HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Lamar.
Southland (Lamar was T9th in the Southland in 2017)
COACH: Mike Schultz – 2nd year (2-9)
2017 OFFENSE: 22.5 ppg (68th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 35.5 ppg (112th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: In 2014, Lamar won 8 games, tying a school record for victories in a season. There are still a couple of seniors around who took their redshirt that year and were around that atmosphere. That's undoubtedly the kind of success second-year head coach Mike Schultz has in mind. He was an offensive coordinator (run game/OC) with TCU when big names like LaDanian Tomlinson and Andy Dalton were doing their thing and the Horned Frogs were a weekly national talking point. If you take a look at Lamar's roster, you see talented underclassmen galore.
So let's look at what the Cardinals did best last year – offense. The defense actually returns more starting experience than the offense, but the 'O' was the strong point of 2017. In the spring, three quarterbacks had their bright spots — incumbent Darrel Colbert, Old Dominion transfer Jordan Hoy and Adam Morse all had their shining moments. If that position tightens up and the defense can bounce back from 2017, this team could be an interesting one to watch in the Southland Conference in 2018. There are numerous returning weapons to throw to, and Schultz likes what he's seeing on both sides of the line (see quote below).
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Two-win Lamar was within striking distance of three more wins than they had last year (NW State, Incarnate Word and 9-win McNeese). At some point, this program is going to turn the corner under Schultz, but will it be this quickly? Possibly. The Cardinals could be a factor in the Southland if a QB takes control and doesn't look back, and the defense shaves its 36-points per game given up "pace" down to the mid 20s. If that happens, this is a winning team. If not? It'll take another year or two to get to Southland contender level.
TOP RETURNEE: TE Case Robinson (All Southland Honorable Mention – led team in TD receptions).
THE NEXT BEST: PR/KR/WR Zae Giles (Preseason All Southland – 12 yards per punt return in 2017); QB Darrel Colbert (6 starts – 863 yards passing, 8 TDs, 386 yards rushing 5 TDs); LB Chaston Brooks (2017 leading tackler – 78 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 4 FF); DE David Crosley (8.5 TFLs, 4 sacks – led team in both categories; WR Isaiah Howard (22 yards per reception – team's leading receiver in just 8 games); OL Corey Nance (6-foot-7 blocker started every game last year); DE Dedrick Garner (43 tackles, 4 TFL – 3 kick blocks).
TOP NEWCOMER: QB Jordan Hoy (Old Dominion transfer – started against North Carolina- threw for 3,434 yards, 37 TDs at JUCO level before that).
DID YOU KNOW?: The school is getting close to its centennial. Lamar University started in 1923, then known as South Park Junior College — operating on the third floor of a local high school. My how things have grown since then.
THE QUOTE: "We are bigger, faster and stronger on both sides of the line than any point last year. Obviously, having talent in those two areas really goes a long way to helping you on the football field. It was a good spring, but it wasn't great. We are definitely improving as a team. We are not where we want to be but we are moving forward. We just have to keep working hard and improving. We now have some time for our guys to really focus in on their academics and getting stronger in the weight room." — Head Coach Mike Schultz said after the spring game
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #PeckEm
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @LamarFootball
— Lamar Cardinals (@LamarAthletics) July 12, 2018
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