Coming off three consecutive LSC championships and playoff appearances, West Texas A&M came into the 2008 season with high expectations. After a narrow escape at Mesa State in the opening week, the Buffaloes found their footing, averaging 51 points over the next six games, with a 20 point victory at Kingsville, being the closest contest. That set up the first showdown with Abilene Christian. ACU jumped out early in that game, and beat WT 52-35. The defense stiffened up after that game, allowing just 9 points over the final three weeks of the regular season, including a 51-0 victory over Tarleton State in the season finale. A 49-42 victory over Central Washington in the opening round of the playoffs, set up a rematch with ACU. That game - a record setting 93-68 ACU victory - will be long remembered. So the Buffs finish the year 11-2, with a fourth consecutive playoff appearance (and third year with a playoff win). For most programs and fans, that would be a successful season, but many in the Panhandle are anxious to take the next step.
The offense was certainly productive again. The passing game racked up 5,565 yds and 52 TDs on the season. That was good enough for the number one spot in the nation. The running game chipped in 1,514 yds and 28 TDs as well. WT scored 40 or more points ten times during the season, including 6 in a row from week 2 to week 7. Overall, WT was 2nd nationally with 544.5 yds per game and 48.15 pts per game (behind only ACU in both categories).Defensively, WT allowed 129 yds rushing and 225 yds passing (354 total) and 26.4 pts per game. Take out the two ACU games, and WT allowed just 282 yds and 18 pts per game, both of which would have led that LSC.
Team Records set in 2008
Single game passing yards - 595 vs. ACU Nov 22 (prev record 564 ACU-1976)
Season Pass Completion % - 67.5% (prev 66.9% WTAM-2005)
Season Passing Yards - 5,565 (prev 5,155 WTAM-2007)
Season Passing Yds/Game - 428.1 (prev 396.5 WTAM-2007)
Season TD Passes - 52 (prev 51 WTAM-2007)
2008 Statistical Rankings
#2 Scoring offense
#2 Total offense
#1 Pass offense
#2 Pass efficiency
#1 First Downs
#1 3rd Down conversions offense
#2 Red Zone offense
#2 Pass efficiency defense
#4 Pass defense
#6 Rushing offense
#1 Net Punting avg.
#9 Scoring defense
#7 Total defense
#10 Rushing defense
#13 Kick Return avg.
2008 Standout Players
QB Keith Null - 2nd LSC-South; 5,097 yds, 48 TDs, 167.5 QB rating; LSC single game and season records for passing yards, and TD passes
RB Keithon Flemming - 2nd LSC-South; 756 yds, 13 TD rushing, 341 yds receiving 1 TD
RB/RS Wayne McKnight - 2nd LSC-South (RS); 487 yds, 10 TD rushing, 189 yds receiving, 3 TDs, 25.2 avg kick return, 1 TD
WR Charly Martin - 1st LSC-South, LSC-South Receiver of the Year, 1st Daktronics All Region Team; 95 receptions, 1,867 yds, 22 TDs (all three are LSC records)
WR Seth Hayden - 2nd LSC-South; 66 receptions, 832 yds, 6 TDs
TE Carl Johnson - HM LSC-South; 73 receptions, 925 yds, 9 TDs
OL J'Marcus Webb - 1st LSC-South, 2nd Daktronics All Region Team;
OL Devario Dorsey - 2nd LSC-South;
OL Tommy Crowley - 2nd LSC-South;
DL Broderick Marshall - 1st LSC-South; 28 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 3 passes broken up
DL Eugene Sims - 2nd LSC-South, LSC-South Def Lineman of Year; 56 tackles, 13 TFL, 10 sacks, 2 passes broken up
DL T J Nickelberry - HM LSC-South; 21 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks
DL Brandon Swain - HM LSC-South; 27 tackles, 7 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 passes broken up
LB Jared Brock - 1st LSC-South, LSC-South LB of year, 1st Daktronics All Region Team; 83 tackles, 14 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 3 passes broken up
LB Eldon Grimslid - 2nd LSC-South; 63 tackles, 9 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 Int, 2 passes broken up
DB Braelon Davis - 1st LSC-South, 2nd Daktronics All Region Team; 43 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 Int, 5 passes broken up
DB Darnell Johnson - 1st LSC-South; 35 tackles, 6 Ints, 7 passes broken up
DB Curtis Jefferson - 2nd LSC-South; 50 tackles, 1 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 1 Int, 6 passes broken up
P Cort Johnson - 2nd LSC-South; 43.2 avg
K James Chandler - 2nd LSC-South; 77-79 PATs, 8-13 FGs, 53 yard longest
Seniors moving on
QB Keith Null - HM All-LSC South 2007, 2nd All-LSC South 2008; passed for 9,769 yds, 92 TDs in just over two full seasons, single season record holder for passing yards and TDs.
