Thursday, September 9, 2010

Game Previews and Predictions Week 3

Texas A&M Kingsville at East Central
Few gave the Javelinas a chance to win last week against the defending national champions, and probably no one thought their defense would sack Blake Bolles 7 times and hold the #1 Bearcats to under 200 yards of offense and a single touchdown.  Despite the win, there are a couple of areas where TAMK needs to show improvement.  The offense was held to just 86 yards rushing, with Fred Winborn only able to average 3 yards per carry and the special teams need to a better job on punts (31 yard average) and kickoff coverage (29.8 yard average return for NWMSU).

East Central's offense showed some positive signs in their opening game against Fort Hays.  Tyler Vanderzee threw for 276 yards and 2 TDs, with Zach Patteson his favorite target (8-132 1 TD).  Tulsa transfer Charles Opeseyitan ran for 53 yards and a TD.  And the Tigers showed the ability to move the ball - the three TD drives for ECU averaged 72 yards.  They need to build on that and develop some consistency - the Tigers other 11 possessions generated just 140 yards.  The defense appears to still need some work.  ECU gave up 513 yards to Fort Hays, including 6 scoring drives of 60+ yards, all of which ended with FHSU TDs.

The Javelinas, who moved up to #6 in the AFCA poll, are heavy favorites in this game.  Unless they suffer a major letdown from last week's game, they should handily take this one.  TAMK 42-14

Incarnate Word at Southeastern Oklahoma
The Cardinals dropped their opener two weeks ago to NAIA Langston University.  The offense struggled most of the day, generating just 264 yards and turning the ball over 4 times.  Three of UIW's scores were set up by turnovers (two fumbles and a blocked punt) with just one scoring drive of more than 12 yards all day.  Trent Rios had a good day running the ball (23-88 and a TD), but UIW must get better QB play (15-32  144 yards and 3 Ints, 0 TDs) if they are to challenge anyone in the LSC.  Defensively, the Cardinals did well against the run (80 yards, 2.6 per carry), but need to improve against the pass (16-23  212 yds, 2 TDs, 0 Ints, 1 sack).

Not much went right for Southeastern Oklahoma as Henderson State took them to the woodshed two weeks ago.  The offense never really got going, gaining just 304 yards on the night.  The running game was not effective (49 yards, 2.0 per carry) and the passing never got vertical (4.25 yards per attempt).  The Savage Storm defense had a hard time stopping HSU, giving up 469 yards and 26 first downs.  Most of the damage came on long sustained possessions - the Reddies' five TD drives averaged 67 yards. Steven Harris had a busy night with 13 tackles and forced fumble.

While both teams struggled last week, Southeastern Oklahoma had its problems with a D2 team, while Incarnate Word couldn't keep up with an NAIA squad.  We look for the Savage Storm to work out some of their kinks and take this game.  SOSU 31-14.

West Texas A&M at Southwestern Oklahoma
West Texas A&M did a lot of good things offensively in last week's opener, gaining 567 yards and scoring 31 points against the #2 ranked Grand Valley Lakers.  Taylor Harris completed 70% of his passes for 421 yards, with Tyson Williams, Stephen Burton and Brittan Golden catching 29 passes for 378 yards, and Tommy Hampton and Kelvin Thompson combining for 152 yards rushing and 2 TDs.  They also made their share of mistakes, notably 4 interceptions and a fumble.  The defense struggled a bit, giving up 475 yards, not forcing any turnovers of their own, and giving up a huge 70 yard TD pass to start the fourth quarter.  Special teams had their problems as well, punting for 29.3 yard average and allowing 37.2 yards per kickoff return.  Despite all of that, the Buffs fell by just 3 points, and were just a successful onside kick away from the upset.

