four-game span in 2013 that Harrington failed to score in two straight contests.
“We’re still not blocking well enough or running the ball as efficiently as we should,” Woodard said. “I’m disappointed in our offensive line play.”
On the other side was SHSU’s front four led by All-America defensive end P.J. Hall, who had 4.5 tackles for a total loss of 18 yards but no sacks. Hall on Monday was named Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
“(Hall) is a good defensive end, and we knew he was going to cause a little chaos,” Allen said. “But for the most part, our O-line did hold their own. We just need to execute a little better.”
Now, Woodard and Lamar have an extra week to address their weaknesses before hosting Southeastern Louisiana at 7 p.m. Oct. 1.
I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews