Success of Wildcats offense again rests on finding a QB
Sometimes, it comes down to chemistry, and that was something sorely missing by Abilene Christian University last season, particularly down the stretch.
The Wildcats lost four of their last six games, including a 35-10 decision to eventual national champion Northwest Missouri State in the second round of the playoffs. That late decline soured an otherwise respectable nine-win season.
Much of those chemistry issues came on offense — an offense full of new players, especially at the skill positions. Those issues, compounded by injuries, were evident by the fact the Wildcats scored five total touchdowns in those four losses.
Wildcats' big plans: Son, Scott's NFL opportunity motivate Wildcats DE Whiteside
Aston Whiteside just has to look in his son’s eyes, and that’s all the motivation he needs. He doesn’t want his son, 1-year-old Ashton Whiteside Jr., to live a life like he did growing up in Vernon.
And the best way Whiteside can ensure that doesn’t happen is on the football field. Football was his ticket out of Vernon, and it’s still the ticket to a better life — hopefully one in the NFL when Whiteside finishes his collegiate career at Abilene Christian after the 2011 season.
“He motivates me a lot,” Whiteside said about his son. “Vernon is not a place I want to go back to after college. I’m not knocking the place. But since Day 1, football has always been a way out for me.”
LSC football rankings
Texans reloading in 2010
Marc David, Special to the Reporter-News
New Tarleton State head coach Cary Fowler knew his program still was on solid footing when he got a call from the police July 5.
It seems a number of individuals were jumping the fence to the football field. Fowler asked the police if the individuals were football players. When informed they were, Fowler instructed the police to unlock the facility so the players wouldn’t have to jump the fence to get out.
A storied coach, quarterback and kicker are all gone from Tarleton. And yet the Texans are still preseason-ranked among the top 20 Division II teams in the country — No. 8 by Lindy’s and No. 15 by The Sporting News. It’s a sign of respect for a program that has won 74 percent of its games over the last decade. But Fowler thinks it’s more than that.
Summer workouts are voluntary. Coaches are not permitted to be present. Seventy football players were in Stephenville for workouts. Several of those workouts took place during the Fourth of July holiday time period when the school was shut. It showed Fowler that the players have the same expectations as their new head coach.
Atterberry pleased with Javs' first scrimmage
George Vondracek, Corpus Christi Caller Times
There wasn't a stamp of total approval from fourth-year football coach Bo Atterberry, but he wasn't displeased with Texas A&M-Kingsville's initial game-like scrimmage Saturday morning.
"I always love you guys," Atterberry told the players at the conclusion of the 2-hour scrimmage, "but I like you a little better today."
Coming off a 9-3 year, an NCAA Division II playoff appearance and a piece of their 27th Lone Star Conference championship, the Javelinas worked game situations in a controlled atmosphere with an officiating crew. For the most part, Atterberry was pleased with the work.
"I didn't think it was too bad. Special teams obviously have to get focused in a little bit more, and that's why we do it, obviously, to get them on and off the field, listening for what's being called, knowing the situations, getting backed up on punts," Atterberry said. "That's the first time we've introduced that as far as those things. I thought they moved around real well," he said. "We're just trying to get them to a point where once we get in a game they feel confident and they don't have to think too much."
Lesson learned for Lugo
George Vondracek, Corpus Christi Caller Times
KINGSVILLE — It wasn't a classic rags to riches saga, but Jimmy Lugo certainly had a great deal of promise and potential within his grasp.
Those attributes slipped away in direct proportion to his grade-point average, however, denying him an opportunity to play football for Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2009.
"It was the biggest disappointment pretty much in my life. I'd never failed that much to that point. I wasn't very proud of myself at all," said Lugo, a senior defensive end who was among the Javelinas' defensive leaders from 2006-08. "I kind of let everybody down. Actually I let myself down as well. I didn't do it on purpose. There was a gradual decline in my grades. I fell below that. College is not easy by any means," Lugo said. "But if I was more accountable and more grown up I would have been able to pass. I learned that this year."