It took 16 minutes for the Bulldogs to get settled in, but by that time they were down 21-0, and not able to recover.  But they did play better (at least defensively), outscoring the Hornets 7-6 and limiting Emporia State to just 195 yards after the initial outburst.  Anthony Laws had 18 tackles, and Jonathan Darby was right behind with 15.   Cash Johnson had 4 tackles for loss.  The offense struggled all night, putting together just one drive over 21 yards, gaining a total of 177 yards for the game, and converting just 2 of 15 third downs.  Neither Dustin Stenta nor Mike VanDeripe were effective at QB, combining to complete just 13-35 passes with each tossing an interception.

The Bulldogs defense settling down is a good sign for SWO, but they will be facing a much sterner task this week against WT's flying circus.  Without much of a threat on the offensive side, SWO doesn't have much of a chance.  WT 49-7.

Tarleton State at Central Oklahoma
It may be only week two of a long season, but this is a must win game for the Texans after last week's loss to Northeastern State.  The game started sloppy for Tarleton State and the found themselves behind 14- in the second quarter and 24-7 early in the fourth.  They finally responded with two scoring drives, pulling to within 24-16 with 7 minutes to play, but the Riverhawks ended the comeback with a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.  Offensively, the Texans gained 463 yards on the evening, but 200 of that came in the fourth quarter with Tarleton down 24-7.  Nick Stephens completed just 19-40 passes for 255 yards with 2 TDs and an interception in his debut. Aaron Doyle came in for an injured Stephens, completing 3-4 passes for 73 yards, including a 60 yard TD pass to Jeken Frye.  Frye was the top receiver, grabbing 11 passes for 215 yards and 2 TDs.  Evan Robertson chipped 76 yards rushing. (Late note:  Doyle will get the start for an injured Stephens).

Central Oklahoma suffered though a sloppy opening week loss as well.  Against Pitt State two weeks ago, the Bronchos were intercepted 5 times, and yet were still in a postition to win the game.  Josh Birmingham had a great debut for UCO, rushing for 111 yards on 15 carries and a TD, and catching 7 passes for 63 yards and another TD.  Tucker Holland also had a good game, with 6 receptions for 11 yards.  Who will get the call at QB?  Ethan Sharp was 14-23 for 136 yards and 2 TDs, but had 4 interceptions.  Carter Whitson was 9-16 for 97 and had an interception as well.  Tucker Cason was the man for the defense, picking up 12 tackles, with 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

After what transpired last weekend, this game is much more interesting (and important).  It's not very often that a team can start the season 0-2 and make the NCAA playoffs, especially in the loaded Super Region 4.  Look for both teams to play a cleaner game, with Tarleton coming out on top.  TSU 28-24

Midwestern State at Eastern New Mexico
Last week's 52-6 romp over New Mexico Highlands found head coach Bill Maskill still wondering how good of a team he has.  Good enough to pile up 382 yards and 38 points in the first half, with the 5 TD drives averaging 3.4 plays to get to the end zone.  Good enough for the defense to shut out the Cowboys, hold them to just 67 yards and force two turnovers.  The question is how much that performance will translate against upcoming teams.  Zack Eskridge resumed his ascent on the MSU record book, surpassing 5,000 passing yards and now just 463 yards behind current record holder Phillip Boggs.  Marcus Mathis is just 9 yards shy of surpassing 2,000 career rushing yards.

Eastern New Mexico traded blows with Angelo State Saturday night, taking a 38-34 lead with just 2:30 to play on a Melvis Hawkins 3 yard run.  But the defense could not stop the Rams, and ASU scored the winning TD with 32 seconds in the game.  As expected the offense led the way, with Wes Wood throwing for 303 yards and 4 TDs, but also 3 interceptions, all in the fourth quarter.  Jesse Poku was the leading receiver with 8 receptions for 101 yards and a TD.  He is now one reception behind Derrick Hunter on ENMU's career list.  The defense had trouble stopping the Rams, allowing 138 yards rushing and 349 passing.   The inability to stop the Rams on third downs (converted 10 of 19) kept the defense on the field for almost 39 minutes.

This game could resemble last week's ENMU-ASU game, with both teams moving the ball well and 70+ combined points on the scoreboard.  Look for Midwestern State to win the time of possession battle and to have a fresher defense late in the game.  MSU 42-35.

