10 takeaways to wrap up Lamar’s football season

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It was a one-season struggle for the Lamar University football team, which ended the year last Saturday with a loss to Stephen F. Austin at Beaumont.

Success was hard to achieve for a young Cardinals team amid a full rebuild under head coach Blane Morgan, who is now entering his first real offseason after Lamar played 17 games in a calendar year in because of the spring calendar.

Not much went well for Lamar this fall, but there was still a lot to learn from the 2-9 season. Here are ten takeaways from the Cardinals’ 2021 campaign:

Quarterfinals questions continue

Each week, Lamar’s biggest question seemed to be who would start under the center. Returning spring starter Jalen Dummett was benched midway through the season. The move raised a quarterback conundrum that has never been resolved.

Mike Chandler was the next man for Lamar, but was injured following an October loss to Central Arkansas. Her freshman Daelyn Williams was then “thrown into the fire,” according to Morgan. Williams has started the last four games of the season, not finding much success along the way.

Lamar has many questions to answer, but none are more important than the quarterback position.

Northern Colorado was a highlight

Lamar’s only Division I victory came early in the road season. The Cardinals traveled to northern Colorado and won a 17-10 overtime victory led by their defense.

Chaz Ward, who has otherwise been disappointing for most of the season, scored the touchdown in overtime to give the Cardinals the victory. However, it was all down from there, as Lamar didn’t win another game the rest of the year.

Long losing streak

The Cardinals ended the year losing eight straight games, by far the longest such streak since returning from the program in 2010.

The five-game slippage to end the 2016 season was the longest streak in the past, which resulted in Ray Woodard’s sacking. Other than a huge surprise, there won’t be a change of coach this season with Morgan at the helm. This year was always going to be an uphill battle, but losing eight games in a row – many of which are breakouts – looks terrible.

The strength of the Cardinals’ schedule was pretty solid, facing two FCS playoff teams (Sam Houston and SFA), as well as a UTSA side that are still unbeaten this year in FBS action.

Defense from top to bottom

While Lamar’s defensive unit looked good at the start of the season like in the northern Colorado game, the Cardinals were torched by several teams at the end of the year.

They have allowed at least 40 points in six of their last eight games, one of them being a 38-7 loss to Jacksonville State. If it wasn’t one thing, it was quite another.

The Cardinals were nicked in the running game at times, but also struggled in high school at the end of the year.

First year up front

For most of the season, Lamar’s starting offensive line was made up entirely of freshmen. If you ask Morgan, Lamar’s quarterbacks were “running for their lives” all fall, as evidenced by the five sacks allowed in the season finale against SFA.

The good news is that as these first year players get older, they will have a lot of gaming experience that they can learn from. The first-year forward is not a winning formula, and the Cardinals’ offensive line can only improve from here.

Roll back production

For a football management offense, Lamar hasn’t done it very well this season.

Only one player, Jalyon Jackson, has run over 300 yards. Dummett was next at 241, while Ward finished the year with 229 yards.

It’s hard to put all the blame on their backs when they were running behind an inexperienced offensive line, but much more was expected from Lamar’s backfield this season.

Jackson appears to be the most talented of all as a speed option, while Ward is clearly the most physical running back. Plain and straightforward, Lamar needs more of his running backs if the Cardinals are to win games next year.

Jaymond a bright spot

If there was one positive note from Lamar’s defense this season, it was lineman Jaymond Jackson. The 6-foot-3 first-year defensive end was quite productive for the Cardinals, finishing with 4.5 sacks to lead the team.

Jackson has the body and skills of a serious sack artist. Look for the Lindale High School product to be a great contributor to the defense of the Cardinals for years to come.

Morgan the playmaker

Another difficult area to judge this season was Morgan’s ability as a playmaker. Lamar’s triple option system hasn’t worked, but it seems to have more to do with the young staff.

Morgan admittedly got “frustrated” at times calling games this season, looking for anything that could help Lamar move the ball. Morgan opened things up later in the year, but with no real threat of a move to the quarterback, Lamar’s offense never got off the ground.

We’ll really find out what kind of caller Morgan can be on the road when this Lamar team grows up.

About ten seniors

Twelve Lamar players will graduate as seniors, although the number of seniors who have actually played for Lamar this season is much smaller.

Players like Kirkland Banks, Desmond Veals and Bailey Giffen all date back to the Mike Schultz era and stayed when Morgan took over the program.

Morgan made sure to show his gratitude to these players at the post-game press conference on Saturday night, thanking them for “helping to lay the groundwork” for what lies ahead.

Lamar won’t have many seniors over the next few years as Morgan continues his strategy of recruiting mostly high school players instead of college transfers.

A look to the future

After what Morgan called the “crucial” offseason, Lamar already has five games scheduled for next fall. The Cardinals are stranded for games against Tarleton State, SMU, Northern Colorado, Prairie View A&M and New Mexico State.

The rest of Lamar’s WAC games will be announced at a later date. This sets up another difficult schedule for a Cardinals team that will be young again next season as Morgan’s rebuilding continues.

Matt Faye is a sports journalist and columnist for the Beaumont Company. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter by clicking here.

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