With that lesson learned, Lugo gets his second chance this season with the Javelinas now that he has restored his academics to acceptable standards.
Eskridge's arm will fuel Mustangs' offensive might
J. Scott Russell, Times Record News
Zack Eskridge did something last year that hasn’t been done in the last 10 years at Midwestern State.
He started all 12 games at quarterback. The Mustangs are hoping for a repeat performance in 2010, but what if something happens to No. 18? Sophomore Brandon Kelsey would get the call and is expected to perform admirably.
But if he goes down, the Mustangs will be looking at using one of four freshmen they signed in February.
Big things are expected of the 6-4, 215-pound Eskridge after his record-setting year in 2009 as he passed for 3,295 yards and 29 touchdowns while leading Division II with a quarterback efficiency of 180.2.
“My goal for Zack is to have him play to his highest potential,” MSU offensive coordinator Dean Norsworthy said. “He has an exceptional work ethic, studies film, does everything he can in practice and asks all the right questions. What he’s doing this year is serving as a role as mentor to the four freshmen. He’s really taken on a teacher/mentor role. He’s also coming into his own as a strong, strong leader of this football team.”
MSU's defense stands out in scrimmage
J. Scott Russell, Times Record News
For most of the day, the Midwestern State defense was as hot as the temperature on the Memorial Stadium turf. The offense got a little revenge in the red zone and goal-line drills as the Mustangs ran about 85 plays during the hottest part of the day Saturday.
“It was a little sloppy and there was not a lot of energy out there,” head coach Bill Maskill said. “Part of it was the heat and part of it was because they are tired. That’s one of the reasons we’re giving them tomorrow off — to help them get their legs back under them. We blew out about four or five pairs of shoes on the turf because it was so hot. But we had to do it. We’ve only got 12 days until we play, and at least one of those is a travel day.”
MSU's new hoopsters news even in August
Nick Gholson, Times Record News
Last year I was driving in Metroplex traffic when the Midwestern State sports information director called to tell me he was about to release a list of basketball signees. Basketball? It was Aug. 21. I was headed to the Dallas Cowboys’ first home preseason game.
Chris Hagen — who’s that? Jason Ebie? Never heard of him. Doesn’t this rookie coach know that nobody around here cares about basketball in August. Call back when the temperature drops below 100. Like in October. Time passed. The temperature dropped. And I got interested in MSU basketball.
That rookie coach put together a 31-3 team that won a second straight Lone Star Conference championship and went to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the first time in school history. Ebie and Hagan were unbelievable.
So this year I couldn’t wait to get that call.
------------------------------------------------------------------WT offense, defense shine in scrimmage
Dave Henry, Amarillo Globe News
No one was keeping score - officially - during West Texas A&M's first controlled scrimmage Saturday in front of about 200 heat-braving fans at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.
Not that it mattered to the Buffs.
The offense, in maroon jerseys, put up three touchdowns.
The defense, in white jerseys, made their share of stops, including 10 sacks.
Both seemed satisfied with their performances, although Buffs head coach Don Carthel and the coaching staff will have the final say as the No. 11 Buffs continue to prepare for their opening game on the road against No. 2 Grand Valley State in 12 days.
While the defense piled up sacks, Carthel was quick to point out the offense performed well enough that the Buffs didn't have a chance to practice their punt game.
"I thought the offense played pretty well from time to time. That goal-line series down there was all defense when we were trying to get it out. They got three sacks. Other than that, I thought the offense moved the ball pretty good," Carthel said. "I had to work to find some punt teams. I wanted to get more punt plays in there, but we didn't get the opportunities to do that."
Buffs to work on game situations
Dave Henry, Amarillo Globe News
After nine days of practice, the 11th-ranked West Texas A&M Buffaloes will get a better look at what they've got with the first of two controlled scrimmages beginning at 10 a.m. today at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium. Today's scrimmage - free and open to the public - will not be your typical football game divided into four 15-minute quarters.
