Last season was another tough year for the Tigers. The 0-11 campaign completed a 5 year period that saw the Tigers go 10-43. While they were handled fairly easy by the better teams in the conference, they only lost 4 of their LSC North games by a total of 15 points. ECU had serious offensive issues last season, averaging 207 yards per game (13th in the LSC) and only scored 13 points per game (12th). The Tigers were one of 2 teams to average less than 20 points per game in the LSC. The defense didn't do much better, giving up an average of 387 yards (9th) and 33.5 points per game (10th). Soph WR Zach Patteson wrapped up a nice season being named 1st team LSC North, along with OG Justin Nail and CB Alex Woodley.
Out with the old
The Tiger offense loses their leading RB Joshua Maldanado (499 rush yds, 3 TD's), former LSC North Offensive Back of the Year Marcus Johnson (298 pass yds, 3 TD's, 116 rec yards) who transitioned to WR early in the season, and 1st Team LSC North OG Justin Nail.
The middle of ECU's defense will also take a hit, losting NT Darnell Barnes (37 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 fumble rec, 2 forced fumbles, HM LSC North), ILB JP Oliver (#4 in the LSC in tackles (101), 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 fumble rcv, HM LSC North) and DT Xerxes Griffin (20 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery). They also lose a great CB in Alex Woodley (49 tackles, 4 INT, 10 pass breakups - 1st LSC North).
QB Josh Phillips (1,273 passing yards, 11 TD/11 INT) is back but appears to be taking over the backup role. WR Zack Patteson (36 catches for 436 yards, 6 TD's, 1st LSC North) returns as the Tigers' best offensive threat, but will be joined by WR Joe Joe Euwins (13 catches for 181 yards, 2 TD's), and WR Jonathan Joe (26 catches for 311 yards, 1 TD). ECU's offensive line appears to have a lot of depth coming back. TE Wes Fawcett, OT Talon Starkey, OG Jorge Rodriguez, C Chad Roark (HM LSC North), OG Trevor Suffal, and OT Jon Ramos (2nd LSC North) all return.
The Linebacking corps is returning OLB Airieus Ervin (56 tackles, 4 TFL, HM LSC North) and OLB Tyler McGrew (61 tackles, 2 INT, HM LSC North). DB Norris Wrenn (69 tackles, 1 INT, 2nd LSC North) is back to help as well.
In with the new
QB Tyler Vanderzee took over as starter during spring practice, after transferring in from Mt San Antonio JC. Transfers at LT Carlos Savala (College of the Desert) and RT Rodney Pecou (Riverside CC/Nebraska) might end up taking over the bookend positions on the Tigers line. LG Desmond Farris (Mt San Antonio JC) also brings in more depth at OL.
Tigers special teams will get a boost from transfers. K Matt Berrey (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M JC) will take over the kicking duties, and KR Dontae Smith led California JUCOs in kick return yardage last season while at Reedley CC.
All Conference Candidates
WR Zach Patteson
C Chad Roark
OT Jon Ramos
OLB Airieus Ervin
OLB Tyler McGrew
DB Norris Wrenn
All American Candidates
Sep 4 @ Fort Hays - Starting off the season against Fort Hays (4-5 last season) with a win would be a huge confidence boost for the Tigers.
Sep 25 Southwestern Oklahoma - Getting the Bulldogs at home might be what ECU needs to get their first LSC win of the 2010 season after tough games against TAMK and ACU.
Oct 30 Northeastern State - Another possible win at home against the Riverhawks. Winning this game and the SWOSU game will be critical to the Tigers season.
Best Case Scenario - 4-7
The Tigers catch a break this season playing SWOSU, NSU and Incarnate Word at home, making all 3 of those games possible wins. Add in an upset in the season opener against Fort Hays and it's tough to imagine a better season than that for ECU.
Worst Case Scenario - 1-10
If ECU only wins 1 of the 3 home games mentioned above, and can't knock off Fort Hays, it could be another long season for the Tigers due to a difficult schedule. They play TAMK at home, but travel to TAMC, WT and ACU.