Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 Abilene Christian Preview

2010 Review
Abilene Christian cruised through the regular season undefeated, surviving tough battles at Washburn, Texas A&M-Kingsvile and West Texas A&M, and at home against Midwestern State.  The rest of the LSC did not put up much resistance, as ACU outscored them by an average of 49-13.  However the season came to a crashing halt in Round 2 of the NCAA playoffs, with Central Missouri shocking the Wildcats 55-41.

The offense was not only good, but consistent, scoring at least 31 points in every game.  ACU led the conference scoring 43.3 points per game and was second in total offense, racking up 473 yards.  Despite losing Reggie Brown before the season starte, ACU averaged 155 yards rushing (4th in the LSC).  But it was the passing game that was more impressive.  Sophomore Mitchell Gale went from a question mark entering the season to an All American caliber QB.  He threw for 3,595 yds with 38 TDs and just 3 INTs.  He had plenty of help - Edmond Gates and Raymond Radaway are on NFL rosters, and Kendrick Johnson was all LSC South as well.  All five offensive linemen received LSC honors with Royland Tubbs and Trevis Turner named to the first team.

The defense wasn't too shabby either, finishing second to Texas A&M-Kingsville in both scoring (21.5 pts) and total defense (324 yds per game).  Teams only rushed for 80 yds per games one of the top marks nationally.  Aston Whiteside continued to receive national accolades, as he racked up 7 sacks and 14.5 TFL despite being the focus of opposing coaching staffs.  All in all, five Wildcats (Whiteside, DT Marvin Jones, DE Fred Thompson, LB Courtney Lane, LB Kevin Washington) were named to the LSC South 1st team, while 3 (CB James Williams, DB Darrien Willams, and DT Donald Moore) were second team selections, and four (DB LB Suggs, DB Richard Havins, DE Bryson Lewis, LB Eric Edwards ) were honorable mention.

2011 Preview
No QB question this year, unless its whether or not Gale can become ACU's second Harlon Hill winner.  Due to the loss of such talented receivers and offensive linemen, his numbers might be down a little, but I wouldn't count on it.  Taylor Gabriel is the lone returning WR with much experience, but Darrell Cantu-Harkless moves to WR to help out, and Ben Gibbs is a scoring threat at TE.  With Reggie Brown back in the backfield, the RB corps is deep.  When healthy in 2009, he and Daryl Richardson combined for over 1,900 yds and 23 TDs rushing.  Add in Charcandrick West, who averaged 7.5 yds per carry as a freshman, and it would appear that the running game will take some of the pressure off of the passing game.  Up front, returning starters Matt Webber, Neal Tivis, and Josh Perez should be joined by Jerond Harrell, a senior transfer from Lambuth and sophomore Blake Spears.  Not a great deal of experience behind them however.

On defense, Whiteside will be joined up front by Donald Moore, Ryan Smith, TR Varnado and newcomer Rob Boyd.  Like the offensive line, there is not much experienced depth here.  LB Suggs moves to LB from the secondary, and Derek Odelusi from defensive end, joining Nathan Baggs, Thor Woerner and Chris Jones, who all saw playing time as reserves last year.  Transfers Jesse Harper and Derek Drummond could fit into the mix as well.  The secondary does not have a lot of experienced players returning either.  Darrien Williams, Richard Havins, Nate Bailey, and Caleb Withrow are back, and ACU will wecome Alex Harbison back from injury as well.  JC transfer Mike Wallace had 3 Ints last year for the College of San Mateo.

Morgan Lineberry connected on 21-30 FGs and 48-53 PATs and will be joined by Spencer Covey who averaged almost 65 yards per kickoff.  Withrow, Cantu-Harkless and West can all handle kick return duties more than adequately, but Kendrick Johnson will need to be replaced on punt returns, possibly by Gabriel or Cantu-Harkless.

Out with the Old
FB - Emery Dudensing - 1st LSC South, 6 TD receptions
WR - Edmond Gates, Kendrick Johnson, Raymond Radaway - 137 receptions, 2,223 yds, 22 TDs, Gates and Radaway on NFL rosters
OL - Royland Tubbs, Trevis Turner - both 1st LSC South selections
DL - Marvin Jones, Fred Thompson (both 1st LSC South), Bryson Lews (HM), and Austin January - combined for 109 tackles, 27 TFL, 9.5 sacks
LB - Kevin Washington, Courtney Lane (both 1st LSC South), Eric Edwards, Casey Carr - combined for 192 tackles, 23.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks
CB - James Williams - 2nd LSC South, 41 tackles, 3 Ints
P - Mark Sprauge - 2nd LSC South, 40.4 avg

Welcome Back
QB - Mitchell Gale - 164.1 QB rating, 38 TDs, 3 Ints, 3,595 yds passing
RB - Daryl Richardson, Reggie Brown, Chancandrick West
WR - Darrell Cantu-Harkless, Taylor Gabriel - 48 catches for 554 yds combined
TE - Ben Gibbs - 20 receptions for 238 yds and 5 TDs
OL - Matt Webber, Neal Tivis, Josh Perez
DL - Aston Whiteside, Donald Moore, Ryan Smith - combined 71 tackles, 25.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks
LB - Derek Odelusi, L.B. Suggs - combined 60 tackles 2.5 TFL
DB - Darrien Williams, Richard Havins, Nate Bailey - combined for 103 tackles, 4 Ints, 5 passes broken up
K - Spencer Covey (64.7 KO avg), Morgan Lineberry (111 pts)

