It's back to business as usual for the Bearkats.
After getting a little time to enjoy the big win over McNeese State last Saturday, Sam Houston now has its attention squarely fixed on Lamar today.
"Against McNeese, that was a real good game. We didn't have a whole lot of good history against them going in," Bearkats cornerback Bookie Sneed said following a chilly walk-through practice on Thursday.
"We had to look past that one once Sunday came along. This is a good game. They have some good wide receivers, good offense and they've got a good quarterback. We've just been real focused this week on playing with good technique and playing as a good team."
A year ago, the freshman-laden Bearkats went down to Beaumont and took care of the Cardinals, who were in the first year of their newly restarted program, by a score of 38-10.
With both sixth-ranked Sam Houston (4-0 in Southland Conference play, 7-0 overall) and Lamar a year more experienced, each squad knows that today's contest won't be quite the same.
"We're expecting a better team overall. You can see that on film. There's a big difference. They're coming together as a team," Sneed said. "You can see them jelling. Everybody from the quarterback to the running backs, you can see them get better, just like we are. I'll give them credit, they're a pretty good team."
Though Lamar runs a fairly balanced offense, the Bearkats expect the Cardinals (1-2, 3-4) to test their secondary through the air in the early going.
"They've got a good offense. They've done a nice job of putting in more of an emphasis of running the ball. They're running the ball well," Bearkats head coach Willie Fritz said. "They threw it well last year and they're still throwing it well and they've got some dangerous receivers. They have added some offensive linemen, too. They're a more multi-dimensional offense than they were last season.
"They're going to take their shots early down the field against us. We've got to do a good job of holding up defensively so that they don't get those big plays early."
Posing the biggest offensive threat for the Cardinals is quarterback Andre Bevil, who has passed for 1,330 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions, and receivers J.J. Hayes (31 catches for 618 yards and five scores) and Marcus Jackson (15 receptions for 309 yards and five TDs).
"It's a challenge," said Sneed of keeping Lamar's offense in check. "We expect highly of ourselves on a daily basis no matter who we're playing. They have some real good receivers, so we're just going to have to challenge them with the secondary. We've just got to go out there and make the play."
The Cardinals were up and down in their first two conference games, beating Southeastern Louisiana 48-38 and then were drubbed by Northwestern State 37-17.
Last week, Lamar gave Central Arkansas, which currently stands second in the SLC, all it could handle. The Cardinals had a chance to pull the game even in the final minutes with a late drive. However, Bevil's pass was picked off and returned for a 31-yard touchdown and the Cardinals couldn't pull off the upset, falling 38-24.
"They're within a few points of having a heck of a record right now," Fritz said. "They're a very dangerous team."
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
"They're coming to play. We're not going to take them lightly at all. They know how to play," Sneed added.
Saturday is "Pink Out" at Bowers Stadium with special pregame ceremonies recognizing breast cancer awareness. At halftime, five previous Sam Houston football championship teams will celebrate the various anniversaries of their titles.
Tickets for the game are available online now at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the Sam Houston ticket office in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours Friday are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729. Gates at Bowers Stadium open at 12:30 p.m. Tailgate at Bearkat Alley begins at 12 noon.