Midwestern State took a bit of a step back last year. LSC tri-champions and a playoff qualifier in 2009, the Mustangs went 8-4 in 2010, finishing the season with a 45-14 loss to Washburn in the Kanza Bowl, and struggling to regular season wins against Central Oklahoma, Incarnate Word and Tarleton State. The offense scored 31.8 pts per game (down 3.1 pts) and gained 398 yards (down 29 yds). The defense allowed 23.9 points and 373 yards, which was 10.3 points and 60 yards worse than 2009.
Seven starters from last year are gone. QB Zack Eskridge is the biggest loss - he leaves as MSU's all-time leading passer, throwing for 6,953 yards, with 64 TDs and 20 Ints in three seasons. He was a 1st team LSC South selection in 2009, and a 2nd teamer last fall. Marcus Mathis is third on MSU's career rushing charts with 2,433 yards and 17 TDs, and was a two time HM LSC South honoree. WR Justin Rideau was solid, with 34 catches for 366 yards and 2 TDs. Up front, MSU will need to replace Hank Gilley (1st LSC South), Bobby Parsons (HM LSC South), Jordan Kulwitzky and TE Sasan Faradineh.
Returning for the Mustangs are OL starters Amini Silatolu (1st LSC South) and Rickie Gomez (HM LSC South), and part-time starters Bradley Dittmar and Brandon Washington. RBs Lester Bush (2nd LSC South, 589 yards rushing with 9 TDs), Keidrick Jackson (429 yds, 7 TDs), and Chauncey Harris (239 yds, 2 TDs) form a solid running back corps. At WR, David Little (1st LSC South, 63-689 7 TDs), Desmond Ratliff (29-294), Jared Freeman (18-176) and Edgard Theliar (11-246) are the top returning targets. Sheldon Galloway missed 2010, but had 5 catches for 41 yds and a TD in this year's spring game. Brandon Kelsey took over at QB late in the season for an injured Eskridge, and threw for 252 yds, with 3 Ints and 0 TDs and a QB rating of 77.9.
The secondary was hard hit, losing starters Austin McDaniel (2nd LSC South), Ryan Craven, P.J. Grundy and Wesley Nakwaasah, and reserves Patrick Roberts and Lance Moss. That is a combined 228 tackles, 16 for loss, 6 interceptions and 14 passes broken up.
The most experienced area on defense returing is the line. Kevin Birdow, J.D. Corcoran (both HM LSC South), K.K. Francis, and Tyler Tackett combined to start 41 games, while Tim McGill, Brett Olednkamp and Mason Taugavau had the other 7 combined starts. Those seven had a combined 190 tackles, 26 for loss, and 13 sacks. At linebacker, Matt Ellerbrock and Ty Duncan started each game and had 141 tackles between them. Coryan Briggs is the lone starter returning in the secondary, but 8 others had double digit tackles last year, so they do have playing experience.
Special Teams -
Jose Martinez (HM LSC South, 12-15 FGs and 43-45 PATs) will need to be replaced. Key returnees are the top two punt returners, Trey Wolfe (9.5 avg) and Neiko Conway (6.0 avg), kick returner Chauncey Harris (17.8 avg), and punter Gunter Ellenburg (39.7 avg).
Top 5 signees
RB - Josh Broach - Dave Campbell Texas Football top 300 player, 1,487 yds and 22 TDs as Jr, injured in 2010
LB - Jercorey Quarterman - 1st team All Conference at Kilgore College, 101 tackles last year
LB - Dezmond Scott - 1st team 11-5A, 2 year captain
LB - Lance Williams - 136 tackles last year, 1st team 11-5A
CB - Ricardo Riascos - 1st team 23-5A
Other top signees
QB - Boy Humphrey - threw for 4,233 yds and 36 TDs in two seasons at Solano College
WR - Davonn Brumfield
TE - Derrick Lockhart
DT - Ben Scribner
LB - Christo Lisika
LB - Gadrain Muse
S - Zachary Jimenez
The biggest holes for the Mustangs were the defensive seconday, the offensive line (both of which have experienced backups returning) and quarterback. QB is likely the biggest question mark heading into the fall, with Boy Humphrey the only newcomer to play in the spring game. The Mustangs did a solid job adding depth at just about every other postion, but especially at linebacker. Grade A