Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Washburn at West Texas A&M Preview

Congrats to the All LSC Performers for the 3-time defending LSC Champion West Texas A&M Buffaloes.

RB Keithon Flemming WTAMU R-Fr. Mesquite, Texas
WR Charly Martin WTAMU Jr. Farmington, N.M.
TE Kolo Kapanui WTAMU Sr. Palolo, Hawaii

DE Brandon Swain WTAMU Jr. Tulsa, Okla.
OLB Jared Brock WTAMU Jr. Abenathy, Texas
CB Cashmin Thomas WTAMU Jr. Fresno, Calif.

OG Patrick Schwenke WTAMU Sr. Taylorsville, Utah
C Ryan Glenday WTAMU Sr. Celeste, Texas
PK Jon Roberts WTAMU Sr. Houston, Texas

DT Eddison Robertson WTAMU Jr. Texas City, Texas
ILB Steve Allen WTAMU Sr. Del Ray Beach, Fla.
OLB Eldon Grimslid WTAMU Jr. Holmen, Wis.
CB Arseel Shakoor WTAMU Jr. Austin, Texas
S Darnell Johnson WTAMU Jr. Killeen, Texas

OT Floyd Headen, WTAMU, Sr.
OT Dan Sherwood, WTAMU, R-Fr.
WR AJ Ruffins, WTAMU, Fr.
QB Keith Null, WTAMU, Jr.
FB Wayne McKnight, WTAMU, Jr

Defensive Lineman of the Year - Brandon Swain, WTAMU
Linebacker of the Year - Jared Brock, WTAMU
Freshman of the Year - Keithon Flemming, WTAMU

West-Texas A&M started off the regualr season with a bang, defeating South Dakota 55-45, and ended it with an impressive 39-14 drubbing of a one-loss Tarleton State team. In between, they defeated two more top 15 squads, outscoring their oppostion by an average score of 43 to 18. For the first time in several years, WT has a running game - averaging 148 yds per game and 5.4 per carry. Keithon Flemming ran for over 1,100 yds (8.2 yd per carry) and 12 TDs and is a weapon in the passing game as well, grabbing 55 balls for another 493 yds and 5 TDs. The Buffs are still a pass-oriented team, with the pass accounting for 387 yds per game and 43 TDs. Starting QB Keith Null threw for almost 3,300 yds, 33 TDs, 10 Ints, completes 67% of his passes and has a QB rating of 154.9. His backup, Taylor Harris, filled in nicely for 2 games and carries a QB rating of 150. The receiving corps is deep, led by Charly Martin, AJ Ruffins, and Kolo Kapanui. You can't overlook BJ Vickers, Carl Johnson, Dale Davis or Seth Hayden - all had more than 20 catches and all had multiple TDs. The Offensive line had two second team and two honorable mention All-LSC players - they allowed just 18 sacks.

Washburn is about as balanced as you can be on offense, getting 202 yds on the ground and 192 through the air. They scored 32 pts per game with a high of 71 against Truman State. Jordan Brill is the QB - he had a QB rating of only 128.4, completing 54% of his passes for 2,109 yds, 15 TDs, but also 15 INTs. WR Jake Lebahn led the team with 31 receptions for 602 yds and 4 TDs. Only one other player had more than 15 receptions. RaShawn Mosely (1,110 yds 11TDs) and Brandon Walker (692 yds 10TDs) form a potent 1-2 rushing punch. The Ichabods ran the ball 455 times while attempting 269 passes. Three offensive linemen received post season all MIAA honors - Eric Eisenbarth 1st, Jeff Rickard 2nd, and Trent Stanley HM, as well as TEBen Ramsey HM. They are all seniors.

Defensively, WT is much improved over the last two years. Brandon Swain led the LSC with 21.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. The heart of the defense is the LB corps led by Jared Brock (86 tackles, 11 for loss), Steve Allen (70 tackles, 12.5 for loss), and Eldon Grimslid (61 tackles, 6.5 for loss). Cashmin Thomas, Arseel Shakoor, and Darnell Johnson combined for 6 INTs and 29 break-ups. As a unit, WT gave up 118 yds rushing and 205 yds passing, finishing 3rd in total defense at 323 yds per game and allowed just 17.7 pts per game, good for top spot in the LSC.

Washburn gave up 363 yds per game, 167 on the ground and 196 through the air. They gave up only 13 TD passes and picked off 22 passes. They sacked opposing QBs only 19 times. Their DL has good size- Eric Butler (6-2 305) received first team all MIAA, Eric Lawrence (6-2 255) was second team, and Brandon Jackson (6-2 295)received honorable mention. LB Zach Watkins led the team with 130 tackles and was a first team all MIAA. Cary Williams, another first team all MIAA, led the Ichabods with 7 INTs.

WT will be facing a physical team in Washburn, similar to the Pitt State team they played in 2005. Washburn will be facing the most explosive offense they've seen this year. Who wins will likely come down to who executes their gameplan the best. Washburn will want to control the clock, run the ball effectively and keep the WT offense off the field. WT will want to get up early and force Washburn to go to the passing game. Jordan Brill is a good QB, but can be pressured into making mistakes. WT's ability to run the ball and their defense will determine how far they go in this year's playoffs.

Prediction - Unless the Buffs are looking ahead to a possible matchup with Northwest Missouri, they should win this one. And if you read Coach Carthel's comments regarding the perceived lack of respect for his players on the LSC all conference teams, they are not likely to be looking ahead.

WT by a 35-24 margin.

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