At first glance, TAMC's 5-5 record from last season looks very pedestrian. However, upon closer inspection, it's easy to see the Lions could have very easily had a shockingly good season. The first 3 games of the season were losses before committing to Adam Farkes at QB. After that, the Lions went 5-2. One of their losses was against a Division 1 FCS school (Southeastern Louisiana). They had an overtime loss to Abilene Christian, who at that time was ranked #2 in the nation. They also had a 1 point loss to #7 Texas A&M-Kingsville, a game in which the Lions had a 13 point lead with only 7 mins to play. A couple of breaks here or there, and TAMC has a D2 record with only 2 losses, and wins over 2 Top 10 teams. DL Willie Green had an incredible season in which he was named All-American, and Head Coach Guy Morriss won LSC North Coach of the Year in his first season in Commerce. OT RJ Brisbon also won LSC North OL of the Year, along with LB Cory Whitfield's Linebacker of the Year accolades.
Out with the old
OT RJ Brisbon (1st LSC North, Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year) was the anchor of the Lions offensive line, and will be sorely missed. But the biggest loss is DT William Green (1st LSC North, Defensive Lineman of the Year, D2football.com All-American, 44 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 9 sacks). Long time defensive leader S Alex Contreras (1st LSC North, 41 tackles, 2.5 TFL) is also gone. TE Reid Herchenbach (19 catches, 176 yds, 1 TD) had one of the stranger seasons in the LSC. After starting 3 games at Quarterback, he moved to Tight End and ended up voted Honorable Mention LSC North as a Tight End. After a season ending knee injury, RB Jetavious Best will not return this season.
RB Marcus Graham (1st LSC North, 924 total yds, 7 TD's) dominated down the stretch last season once he and the offensive line learned the new Lions' offense. If QB Adam Farkes (HM LSC North, 1,953 passing yds, 12 TD's) can take care of the ball better this season, he could turn into one of the better QB's in the LSC. G David Sudderth (1st LSC North, pre-season All-American) will be the anchor of this year's offensive line, but is joined by returners Connor Wise, John Marshall and Brady Autry. LB Cory Whitfield (1st LSC North, Linebacker of the Year, pre-season All-American, 111 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 2 Defensive TD's) had an incredible season and will be the anchor of the new 3-4 linebacker corps in Commerce, along with Stephen Degrate (HM LSC North, 58 tackles, 1 INT, 1 Defensive TD). CB Israel Hughes (1st LSC North, 43 tackles, 2 INT) is back as well. Freshman kicker Ahmed Abo-Mahmood (1st LSC North) had an incredible 2009 season, hitting 7 of 9 FG's, and 29-29 XP.
In with the new
Probably the most well-known transfer in the LSC this season is QB JJ Harp going to TAMC from Eastern New Mexico. Harp was a Harlon Hill finalist in 2009, after setting D2 records in Total Offense and averaged 437 passing yards per game. WR Damian Davis appears to be one of the bigger offensive threats in recent memory for TAMC, after transferring from Oklahoma State where he was the #2 WR behind Dez Bryant in 2008. C Veliani Kautai transfers from Kilgore JC, and CB Marlin Terrell appears to be threatening to take over after transferring in from Temple.
All Conference Candidates
RB Marcus Graham
G David Sudderth
K Ahmed Abo-Mahmood
LB Cory Whitfield
QB Adam Farkes
WR Damian Davis
C Veliani Kautai
All American Candidates
LB Cory Whitfield
September 11 vs Angelo State - If Commerce wants to make the next step forward as a program, these are the types of games they have to win. A Cotton Bowl win against the Rams could launch the Lions into playoff contention.
September 25 @ Eastern New Mexico - If the Lions want to go undefeated in the North, this might be the toughest challenge. The Greyhounds in Portales present a tough game early on in the season for TAMC.
October 2 vs Southeastern Oklahoma - Last season's game against the Storm was a nail biter, but the Lions prevailed and clinched the LSC North. With bigger goals in sight this season, this is a must win.
Best Case Scenario - 9-2
This scenario involves the Lions going undefeated in the North again, which is definitely possible. As long as they can win only one of the games against Tarleton, TAMK or Angelo State, they're at 9 wins. They play Tarleton at home, Angelo State in the Cotton Bowl, and TAMK in Kingsville. Tarleton and TAMK are upset possibilities, but would be tough to pull off. Don't overlook the Lions in the North. While the South teams may be better squads, the Lions definitely have an easier schedule to contend with and won't take the pounding the South teams will.
Worst Case Scenario - 5-6
This would be a very disappointing season for the Lions. The only way this happens is if QB Adam Farkes continues to have turnover problems or is injured, and the young Lion defense doesn't come together. The Lions are thin at QB depth, and if something happened to Farkes, things could get ugly quick. The way TAMC's schedule sets up, this would be hard to imagine, but still possible.