Cards not taking Huskies lightly
Published 4:17 pm Friday, October 28, 2016
Both Lamar and Houston Baptist have disappointments to shake off.
Lamar suffered two setbacks in one game last Saturday. In addition to losing to Central Arkansas and seeing a three-game winning streak — its first since 1989 — fall by the wayside, one of its quarterbacks suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
Coach Ray Woodard could not recall a time in his head-coaching career when he’s ever lost a starting quarterback and running back in the same season, let alone back-to-back weeks. All he wants is for junior Andrew Allen and true freshman Austin Krautz to command their roles and lead the Cardinals to their second winning record in three years.
“He’s learning on the run, and I think he’s doing a very good job,” Woodard said of Krautz, the running back from Nederland. “He’s a freshman, and we’re trying to have some patience with him. But I’m very pleased with him. I’ve been pleased with him all year. He’s capable and he’s much further along than most other freshmen I’ve had.”
Allen will make only his second start of the season and is still recovering from a bad ankle.
Meanwhile, HBU coach Vic Shealy is looking for the Huskies team that started the season 2-1 to replace the one that’s dropped four straight.
“Last week, coming off the Nicholls [State] game — an emotional game for us here — I don’t know what goes into every 20-year-old guy’s mind, but I wasn’t really happy how we prepared,” he said after Southeastern Louisiana drove the Huskies 37-3. “We went down to Southeastern and they got after us. Right before half, down 13-3, I felt like we scored, but we fumbled the ball at the goal line and they went down and kicked a field goal to go ahead 16-3. I was just disappointed we didn’t handle that adversity very well. We came out and just got handed a smackdown in the second half, gave up  unanswered points, so — obviously — if you’re going to have a chance to win against good folks, you can’t do that.”
Saturday marks Lamar’s homecoming day, but recent history has shown no win is guaranteed on such an occasion. Nicholls State was 1-7 last season when it escaped Provost Umphrey Stadium with a 30-28 win.
HBU is 2-5 and 1-4, but Woodard is taking the Huskies seriously.
“They’ve got just about everybody back,” he said. “They’re a year older and they’re more improved. Their quarterback [senior Tony Dawson] is a good duo guy. Their rushing attack is at the top half of the conference. They’ve got two big, 6-4, 6-5 receivers. They pose some problems defensively. [Junior linebacker Garrett] Dolan’s been a very good mainstay in the middle, and they’ve built a good defense around him. They’re an improving football team.”
Statistically, the Huskies found a bright spot in their rushing game. Their 179.7 yards per game ranks fourth in the 11-team conference.
Lamar’s rushing defense is coming off a season best 122 yards allowed at Central Arkansas, about half of what the Bears rushed for on average going into that game.
“We committed a few more people to the run,” Woodard said. “I thought our defensive linemen did a much better job fitting and doing some things.”
Lamar was held to 15 net rushing yards a week ago, but Woodard doesn’t think it’s a matter of opening up his rushing attack to produce more yards, citing UCA’s defense ranked first in the conference.
“We still want to establish the run, and we want to do that,” Woodard said. “We’re not just going to run into walls and we’re not going to throw into eight-man fronts.”
DID YOU KNOW?
The husband of 1984 Olympic gold gymnast Mary Lou Retton is the assistant head coach for HBU. Shannon Kelley, a two-time Texas letterman at quarterback, also coaches the running backs for the Huskies. Two of their daughters, McKenna (LSU gymnastics) and Shayla (Baylor acrobatics and tumbling) won team national championships in 2016.
I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews
HOUSTON BAPTIST (2-5) AT LAMAR (3-4)
• When: 6 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Provost Umphrey Stadium, Beaumont
• Webcast/Radio: ESPN3.com/KLVI-AM 560
• Southland records: HBU 1-4, Lamar 3-2
• Series record: Lamar leads 2-0; last meeting, Lamar won 55-7 in Houston in 2015
• Homecoming parade: 1 p.m. today; route on East Lavaca, MLK and Virginia; map at LamarCardinals.com
• Promotions: BASF giving away tote bags to all fans while supplies last at gates 1-2; ATO Alumni Association hosting tug-o championship on the field (winner receives $500)