Abilene Christian at Northeastern State
The Wildcats ventured into MIAA territory and came away with another win over a top 10 team.  This time it was a 34-26 win over #9 Washburn.  Michell Gale had a good game, going 24-30 for 247 yards, 3 TD and 0 interceptions.  Edmond Gates caught 5 passes for 138 yards and 2 TDs (51 and 41 yards) including the final score with 4:23 to play.  Darryl Richardson was a workman-like 21 carries for 74 yards and a TD.  The defense showed some cracks, allowing the Ichabods 442 yards, including 316 through the air.  But they held a good Washburn offense to just 4 of 11 on third down and forced two first half turnovers.

You'll have to forgive the Northeastern State players and coaching staff if they come onto the field with smiles still on their faces.  Last week's 31-23 win over Tarleton State ended a 15 game losing streak to LSC South teams, in which they were outscored by an average score of 10.9 - 38.7.  Since the beginning of the 2002 season, NSU had won only 1 of their last 30 games against LSC South teams.  So its understandable that might be just a wee bit happy this past week.  The Riverhawks jumped out to an early lead, and every time Tarleton State cut into the margin, NSU answered right back.  The final blow was a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, putting the Riverhawks up by 15 with just under 7 minutes to play in the game.  NSU wasn't explosive on offense, but took advantage when opportunities arose.  The second field goal was set up by an interception, the second touchdown came after Tarleton failed to convert on 4th and six, and the final TD came on the previously mentioned kickoff return.  Kenny Davis completed just 12 of 26 passes, but did not throw any interceptions.  Prince McKinney and Josh Lewis combined for 83 yards rushing on 18 caries.  The defense kept the Texans in check most of the night, with a large chunk of Tarleton's yardage coming in the fourth quarter in desperation time.

The Riverhawks opened up a lot of eyes with last week's win.  They can make believers out of a lot more people if they can continue their winning ways this week.  ACU, however is a much tougher opponent and opened the 2010 season with a solid win.  ACU takes this one 35-10.

Angelo State vs. Texas A&M-Commerce at the Cotton Bowl
Josh Neiswander didn't waste any time showing that he is ready for a big season.  Neiswander threw for 349 yards and 5 TDs to 5 different receivers, and led the Rams 54 yards in just 5 plays for the winning TD (completing all four of his passes). Dakari Pecikonis had 7 catches for 161 yards and a TD, and Tristan Carter debuted with 118 yards rushing and a TD and the game winning 9 yard TD reception.  The defense allowed 421 yards, but picked off Wes Wood 3 times, all in the critical fourth quarter.

The Lions were their own worst enemy in the first half last week against Upper Iowa.  The defense had a hard time stopping the Peacocks, as UIU rolled up 247 yards and a 10-0 lead that could have been worse.  The offense moved the ball pretty well, but two interceptions in Peacock territory kept them off of the scoreboard.  The second half was a different story.  The defense clamped down, giving up just 124 yards, not allowing a score and scoring a TD on their own, a 48 yard interception return.  The offense opened up, piling up 244 yards and getting three rushing TDs.  Special teams got the momentum going TAMC's way, returning the opening second half kickoff 87 yards for the Lions first score of the game.  Marcus Graham led the way for the offense, picking up 85 yards and 2 TDs rushing and 20 more yards on 2 pass receptions.  Adam Farkes threw for 289 yards, and freshman Kenzee Jackson had a big first game with 79 receiving yards to go with his 87 kickoff return.  Danny Mason led the defense with 13 tackles, 3 for loss and a sack.

Last year's contest was a hard fought 21-7 win for Angelo State that catapulted the Rams to a fast start on the season.  But that was the first game for the Lions under Guy Morriss, and the offense, while not likely to challenge as the LSC's best,  is much further along this year.  Look for the Ram's to nose out the Lions in higher scoring game.  ASU 31-24.

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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