Eastern New Mexico finished 2010 on a strong note, beating Tarleton State 35-10, ending a 22 game skid against LSC South teams. The offense led the way once again, while an improved defense helped the Greyhounds to within a hair of a winning record.
Offense - ENMU was third in the LSC in scoring (34.5 pts per game) and total offense (430 yds per game). The running game doubled their production from 2009, averaging a respectable 129 yards per game. The team attempted 200 fewer passes than the previous season, but still averaged 302 yards.
There are several big holes to fill. ENMU's all time leading receiver Jessie Poku (1st LSC North) will be hard to replace. He leaves ENMU with 213 receptions for 2,458 yards and 26 TDs. Leading rusher, Tony Valenzuela (HM LSC North, 624 yards and 7 TDs) will also be missed. The offensive line alos loses three starters - Karlton Graves, TJ Cleavinger and Ryan Torres. Graves and Cleavinger were both 2nd LSC North selections, while Torres received honorable mention.
Wes Wood returns at QB. As a sophomore, Wood threw for 3,313 yards with 30 TDs and earned LSC North team honors. At running back Troy Harris, Melvis Hawkins, and Stefan Mills are back(combined 399 yds rushing). The cupboard isn't bare at WR, with Darian Dale (1st LSC North), Chase Kyser, Carl Bouldin, Arvin Jackson, and Nicholas Hill leading the returnees. That quintent combined for 182 receptions for 1,886 yards and 17 TDs. Up front, starters Adam Robinson (1st LSC North) and Jaime Villafuerte return. Justin Ward and Evan Fraley each started a couple of games as well.
Defense - The defense showed a great deal of improvement last year, giving up fewer points (7.8) and yards (63) per game in 2010. There is still room for improvement, as they gave up 40+ points four times last year.
Gone from last year's squad are starters DE Matt Kalisch, LB Nathan Uland, LB Devin Sweet, Safety Tillman Stevens (all 1st Team LSC North), CB Rodney Mitchell (HM LSC North), and part-time starter Tavius Bigelow.
The defensive line returns Bracy McCoy (1st LSC North), starter Ian Ogando and part-time starters Cyle Jones and Joseph Henry. At LB, Perron Sellers (HM LSC North) is top returnee, but 4 others tallied double-digit tackles in reserve roles. Curtis Jackson (2nd LSC North) and Keith Davis are the returning starters in the secondary. Linvel Mosby got plenty of playing time as a red-shirt freshman, as did true freshman Jayson Serda.
Special Teams - Coming back is Tyler Cannon, who handled punting and kicking duties last year. He averaged 40.6 yards per punt, while converting 45-46 PATs, and 13-18 FGs. For his efforts, he was named 1st LSC North as a kicker, and 2nd LSC North as a punter. Also back is Arvin Jackson returned 26 kickoffs for 570 yards. They will need a new punter returner to replace last year's leader, Jessie Poku.
Top 5 Signees
QB Josh Houghtaling - 1st team All State, threw for 3,463 yards and 41 TDs
RB Andy Lopez - All State, rushed for 1,739 yards and 21 TDs
DT Xavier Bryant - transfer from Kilgore, could contribute right away
LB Dupri Wells - 111 tackles, SA Express News Area 1st team
LB Thaddeus Backman - HM All State, 156 tackles, and 11 interceptions
Other top Signees
QB Jeff Tuck
QB Jeremy Buurma
CB Jamison Ellis
DB Avery Gilliam
The Greyhounds addressed several of their needs - running back, linebacker, secondary and QB down the road. One exception seems to the offensive line. Replacements for the three departing starters will likely come from players already on the roster. With the departure of the Oklahoma schools, that might not be good enough. Grade C