Thursday, September 11, 2008

Game Notes & Picks (9-13)

Recap of last week's games...

ENMU over SWO 37-24 (Prediction SWO 31-14) - oops, missed the first one. We'll just blame it on Blackwater Draw.
TAMK over ECU 44-14 (35-17) - Jav's offense perfect in red zone ( 7 for 7 ).
TSU over NSU 38-10 (35-7) - Texan running game in high gear.
MSU over SOSU 27-20 (31-10)- Closer than expected, but MSU overcame 3 turnovers.
WTAM over UCO 49-18 (38-7) -Buffs had 637 yards of offense.
TAMC over ASU 13-10 (21-17) -Were the defenses that good, or offenses not in synch?

For the week 5-1, for the season 15-2.
Azusa Pacific (0-2) at #2 West Texas A&M (2-0)
The Cougars are typically one of the better NAIA teams, qualifying for the playoffs six times in the past 10 years, winning the title in 1998. Five starters return on offense, including WR Jon Davis (6'3 215 lbs) who had 73 receptions for 1,258 yds and 21 TDs in 2007. The defense returns 10 starters, though it hasn't seemed to help much as the team is allowing 450 yds and 39.5 pts per game.

WTAM Game Notes
The Buffs offense torched UCO for over 600 yards offensively, controlling the ball for more than 38 minutes. Keith Null and Taylor Harris combined to throw for 470 yds, completing passes to 12 different players. Keithon Flemming broke loose for 124 yds rushing on just 15 carries. The defense held UCO to just 221 yards and combined for 9 tackles for losses.

Expect more of the same this week. The Buffaloes fans will be rewarded as the team continues to impress on both sides of the ball. Even with liberal substitutions WT cruises to a big win and puts 50 on the board for the first (but not last) time this year. WTAM 56-10

#9 Angelo State (0-2) at #8 Southwestern Oklahoma (1-1)

The Rams are 0-2, after dropping another close game last week to Texas A&M-Commerce. The defense has done its job, holding both opponents to under 300 yds and an average of 17 pts. The offense struggled last week - a combination of a strong Lion's defense and a freshman quarterback making his first start. Daniel Thomas topped the century mark last week, and may be called upon to carry more of the offensive load.

Despite starting in Greyhound territory on their first three drives, the Bulldogs were only able to convert it into 3 points. The offense generated 329 yards, but needed 89 plays to do so. Johnathan Haggerty just missed a 100 yd game with 8 catches for 99 yds and a TD. Ovie Esalomi only carried the ball 7 times, but averaged more than 5 yds per carry.

This probably the toughest game to call this week. If Metzger starts at QB for the Rams again, Angelo State will need a big game from Daniel Thomas. If they can get consistently run the ball, they should be on the right side of a close game. Angelo 21-17.

#3 Tarleton State (2-0) at #12 East Central (0-2)
While most of the talk about the LSC has focused on ACU and WT, Tarleton has simply gone out and had two dominant games. The passing game has been modest, with the Texans averaging just 162 yds through the air, but they do lead the LSC in rushing at 263 yds per contest, and boast two of the top four individual rushing leaders. The defense, which was a question mark coming into the season has been superb, allowing just 160 yds and 10 pts per game. To be fair, this has come against two teams at the bottom of the LSC in yards gained, but is still impressive with all of the substitutions they have been able to do early on.

ECU has had some success moving the ball (6th in total offense 348 yd per game), but has not been able to convert that into many points (10th in scoring 14 pts per game). The rushing game has struggled (64 yds per game 2.3 yds per carry), but the Marcus Johnson has been able to move the ball through the air (283 yds per game). Tyrone Gibbs has emerged as his top receiver (9 receptions for 156 yds and 2 TDs). The defense has not been good, allowing 459 yds and 51 pts per game. The run defense (257 yds per game and 6.2 per carry) could be in for a very long night.

This looks like a big mismatch in favor of Tarleton. They should be able to run the ball at will, passing enough to keep the defense honest. This will be the best offense they have faced to date, but they should emerge with their top defensive ranking intact. Tarleton 49-14.

#7 Eastern New Mexico (1-1) at #11 Southeastern Oklahoma (0-2)
The Greyhounds were stingy against the run, allowing just 37 yards on 31 carries, and kept SWO's Steve Day under 40% passing. The running game still needs to improve (57 yds on 15 carries for the running backs), but Cory Baker may have just emerged as the QB needed for ENMU. He hit 73% of his passes for 278 yds and 3 TDs last week. Jessie Poku, Darian Dale and Joseph Banyard combined to catch 23 of those passes for 205 yds.

