Wednesday, August 20, 2008

LSC Preview - West Texas A&M

2007 Recap
Back-to-back LSC championships were not enough for the Buffaloes of West Texas A&M, so they took it another step - an undefeated regular season, before falling to national runner-up Northwest Missouri in the second round of the playoffs.

Along the way, the Buffs beat five nationally ranked teams, including road games against LSC foes Midwestern State, Abilene Christian, and Tarleton State, in a game that clinched the conference title. Statistically, WT was 3rd in scoring offense and defense 3rd in total offense, and 4th in total defense, but only had one conference game decided by less than 10 points.

Individually, there were numerous players that stood out (we cannot highlight all of them, so lets look at the best of the best). QB Keith Null threw for 4,134 yds and 41 TDs despite missing two games. Keithon Flemming had 1,198 yds rushing (7.5 yds per carry) 647 yds receiving and 2,069 all purpose yards to go with 17 TDs. Like Null, Charly Martin also missed two games, but still had 67 catches for 927 yds and 11 TDs. Defensively, All-American Brandon Swain led the LSC with 13 sacks, and 24.5 tackles for loss, easily outdistancing the rest of the league. All-American Jared Brock led the team with 99 tackles and also had 14 for losses.

The only downer for the Buffs was the trip to Maryville. Battle tested Northwest Missouri showed WT what it takes to make it to Florence. The Bearcats jumped out early, scoring TDs on their first three possessions, put together four drives of 60+ yards, and their defense scored as many TDs (3) as WT's offense.

2008 Outlook
Out with the old
WR B J Vickers (50 recs 693 yds 7 TDs)
TE Kolo Kapanui (1st LSC-South, All-American)
OL Patrick Schwenke (2nd LSC-South)
OL Ryan Glenday (2nd LSC-South)
OL Floyd Headen (HM LSC-South)
LB Steve Allen (2nd LSC-South)
DB Bret Jones (1st LSC-South)

Welcome Back
QB Keith Null (HM LSC-South)
RB Keithon Flemming (1st LSC-South)
RB Wayne McKnight (HM LSC-South)
WR Charly Martin (1st LSC-South)
WR A J Ruffins (HM LSC-South)
OL Dan Sherwood (HM LSC-South)
OL Devario Dorsey
OL Tommy Crowley (injured in 2007, 2nd LSC-South in 2006)
DE Brandon Swain (1st LSC-South, All-American)
DT Eddison Robertson (2nd LSC-South)
DE Dexter Manley II (injured in 2007)
DL Brett Watson (injured in 2007)
LB Jared Brock (1st LSC-South, All-American)
LB Eldon Grimslid (2nd LSC-South)
LB Mark Ford
LB Anthony Scott
LB Bradley Bullitt (DNP 2007, starter in 2006, fourth on team in tackles)
LB Max Steward (out since 2005, 2ndLSC-South in 2005)
DB Cashmin Thomas (1st LSC-South)
DB Arseel Shakoor (2nd LSC-South)
DB Darnell Johnson (2nd LSC-South)
DB Kyle Seals

In with the new
OL J'Marcus Webb (UT/Navarro, signed with Arizona in spring)
OL Jon Ioane (Santa Ana JC)
OL Willie Barton (East Carolina)
DL Broderick Marshall (Tyler JC, signed with Texas Tech in spring)
DL Eugene Sims (Jones County CC (MS))
DB Braelon Davis (Baylor)

All Conference Candidates
All returning and newcomers listed above are All-Conference candidates.

All American Candidates
QB Keith Null
RB Keithon Flemming
WR Charly Martin
OL J'Marcus Webb
DL Brandon Swain
DL Dexter Manley II
DL Broderick Marshall
DL Eugene Sims
LB Jared Brock

Big Games
Week 6 - Midwestern State - Mustangs forced 4 Ints, and WT had to recover an onside kick to preserve 25-20 last year
Week 8 - Abilene Christian - Preseason LSC favorite and top 10 team in several preseason polls. LY held ACU to 28 pts and 108 yds below season averages, and kept Bernard Scott under 100 yds rushing.
Week 11 - Tarleton State - WT has beaten the Texans the past three seasons to clinch the LSC title. Expect the game to decide the title once again.

Best Case Scenario
11-0 regular season and SW region title...from there no prediction. This team is talented at every position and has depth that no other team in the LSC (and maybe the country) can match. The early schedule should allow the team to build chemistry without being thrown into the fire. What figures to be their three toughest conference games are all at home. After winning three consecutive LSC championships, the bar has been raised and they will try to be the first LSC team to make it out of the region since Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2003.

Worst Case Scenario
8-3 and no playoffs. The team believes the news articles about them and don't focus on the task at hand. MSU had a chance to beat them last year, and they return a very solid defense. ACU and Tarleton boast offensive firepower that could make those games shootouts, and who knows if a team comes out of nowhere like WT did in 2005?

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