"We'll work on many different things, driving the ball from certain positions on the field," said WT head coach Don Carthel, who begins his sixth season at WT needing three wins to tie the namesake of the Buffs' stadium - Frank Kimbrough - for second in WT career coaching victories. "We need to see if we can continue drives and score. We'll do some red-zone offense, those type of things."
Carthel said the "ones" - the starters - will see most of the action today, but the "twos and threes" will also get a look.
"It will be interesting to see how the kids respond in a live situation," Carthel said. "We haven't gone live yet on tackling, stuff like that. It will get going pretty good, I have a feeling."
Thomsen pleased with scrimmage - ACU Sports Information
ABILENE – ACU wrapped up its first week of summer practice Thursday night with a scrimmage at Shotwell Stadium that concluded with head coach Chris Thomsen telling his team it had "all the elements of a championship team."
The Wildcats went through their paces for about two hours under the lights on a breezy evening, working in all phases of special teams and then going offense vs. defense in a controlled scrimmage.
Going into the scrimmage, Thomsen had said he wanted to see improvement from both of his quarterbacks, and afterward he said he liked what he saw from both Mitchell Gale and Clark Harrell. Gale took the majority of the snaps with the No. 1 offense, and Harrell had a few snaps with the No. 1 offense.
"Mitchell took a step (tonight) to being the guy we need him to be when the season starts," Thomsen said. "And Clark made some nice throws when he was in there. I definitely saw some positives at that position (Thursday)."
But the quarterbacks weren't the only area of the offense that Thomsen liked in the scrimmage. The offensive line blocked well and receivers did a nice job going after the ball.
"I was the most pleased with our first offensive unit," he said. "(Offensive line coach) Nathan Young challenged his guys, and they gave Mitchell and Clark a lot of time to throw the ball. Mitchell made some nice throws, and I was happy to see that.
"On the other end, we had some guys do some good things catching the ball, especially guys like Taylor Gabriel (redshirt freshman) and Edmund (Gates)," Thomsen said. "I was really pleased with the way those guys performed."
And the defensive unit was right where Thomsen wanted to see it as well.
"Those guys are right where they should be," Thomsen said of the starting defense. "They played fast and physical and had a great night out there."
Thomsen said going in that he wanted to see how some of his transfers and freshmen performed, and he got an eyeful from transfer defensive backs Kamaron Riely, David LaMour and Nate Bailey, all of whom played well.
Dylan Blount -- who now seems entrenched as a starter at guard on the offensive line -- had another solid outing and a few freshmen also played well. Defensive tackle T.R. Varnado of Stephenville continued his impressive play, taking a few reps with the No. 1 unit, and freshman receiver Zack Agnew of Vernon -- a big target at 6-2, 210 -- had a couple of nice grabs as he made a case for playing time.
"We had a really, really good effort (tonight)," Thomsen told his team after the scrimmage. "We had a really good tempo all night, and I was proud of the effort. We had two hours of really good work and I saw a lot of good things.
"We have all the elements of a championship team," he said. "All you (players) have to do is do your part. I'm really excited about this team, and as players you should be, too. We've still got work to do to be where we need to be, but this team is coming together in a lot of different ways and that excites me."
* During kickoff drills, Spencer Covey worked with the No. 1 unit, booming all of his kickoffs deep into the end zone or through the back of the end zone. ... Last year's placekicker, Morgan Lineberry, had a solid night kicking field goals with the No. 1 unit as well. ... Freshmen quarterbacks Luke Lutrell (Irving) and Austin Lindsey (Uvalde) each saw action and Luttrell threw a touchdown pass on the final play of the scrimmage. ... Running backs Reggie Brown and Daryl Richardson were each solid as they continued their strong play this summer. ... Redshirt freshman running back-turned-receiver Darrell Cantu-Harkless had a nice scrimmage with a couple of catches.
* The next item on the Wildcats' summer agenda is their annual team retreat, which will be Friday and Saturday (Aug. 20-21). The team will leave for Camp Butman (south of Abilene) Friday afternoon for a weekend of spiritual rejuvenation led by coaches and local pastors. The weekend has become a staple of the Wildcats' summer camp, and a favorite among team members.
* ACU will be off Monday for the opening day of school and then return to the practice field for single practices Tuesday-Friday. The Wildcats will then go through their final scrimmage of the summer next Saturday (Aug. 28) at 9 a.m. at Shotwell Stadium. That will be more of a tune-up for the season-opener (Sept. 4 at Washburn) as they go through their pre-game routine and working on substitutions, kicking game, etc.
LSC Scoop Preseason Predictions - TAMK Sports Infromation
KINGSVILLE, TEXAS – The LSCScoop.com website released its annual preseason Lone Star Conference football predictions and Preseason All-Conference Team on Friday. Texas A&M-Kingsville was picked third and was touted as one of the NCAA Division II Playoff contenders.
The Javelinas are coming off a 9-3 season that featured an LSC title and a trip back to the playoffs. Senior running back Fred “Hollywood” Winborn (N. Hollywood, CA/Grant HS) leads the offense and was selected as the LSC Scoop Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. In 2009, Winborn led the conference with 1,295 yards rushing and 19 total touchdowns. He went over 200 yards on two occasions, including a school-record 263 in a win over Eastern New Mexico.
Winborn showed he was in midseason form in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage peeling off a few nice runs before making way to allow some fresh faces a chance to impress the coaching staff.
In addition to Winborn, the Javelinas had three other players tabbed on the LSC Scoop Preseason All-Conference Team. Senior wide receiver Ryan Lincoln (Bastrop/Bastrop HS) and senior left tackle Trent Perkins (Alice/Alice HS) were named to the offense while senior safety DeIra Glover (Hempstead/Hempstead HS) was named on the defense.
Lincoln is entering his fourth year as a starter for the Hoggies with a strong chance to break a 33-year old school record for career catches. Former All-American Glenn Starks currently holds the record with 177 receptions from 1974-77. Lincoln needs only 33 catches to pass Starks and put his name on top. He also has a chance to surpass Starks’ career receiving yards record of 3,106. Lincoln enters his final season with 2,093 career yards.
Perkins is in his second year with the Javelinas and was an Honorable Mention LSC South nominee a year ago after transferring from Oklahoma State. He will be counted on to protect the quarterback’s blind side this year after switching from right tackle.
Glover enters his third year as a starter and is the anchor of the defensive unit. He earned Second Team LSC South honors in 2009 after setting a school record with four defensive touchdowns. He also led the team with 89 tackles, including five for loss.
The Javelinas open up their season on the road at defending national champion and preseason #1 Northwest Missouri State on September 2 and 6 o’clock.
Rams Close Fall Camp, Begin Regular Season Practice Monday - ASU Sports Information
SAN ANGELO, Texas – Angelo State closed fall camp Saturday like any kid would dream it up – with a popsicle. The Rams concluded their 10-practice preseason preparation with a two-a-day at LeGrand Sports Complex. The cool treat was just the beginning of the good news for the team as they will have a day off Sunday before beginning the regular season portion of the schedule.
Dekarai Pecikonis hauled in two touchdown passes from 50 yards out, including one to end Saturday’s practice. His first grab came on the first play of ASU’s short yardage drill when Ram quarterback Josh Neiswander faked to the running back and went over the top of the defense.
Angelo State’s offense showed its ability to get tough yards, gaining a first down on 8-of-9 plays during the short yardage drill.
Starting Monday, the Rams will have 11 practices in 12 days to prepare for the season-opening contest against Eastern New Mexico at San Angelo Stadium (Sept. 4).
Rams Rumble Through Blue-Gold Scrimmage - ASU Sports Information
SAN ANGELO, Texas – Joey Knight’s touchdown catch on the final play of Friday’s Blue and Gold Scrimmage may have come against Angelo State’s red zone defense, but it doesn’t mean that the Ram defensive unit didn’t show that it’s capable of stopping an offense when it matters during the practice at the LeGrand Sports Complex.
There were great moments for each side in the afternoon workout – including a couple of big plays for the offense – but when the defense needed a stop during the scrimmage’s longer drives, it provided one.
One of the day’s biggest stops came shortly after the midpoint of Friday’s scrimmage. Ram quarterback Josh Neiswander hit wide out C.J. Akins for a 20-yard gain on the left side to give the first-team offense a first-and-goal from the five. Instead of folding, the first-team defense sacked Neiswander for a seven-yard loss on the next play and then benefitted from a 15-yard chop block penalty. Neiswander hit running back Michael Connor for a 16 yard gain, but an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the drive.
On the very next series with the second team on the field, Blake Hamblin found Excelle Osborne streaking down the sideline for a 39-yard gain, one of three catches for nearly 100 yards by the sophomore wide receiver. Again, the defense stiffened up in the red zone, holding Tristan Carter to two yards on the next carry, a two-yard loss on a pass in the flat, and ended the drive with a sack.
Other highlights during the contest included a 50-yard touchdown connection between Hamblin and Osborne, a highlight reel bobbled catch by tight end Kyle Knapp over the middle, a 73-yard kickoff return by Terrance Preston after muffing the catch, and two fumble recoveries by freshman Lawrence Syon.
The Rams conclude fall camp Saturday with a two-a-day practice session at LeGrand Sports Complex, and will begin preparation for their week one opponent, Eastern New Mexico, starting Monday.
from the Tarleton Football Camp
The Texans had their first full scrimmage on Saturday evening, and both sides of the ball shined at different times.
The Texan offense moved the ball effectively at different moments, including a 35-yard touchdown by freshman redshirt quarterback Aaron Doyle on a zone read. He darted up the middle to the endzone, avoiding a few would-be tacklers.
Junior transfer quarterback Nick Stephens threw for two touchdowns, including the scrimmage's final strike when the teams were working on the One-Minute Drill. In the one-minute drill, the offense was "down by three" and going for the win or the tie. With 27 seconds on the clock, the offense got inside the redzone, and on a fade route to Jeken Frye, the offense got the "win".
The Texan defense shined in the Four-Minute Drill where each team is trying to either run out the clock with the lead (offense) or stop the opponent and get the ball back to go score (defense). Several good plays were made as the white-shirted defense was effective, including a safety made by the first-team defense.
Saturday's scrimmage was "pleasing" to head coach Cary Fowler. See the Two-Minute Drill below to find out what he and both coordinators thought about the practice.
There are just a handful of camp days left before the Purple/White scrimmage on Wednesday night. Then, the Texans will hit game week on Thursday to prepare for the season opener against Northeastern State on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.
• Photo Album - Tarleton Athletics Media Relations
A&M-Commerce Hosts Inaugural Ladies Football 101 - TAMC Sports Information
“Do you guys have a vision test before each season?”
“What is a quarterback?”
“Where does this pad go?”
“What is a blitz?”
These types of questions and more were asked on Saturday at the inaugural Ladies Football 101 coordinated by the wife of A&M-Commerce President Dr. Dan Jones, Jalinna, the wife of head football coach Guy Morriss, Jackie and other community volunteers.
48 ladies from a wide variety of ages assembled in the Sam Rayburn Student Center for the football clinic.
“I think I passed Football 101,” said Commerce resident Sharon Smith “it was a blast…and I even learned a little about football.”
“I am really pleased with the response we received for this clinic and look forward to hosting another in 2011,” said defensive coordinator Brian Williams, who helped organize the clinic. “I’m very thankful for the support of our countless volunteers that helped make this event a success.”
After a meet and greet session, Coach Morriss addressed the audience in the same fashion he did, a week ago when the Lions football team assembled for their first practice of the fall. The enthusiasm in Morriss’ voice motivated the crowd for the clinic as it did for the student-athletes, a week ago.
The clinic got underway with assistant head coach Jack Peavey explaining to the attendees all the equipment that A&M-Commerce utilizes to outfit a player from the shoes and socks to each of the pads as well as the jersey and helmet. The gear weighs nearly 35 pounds noted the veteran coach and it usually takes a student-athlete 10 minutes to put it on.
