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‘Tremendous challenge’ awaits Lamar at A&M

LAMAR (2-0) AT TEXAS A&M (1-1)

College football; 6 tonight, Kyle Field, College Station; ESPNU

Game-week preparations for a Southeastern Conference power should be daunting enough for a Football Conference Subdivision team only in its 10th year of existence following a 20-year layoff.

Had Lamar not beaten Mississippi Valley State in overtime last Saturday, this game week could have had a worse mood in the Beaumont clubhouse.

“There is no way to overstate this; we have a tremendous challenge ahead of us,” Lamar coach Mike Schultz said in a release.

No doubt, Lamar has a tremendous challenge. It was just last year Texas Tech threw down a 77-0 hammer on the Cardinals in Lubbock — only for the Cards to blossom into an NCAA Division I playoff ballclub.

Five years ago, almost to the day, then-No. 9 A&M hammered the Cardinals 73-3. Lamar recovered from that for its first winning season since 1979.

Lamar is 2-0 for the first time since 1985, and the Cards can only hope whatever momentum found from a rare start can help them stay competitive before starting Southland Conference play next Saturday at Southeastern Louisiana.

“Texas A&M is one of the top teams in the country,” Schultz said. “They are led by one of the best coaches in the country, has surrounded himself with one of the best staffs in the country and they bring in some of the nation’s top players every year. We’re excited about the opportunity but this is a huge challenge.”

Jimbo Fisher is looking for 16th-ranked Aggies (1-1) to find a cure from last week’s 24-10 defeat at defending champion Clemson by dominating Lamar again. After that, No. 8 Auburn, which includes senior Kam Martin from Port Arthur, will visit College Station.

“We need to play well because it’s the next game and that’s the only thing we need to focus on,” Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond told the Associated Press. “Coach Fisher always talks about faceless opponents. It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing and that’s the way we look at it. We’re going to tweak, find out what we did wrong last week and come out with a great week.”

Lamar has at least a couple of A&M connections in junior transfer and backup quarterback Shane Johnson and offensive co-coordinator Larry Edmondson, who played at A&M from 1980-84. The man starting in front of Johnson, senior Jordan Hoy, already has eight touchdowns (three passing, five rushing) to his name. His latest score on a 2-yard keeper helped send last Saturday’s game against a struggling but talented Valley to overtime. Bailey Giffen hit the go-ahead field goal from 44 yards out in the first extra possession.

Freshman Isaiah Spiller is expected to start at running back after a hamstring injury against Clemson sidelined Jashaun Corbin for the season, the AP reported. He’ll have an opportunity to capitalize on an opportunity, one of Fisher’s themes this week.

“When you play the teams of that caliber that are used to winning and having success, when you get those opportunities, you’ve got to take them,” Fisher told the AP. “We had plenty of them and we didn’t make enough of them.”

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

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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