WR Charly Martin - 1st All-LSC South 2008, 2007, 2006, WR of Year 2008; All-time leading LSC receiver in receptions, yards, and TDs (244, 4,108, and 45 respectively).
LB Jared Brock - 1st All-LSC South 2008, 2007, 2006, LB of year 2008, 2007, numerous All-American teams; 349 tackles, 40 TFL, 11.5 sacks, 2 Ints, 14 passes broken up.
QB Matt McIntyre
RB Wayne McKnight - HM All-LSC South 2007, 2nd LSC-South 2008; 802 yds, 13 TDs rushing, 45 receptions, 352 yds, 4 TDs
WR Seth Hayden - 2nd All-LSC South 2008; 101 receptions, 1,205 yds, 9 TDs in 2 seasons
WR Anthony Clark - 51 receptions, 633 yds, 7 TDs in 2 seasons.
TE Carl Johnson - 120 receptions, 1,555 yds, 12 TDs in 2 seasons
OL Tommy Crowley - 2nd All-LSC South 2006, 2008
OL Devario Dorsey - 2nd All-LSC South 2008
OL Willie Barton
DL T J Nickelberry - 52 tackles, 12 TFL, 5.5 sacks in 2 seasons
DL Brandon Swain - 1st All-LSC South 2007, Def. Lineman of Year 2007, HM All-LSC South 2008; 98 tackles, 31.5 TFL, 16.5 sacks, 1 Int, 5 passes broken up in 2 seasons
DL Marvin Wash - 48 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 12 passes broken up in 2 seasons
LB Eldon Grimslid - 2nd All-LSC South 2007 & 2008; 170 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 4 sacks in 3 seasons LB Max Steward - 2nd All-LSC South 2005; 98 tackles, 12 TFL, 5 sackse, 1 Int, 7 passes broken up in 2 seasons
LB LeAndrew Hicks - 37 tackles, 3 TFL in 2 seasons
DB Keyon Kiles - 41 tackles, 2 Int, 3 passes broken up in 2 seasons
DB Darnell Johnson - 1st All-LSC South 2008, 2nd team in 2007 & 2006; 134 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 9 Ints, 15 passes broken up
DB Cashmin Thomas - 1st All-LSC South 2007; 82 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 5 Int, 15 passes broken up in 2 seasons
DB Arseel Shakoor 2nd All-LSC South 2007; 79 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 Int, 17 passes broken up in 2 seasons
DB Kyle Seals - 66 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 Int, 4 passes broken up in 2 seasons
DB Matt Manley -
P Cort Johnson - 1st All-LSC South 2006, 2nd 2008; averaged over 40 yds per punt all 3 seasons at WT
Best Case Scenario11-0 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 Scenario8-3 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?
Actual Record 11-2
The Buffaloes just could not get past Abilene Christian. Two games, two losses, and severe damage to the defense's statistics. It's hard to call this season a disappointment, but this may have been the best WT team in the Carthel era.