Mustangs face uncertainty at linebacker
The Midwestern State Mustangs have plenty of question marks on defense as they enter the 2009 season. But nowhere is there more uncertainty than in the linebacking corps where only one player — inside linebacker Emmanuel Bagley — has much experience. The fifth-year senior (6-1, 221) started all 10 games and led the Mustangs in tackles last year with 65.
“We’re a young group and very inexperienced with only one guy who has started and seen much playing time,” said defensive coordinator Rich Renner, who also coaches the linebackers. “This is the biggest question mark and will be our most challenging position. It’s a challenge for me to patient and help them grow through the season. They work really hard and do everything I ask of them. Because we’re young, we’re going to make some mistakes. But I think we can work through that and get better as the season goes on.”
UCO Holds Final Scrimmage
Tulsa - Central Oklahoma continued preparations for the upcoming football season with its final major intrasquad scrimmage Saturday in Edmond. The Bronchos are the defending Lone Star Conference champions and are expected to repeat this season. In Saturday's 68-play scrimmage, several players didn't play to heal up from some minor injuries. But, for the most part, head coach Tracy Holland liked what he saw.
"It was a good scrimmage and we definitely look better than we did at this time last year," said Holland. "I saw a lot of good things, but we had too many busted assignments and we've got to get more consistency across the board."
Sophomore receiver Preston Runyan had two catches in the scrimmage and both went for scores, one for 19 yards from Taylor McBane and the other from Brandon Noohi covering 22 yards. Josh Birmingham also had a 70-yard touchdown run. He's a freshman who won't even play this year. He's expected to redshirt, but his long run gave the Bronchos something to look forward to next year.
In the Nick of Time (August 15)
In the three summers that the Lone Star Conference has held a media day, Mark Ribaudo has always been No. 1. No. 1 to the podium that is. The coach of the team picked last is always the first to talk. Ribaudo’s Eastern New Mexico team has been the preseason dead-last pick in the LSC South for three straight years. What’s worse is the polls have been right. The Greyhounds are 1-17 in the division in those three seasons.
“I’m dang tired of it. Super tired,” he told me. “We need to do something about it.”
Ribaudo knows a bad football program can be turned around. His first season as a graduate assistant at Midwestern State was 1990 when the non-scholarship program was 3-7. Then he spent a couple years as an assistant at West Texas A&M when the Buffaloes were 1-9 and 3-6.
“I remember where the Midwestern program was 19 years ago,” Ribaudo said. “Our weight room was a dance studio. The intramural teams would kick us off our practice field. I have seen where that program and where the West Texas program have gone. Progress can be made.”
Fort Gibson grad has hefty task at NSU
TAHLEQUAH — Trey McVay hasn’t had time to be wide-eyed. Since stepping on the Northeastern State campus, he’s gone through a series of changes and the biggest one comes up this season. The Fort Gibson High School graduate steps into the No. 1 wide receiver position, replacing Jarrett Byers, now on the roster of the St. Louis Rams in the National Football League. That kind of transformation doesn’t happen every day — and particularly so on the NSU campus.
“It’s definitely big shoes to fill. He was a great wide receiver,” McVay said. “But I don’t want to live in his shoes. I want to be better than him.”
Before Byers left and signed a free agent deal with the Rams after being bypassed in the NFL draft, he pulled McVay aside and gave him pointers about the position such as nudging the defensive back when the officials aren’t looking, timing jumps for the ball and being quick off the line of scrimmage.
“I definitely learned a lot from him. I’m glad to have him as a mentor,” McVay said. “You can’t ask for one better than that that. It was the perfect situation for me.”
Right place, right time: Former ASU, NFL receiver Garrett savors championship memories
For many athletes, winning a championship at any level is the pinnacle of a career. Alvin Garrett is one of the few who can say he has been to the mountaintop twice. Garrett, the former Angelo State receiver, helped the Rams and head coach Jim Hess capture the NAIA national championship in 1978.
Just four years later, he would hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy as a Washington Redskin after winning Super Bowl XVII. Garrett would play two more years in the NFL, but the two titles would mark the height of his football days.
LSC Fall Sports Preview Series: Southeastern Oklahoma
The Savage Storm are hoping to pick up exactly where they left off last year, which finished with a four-game winning streak that earned them a second-place finish in the LSC North. Head coach Ray Richards returns for his fifth season after leading his team to a 6-5 overall mark, but 4-1 against LSC North teams. Richards will benefit from having 13 starters back in 2009, with seven from offense and six on defense.
Click here to see video from LSC Football Media Day
The strength of the offense should be at running back, where first-team All-LSC pick Baylen Laury returns for his junior year. Laury rushed for 764 yards and six touchdowns, but was also a threat out of the backfield, catching 22 passes for 300 yards and five scores. Richards also said he expects big things from Iowa State transfer Josh Johnson, hoping for more depth and possibly a 1-2 punch with Laury.
But replacing departed senior Brandon McClain at quarterback will be the biggest issue for Richards, who said this team will go as far as sophomore passer Dallas McCutcheon takes them.
"Quarterback is the big question mark for us right now," Richards said. "He's got a good arm and he can run a little bit. He's got a big arm, but he's our big question mark. If he plays well, I think we'll have a good year. But if he struggles, then we may struggle, too."
Null glad to take his first snaps
ST. LOUIS -- There was no time for St. Louis Rams rookie quarterback Keith Null to get any butterflies in his stomach. Null entered the Rams' 23-20 win over the New York Jets on Friday night after quarterback Brock Berlin injured his knee being tackled to the turf on an incomplete pass with 9:41 left in the fourth quarter.
"I didn't have any time to get nervous, that's for sure," Null said. "I knew I was going in a series or two later, and then all of the sudden he went down, and I had to pop right in. I just got out there and went at it."
Null, a sixth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft out of West Texas A&M, completed both of his pass attempts in the game. He threw a 3-yard pass to Chris Ogbonnaya and later threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Sean Walker.
"I think with every player, you get out there and you're just playing football again just like you always have," Null said. "That's what it was like for me."
"I definitely feel like I can play at this level," Null said. "The more that I am here, the more that I am practicing and getting better. I keep getting more and more comfortable with everything."
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MSU women win exhibition, 1-0
Newcomer Audra Jesse collected a loose ball in the box and buried it in the net to lift Midwestern State to a 1-0 win over the DFW Tornado Soccer Club in exhibition play Sunday afternoon at the MSU Soccer Field.
“She got cleared and had two days of practice,” MSU coach Jeff Trimble said. “I gave her time today and she scored.”