Wildcats (3-3, 0-2 in conference) take on the Lamar Cardinals (2-3, 0-1 in conference) for the second time of the season but this time at home for Homecoming.
Back-to-back losses for the Wildcats set their record at 3-3 on the season most recently with a 30-15 loss at Eastern Kentucky.
“I’ll be honest, that loss was the most disappointed I’ve been in our team this year and the most disappointed they’ve felt all year,” head coach Adam Dorrel said. “You go back and watch the film and the execution was just horrific. Guys were making mistakes that they haven’t made all year on the same plays and same coverages. We looked tired and seemed sluggish.”
The Wildcats received a 15-yard penalty at the start of both halves because they didn’t communicate with Eastern Kentucky about wearing gray jerseys which contrasted with the Colonels. Dorrel said he was disappointed with how that played out.
“I think obviously they were very upset which is good because that’s how you want them to be,” Dorrel said. “I told them before the game that we’re not going to let 30 yards of penalties and four timeouts define who we are today. I personally don’t think that’s why we lost. We just had poor execution and we didn’t play with a lot of energy like we have this year. ”
Back on Sept. 25, the Wildcats defeated the Cardinals 56-0 on the road. That matchup was the Wildcats’ final non-conference game of the season. However, this Saturday counts toward conference play.
“Our guys are very locked into the week and what it means,” Dorrel said. “Obviously Homecoming is very important to our university and to our football program and I’ve tried to highlight that since I’ve been here. There are two things we need to do this week, stay out of the shenanigans involved with Homecoming and win the game. Our guys want to get that bad taste out of their mouths after last week.”
The Cardinals are ranked 120 out of 123 teams in the nation in total offense. The Wildcats are ranked 40 in the nation in total offense. In terms of total defense, the Wildcats are ranked 39 and the Cardinals 68 in the nation.
“Regardless of their record and how we played them the first time I’ve tried to get it into our guys that it has no bearing on this game,” Dorrel said. “One of the difficult things about playing teams twice is the fine line of what you use from the game plan the first time compared to what you try to change and tweak the second time.”
Backup quarterback redshirt sophomore Peyton Mansell carried the ball six times for 107 yards and a touchdown last time against the Cardinals.
“I’m very appreciative of him and his approach and leadership on how he’s doing things right now,” Dorrel said. “He’s preparing like he’s the starter and that’s not always the case for the backup. We’re going to continue to try and build his package.”
The Homecoming game starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at Wildcat Stadium, and it will be streaming live on ESPN+.