Abilene Christian qualified for the NCAA playoffs for the second consecutive season, finishing the season with a 10-3 record. The team lost their first game to Central Oklahoma, rebounded to soundly defeat IAA Texas State in San Marcos, and won thrillers over Tarleton State and Midwestern State in de facto playoff games. In the first round of the actual playoffs, the Wildcats blew out Mesa State, before falling to Chadron State the next week.
To say the Wildcats' offense was explosive last year would be a severe understatement. ACU averaged just over 49 points and 544 yards a game, scoring 40 or more points in 11 games ( 7 games with 50+ and twice they went over 70). The flip side was a defense that really faltered down the stretch allowing 40+ points in four of the last 6 games. That defense was the main culprit in the playoff loss to Chadron State in which ACU lost a 29 point fourth quarter lead, allowing the CSC 313 yds and 36 points, including a 92 TD drive with 1:29 to play in the game.
The offense was lead by Billy Malone, the LSC's all-time leader in passing yardage, who threw for 3,914 yds and 37 TDs. More than half of his completions went to Johnny Knox (62 catches for 1,158 yds and an LSC record 17 TDs) and the LSC's all-time reception leader Jerale Badon (73 catches for 1,034 yds and 7 TDs). Bernard Scott had 2,165 yds rushing, 35 TDs and 2,730 all-purpose yards - all LSC records.
Out with the old
WR Jerale Badon (3 time 1st LSC-South, All-time LSC leader in receptions)
OL Nathan Young (1st LSC-South, All-American)
OL Cody Savage (2nd LSC-South)
OL Matt Raesner (2nd LSC-South)
DL Jacob Passmore (1st LSC-South)
DL Travis Carpenter (HM LSC-South, 1st LSC-South in 2006)
DL Julian Humble (HM LSC-South)
LB Cody Stutts (1st LSC-South)
CB Corey Jordan (2nd LSC-South, 1st LSC-South in 2006)
DB E J Whitley (2nd LSC-South)
QB Billy Malone (2nd LSC-South)
RB Bernard Scott (1st LSC-South, All American, Harlon Hill Finalist)
FB Emery Dudensing (1st LSC-South)
WR Johnny Knox (1st LSC-South)
WR Edmund Gates (HM LSC-South)
TE Kendrick Holloway (2nd LSC-South)
OL Joseph Thompson (1st LSC-South)
OL Sam Collins (1st LSC-South)
K Matt Adams (1st LSC-South)
LB Fred Thompson
LB Mike Kern
LB Jody Walker
DB Richard Havins
DB Reggie Mathis
DB Tony Harp (HM LSC-South)
In with the new
WR Gary Edwards
WR Doug Pierce (Blinn JC)
TE Ryan Keeling (Oregon)
OL Trevis Turner
OL Tony Washington (Trinity Valley CC)
DT Thomas Locust (Cerritos CC/signed w/ NC State in spring)
DE Vantrise Studivant (Rutgers)
DB Alex Harbison (Diablo Valley)
DB Drew Cuffee (Tulsa)
DB Bobby Chalk (Iowa State)
All conference Candidates
All returning and listed newcomers. Malone, Scott, Knox are also All-American candidates, and Bernard Scott is the favorite for the Harlon Hill Trophy.
Week One - Northwest Missouri - The Wildcats get an opportunity to measure themselves against one of the nation's elite programs.
Week Two - Texas A&M Commerce - The Lions are somewhat of a surprise in the AFCA poll, and if ACU could win these first two games, the tone for their season could be set.
Week Seven - West Texas A&M - If anyone is to beat WT in conference play this year, ACU is the odds on favorite to do so. This could be the LSC game of the year.
Week Eight - Tarleton State - They probably won't be able to top last year's game, but this should still be full of offensive fireworks.
Week Ten - Midwestern State - Another exciting last minute victory for ACU last year, this game could once again decide who goes on to the playoffs and who stays home.
Best Case Scenario
10-0 in the regular season and win the SW region. The Wildcats offense, led by the nations top trio of skill players stays at the same level as last year. The defens, with an influx of talent and healthy returnees, improves enough to keep the team out of shootouts.
Worst Case Scenario
6-4 and no playoffs. The Wildcats start off with Northwest Missouri, runner-up in the last three national championship games, follow that up with Texas A&M Commerce and then close out the season with West Texas A&M, Tarleton State and Midwestern State over the last four weeks of the season. If the defense doesn't improve, that tough schedule could make for a disappointing season when hopes are so high in Abilene.