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PANTHERS NOTEBOOK: Davis says Lester was ‘awful’ last week — but coach takes blame

Panthers QB Cecil Lester and the offense should be a lot sharper in their third game of the year Saturday vs. Alabama.

Panthers QB Cecil Lester and the offense should be a lot sharper in their third game of the year Saturday vs. Alabama.

Looking Ahead

WHO: Alabama Hammers (2-0) at Albany Panthers (2-0).

WHAT: Panthers’ third game.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Albany Civic Center.

RADIO: 97.3 FM.

ALBANY — The Panthers and quarterback Cecil Lester struggled at times last week against Columbus, but coach Lucious Davis took all the blame for Lester’s off night.

“Cecil was awful, but I was awful as well,’’ Davis said at practice Wednesday. “I was awful at my play calling and decision making. There were three times for sure I should have kicked a field goal and went for it.

“In a playoff game I would have kicked the field goal, but it’s a regular-season game so I wanted to see what we would do.’’

Davis said he has no doubt Lester will bounce back and have a good game Saturday against Alabama.

“I don’t worry about him,’’ Davis said of his three-year starter. “I trust him. He knows what’s going on. At times, he gets out of the box and tries to do too much. He puts a lot of pressure on himself at times and tries to win the game by himself.’’

40 is the Magic Number: The Panthers have always had one of best — if not the best — defenses in the league, and it’s a big reason they have won back-to-back titles. And in a league in which points are scored like a video game, defense can mean everything.

“Offense is offense,’’ Davis said. “You’re going to score points, but if your defense is solid you are going to have a chance to win the game. Any time you hold a team under 40 you should win.

“We have held teams to under 40 points in both games, really. Louisiana had 34 points and then scored on the last play of the game (in the opener), and we held Columbus to 37 points last week. That’s good defense. But we can play a lot better.’’