Despite being outgained by 151 yds and having 4 turnovers, the Savage Storm found themselves with a chance to win last Saturday at Midwestern State. Baylen Laury had a very good game, scoring all 3 TDs, and gaining 116 yds on 18 carries. The QB position is still having a hard time, completing just 11 of 25 passes for 95 yards and getting picked off 3 times. The defense did well against the pass, holding two MSU QBs to just 12 of 29 passing and picking off 3 passes of their own. The Mustangs were able to run the ball effectively, picking up 198 yds and averaging 4.6 per carry.

This week's game has some interesting matchups. ENMU is allowing just 47.5 yds rushing a game, while Laury is 5th in rushing at 89 yds a game. On the other side, SOSU is 5th in passing defense at 172 per game, while ENMU is putting up 272 per game. Look for SOSU to cut down on the turnovers and win at home 24-21.

#6 Texas A&M-Kingsville (1-1) at #10 Central Oklahoma (0-2)
In beating ECU 44-14, the Javelinas enjoyed their largest margin of victory and most rushing yards against a D2 team since 2004. The defense did give up 316 yds but picked off Marcus Johnson twice inside the red zone to thwart scoring drives. Against the run, the Javs allowed just 46 yds on 23 attempts.

UCO Game Notes
Central Oklahoma followed up a solid defensive effort against Pittsburg State with 49-18 loss to West Texas A&M, allowing 637 yards. The offense did not help matters, going three and out 9 times during the game (and two other possessions of 4 plays) and a miserable time of possession of 21:35. Through 2 games, the UCO offense is 11th in yardage (226 per game) and 8th in scoring (15 per game).

Hurricane Ike forced this game to be rescheduled to Edmond. This gives UCO its third home game, and TAMK its third road game so far. TAMK looks to be improved over last year, bouncing back from a tough opener at North Dakota to win big in Ada. UCO looks to have taken a step back offensively, and the defense has just been on the field too long. TAMK overcomes Ike and UCO 31-14.

#5 Midwestern State (1-0) at #13 Northeastern State (0-2)
MSU Game Notes
How would the Mustang offense perform in the post-Polk era? That was the question coming into the the 2008 season for the Mustangs. Results after game one are mixed - while the Mustangs put up 362 yds of offense, 45% of that came on two drives, the team completed just over 40% of their passes, and threw 3 interceptions. On the bright side, MSU was able to move the ball 75 yards for the winning TD with about 2 minutes remaining in the game. The defense was as good as expected, allowing just 211 yards and getting 3 interceptions of their own and sacking SOSU QBs 3 times.

NSU Game Notes
The Riverhawks offense was shut down by Tarleton State last week, gaining just 132 yard (with 56 of that coming on one drive after the score was 31-3). John Kelly had a nice game, gaining 61 yards, but NSU needs to get better production from others. The defense allowed Tarleton over 300 yards rushing, Scott Grantham completed 67% of his passes and the Texans kepth their offense on the field for more than 35 minutes.

Look for Midwestern to continue to run the ball effectively, setting up the passing game. Northeastern State will continue to try and iron out the kinks in their offense, but its not an easy task given the caliber of the defenses they have been facing. Midwestern State improves to 2-0 with a 28-10 victory.

Game of the Week
#4 Texas A&M Commerce at #1 Abilene Christian
TAMC Game Notes
This year's Lions squad is shaping up similar to those of recent years - solid defense, and an offense that shows promise but is inconsistent. The defense is giving up just 254 yds and 20 pts per game, but ACU is on an entirely different level than either of TAMC's first two opponents. The Lions' offense has been sporadic. Against Angelo State, the team had 3 scoring drives accounting for 185 yards, and 10 other possessions that totalled 76. Against Northwestern State, 113 of the Lions' 302 yards came on just 2 plays.

ACU Game Notes
ACU was idle last week, giving them a chance to rest up and enjoy a huge road victory over 3-time national runner-up Northwest Missouri. After spotting NWMSU a 21-7 lead, the defense really came around. Of NWMUS's 402 yards, 183 came on the first three possessions - the 10 remaining possessions yielded just 219. The offense simply picked up where they left off last year, amassing 516 yards and going 7 possessions without punting. They were a perfect 6-6 in the red zone. Billy Malone connected on 72% of his passes, and Bernard Scott rushed for 177 yds and 2 TDs and had 36 receiving yds as well.

While TAMC's defense has performed will so far, this will be the biggest challenge they face this year. ACU has too many weapons for the Lions to stop them. On the other side of the ball, the ACU defense doesn't have to shut down the opposition, just slow them down enough to keep the game from being a shootout. TAMC hasn't shown the ability to sustain their offense enough to make this a high scoring duel. ACU wins comfortably 42-17.

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