In with the New
WR - Jamaine Sherman
WR - Ronald Gaudin
TE - Jon Parker
OL - Jerod Harrell
DE - Rob Boyd
LB - Jesse Harper, Derek Drummond

All Conference Candidates
QB - Mitchell Gale (All American and Harlon Hill Candidate)
RB - Daryl Richardson
WR - Darrell Cantu-Harkless
TE - Ben Gibbs
OL - Matt Webber, Neal Tivis, Josh Perez
DL - Aston Whiteside (All American candidate), Donald Moore
LB - LB Suggs
DB - Darrien Williams, Richard Havins

Big Games
Game 2 - North Alabama  In recent years, ACU has scheduled a top-notch non-conference opponent to help them get ready for the long season.  #6 North Alabama can virtually field a former SEC team with the large number of transfers on the roster.
Game 9 - at Texas A&M-Kingsville  Depending on how some of the earlier season games work out, this could be for all of the LSC marbles, or a fight for a playoff spot.  Both teams come into the season with high expectations, but also with difficult schedules.  If last year's game is any indication, this will be a barn burner.
Best Case Scenario - 11-0  The Wildcats did it last year, despite coming into the season with an unproven QB and losing half of their RB tandem prior to the season opener.  If the offensive line can provide enough time for Gale and the receivers can catch the ball, the offense should click.  The defense lost a lot, but there are still plenty of good players returning.
Worst Case Scenario - 7-4  If the offense takes a step back and the defense takes a couple, the Wildcats could drop some of the close games they were able to pull out last year.  The LSC slate is as tough as ever, and North Alabama in game 2 makes it even tougher.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 Texas A&M-Kingsville Preview

2010 Review
The 2010 season got off to a bang, with the Javelinas opening the season at #1 Northwest Missouri.  After spotting the Bearcats a 7-0 lead, Texas A&M-Kingsville would totally shut down NW, taking a hard fought 16-7 win over the defending national champions.   Despite losing stars Fred Winborn, Delashaun Dean and Matt Romig during the season, TAMK finished the regular season with just one loss, a 31-24 decision to #5 ACU in week 5.  That set up a rematch with Northwest Missouri in round 2 of the playoffs.  The Javelinas took the lead early, and held a 31-21 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but the Bearcats scored the winning TD with 18 seconds left, ending TAMK's season.  The team did struggle at times, barely beating Angelo State and Tarleton State and a lackluster effort in week 2 at ECU.

In his first season as a starter, QB Nate Poppell threw for 2,671 yds, with 16 TDs, but also 10 Ints.  His favorite target was Ryan Lincoln (65-833-5), who ended his TAMK career with a school record 210 receptions and 2,926 yds (2nd on the all-time list).  Freshman Robert Armstrong had 45 catches for 590 yards, with the biggest being a 62 yd TD pass with 1:44 to go, lifting TAMK to a 28-21 win over Angelo State.  With the dismissal of Winborn after week 3, Jonathan Woodson moved from WR to RB, leading the team with 608 yds and 7 TDs, and 1,422 all-purpose yards.  Overall, the offense was 7th in the LSC in scoring (28.2 pts) and 6th in total offense (395 yds).

It was the defense that set the tone for the Javelinas.  The Border Bandits led the LSC in scoring defense (16 pts), pass defense (195 yds), rushing defense (57 yds, #1 in the nation), and total defense (252 yds) despite playing 4 teams ranked #7 or higher during the season.  Four players were named to the LSC South first team (DT Johnny Tivao, LB Tressor Baptiste, S Corey Robertson and S DeIra Glover), four to the second team (DE Matt Romig, LB Marcus Sanders, CB Derrick Thomas and S Kendrick Matthews) and honorable mention Dondi Cooks .

2011 Preview
In his four seasons as the Javelinas head coach, Bo Atterberry has seen his team improve each year - going from 3-8 in his first season, to 7-4 in 2008, 9-3 in 2009 and last year finishing the season 10-2.  The next step is to make a deep run in the playoffs.

It helps to have an experienced QB, and TAMK does in Nate Poppell.  Poppel's 2,671 yards is third on the single season charts for TAMK, but he needs to cut down on last year's 10 Ints.  Backup Daniel Ramirez has shown the ability to move the team when called up.  With WT up 24-6 in the second quarter, Ramirez led the Javelinas 75 yards for a critical TD, keeping the Javelinas in the game.  Jonathan Woodson returns to the backfield, and will have plenty of backup help in transfers Jai Cavness and Randall Toney and RS freshman Charles Coleman.  Despite losing Lincoln to graduation, the receiving corps should be in good shape with the returns of Armstrong, Batiste, a healthy Damian Couthren and Christian Taylor.  New faces include Arron Fisher moving over from defense, transfer Shane Prater and walk-on Patrick Lafleur who stood out in spring practices.  Up front Keenan Woods and Cory Baumann are returning starters will be joined by Lee Mattingly, Chris Hudgins and Marcus Stager as the opening game starters.  There is sollid depth with Cade Shaw, Karl Willie, Devin Shaw, Joe Vazquez and Patrick Daniel ready to contribute as well.

