HAMMOND - Southeastern Louisiana University’s football team shouldn’t have a difficult time getting motivated for Saturday’s 3 p.m. Southland Conference home opener against Lamar at Strawberry Stadium.
All the Lions have to do is remember last year’s game in which the Lions led 28-8 before dropping a 29-28 decision.
“They (the Lions) better remember,” SLU coach Mike Lucas said. “Will we show the film that we were ahead 28-8 and got beat? Yeah, we’ll show it. They better remember. I remember.”
But Lucas said Lamar (2-1) will have its own motivation Saturday as the Cardinals play their first football game as a member of the Southland Conference since 1986.
“They will play their best game this Saturday, and we have to be ready to roll,” Lucas said.
The game is the Southland Television Network Game of the Week and will be broadcast locally on WBTR-TV (cable channel 19).
The Cardinals are coming off an open date but defeated Incarnate Word 45-35 on Sept. 17. Lamar is averaging 342.3 yards per game and returns several players from last season, including quarterback Andre Bevil (23-46-1, 373 yards, 2 TDs) and receiver J.J. Hayes (10-220, 3 TDs).
“Bevil can do it all, and he showed it out here last year,” Lucas said.
“J.J. Hayes, I think, is the best receiver in the conference,” Lucas said. “He’s 6-3, (but) he plays like he’s 6-10. He’s up over the top of everybody. So we’re going to have our hands full trying to slow them down.”
Lucas said the Cardinals have upgraded at running back with the additions of DePauldrick Garrett (42-198, 5 TDs) and Mike Venson (32-157, 2 TDs) as well as West Virginia transfer Jeremy Johnson (8-15-0, 114 yards, 2 TDs) at quarterback.
Defensively, Lamar is ranked third in the Football Championship Subdivision in total defense, giving up 224.67 yards per game.
“They’re very athletic,” Lucas said. “They don’t do a whole lot of things, but they can really run. We’ve got to sustain some drives.”
SLU (1-3, 0-1 SLC) is coming off a 48-27 loss to McNeese State and is averaging 406 yards per game behind quarterbacks Brian Young (71-130-3, 841 yards, 4 TDs) and Nathan Stanley (21-37-3, 224 yards, 2 TDs), running backs Sam Fairley (41-157, TD) and Zeke Jones (35-133, 5 TDs) and receivers Brandon Collins (26-287, 3 TDs) and Simmie Yarborough (19-228, 2 TDs).
“This is a very good offensive team,” Lamar coach Ray Woodard said.
“If they can slow the other team down and shore up their kicking game, they’re going to be in the middle of the race in the Southland because offensively they’re going to put up points.”
The Lions defense is surrendering 382 yards per game, led by linebackers Tay Alford (32 tackles) and Ricky Irvin (31 tackles).
“They’re good up front,” Woodard said of the Lions. “They’re going to bring it, and it should make for a challenge.”
But Lucas’ main focus is coming away with a victory.
“Do I have a sense of urgency?” Lucas asked. “Yes. We need to be 1-1 in the conference. We need to win.”
Hall of Fame game
Saturday’s game is the Hall of Fame game for Southeastern, with former soccer player Courtney Coutu and former football player Willie Shepherd being inducted in an afternoon ceremony at the Hall of Champions at the University Center and introduced at halftime of Saturday’s game.