Cautiously confident: Cardinals not too high after 2nd win in row

Published 11:10 pm Monday, October 10, 2016

BEAUMONT — The confidence level among Lamar football players is good, coach Ray Woodard said Monday.
“I don’t think it’s an overconfident thing,” he continued.
Given the Cardinals’ rough start to the season, it probably shouldn’t be.
At 2-1 in the Southland Conference (2-3 overall), they do find themselves tied for third place in with Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana with six games to go. Northwestern State is next on Lamar’s docket for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday.
Lamar is on a little roll with wins over SELA (38-14) and Abilene Christian (38-10) in the past two weekends. The results can be attributed in large part to improved defensive play.
“One of the things we did after the Sam game, we padded up five days in a row and worked on tackling and just worked on fundamentals,” Woodard said. “We almost got in two weeks of camp. That’s helped.”
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Carson Earp has been solid the past two games in maintaining his starting role as Andrew Allen recovers from an ankle injury. He was 16 for 19 for 211 yards and a touchdown Saturday in Abilene.
“I think Carson, the last two weeks, has made a case for playing,” Woodard said. “Allen is back healthy now, but Carson has really taken advantage of the opportunity of being in there. After this past week, he’s solidified himself and he’s earned the right to play.”

Krautz gets on the board
True freshman and Nederland graduate Austin Krautz scored his first collegiate touchdown for Lamar on Saturday, rushing from 19 yards out with 12:05 left in the game. It was the last score of the game.
Krautz, who usually comes in late in games but has seen action on special teams, got in his most extensive work to date at Abilene with 52 yards on 12 carries. He has 62 yards on 20 carries this season.
And, as he did during recruiting, the 5-foot-10, 181-pound Krautz is drawing comparisons to starter Kade Harrington.
“He reminds me a lot of Kade in his freshman year,” Woodard said. “We just expected him to be up the depth chart and helping. We had one running back [Keegan Mitchell] quit and another one hurt [Derrion Randle], and the opportunity for him is there and he’s taking advantage of it. He’s a smart player who knows the playbook and knows what to do. He’s a much better runner than I thought he would be.
“He really helped out on special teams. He’s come on and is having a great year.”
Krautz is part of a recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 among FCS programs by
“We’re getting a lot of help out of our freshman class,” Woodard said. “I thought we could because it’s a talented class, and it’s proven out that way.”

Fun-land Conference? Or just chaos?
As evidenced in Southeastern Louisiana’s miracle victory over defending champion McNeese State, the conference race is still wide open.
Eight of the 11 teams have two or fewer losses in conference play, and three including Lamar each have one. SELA (2-3, 2-1) kept itself in the conference race Saturday when a McNeese defender deflected a “Hail Mary” pass from Justin Alo that went into the hands of Brandon Acker, who barely kept his feet and turned the play into an 82-yard winning score with 8 seconds remaining. SELA won 31-24.
Sam Houston State (5-0, 4-0) and Central Arkansas (4-1, 3-0) — the latter of which defeated defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas State — are the only unbeaten teams in conference play.
“It seems like Sam Houston’s getting better offensively but giving up a few more points,” Woodard said. “You’re going to have to score 50 or 60 to have an opportunity against them.
Woodard thinks five or six teams will still be in the race until the last week of the regular season.
“Everybody else, it’s just chaos. I think the most consistent team next to them is Central Arkansas. Everybody else has just been up-and-down, up-and-down, up-and-down. After us beating Southeastern, I don’t think anybody would have given Southeastern an opportunity to beat McNeese. They played well and won a big game. You’re going to see more of that.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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