The defense will have to replace a lot of graduated talent.  It starts up front with preseason All-American Johnny Tivao at NT.  He will be getting help in the middle from Texas Tech transfer Bobbie Hampton.  Roderick Benman and Marquis Singleton are the starters at the ends.  Darnell Hicks, James Cannell and Justin Chambers bring experience to the table in backup roles.  Marcus Sanders led the team with 77 tackles and will be paired with Jeremy Aguilar in the starting lineup.  Justin Young transfers in from Southeastern Oklahoma, where he had 65 tackles as a freshman defensive back.  The biggest question mark on defense is the secondary, where no starters return from 2010.  The projected starters are Jeff Phillips and Cliff Baker at cornerback, Robert McCormick and Rockeem Collins at safety, and Trevor Pesek at rover.  Listed as second teamers are Eddie Smith, Kerry Wheatfall, Marc Kinney, Quincy Williams, and Angelo Looney.  Kinney, who started the first two games last season before an injury, McCormick and Collins are the only ones on the two deep chart who saw playing time for the Javelinas last fall.

On special teams, both Matt Stoll (14-20 FGs, 39-41 PATs, 36.9 punt avg) and Angel Millan (38.1 punt avg) return.  Fisher (6.5 PR, and 23.1 KR) and Woodson (26.9 KR) return as the return men.

Out With The Old
RB - Fred Winborn - 394 yds in 3 games
RB - Connell Davis - 349 yds rushing
WR - Ryan Lincoln - career 210 receptions for 2,926 yds and 12 TDs, LY 1,095 All Purpose Yds, 10 TDs
WR - DelaShaun Dean - 25 receptions for 336 yds in 6 games
OL - Trent Perkins, Colby Lowrie (both 2nd LSC South), Timothy Byerly (HM LSC South)
DL - Michael Talamantez, Dondi Cooks - combined 71 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 5 sacks
LB - Tressor Baptiste - 66 tackles, 8 TFL, LSC LB of the Year
DB - DeIra Glover, Corey Robertson, Mardrick Johnson, Derrick Thomas, Kendrick Matthews, Josh Luck - combined for 240 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 7 Ints, 33 passes broken up

Welcome Back
QB - Nate Poppell
RB - Jonathan Woodson
WR - Robert Armstrong, Sherman Batiste, Christian Taylor, Damian Couthren
OL - Keenan Woods, Cory Baumann
DL - Johnny Tivao, Roderick Benman
LB - Marcus Sanders
K/P - Matt Stoll, Angel Millan

In With The New
RB - Randall Toney, Jai Cavness, Charles Coleman (RS)
WR - Shane Prater, Patrick Lafleur
OL - Cade Shaw, Patrick Daniel
DL - Bobbie Hampton
LB - Jeremy Aguilar (RS), Justin Young
DB - Cliff Baker, Trevor Pesek, Eddie Smith, Kerry Wheatfall, Quincy Williams (RS), Angelo Looney

All Conference Candidates
QB - Nate Poppell
RB - Jonathan Woodson
WR - Robert Armstrong, Sherman Batiste
OL - Keenan Woods
DL - Johnny Tivao (All-American candidate), Bobbie Hampton, Marquis Singleton
LB - Marcus Sanders, Jeremy Aguilar
DB - Trevor Pesek, Robert McCormick
K - Matt Stoll

Big Games
Week 1 - Central Washington   The Javelinas have fared well the past two seasons against Delta State and Northwest Missouri in opening games.  The Wildcats had the #10 ranked defense last year, while the Javelinas were #6.  A win here puts TAMK a step ahead of the competition, while a loss puts them in an early hole.
Week 3 - West Texas A&M   This game gets the big stage, finishing off the Lonestar Football Festival at Cowboys Stadium.  The early scheduling could benefit TAMK - an early test on the road, followed by a game to work out the kinks, before facing another talented Buffalo team.  Winner assumes the top challenger to ACU role, while the loser will have little margin for error going forward.
Best Case Scenario - 11-0 -  The Hogs are in better shape heading into the 2011 season than they were last year, and there were just 7 points from an undefeated regular season.  If the offense can improve on last year's performance and the defense is close to as good as last year, the team could go through the regular season unblemished for the first time since 1989.
Worst Case Scenario - 7-4    If the defense is not close to last year's stellar group and the offense is unable to pick up the slack, TAMK could find themselves on the short end against some stout competition.

Monday, August 29, 2011

2011 West Texas A&M Preview

2010 Review
To any long time Buffalo fan, an 8-4 season with a playoff berth would seem to be a good year.  But recent success has raised expectations, leaving West Texas A&M wanting (and expecting) more.  Don Carthel has compiled a 59-16 record in 6 seasons at WT, with 3 LSC titles and 5 playoff appearances.

The season started off with a bang as WT traveled to Allendale to face the #2 Grand Valley Lakers.  The Buffs led 24-16 after three quarters, but a long Laker TD pass and two WT turnovers allowed GV to hold on for a 34-31 victory.  Later in the season, WT would also hold fourth quarter leads in Kingsville and at home against ACU, only to see those games slip away by the narrowest of margins.  Once the dust settled,  WT's 3 regular season losses were by a combined 14 points.

The rest of the LSC proved to be no problem, as WT won the other 8 games by a 48-20 average.  Taylor Harris threw for 4,800 yards and 38 TDs, with Tyson Williams, Stephen Burton and Brittan Golden combining for 219 receptions for 3,235 yards and 30 TDs.  As a team, WT led the LSC in yards gained and were second in scoring offense.  The defense was sturdy most of the season (3rd in yds allowed, 4th in scoring defense), but in their four losses gave up almost 40 points on average.

2011 Preview
Every couple of years, WT graduates an LSC-leading passer.  In the Don Carthel-era, they have seen Dalton Bell, followed by Keith Null, who in turn was followed by Taylor Harris.  This year's starter has not been declared, so early on Tanner Marsh and Dustin Vaughn will likely both see playing time until there is separation between the two.

