FOOTBALL: Cardinals keeping big-boy pants on for Raiders
Published 2:32 pm Friday, September 7, 2018
BEAUMONT — Beating an NAIA team 70-7 wasn’t exactly a sign of perfection in Lamar’s season opener, just a glorified practice for a bigger-name opponent.
“We’ll have our work for us,” coach Mike Schultz said, two days after the Cardinals wore out Kentucky Christian. “It will be a great barometer to measure up and see where we are as a program. I think our kids will be excited and will be ready to play on Saturday.”
This time, the Cardinals (1-0) will be the little guys in a Big 12 pool of Red Raiders (0-1), a team Schultz said he’s studied since the days leading to preseason camp.
“We’re going to play some really, really good athletes,” he said. “Their receivers are tall and have a lot of length. … This will probably be the most athletic defense we’ll face this year. They have, I think, 10 returning starters. You can tell. They’re playing with confidence on defense. I know things didn’t go right the first game.”
To say the least.
ABOUT TEXAS TECH
A Red Raiders team that was said to have a much-improved defense to start the season allowed Ole Miss to rack up 546 total yards in a 47-27 loss to the Rebels in Houston last Saturday. Two of the touchdowns came from 58 yards out or longer, including the opening touchdown pass 33 seconds after kickoff.
Texas Tech put up 486 of total yards and held the ball for 13 minutes longer than Ole Miss, but also rushed for 164 yards. So, the Cardinals hope that holding Kentucky Christian to 52 yards on 30 carries will somehow translate into slowing down a rushing attack led by sophomore Da’Leon Ward (5-feet-10, 180 pounds), who netted 90 on Ole Miss.
“There are a lot of Air Raid offenses that are putting a little more emphasis on the run,” Schultz said, naming West Virginia as one of them. “And I think you can see the same thing with Texas Tech than what they’ve been in the past, where it’s been throw the ball 75 times. They’ll be a little bit more balanced, but they’re going to live and die by throwing the ball, and that’s what we’ve got to be prepared for.”
Who will start under center for Texas Tech is the big question.
True freshman Alan Bowman made his debut in relief of injured junior McLane Carter and completed 29 of 49 passes for 273 yards. Carter is listed as a potential starter on Texas Tech’s depth chart for Saturday, reported to be a game-time decision with a high ankle sprain.
What is the Cardinal defense to do? Schultz has said the unit would prepare for Tech’s offensive system rather than just one quarterback.
“As a defensive coach, we’ve got to prepare to stop the run and then get ready to play the pass,” he said.
Lamar’s depth chart has taken several hits since preseason camp. Junior receiver and Hamshire-Fannett graduate Kendrick King, sophomore offensive lineman Chase Bridgeman and redshirt freshman defensive back Casden Brooks are out for the season due to undisclosed injuries. Schultz said Monday that senior receiver Martell Hawthorne, junior receiver Zae Giles, junior cornerback Stanley Norman and junior left guard Tamatoa Neher were listed day-to-day.
If Hawthorne suits up Saturday, it’ll mark his season debut.
The injury bug stayed away from Lamar’s quarterbacks. Starter Darrel Colbert Jr., junior transfer Jordan Hoy, redshirt sophomore Adam Morse and redshirt freshman Jack Dallas took snaps against Kentucky Christian, with all but Dallas throwing a pass.
“I thought we showed our depth,” Colbert said. “It’s a really good thing, based on the last couple of years. We ran through, what, three quarterbacks last year? The year before that, I think they said we went through three or four quarterbacks. It’s good to see that we have guys out there who can respond, step in and make plays as well.”
JONES AT&T STADIUM
Texas Tech has won each of its last 18 home openers and scored 40 points or more in each of the last six. Last Saturday’s loss was Tech’s first to start the season since 2002.
BEHIND THE MIC
Brendan Burke will call the play-by-play with David Anderson analyzing and Christian Steckel roaming the sidelines for Fox Sports Southwest.
I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews