SAN ANTONIO - Winners of three straight games and undefeated in the Southland Conference, the University of the Incarnate Word's football team is drawing national attention.
For the first time in the program’s 10-year history, the Cardinals received seven votes in this week’s American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) FCS Coaches Top 25 Poll. They also earned 14 votes in the STATS FCS Top 25 Media Poll.
"You definitely try to block it out,” first-year head coach Eric Morris said. "None of those people were with us when we started this thing. They thought we were going to be the same old team. So we want to stick together and stay with our small little group, block all that outside noise out and any kind of distraction."
The Cardinals coaching staff is trying to keep their players focused and away from any interferences, including all the recent talk.
"That's part of human nature, so we're trying to keep that away and stick to the things that got us here, and that's coming out here, that's coming out and practicing really hard and mentally putting these reps in," Morris said.
Incarnate Word is 3-2 overall, 3-0 in Southland play. While the national attention is nice, the Cardinals are keeping the season in perspective.
"With this program being fairly new and not really accomplishing too much until now, we're getting a whole lot of publicity and a lot of hype, as they say," senior wide receiver Kody Edwards said.
"But as Coach Morris engraves in our mind, every week is a new week. Live it up and then get right back to work starting that Sunday night," Edwards said.
This is the first time the Cardinals have won three consecutive games since 2013, and it's just the third time in program history they have won three consecutive games.
"It's been good. We're just doing what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to be 3-0," senior wide receiver Phillip Baptiste said. "But it all just falls back to that we've been listening to the coaches, doing what they tell us to do, working hard every day, and things have been showing off on Saturdays."
After spending the past five seasons running the offense for Texas Tech football, Morris came to UIW looking to turn them into a winning program.
Just five games in, the Cardinals are on the right path.
"I'm not surprised. I think you get what you deserve in life, and you earn these kinds of things," Morris said.
"They've earned the right to play in these games, and we've executed at a high level. I'm proud of the way that they're playing together, playing tough and they're executing. So I'm really not surprised right now."
The Cardinals will next travel to Lamar (1-4, 0-3 Southland Conference) in Beaumont, Texas, on Saturday. It will be UIW's fourth SLC contest of the season.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. (CT) at Provost Umphrey Stadium.
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