Lamar QB provides hair-raising (or -pulling) excitement on the field
Lamar University football coach Mike Schultz doesn’t want to dull the “double-edged sword” that is Darrel Colbert Jr.
The Cardinals senior starter can drive his coach crazy with extended scrambles, deep shots down the field and the occasional untimely turnover — all of which were on display during Lamar’s 49-48 shootout loss to Northwestern State on Saturday.
Colbert isn’t the most conventional quarterback in the Southland Conference, nor does Schultz want him to be. In the midst of their second season together, Schultz is getting more comfortable with Colbert’s improvising at will.
“I’m not going to lie, Darrel does some things that makes me want to pull my hair out,” Schultz said with a smile at his weekly news conference on Monday. “But for every time Darrel makes me pull my hair out, he comes back with something that makes me go ‘Oh, good decision Darrel.’ It’s kind of a double-edged sword, but that’s what you get when you have Darrel Colbert as your quarterback.”
Down 28 points late in the first half last Saturday, Colbert and the Lamar offense had been held scoreless for nearly consecutive six quarters.
Just 30 minutes of game time later, Lamar had scored 48 points and nearly pulled off the biggest comeback in school history, largely by utilizing Colbert’s diverse skill set.
Entering the second half with just 21 yards on the ground, Colbert finished with 137 yards rushing. In addition to scrambling for first downs, he threw four touchdown passes of at least 25 yards.
Colbert ended the game with seven total touchdowns, earning him an honorable mention on the Southland’s weekly award list, which was announced Monday.
Colbert said once he got out of his own way, things became much easier for Lamar’s offense in the second half.
“Stuff that was open, we were missing,” he said. Whether it was a missed ball by me, a missed read by me or a missed block. Once we got that together, that’s when we hit our stride.”
Self-inflicted mistakes have admittedly plagued Colbert in the past. He committed eight turnovers in six games last season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Incarnate Word.
This season, Colbert has 11 total touchdowns and three interceptions in three games.
Colbert isn’t the first quarterback that’s caused a special kind of stress for Schultz. While coaching the offense at Texas Christian University, Schultz shared a sideline with his now son-in-law and then TCU quarterback Tye Gunn. He compared the two on the field.
“I’d have to pull my hair out with Tye constantly, too,” Schultz said. “So that’s like what we have with Darrel.”
Schultz said Colbert will continue to get a substantial number of carries this weekend against Southeastern Louisiana (0-3, 0-1), especially with Cardinals starting running back Myles Wanza still listed as day-to-day.
Schultz said he recruits dual-threat quarterbacks to add another dimension to the run game. Colbert’s ability to scramble outside the pocket should keep a speedy Lions defense honest, Schultz said.
“There’s been times as coaches where we look at him and say ‘Hey, if you’re out of the pocket, you can pull the ball down and run.’ You don’t have to throw it all the time. A 15-yard run is just as good as a 15-yard throw.”
Colbert seemed to get the message against Northwestern State. He carried the ball 27 times, often while scrambling on would-be pass attempts.
“Whatever the situation calls for, that’s what we’ll do,” Colbert said. “If that’s me keeping the ball and running it, then I’ll run it. If they want to do a sweep and throw it back to me, I’ll do that, too. Doesn’t matter.”
Schultz expects to see more “Free Willy” plays from his quarterback this Saturday when Lamar (1-2, 0-1) goes for its first Southland win this season.
“You never know how those plays are going to end up,” Schultz said. “You just have to hang in there with him.”