Defense shines in annual spring football scrimmage
The first spring camp under new Lamar football head coach Mike Schultz has come and gone, concluding with the annual Red and White game. The Cardinals took the field at Provost Umphrey Stadium Friday morning for their Spring Scrimmage.
“We’re not where we want to be and we have a long way to go,” Schultz said. “But, we are taking the steps in the right direction.”
Schultz is implementing an up-tempo and ‘in-your-face’ style of play that is the polar opposite of the relaxed and much slower style preferred by former coach Ray Woodard. All three quarterbacks had time behind center, with several running backs having opportunities to be in the spotlight.
“I’ve been trying to change the culture a bit to fit a style that suits our players and coaches better,” Schultz said.
LU quarterbacks completed 20 of 33 passes for 195 yards, and two interceptions. Andrew Allen, upcoming senior, completed nine of his 15 passes for 88 yards, but also had the two interceptions of the scrimmage. Junior Blake McKenzie completed eight of 13 passes with 85 yards. Sophomore Adam Morse completed three of five passes for 22 yards, and rushed for 40 yards on four carries, the highest amount of rushing yards on the team.
“Our quarterbacks understand the speed and tempo which we want to play at,” Schultz said. “Just understanding that is a big deal and they’re doing a good job with it.”
Transfer players also had their first opportunity to take the LU field. Texas A&M transfer James White carried the ball five times for 49 yards, ending with a nine-yard rush for a touchdown on his fifth carry. The Cards’ other touchdown came from a one-yard carry by redshirt freshman Markell Hawthorne, who finished the game with four carries for 23 yards.
Lamar’s defense outshined the offense, especially in the first half, picking off two passes and forcing three fumbles. The defense kept the offense off the score board until late in the scrimmage. Junior defensive back Rodney Randle delivered the biggest hit of the scrimmage on the second play of the game.
The defense forced five turnovers, batting away passes and making stops behind the line of scrimmage. Sophomore Shyler Staton led the D with three tackles and an interception. Senior Jaylon Bowden had a team-high four tackles. Sophomore Tariq Gordon finished the scrimmage with two tackles and two pass breakups and senior Manesseh Miles had two tackles, including a sack.
The offense looked tired after just the first half with the new style of play, but the defense looked much improved from the 2016 season. The Cards have four more months for Schultz to get them in shape for regular season, which begins Sept. 2 at North Texas.