They will have plenty of talented receivers to throw to, as usual.  Brittan Golden is the lone returnee of last year's three-headed WR monster, but several youngsters were baptized by fire as injuries forced them into action last year.  Keep an eye out for these names - Torrence Allen, Nathan Slaughter, Trevor Hammargren, Lance Ratliff, Aarhon Flores, Sidney Parker and Jeremy Watson - young players ready to contribute.  Also late transfers Alfonse Coleman and Luke Russell might help out as well.

The running back position is thin, with just two players listed currently on the WT roster.  While WT doesn't run the ball a great deal, the backs play a big role catching the ball out of the backfield.

Up front, just two starters from last year are back - Hector Rodriguez and Aaron Mullane - but, Craig Watts, Emory Atterberry, Marc Waller and Terrance Harris all got game experience in 2010.  Transfers Casey O'Connor, Dante Pinchback and Jake Paylor could help out once they are comfortable with the system.

For the defense, the secondary is the most experienced spot.  Caleb Randolph, Curtis Jefferson, Jordan Smith and Maurice Caldwell combined for 34 starts.  Reserves Kendrick Geyen, John McSeffery, Dwight Morrison and Tarrin Lee all played in at least 10 games last year.  Look for Wisconsin transfer Mario Goins to have a major impact as well.
Up front, Dishon Robertson, Rashad Sanders, Simi Kuli and Aaron Wampler had 24 starts between them, and Drew Jones and DJ Ross also played alot.  But WT added Texas A&M signee LaMarc Strahan, University of Texas transfer Tyrell Higgins, and Juco transfer Paul Dancy to the mix.  There should be fresh bodies on the D-Line for WT at all times.

Even the linebacking corps is experienced - Kyle Voss, Zane Farris, Drew Graham, and Taylor McCuller had 29 combined starts, while reserve Kevin McCluskey also saw extensive playing time.  Anthony Scott is also back after sitting out 2010 with an injury - he led WT with 106 tackles in 2009.  Navarro College transfer James Jackson could force his way into the rotation.

The kicking game is in good hands with PK Sergio Castillo (83 points) and P Kevin VanVoris back.

Out With The Old
QB - Taylor Harris - 9,799 career passing yards (2nd in LSC history) with 71 TD passes (4th)
RB - Kelvin Thompson - 1st LSC South, 1,056 All-Purpose Yards
WR - Tyson Williams - 1st LSC South, 162 receptions for 2,168 yds and 13 TDs in 2009-2010
WR - Stephen Burton - 1st LSC South, 132 receptions for 1,909 yds and 13 TDs in 2009-2010
 OL - Dan Sherwood - 1st LSC South
OL - Isaiah Lewis - HM LSC South
DL - Kyle Thomas - 1st LSC South, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks
DL - Bryan Braman - 1st LSC South in 2009
LB - Shad Baichtal - 1st LSC South, 73 tackles, with 22 for losses and 10 sacks
DB - Tae Evans - 1st LSC South, led WT with 85 tackles, 4 Ints and 16 passes broken up

Welcome Back
RB - Tommy Hampton - 1,013 All-Purpose yards, 8 total TDs
WR - Brittan Golden - in three seasons, 110 receptions, 1,931 yds and 21 TDs
WRs - Nathan Slaughter, Trevor Hammargren, Lance Ratliff, Aarrhon Flores, Torrence Allen - combined 79 catches, 985 yds and 4 TDs
OL - Hector Rodriguez (2nd LSC South) and Aaron Mullane
DL - Dishon Robertson (2nd LSC South), Rashad Sanders (HM LSC South), Simi Kuli, Aaron Wampler - 105 tackles, 17 TFL, 3.5 sacks combined
 LB - Kyle Voss (2nd LSC South), Zane Farris, Drew Graham, Taylor McCuller - 214 tackles combined
LB - Anthony Scott (HM LSC South in 2009) - 106 tackles, 10 TFL in 2009
DB - Curtis Jefferson (1st LSC South), Caleb Randolph (1st LSC South), Jordan Smith (2nd LSC South) - combined for 141 tackles, 7 Ints, and 21 passes broken up
P/K - Sergio Castillo (1st LSC South) 9-13 FGs, 56-57 PATs,  Kevin Van Voris (38.7 punt avg.)

In With The New
RB - Khiry Robinson (Blinn)
WR - Alfonse Coleman, Luke Russell
OL - Casey O'Connor, Dante Pinchback, Jake Paylor
DL - LaMarc Strahan (Blinn, A&M Signee), Tyrell Higgins (Univ. of Texas), Paul Dancy (Mt. San Antonio)
LB - James Jackson (Navarro JC), Albertson Alexandre (Toledo)
DB - Mario Goins (Wisconsin)

All Conference Candidates
RS - Tommy Hampton
WR - Brittan Golden (All-American candidate)
OL - Hector Rodriguez
DL - LaMarc Strahan, Tyrell Higgins, Simi Kuli, Dishon Robertson, Paul Dancy
LB - Kyle Voss
DB - Curtis Jefferson, Caleb Randolph, Jordan Smith, Mario Goins
K - Sergio Castillo

Big Games
Game 2 - Texas A&M-Kingsville (Cowboy Stadium in Arlington) - The matchups between the LSC preseason top three have the makings of being classics.  The Javelinas come into this game, possibly with an advantage of playing a tough season opener on the road, and a home game against a lesser (presumably) opponent, allowing them to work out any kinks in their offense.  On the other hand, WT will have played just one game, with an off week in between.

