Thursday, September 17, 2009

LSC Scoop Game Previews Week 4

That's better, 6-1 last week and now at 19-8 for the season. Let's see if we can them all right this time around.

Last week's games
Tarleton 41, East Central 2 - 347 yards rushing for the Texans
Central Washington 34, West Texas A&M 10 - expected more of a contest from the Buffs
Abilene Christian 20, Texas A&M-Commerce 14 - did not expect this much of a contest from Lions
Angelo State 55, Southwestern Oklahoma 10 - Is Angelo this good, or SWO this bad?
Southeastern Oklahoma 49, Eastern New Mexico 47 - Over 1,300 yards between the two teams
Midwestern State 52, Northeastern State 3 - Mustangs flat out dominant
Texas A&M-Kingsville 46, Central Oklahom 17 - teams combined for 42 points and 375 yards in first quarter

This week's games
#4 Midwestern State at Incarnate Word - Mismatch of the Week
The Mustangs have been the most dominant team in the LSC so far, outscoring their opponents 127-9. They lead the LSC in scoring - both offensively and defensively - but strangely are "just" fifth in yards gained and second in yards allowed. Turnovers have been a key driver - MSU is +8 in turnover margin, easily the top mark in the conference. Another factor is the leagues top passing efficiency rating. Zack Eskridge is completing 74% of his passes and has a 10-1 TD to Int ratio. The defense has been stingy against the run (97 yds per game), but out of this world against the pass. They have yet to allow a passing touchdown, while picking off eight passes, and allowing just a 36% completion rate.

The honeymoon ended two weeks ago for Incarnate Word. Arkansas Tech scored on 7 of their first 8 possessions (the QB was tackled on the two as time expired at halftime on the other drive) and built up a 40-3 lead early in third quarter. After two games, the offense is ahead of the defense. UIW is averaging 123 yds rushing and 241 passing, with QB Thomas Specia leading in both categories. He is hitting 56 percent of his passes for 453 yards and 4 TDs, while throwing just one Int so far. Freshman Derick Walls is the leading receiver, with 8 catches for 164 yards and 2 TDs and Texas Tech transfer Todd Walker has 5 for 106 yards and 1 TD. The defense is giving up 504 yards per game, 246 rushing and 258 passing.

The Mustangs' have flat out dominated their games this season. Granted the schedule has been less than challenging, but they have made the most of it - and will again this weekend. MSU 49-14

#6 Southeastern Oklahoma at #1 Abilene Christian
The Savage Storm got their offensive mojo back last week, outscoring Eastern New Mexico 49-47. Baylen Laury rushed for 184 yds and 2 TDs, and Dallas McCutcheon threw for 265 yds and 4 TDs. Daniel Nichols (7 receptions for 95 yds and 2 TDs) is now just 31 yards shy of second place on SOSU's all-time receiving yard chart. The defense continues to struggle, allowing 767 yards passing to ENMU. One bright spot was 2 Ints and 4 sacks, including one with under 30 seconds to play and ENMU on the SOSU 23 yard line. The run defense has been good, giving up just 70 yards a game.

Abilene Christian struggled, but won in overtime at the Harvey Martin Classic at the Cotton Bowl last weekend. The defense continues to lead the way, holding TAMC to just 178 of offense, and just 20 of that rushing. The topper for the Wildcats would have to be Drew Cuffee's interception that he ran back 85 yards for the game winning touchdown. For the season, ACU is giving up just 13 points and 229 yards per game. The offense remains a work in progress to some extent. Led by Daryl Richardson's 95 yards and 2 TDs, ACU did rush for 187 yards, but Zach Stewart threw two interceptions, one of which the Lions returned for a TD to tie the game at 7-7 early in the fourth quarter. ACU has averaged 32 points and 361 yards per game, both in the middle of the LSC.

The key this weekend may be how well Southeastern Oklahoma can defend the run. So far so good for the Savage Storm, but they haven't faced a trio of backs like ACU can put out there. Also will SOSU get a QB performance like weeks one and three, or a repeat of game two? ACU got their wake up call last week and should take this one 35-21.

#5 Angelo State at #12 East Central
Angelo State has opened some eyes this year in their two games against LSC foes. The Rams' offense continues to improve as the season unwinds, and there's no reason to believe it won't put up big numbers again this weeken. Josh Neiswander has been outstanding and is second in the LSC in passing yards (278 per game) and efficiency (167.0) after three games. Dwight Pete is proving to be a worthy replacement for Daniel Thomas at running back, and V'Keon Lacey has the best receiving numbers outside of Portales. Overall, the Rams are fifth in scoring (35 points) and fourth in yardage (410 per game). The defense has given up just 8.5 points and 212 yds per game in their two LSC games.

What can you say about East Central at this point? The offense is dead last in offense, scoring just 3 points per game, and picking up less than 100 yards of offense. The defense has been a little better (but not much) giving up 43 points per game and 430 yards. Those numbers would be worse, but teams have been substituting liberally in their games. After two seasons of terrorizing LSC defenses as the Tiger QB, it looks like Marcus Johnson will be playing wide receiver and Josh Phillips taking over at QB. J. P. Oliver and Norris Wren have been bright spots on the defense, each averaging 8.7 tackles per game.

Its hard to get a feel for Angelo State with the schedule they've played. We expect another big win here, and another chance to get things fine tuned for the LSC South battle royale that appears to be setting up. ASU 38-7

#8 West Texas A&M at #13 Southwestern Oklahoma
Tough schedule, yes. Everyone knew WT's early schedule was brutal, but did anyone really expect them to be 0-3? Even more shocking is the lackluster offense - ninth in the LSC (let that sink in for a moment) in both scoring (17 pts a game) and yardage (325 per game). Kelvin Thompson has filled in admirably for the injured Keithon Flemming, but the passing game has been lacking. Starting QB Taylor Harris in 9th in passing efficiency, trailing every other starting QB in the LSC South. The defense is giving up 411 yards and 32 points per game. Opponents are averaging 4.4 yards per carry, and the Buffs have given up 8 TD passes while picking off just one pass.

