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Cold weather forces LU football to change practice plans for the first game

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In a year full of unknowns and schedule changes in college athletics, it only seemed fitting for Lamar University football coach Blane Morgan that the first week of competition should begin with a snowstorm this spring.

Rather than hitting the field Monday to begin a week of training, the Cardinals get creative with their preps ahead of Saturday’s season opener against Northwestern State. That’s because a winter storm brought snow and ice on Sunday evening, rendering Lamar’s home field in the Provost Umphrey Stadium unusable for the time being.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this week, and then you wake up in the morning and it’s the worst snowstorm here in a few decades,” said Morgan. “Leading to 2021 only in 2020, right?”

Lamar probably won’t practice on the field on Tuesday either. Morgan said this is usually the main prep day, when players can put on the pads early in the week and get physical.

Instead, Lamar will go through team meetings, zoom calls, and indoor walk-throughs while the field is thawing. The kick-off on Saturday is scheduled at 3 p.m. in Beaumont.

“We learned this year to get the best out of our situations, and that’s what we’re trying to do again with our soccer team,” said Morgan. “We will certainly adapt and try to overcome that, in addition to the many other things we have had to overcome.”

Quarterback question

The biggest question that arises on Lamar’s team is who will start at the quarterback. The Cardinals had no viable option to return from last year’s roster, and Morgan said he has yet to decide which of the new additions will get the nod on Saturday.

It looks set to be a three-man race for the position between junior Jalen Dummett, senior Austin Scott and freshman Jake Smith. Dummett is a junior college transfer from California, while Scott played in 17 games during his time with the Eastern Kentucky FCS program. Smith had a notable career at Bishop Gorman High School before coming to Lamar.

Morgan said he’s seen flashes from all three quarterbacks, but has yet to get the consistency it takes to name a starter starting Saturday.

“At least you’ll see some guys … we’ll pick the guy with the hot hand and go with him in the second half,” Morgan said.

Experience discrepancy

Morgan starts his first season with Lamar and preaches patience with the program. The Cardinals have 51 real or redshirt freshmen on the roster.

That youth is especially evident in the offensive line, where Morgan said Lamar will start with “four or five” freshmen against Northwestern State on Saturday. Conversely, the Demons’ youngest starter is a sophomore.

Morgan said he expects Northwestern State’s offense to lean on the passing game, but Lamar will also need to be ready for creative run schedules.

Defensively, the experienced front seven of the Demons love to mix up the pressure, Morgan said, making it a tough game for whoever starts out as a quarterback Lamar.

“There are no excuses, but that’s just the reality of where our program is now,” Morgan said of Lamar’s childhood. “I think we look forward to competing and seeing what we have.”

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