Game 6 - Abilene Christian -  Will this be the defacto LSC Championship game?  or will one of these teams be in a must-win situation?  One thing that you can bank on is that is should be a great ball game.

Best Case Scenario - 10-1 - If the QB situation gels (like it typically does), the RBs can stay healthy, the OL protects the QB and the defense comes close to its potential, the Buffs could roll.  An undefeated season would still be hard to come by.
Worst Case Scenario - 7-4   If the offense is not up to normal WT-standards and the defense is merely good, the Buffs could find themselves in a battle for a berth in the Kanza Bowl. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011 Midwestern State Preview

2010 Review
Heading into the 2010 season, most people who looked at the LSC thought it was a four team race – Midwestern State, West Texas A&M, Abilene Christian and Texas A&M-Kingsville. It was pretty obvious that those teams would have to beat everyone on their schedule and try to pull off the tough wins against each other if they had playoff aspirations. To their credit the Mustangs were able to beat everyone else on their schedule…it was the three biggies they just couldn’t handle. The season started off very well for Midwestern, winning their first 3 games by an average of almost 40 points. But then came a couple of strange weeks…a 6 point win over a struggling Central Oklahoma and an OT win over Incarnate Word in Wichita Falls, probably due to looking ahead to the Week 6 matchup against Abilene Christian. A Mitchell Gale TD pass with 2 mins left broke the hearts of the Mustangs. It seemed to put a dent in the confidence of the Mustangs, who would go on to lose to West Texas A&M by 13 and Texas A&M-Kingsville by 20, and barely held on for a close win over a struggling Tarleton State. While just missing the playoffs, they would go to the Kanzaa Bowl against Washburn without injured QB Zach Eskridge and would get blown out 45-14.

Quick – tell me what the Mustangs offense excelled at in 2010. QB Zach Eskridge, a former Harlon Hill candidate was at the helm so most people would think their passing game drove their offense. But you’d be wrong. The Mustang rushing game actually averaged an incredible 212 yards per game, best in the LSC by an unbelievable 50 yards a game. Their passing game, however, actually only accounted for 185 yards per game, which ranked all the way down at 11th in the conference. The Midwestern offense would go on to score 31 points per game (6th) and 398 yards per game (5th). Their passing efficiency was 124.9 (4th), and their turnover margin was an impressive 0.58, good enough for 2nd in the LSC. Their stunning 93.9% Red Zone offense led the LSC by a huge 7% points. While the Mustang offense might not have been prolific, they were extremely efficient. Zach Eskridge finished up his impressive Mustang career injured, with 1,976 passing yards, 17 TD’s/6 INT. Amini Silatolu had an incredible season, earning AP Little American second-team, AFCA Division II Coaches' All American first-team, Daktronics All American second-team and All American first-team honors.

The Mustang defense has been become a strength for them every season, and 2010 was no different. They held opposing teams to 23 points per game and 372 yards, both ranking them 3rd in the conference. Their rush defense only gave up 120 yards and they took away 16 interceptions, also both ranking them at 3rd in the conference. If there was a dent in the Mustang defense armor, it was their pass defense, which gave up 252 yards, 10th best in the LSC. Their Red Zone defense also struggled a bit, giving up points 76% of the time (9th).

2011 Preview
Probably the biggest question facing Midwestern heading into 2011 will be who replaces Zach Eskridge at Quarterback. Will it be junior Brandon Kelsey? Kelsey filled in for Eskridge a bit last season and in the Kanzaa Bowl. He finished the season with 252 passing yards, 0 TD’s and 3 Interceptions. Or could it be Tulsa Transfer Shavodrick Beaver? The former 4 star recruit obviously has the talent to play, but will he be eligible? We’ve heard rumors both ways, but nothing confirmed. If it’s not Beaver or Kelsey, could the Mustangs look to one of the handful of freshman QB’s on their roster? At this point your guess is as good as ours. But from the look of things, if it’s not Beaver, the Mustangs may be in for a tough year. One good bit of news for the Mustang offense is that they’ve got one of the best offensive linemen in the nation coming back in Amini Silatolu. He’ll be joined by Hang Gilley, who was first team LSC South last season to anchor the Mustang line.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Mustangs didn’t take too much of a hit. The LB corps will be led by Matt Ellerbrock and Ty Duncan, who combined for 141 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. DE Kevin Birdow had 39 tackles and 4 sacks last season, and will be back to anchor the MSU defensive line. DB Neiko Conway and his 3 interceptions return to help try and improve a defensive backfield that struggled a bit last season. LB Gadrian Muse transferred in from Blinn and appears to be ready to contribute in his first season at Midwestern State.  One good very good thing plays into Midwestern's hands this year - they face Abilene Christian, West Texas A&M and Texas A&M-Kingsville at home...a huge advantage.

Out With The Old
QB Zach Eskridge – 2nd LSC South
LB Austin McDaniel – 2nd LSC South, 46 tackles, 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks
OT Ricki Gomez – HM LSC South
C Bobby Parsons – HM LSC South
K Jose Martinez – HM LSC South, 12/15 FG’s
DT JD Corcoran – HM LSC South, 57 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 6 sacks
RB Marcus Mathis – 573 rushing yards, 4 TD’s, 109 receiving yards
WR Justin Rideau – 34 catches for 366 yards, 2 TD’s
WR Desmond Ratliff – 29 catches for 294 yards, 2 TD’s
FS Ryan Craven – 75 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 INT