Southwestern Oklahoma has had it even rougher. The Bulldogs are giving up a whopping 558 yards and 49 points per game. Teams are gouging SWO for 231 yards rushing and 328 passing per game. The offense has been a little better, but not much. SWO is averaging just 11.3 points and 211 yards per game, both 11th in the league. Steve Day continues to add to his team records for passing yards and TDs. He is just 98 yards short of 6,000 yards for his career. Wide receiver Johnathan Haggerty is just 18 yards shy of overtaking Chase Pratt in career receiving yards.

Though both teams are 0-3, WT's games were against ranked teams and were somewhat competitive. Look for the Buffs to hit the win column, and in a big way. WT 38-7

#10 Texas A&M Commerce at #9 Eastern New Mexico
The Lions lost to ACU as expected last weekend, but did so in a most unexpected way - driving 56 yards with 3 minutes to go to tie the game and send it to overtime, and Adam Farkes may have ended the QB questions in the process. On that drive Farkes completed 5 of 7 passes for 45 yards and had an 11 yard run to pick up a first down. TAMC has yet to find a running game, averaging under 40 yards per game. The defense was bend but don't break - giving up 371 yards, but allowing just 2 TDs. Cory Whitfield had a career day with 13 tackles and an Int that he returned 37 yards for a game-tying TD early in the fourth quarter.

Numbers...look at the numbers - 604 passing yards per game (312 more the #2 in the LSC), 82 pass attempts per game (36 more than the next in line), 649 yards of total offense (186 more), but more importantly, a 1-2 win-loss record. The young Greyhound offense has found a rhythm the past couple of weeks, though against the bottom two teams in the LSC in defense. JJ Harp has been spreading the ball around, with 4 Greyhounds among the top 6 in the LSC in receptions per game. True freshman Troy Harris has proven a reliable runner, ninth in the LSC in rushing. The defense is middle of the pack, giving up 28 points and allowing 379 yards per game. Rodney Mitchell leads the league with 4 interceptions and Nathan Uland and Edward Zamora are among the leaders in tackles for loss.

This should be the best defense ENMU has faced so far - they held ACU to just 2 TDs, and picked off two passes. But they are still giving up 268 yards through the air. ENMU in a mild upset, 28-21.

#11 Northeastern State at #2 Texas A&M Kingsville
After playing well offensively in week one, and defensively in week two, the Riverhawks did neither in week three, losing 52-3 to Midwestern State. The running game was solid, with Prince McKinney and La'Ron Elmer combining for 142 of NSU's 176 rushing yards. The passing game struggled, as NSU hit just 6 of 25 passes for 32 yards and 3 Ints. The defense gave up 4 TDs on MSU's first 5 possessions, but blocked punts gave the Mustangs excellent field position twice. For the season, NSU is 10th offensively in scoring (12 points) and yards gained (244). The defense is 9th in scoring (34 points) and 6th in yards allowed (377).

The Javelinas came out swinging against the Bronchos. An interception returned for a TD, a 70 yard TD run by QB Billy Garza and an 88 yard TD pass - all in the first ten and a half minutes - helped TAMK build up a 28-7 lead in the first quarter. Connell Davis had a breakout game, 138 yards rushing and two third quarter TDs that put the game away. For the season, TAMK is rushing for 187 yards a game and passing for 276. That's good enough for 3rd in the LSC with 38 points per game and 2nd in yardage at 463. The defense has been just as impressive, giving up 14 points per game and 226 yards. Teams have rushed for 100 yards per game, but just 126 passing.

This looks like a mismatch, but just two weeks ago, NSU gave Tarleton a huge scare. If the Javelinas play their game, they will win handily. TAMK 38-10

#3 Tarleton State at #7 Central Oklahoma - Game of the Week
The Texans rebounded from a week 2 scare, running through East Central 41-2. Roderick Smith picked up 204 yards on just 16 carries, and tied Tarleton's TD record with 35. Evan Robertson topped the century mark as well, with 115 yards and 2 TDs on just 15 carries. The Texans passe the ball just 5 times in the game. The defense was smothering, holding ECU to just 86 yards of offense, 69 passing and just 17 rushing. For the season, Tarleton is giving up just 6 points and 184 yards per game. Smith is a close second in the league, rushing for 114 yds per game, and Robertson is fourth with 77.

The Bronchos tried to trade blows with TAMK last weekend, but the Javelinas just had too many big plays. They were able to put together two nice TD drives in the first quarter, covering 60 and 74 yards respectively, but of their last 10 possessions resulted in just 1 first down. When looking at UCO's season to date statistics, you have to keep in mind that they have played two top 10 teams, and on that was ranked #13 at the time. The are 8th in scoring (18 pts) and 6th in yards gained (388 per game). The are averaging 170 yards rushing, good for fourth, and passing for 218, which is 7th in the LSC. The defense is giving up 35 points per game (10th) and 453 yards (11th). The run defense is giving up 209 yds per game and teams are passing for 243.

The Texans need to be able to run the ball effectively. Fortunately for them (at least on paper), the UCO defense has not done a good job at stopping the run. Conversely, UCO beat WT with their run, and were having some success against TAMK early as well. We are going to go with Tarleton's defense in this one. TSU 24-14

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Lone Star Conference

Angelo State University

Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University

Texas A&M-Commerce

Tarleton State University

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Texas Woman's College

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

West Texas A&M University

Western New Mexico