Three consecutive losses to end the spring left a bitter taste with Incarnate Word (3-3, 3-3). The Cardinals were poised to make their second appearance in the playoffs in the last three years before the season ending skid.
The UIW offense was spectacular, averaging 42 points per game due to the emergence of Jerry Rice Award winner – given to FCS’s top freshman – Cameron Ward (2,260 yards, 24 TDs).
Ward has plenty of weapons in receivers Robert Ferrel (474 yards, 6 TDs) and Darion Chafin (373 yards, 4 TDs).
The Cardinals’ ground attack took a huge step forward in the spring with Kevin Brown gaining 775 yards and five touchdowns behind an improved offensive line. The UIW defense will be the key to the Cardinals achieving expectations this year and will seek to improve after allowing 41.8 points and 533 yards per game.
QB Cameron Ward: Obliterated the Nicholls secondary in the spring with 470 yards passing and 6 TDs.
RB Kevin Brown: Started all six games in the spring, averaging 10.5 yards per carry which led the nation; caught 21 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
LB Kelechi Anyalabechi: Played in four games in the spring and led the team with 42 tackles (22 solo, 20 assisted); had one tackle for loss; named to the first team All-Southland Conference.
Key Game: November 6 vs. Southeastern Louisiana.
Worst Case: Cameron Ward doesn’t match his incredible spring freshman year, and enters a sophomore slump.
Best Case: Cameron Ward continues to electrify, and the sieve-like defense catches up – and the Cardinals are knocking on the door of the FCS Playoffs again.
Rob Butler is a lifelong Texas A&M football fan – his family is full of A&M graduates. He graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas with two degrees – a BBA in Finance and an MBA. His hobbies include jogging and reading books pertaining to college football.