Welcome Back
LT Amini Silatolu – 1st LSC South, Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year, 2011 Preseason All America
LG Hank Gilley – 1st LSC South
WR David Little – 1st LSC South, 63 catches for 689 yards, 7 TD’s
RB Lester Bush – 2nd LSC South, 598 rushing yards, 9 TD’s
RB Keidrick Jackson – 429 rushing yards, 7 TD’s
LB Matt Ellerbrock – 71 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 2 sacks
DE Kevin Birdow – HM LSC South, 39 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 4 sacks
LB Ty Duncan – 70 tackles, 4 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1INT
DB Neiko Conway – 38 Tackles, 1.5 TFL, 3 INT
WR Jared Freeman – 18 catches for 176 yards, 1 TD
QB Brandon Kelsey – 252 passing yards, 0 TD’s / 3 INT, 267 rushing yards, 2 TD’s
WR Edgard Theliar – 11 catches for 246 yards, 1 TD
P Gunter Elenburg – 39.7 yard average

In With The New
LB Gadrian Muse (Blinn) – 54 Tackles, 3 TFL, 3 Sacks
WR Houston Tuminello (Louisiana Tech) – 10 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD
QB Shavodrick Beaver – (Tulsa) – 62 yards passing, 102 yards rushing, 4 star recruit

All Conference Candidates
LT Amini Silatolu
LG Hank Gilley
WR David Little
RB Lester Bush
RB Keidrick Jackson
WR Sheldon Galloway
LB Matt Ellerbrock
DE Kevin Birdow
LB Ty Duncan
DE Tim McGill
DB Neiko Conway

All American Candidates
LT Amini Silatolu

Big Games
Week 4 – Texas A&M-Kingsville. In what appears to be the first real test for Midwestern State, the Javelinas travel to Wichita Falls for Family Day. If the Mustangs are looking to preserve their spot near the top of the LSC, they’re going to need a good showing against one of the best the conference has to offer.

Week 8 – Abilene Christian. The Wildcats will travel to play Midwestern in their Homecoming game during the final stretch of the 2011 season. After this game, the Mustangs only tough matchup will be against West Texas A&M at home. If they can pull off a win here, the final few games could be prepping for the playoffs.

Best Case Scenario – 9-1
While this would be VERY difficult to pull off, it’s not quite as impossible as it sounds when you look at Midwestern’s schedule. They face all three of the big teams – West Texas, Kingsville and ACU at home, and their out of conference schedule looks very manageable with Missouri S&T and Northeastern State, their first and last games of the year.

Worst Case Scenario 6-4
The Mustangs have lost quite a bit of firepower on offense in one of the better LSC QB’s of the last decade in Eskridge, as well as skill position players and a couple of good offensive linemen. If for some reason they can’t find much help at Quarterback and the offense sputters a bit, a 6-win season seems about as bad as it could get from the usually reliable Midwestern program.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tarleton State 2011 Preview

2010 Review
One word can easily sum up the 2010 season for Tarleton State: Injuries. At one point in the season, the Texans were play with an unbelievable 18 starters out due to injury. Not only did they have to deal with the injury factor, but also with heavy hearts. During spring practices on a routine play, red shirt freshman Zach Shaver passed away from a head injury. It was a huge blow to the Texans family, and to first year head coach Cary Fowler. But Tarleton fought through the pain and of losing a member of their family and the multiple injuries and ended the season with a 3-8 record. The year seemed to go bad from the start, losing their first two games to Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma, two teams most people in the preseason would have never dreamed Tarleton would lose to. In week four, the Texans took it on the chin in a 65-3 loss to Abilene Christian. The following week they showed a lot of fight and courage though, beating Angelo State 37-34 with a last minute field goal to win the game set aside to remember their fallen teammate Shaver. They would also win a televised game against Texas A&M-Commerce on a last minute drive as well, before reaching their last win against Incarnate Word in Stephenville. Coming into the season, most people had their eyes on QB Nick Stephens as a major breakout player waiting to happen. The Tennessee Volunteer transfer never seemed to get going though, suffering from a slow start before being injured and missing a few games in the middle of the season. RB Evan Robertson proved that he was one of the best RB’s in the LSC, putting up 844 rushing yards and 6 TD’s , on his way to becoming the only Texan put onto the LSC South 1st team. Lonnie Buchanan and Jamaal Steamer also ended their successful careers as Texans.

The injured Texan offense just never seemed to get off the ground in 2010. None of their statistics in any of the main offensive categories ranked any higher than 9th, as they struggled to get much going. The Texas offense averaged 21.5 point per game (11th) and 324 yards per game (10th). While Evan Robertson was outstanding running the ball, the Texans as a team still only ran for 112 yards per game (10th), and their 212 passing yards per game (9th) were a shock after getting Stephens in from Tennessee. The team’s Passing Efficiency was also a surprising 108 (11th). The Texans also seemed pretty undisciplined, averaged 88 penalty yards per game (13th).

As much as the Offense struggled last season, the Tarleton Defense wasn’t far behind, with all of the main defensive statistics falling well below years past, mostly due to injuries. The Texans allowed 33 points per game (10th) but were actually pretty good in keeping the other team from moving the ball much, giving up only 384 yards per game (5th). The Texan front seven struggled a bit as well, giving up 143 rushing yards per game (9th) and only gathered 17 sacks (9th), while the secondary gave up 240 passing yards per game (8th), and only came away with 8 interceptions (12th). The struggles at quarterback and at taking the ball away left Tarleton with a -0.45 turnover margin (11th), and had trouble keeping the other team out of the end zone once they got into the red zone, giving up a 90% red zone defense (13th).