Next, the clinic went into the x’s and o’s of football with offensive coordinator Dan Lounsbury talking about offense and its specific details. Following that presentation, Commerce resident Jim Peek, who also is a high school official, addressed the audience about the rules and signals that are used by officials through the course of a game. Defensive Coordinator Brian Williams wrapped up the x’s and o’s of the clinic while talking about the defense and its specific details.
After the presentations, they enjoyed lunch and were able to share with one another what they learned in the morning before a fashion show involving the A&M-Commerce cheerleaders and area citizens with merchandise from the A&M-Commerce bookstore, All Star Enterprises and Two B Chic.
Next to wrap up the clinic, they were able to tour and visit the renovated Memorial Stadium and the Lions' football locker room.
Those that attended the clinic were glad that they did and are looking forward to the upcoming season and future clinics. Details about the clinic for 2011 will be announced at a later date.
Buffs' First-Team Units Crisp in Scrimmage - WT Sports Information
CANYON, Texas - The West Texas A&M Buffaloes continue to make steady progress towards their season opener as they underwent through their initial full-scale scrimmage, Saturday morning at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.
With several starters being held out of contact as a precautionary measure, the first, second and third-team units each received several repetitions under the eye of WT head coach Don Carthel.
"I thought our offensive unit played well from time to time," Carthel said. "We were hoping to work on our punting game some, but our offense drove the ball well today and we didn’t have that opportunity.
Taylor Harris (Sr-3L, Whitesboro, Texas), Tanner Marsh (So-1L, Carrollton, Texas) and Dustin Vaughan (Fr-RS, Corpus Christi, Texas) shared the bulk of the quarterbacking chores. Harris was 12-of-18 for 138 yards, including an initial drive in which he completed six-or seven attempts for 69 yards in leading the first unit to a touchdown.
Marsh was 16-of-23 for 158 yards and Vaughan went 8-of-11 for 74 yards. Neither of the Buffs’ top three quarterbacks tossed an interception during the 90 minute scrimmage.
On the receiving end, inside receiver Jeremy Watson (So-1L, Lubbock, Texas) grabbed five passes for 84 yards, with each being a short pattern followed by a lengthy run. Wide receiver Torrence Allen (Fr-RS, Meridian, Texas) grabbed four passes for 37 yards, while running back Tommy Hampton (Jr-TR, Bronx, N.Y.) had 3 catches for 34 yards.
Hampton also scored a pair of touchdowns in short-yardage situations, netting 10 yards on three carries. Kelvin Thompson (Sr-3L, Mineral Wells, Texas) also scored on rushing TD, gaining 10 yards on four carries. Marsh had a team-high 24 yards on two carries, with the bulk of his yardage coming on a broken-play scramble.
"Tommy Hampton ran the ball very well," coach Carthel said. "He made some good cuts, showed an ability to make would-be tacklers miss and he picked up the blitz very well. I also through Jeremy Watson had an outstanding scrimmage, as did Torrence Allen and Aaron Flores."
Defensively, the Buffs showed an ability to harass the quarterback, as they registered 10 sacks. End Bryan Braman (Sr-1L, Spokane, Wash.) had a team-high four sacks, while DT Jonathan Hatton (Jr-TR, Tyler, Texas), LB Brian Johnson (Jr-1L), DT Rashad Sanders (Jr-2L, Flower Mound, Texas), DT Aaron Wampler (So-1L, Wolfforth, Texas), DT Kyle Thomas (Sr-1L, Oceanside, Calif.), and LB Kyle Voss (So-1L, Belton,Texas) each registered one QB take down.
"The offensive line missed a couple of guys today but I still thought that, overall, our pass protection was pretty good," Carthel continued. "We only ran our first-team secondary for a short while, as we wanted to get a good look at our reserve defensive unit. I thought everyone tackled well today and our linebackers were hitting hard.
The eleventh-ranked Buffaloes will scrimmage again Thursday, Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. They open the 2010 season on Thursday, Sept. 2, when they visit #2-ranked Grand Valley State. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CDT.