Danny Shapiro, with the Beaumont Enterprise, answers 5 Q's about the Lamar Cardinals leading up to 6:30 pm kickoff at McLane Stadium against the Baylor Bears
1. Lamar is still in the early stages of building their program. Where do you see the program at now, compared to when it began, and what do you think the next step is?
Lamar is in a much better spot than when it restarted the program in 2010. The Cardinals are coming off their first winning season and first win over rival McNeese State since the program's reintroduction. The goal for the Cardinals now is to start compiling consecutive winning seasons. That's been the talk around the program this season. If the Cardinals can start winning consistently, it will do wonders for recruiting, revenue and exposure.
2. It seems there are a couple of QBs that the Lamar coaching staff is working with. Will this be an ongoing thing through the season, or is there somone who Baylor will see more than the other. Also, how do you see the Lamar offense attacking the Baylor defense?
Senior Joe Minden started at quarterback against Bacone and junior Carson Earp saw time too. That was head coach Ray Woodard's plan and the same plan Baylor will see except Earp will start. Neither quarterback has really gained any separation, so Woodard has made the non-conference schedule a trial period for the quarterbacks. The goal is for Woodard to have a starter by next Saturday when Lamar travels to Sam Houston State and starts conference play. As for the rest of the offense, Lamar has a couple of small, shifty running backs that do a really good job of making themselves small and senior receiver Reggie Begelton will be a challenge for the Baylor corners. He's Lamar's all-time receptions leader and will hold almost every school receiving record by the end of the season.
3. Who should Baylor fans pay attention to on the defensive side of the ball and how do you see Lamar challening Baylor on defense?
The matchup I'm focusing on is the Baylor wide receivers versus the Lamar defensive backs. There's no question how deep and talented the Bears receivers are, but Woodard has consistently said his DBs are his best defensive position group and I agree. Junior safety Xavier Bethany is an All-Southland Conference selection and senior cornerback Seth Ellis (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) is a big, fast corner who had an interception against Texas A&M last season. If Lamar can keep up with the Baylor receivers, however, I'll be very impressed.
4. Lamar has been helped by some P5 transfers. How has that impacted the program and helped to mold the future of the program?
Most of the power five players Lamar has brought in won't actually see the field this season, but having players from Texas, Navy, Houston and Georgia are helping shape the football culture at Lamar. Those players have been at big programs and have willingly shared their experiences with their Lamar teammates. One of those players who has actually seen the field is Georgia wide receiver transfer Brendan Langley. Langley was a four-star recruit out of high school and played two seasons at Georgia before transferring to Lamar during the offseason. Watch him (No. 5) on Saturday and it's not hard to tell why he was so highly sought after in high school.
5. What are the honest expectations leading in to this game? What would Lamar consider a win coming out of this game?
Lamar hasn't fared well against FBS opponents and Baylor and Woodard said past the obvious talent gap, his teams haven't had the right mindset going into those games. I think if Lamar can keep it close early, limit penalties and turnovers and get a better sense of who his quarterback of the future will be, that will be a successful night for Lamar. This game is also the start of the hardest stretch of the season for Lamar. After Baylor, Lamar goes on the road against the top two teams in the Southland Conference, so this will be the ultimate warm-up test before conference play for Lamar. It's not likely to think Lamar will win, but hey, the Cardinals beat the Bears the last time the teams played in 1981.