East Central came into the 2008 season with only 7 wins in the last 3 seasons combined. This season wasn't much different. After only putting up 3 wins, head coach Kurt Nicholls would lose his job and East Central is now looking for someone else to come in and hopefully bring more success to Ada.
Quick - name the Top 3 Passing Yardage leaders in the LSC. Obviously West Texas' Keith Null and ACU's Billy Malone jump to mind for the top 2 positions. Who's #3? East Central's Marcus Johnson quietly put up 282 yards per game to rank #3 in the LSC.
Johnson was the lone bright spot on the field for ECU this season. He was able to put together his 2nd consecutive LSC North Offensive Back of the Year Award. The lack of depth around Johnson was too much for ECU to handle though, and defenses sold out to stop him and didn't seem to worry about anyone else. This makes Johnson's statistics even that much more impressive.
ECU's main problem this season was their defense. They struggled all year to contain the run, and had major issues forcing turnovers. In the position the Tigers were in this season, they needed those 2 issues to be positives for them to have any chance this season.
2 of ECU's 3 wins were in overtime (against NSU and Southern Nazarene). In our preseason preview for ECU we stated in their worst case scenario:
"...Improvement in running game does not materialize (They finished the season #11 in Rushing Offense with 69 ypg) and the offense relies too heavily on Johnson. Run Defense allows opponents to control the game and the clock (ECU finished LAST in Rushing Defense, giving up a whopping 185 yards per game).
Looking ahead to 2009, whoever ECU ends up bringing in at Head Coach will have a big job on his hands. You also have to wonder about possible transfer losses with Coach Nicholls leaving Ada, which there has already been rumblings of.
2008 Statistics (LSC Rankings)
#7 Scoring Offense
#12 Scoring Defense
#11 Rushing Offense (68 ypg)
#13 Rushing Defense (185 ypg - the next team, SOSU, only had 140)
#13 Forced INT's (5 - the next team, TSU, had 10)
#3 Passing Offense
Strange Stats of the Year:
- ECU only had 49 yards in punt returns ALL YEAR, for an average of 2.9 yards per return
- The turnover margin that ECU put up in 2008 was staggering. They finished the season with a -21 Turnover Margin. The next worse team was NSU, who finished the season at -5.
Standout Players of 2008
- QB Marcus Johnson - #3 Passing Yards (282 ypg), #3 Total Yards (282 ypg), #6 Pass Efficiency, LSC North Offensive Back of the Year
- RB Joshua Maldanado - #5 Rushing TD (10)
- WR Tyrone Gibbs - #10 Receptions (4.7 per game), #6 All Purpose Yards (111 ypg)
LSC Scoop Preseason Predictions:
Best Case Scenario 6-5
"New receiving corps gels with Johnson, and experienced OL allows running game to improve...New blood on Defense leads to improvements, especially on run defense."
Worst Case Scenario 2-9
"...Improvement in running game does not materialize. WR's not up to last year's standards,and an offense that relies too heavily on Johnson. Run defense allows opponents control the game and the clock. First 3 weeks, ECU's confidence takes a hit and does not recover." (ECU lost the first 3 weeks by a combined 106 points)
Actual 2008 Record 3-8