After a rough Saturday afternoon in Clemson last week, No. 16 Texas A&M will tune up defensively against Lamar on Saturday before facing No. 8 Auburn on Sept. 21.
Lamar (2-0) resides in the Football Conference Subdivision, or FCS, in the Southland Conference. In its last five contests with Football Bowl Subdivision schools, the Cardinals have averaged 10 points.
A&M (1-1) has only faced Lamar one other time — in 2014, when the Cardinals lost 73-3. Since then, Lamar has hired a new coach and made the FCS playoffs for the first time in program history in 2018.
Lamar’s offensive performance relies on the Cardinals’ ability to develop the run game, starting with senior quarterback Jordan Hoy. He’s a dual-threat signal caller who is dangerous on his legs, but he is still developing as a passer.
Last week in an overtime win against Mississippi Valley State, Hoy finished 21-of-39 for 233 yards with an interception. He added 68 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Myles Wanza is also a key piece of Lamar’s offense. The junior has led the Cardinals in rushing over the last two seasons despite only starting in three games over that same period.
Despite only scoring three times last season, Wanza is a running back that can keep drives alive for the Cardinals. Wanza had 99 rushing yards on 22 carries in Lamar’s win on Saturday.
The Cardinals will find difficulty advancing their game on the ground, however. Against Texas State and Clemson, the A&M defense has been dominating the opposing team’s run game. According to NCAA.com, the Aggies rank 10th in rushing defense, allowing 64.5 rushing yards per game and only 2.69 yards per attempt.
With the Cardinals’ aggressiveness in the run game, A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko will be looking to block off potential running lanes for Hoy and Wanza. Interior defensive linemen Bobby Brown III and Justin Madubuike will be integral in executing that plan.
The defense will also bring in blitz packages on particular read-option plays, which could potentially bring a loss of yardage for Lamar. Cornerbacks Roney Elam and Elijah Blades have already logged a sack each this season and will continue to be dangerous in the corner blitz.
After recording an interception in each of the past two games, Elam said he doesn’t plan to stop that streak against Lamar.
“I’m going to try to get one every game,” Elam said. “[We’ll] see how that goes.”
The Aggies will face the Cardinals on Saturday at Kyle Field. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPNU.