Wednesday, August 18, 2010

LSC Roundup 8-18

From Iraq to UIW, Fraser making most of second chance
Chad Peters, San Antonio Express

Miles, more like worlds, away from the battlefields of Iraq, Incarnate Word defensive end Brandon Fraser takes a seat inside the team's weight room and stares out a window facing Benson Stadium.  Eyeing the lush forestry surrounding the field, he smiles at how different the view is from the one he had some two years ago.

“I see green trees,” said Fraser, a 27-year-old former Army specialist who in November 2008 returned from a second tour of duty in Iraq.  “That's what I was always wishing for, to come home and see some grass.”

Fraser, a married father of one, served as a cook at a pair of small, oft-shot-at bases near Baghdad. He first did a 10-month stint from December 2005-September 2006 before returning for 13 more months in October 2007.

MSU receivers catching on
J. Scott Russell, Times Record News

Midwestern State assistant coach Roderick Taylor likes to make things fun at practice for the Mustang wide receivers.  So when Tuesday morning’s workout was over, Taylor was doing push ups as his charges counted for him.

“We expect 100 percent of them, so in some of the individual drills I told them I’d do pushups for every catch they made,” the second-year coach said. “But I can’t do it for all of them.  We want them to be confident and have fun. If it takes me being the butt of the joke sometimes by doing pushups, that’s OK.”

Brutal beginning
Ben Johnson, Tahlequah Daily Press

Look at every schedule in Division II football this year.  You’ll be hard-pressed to find one more difficult than Northeastern State’s — or at least in the first six games anyways.  NSU’s first half of the 2010 schedule could also be dubbed “Murderer’s Row.”

The RiverHawks’ schedule has been etched in stone for some time now. But earlier this month they saw how truly difficult it will be.  Of NSU’s first six opponents, two are ranked in the top 11 in the preseason American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches’ Poll, three are “receiving votes” outside of the top 25 and one is a Division I FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) team.

“It’s definitely the most challenging schedule that Northeastern State has faced in some time,” said NSU head coach Kenny Evans.

Freshmen may help Hounds
Dave Wagner, Clovis News Journal

BLACKWATER DRAW — Eastern New Mexico University freshman wide receiver Greg Scott was used to running a no-huddle offense in high school at San Antonio Stevens. After about a week, he’s trying to adapt to the Greyhounds’ high-octane attack.

“It’s a lot faster,” Scott said after the Hounds went through a two-hour scrimmage Friday morning at Greyhound Stadium. “Everybody’s bigger and stronger.

“I was ‘the man’ in high school. Today, I think I caught three balls.”

Scott is among roughly 10 freshmen on the Hounds’ current two-deep roster. Coach Mark Ribaudo said that right now most are on the second team, but are only a heartbeat away from moving into starting positions.

Other frosh who Ribaudo thinks may play significant roles during the course of the season include defensive end Joseph Henry of Brownwood, Texas; safety Jason Serda of Albuquerque; inside linebacker Keighen Thetford of Arlington, Texas, and kicker-punter Michael Cottingham of Hutto, Texas.

LSC Fall Sports Preview Series: Southeastern Oklahoma
Nick Eatman, LoneStar Conference Office

This is the eighth of a 16-part series, analyzing the fall sports of each school in the Lone Star Conference. Today will feature Southeastern Oklahoma.

The bad news for Southeastern Oklahoma head coach Ray Richards is that when he looks at his offensive depth chart, he sees just four returning starters from last year’s 7-4 team. The good news of course is that one of them running back Baylen Laury, a first-team All-LSC pick who was the preseason North Division Player of the Year selection.

“Obviously our best football player is Baylen Laury,” Richards said. “He got hurt at the very end of the year which affected us a little bit. Baylen is our best player. We’ll probably have him back returning punts and kicks. We’re hoping to get him the ball a lot in the open field to create some havoc for defenses.”

Laury ranked eighth in the LSC in both rushing (637 yards) and all-purpose yards (104.8 per game). Running back Josh Johnson, who rushed 611 yards and eight touchdowns to earn second-team All-LSC honors, was expected to complement Laury in the backfield before suffering a season-ending injury. Another bright spot for the running game is that SE also returns three starters on the offensive line in senior center Sean Taglialatela and juniors Ryan Sullivan and Robert Westbrook. At quarterback, the Storm is counting on Logan Turner, an SMU transfer. Richards said an area he is concerned about is wide receiver, where just about all of the production and depth is gone.

“We lost four receivers. We only have one guy on the team that has caught any balls last year, I think he caught two as a backup,” Richards said. “Our receiving corps will be a lot of new faces. One of the keys this season will be if our receivers can make plays and hopefully we can.”

Defensively is where the Storm can make up for things. However, they’ll have to do so without three-year starting linebacker Johnny Seals, who is lost for the season with an injury. Richards says his best defensive players was Seals, a second-team All-LSC player in 2009, recording seven tackles for loss and three sacks. But SE returns three all-conference players on the defensive line, including end Alex Moore, a first-team selection and second-team picks Lionel Gillespie and Dexter Elliot.

In the secondary, the Storm returns safety Steven Harris, who ranked third on the squad with 66 tackles and first with nine pass deflections, and cornerback Matthew Leatherwood, the team’s leader last season with four interceptions. Richards will have to replace both his punter and kicker and said special teams could be an area of concern.

“Overall, we’re a young football team but we have some talent,” Richards said. “If we put it all together, I think we can have a great year.”

First Two-a-Day in the Books for Ram Football
ASU Sports Information

SAN ANGELO, Texas – With a slew of talented returners, Angelo State might have one of the most experienced and settled rosters in the Lone Star Conference this fall, but that isn’t stopping the second teamers from showing what they’ve got. The Rams conducted their first two-a-day practice Tuesday as fall camp reached day five, and practiced on their home field inside San Angelo Stadium for the first time in the evening session.

“I feel real good about our one’s and two’s across the board,” head coach Dale Carr said. “We pretty much know who our first team players are at this point, but at most spots the two’s aren’t that far behind.”

The Rams worked out in half pads during an abbreviated practice session Tuesday morning at the LeGrand Sports Complex, had meetings in the afternoon and closed the day with a practice on the turf at San Angelo Stadium Tuesday night.

Angelo State’s offense has forced the tempo through much of fall practice but it appeared the defense was turning the corner with a strong performance in the morning drills and again later in the afternoon. The Rams’ biggest improvement from last season may be at the tailback position where Carr says ASU is “clearly a lot better…everyone notices that.”

The Rams will practice in full pads Wednesday morning, and hold another two-a-day session Thursday. Angelo State wraps up its first full week of practice Friday with a 1:30 scrimmage at the LeGrand Sports Complex.

:: Former Angelo State All-American defensive lineman Calvin Fance made an appearance at Tuesday night’s practice. It was Fance’s second trip to fall practice. Fance led NCAA Division II with 14.0 sacks as a senior in 2009 and tallied 43 tackles.

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