2011 Preview
One thing that is fairly certain coming into 2011 is that the Tarleton Texans will be much improved. Before you even look into the team itself, it’s pretty obvious that they are not going to go through another season with 18 starters out with injuries. They will, however, have to fill some holes on defense that may be hard to fill. The experience that was lost because of the losses of LB Damian Perkins, DE Jamaal Steamer and S Lonnie Buchanan won’t be easy to fill. They also lose 2 starters on the offensive line in Mike Hernandez and Bubba Wagner (which, by the way, is a GREAT offensive lineman’s name), as well as one of their best playmakers in WR Jeken Frye. The first half of their schedule is VERY tough, facing Abilene Christian, D1 Texas State, West Texas A&M and Midwestern State, before facing a tough second half road schedule that includes Texas A&M-Kingsville and Angelo State. They do have a couple of out of conference games they should win in Millsaps College and West Alabama. The key to their season will be to separate themselves from the teams they shared similar records with in 2010 - Texas A&M-Commerce, Eastern New Mexico and Incarnate Word. If the Texans want to get back to the level they have been in previous years, they have to start by beating all three of those teams and push themselves back into the upper tier in the LSC.

I think it’s safe to say that QB Nick Stephens won’t struggle nearly as much as he did last year, with 9 TD’s and 12 Interceptions. One thing we’ve noticed in the last few years, is that some of the D1 transfers who appear to have the talent to take over the league don’t seem to make quite as much of a splash as you would have thought. (Justin Johnson at ACU, Jorrie Adams at Angelo State, Terry Mayo at A&M-Commerce, etc) I wouldn’t put Stephens in that category just yet. The incredible amount of injuries sustained last season almost makes 2010 one of those year’s it’s better to just forget even happened…it’s not a fair read on the team. Obviously with Evan Robertson coming back, the Tarleton running game will be fine. The key to this season is how long will it take for the players to catch on to the new Lee Hayes passing game. Look for Stephens’ numbers to go up dramatically and for things to be looking much better towards the end of the year once things start clicking.

Defensively, the Texans are going to have their hands full replacing some of the faces they lost that had been there for quite awhile. DE Jamaal Steamer and S Lonnie Buchanan are names that LSC fans have known for quite some time. Their experience and leadership will be tough to replace. Also lost are LB Jamaal Steamer, DE Jacob Rowe, CB Brandon Johnson, DB Cassius Bradley and DE Jacob Rowe. Those 7 players alone accounted for 421 tackles, 43.5 Tackles for Loss and 12.5 sacks. That’s a lot of experience and stats that disappear before the season starts. The Texans are hoping Terrence Henry (68 tackles, 2 INT), FS Blair Johnson (47 tackles) and CB Dashaun Phillips (44 tackles, 3 INT) returning in the secondary will help improve the pass defense. Also look for transfer CB Gaston Benson to help at corner. Up front, Mike Washington (28 tackles, 3 sacks) and DE Jogan Johnson (26 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks) will be joined by newcomer DE Rufus Johnson.

Out With The Old
LB Damian Perkins - HM LSC South, 99 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 INT
DE Jamaal Steamer - 2nd LSC South, 39 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks
DE Jacob Rowe - HM LSC South, 47 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3 sacks
CB Brandon Johnson - HM LSC South, 86 tackles, 3.5 TFL
S Lonnie Buchanan - HM LSC South, 39 tackles, 1 TFL
C Mike Hernandez - HM LSC South
OG Bubba Wagner - HM LSC South
WR Jeken Frye - 44 catches, 704 yards, 6 TD’s
WR Saalim Hakim - 18 catches for 28 yards, 2 TD’s
DB Cassius Bradley - 64 tackles, 5.5 TFL
DE Jacob Rowe - 47 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3 Sacks
DB Sam Cole - 33 Tackles
LB Corey White - 33 tackles, 1.5 TFL

Welcome Back
RB Evan Robertson - 1st LSC South, 844 rushing yds, 6 TD’s
QB Nick Stephens - HM LSC South, 1,774 passing yards, 9 TD’s / 12 INT’s
RS Brandon Lowery - HM LSC South, averaged 31.4 yards per KO return
RB Jerome Regal - 333 rushing yards, 7 TD’s
QB Aaron Doyle - 482 passing yds, 3 TD/2 INT
WR Devon Gray - 32 catches for 298 yds, 2 TD’s
WR Jamal Mays - 15 catches for 239 yards, 3 TD’s
DB Terrence Henry - 68 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 INT
FS Blair Johnson - 47 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT
CB Dashaun Phillips - 44 Tackles, 3 INT DL
Mike Washington - 28 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 Sacks
DE Logan Johnson - 26 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 Sacks

In With The New
RG Mike Di Dominico - Saddleback CC
CB Gaston Benson - Santa Rosa JC, All-California Community College Team
DE Rufus Johnson - Kilgore JC, 27 Tackles, 3 TFL, 2 Sacks
LB Marc Martinez - Waco Midway HS, 1st Team All District, Academic All-State, All Cen-Tex

All Conference Candidates
RB Evan Robertson
QB Nick Stephens
RS Brandon Lowery
CB Gaston Benson
CB DaShaun Phillips

Big Games
Week 1 - Abilene Christian - This one if big for a couple of reasons.  First off, the Texans are not going to forget about last season's 65-3 drubbing at the hands of the Wildcats, and will want to prove that this season isn't going to go the same way for them that 2010 did.  A good showing in week 1 against ACU could go a long way in getting the Texans' confidence back.  Another reason this game is big is that it's a home game against the best team in the LSC, during the first week of the season.  That combination has given us quite a few surprises in the past...keep an eye on this one.

Week 5 - West Texas A&M - A mid-year clash against West Texas could prove to be a big game for Tarleton.  By this time in the season, the new Texans' offense should start clicking just in time for Family Weekend at Tarleton.  West Texas comes to town, and might be looking ahead to the next 2 weeks against Angelo State and the big clash against ACU.  Trap game?

Best Case Scenario - 8-3
If the Texans can turn things around and be the team many people thought they would be last year, they could easily find themselves in the upper echelon of LSC teams once again. They HAVE to have a better season out of Nick Stephens and hope the Lee Hayes offense clicks with the team and quick. If they can get their offense going and plug the defensive holes, they could end up surprising some people. If things click the way Texan fans hope they will, it wouldn't be surprising to see them knock off one of the playoff teams this season in the LSC. 

Worst Case Scenario - 3-8
The Texans face a tough start to their schedule. Four of their first six games include Abilene Christian, D1 Texas State, West Texas A&M and Midwestern State. If the Texans get off to a slow start, it’s going to be tough to keep the spirits high, coming off a tough 3-8 2010 season. Later in the year they also have to play away games against Texas A&M-Kingsville and Angelo State. That’s a tough schedule. If Stephens continues to struggle and the Texans move on to the future in Doyle, it’s going to be tough to make much of the season at that point. Might be too far gone to help much.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Angelo State 2011 Preview

2010 Recap
The season opened well, as the Rams defeated Eastern New Mexico and Texas A&M-Commerce. Things got tougher over the next six games as the Rams would face 4 playoff and 1 bowl team from 2009.  Though they played tough in each of the games, they came up short in five of the six contests, ending their  playoff chances.  They did finish strong, knocking off Southeastern Oklahoma and Central Oklahoma to finish the year with a 5-5 record.

The Rams offense was in high gear setting a team record for points per game (34.5) and second in yards per game (421.1).  Those marks were each good for fourth in the conference.  Josh Neiswander set team records for passing yards (2,983) and TDs (27).  His favorite targets were V'Keion Lacey and Dakari Pecikonis, who combined for 101 catches for 1,407 yards and 10 TDs.  Tristan Carter was the leading rusher, picking up 603 yards and 5 TDs.  The defense did not fare as well, finishing 6th in the LSC in  yards allowed (387.8) and 8th in points (30.3).

2011 Outlook
No position will be under as much scrutiny as the quarterback position.  Sophomore Blake Hamblin is expected to be the starter, but he has appeared in just two games, completing his one attempt.  Junior Michael Cochran also returns, but he has not attempted a live pass since the 2008 season, when he was pressed into service as a true freshman.  Also in the mix are senior Jake Strickler who threw for over 3,000 yards and 32 TDs at Mendocino College in 2009, and junior Gino Delucchi who logged significant playing time in two seasons at Cabrillo College.  Senior Tristan Carter (603 yards 5 TDs rushing) is the top returning running back and is a weapon in the passing game as well (30 receptions, 193 yards and 6 TDs).  Also returning are senior Nevin Gardiner and junior Samir Baker.  New Mexico State transfer Donovan Roberts could also be a contributor.

The strength of the team could very well be the receiving corps.  Junior Dakari Pecikonis, with 83 receptions for 1,595 yards and 12 TDs in two seasons, could be just hitting his stride.  C. J. Akins had 36 receptions and 6 TDs as a sophomore.  With the departure of V'Keon Lacey, look for Excelle Osborne and Donnell Harris to become big contributors as well.  Nate Bayless is back for one more season at TE, and is an early favorite for All-LSC honors.    Up front, four starters are back.  Austin Sumrall (2nd team LSC-South), Andrew Krutsinger, Ryan Merryman and Keefer Preece combined to start 36 games in 2010.  Seniors Greg Lewis and Stephen Boyles also had significant playing time as reserves and spot starters.  Newcomers Jesse Collins earned all-conference honors while at Cabrillo College and Rodney Smith also bring experience to the mix.

The most experienced group on defense is the secondary, where 5 players with at least 4 starts in 2010 are back.  Alvin Johnson had 4 intereceptions and was named as honorable mention on the LSC South team.  Joining him are seniors Jake Eannarelli and Terrance Preston and juniors Stetson Edwards and Dekkar Williams.  This quintet combined for 175 tackles, 9 interceptions and 15 passes broken up.  Austin Benson is top returning linebacker, but Lance Tissue and Joseph Schumpert saw a lot of playing time as well.  Don't be surprised if true freshman Colton Lyon is in the rotation as the season progresses.

There will be quite a few new faces up front on defense.   B. J. Bradley, Nick Alejandro and Godwin Ubah combined for just 44 tackles, 6.5 for losses and 3.5 sacks in 2010.  That is pretty much it for returning experience.  So it's no surprise to see a large influx of transfers who could help immediately.  Lawrenc Rumph (Navarro JC/Texas Tech), Kyle Patterson (All Conference for Mt. San Jacinto College), Mike Mosely (Northwest Missouri), Lance Williams (Blinn), Wayne Blackwell (Ventura College), Orlando Humble (Navarro JC)...well, you get the idea.  This was an area of concern that has been addressed.

George Shamblen could contend for All-American honors after averaging 43.4 yards per punt as a junior.  Jared Martin and Greg Jaynes will compete for placekicking duties.  With Garrett Tidwell gone, Dakari Pecikonis is the leading returning return man.  He averaged 23.7 yards on kickoff returns with one TD, and also had two punt returns for just 12 yards.

Out with the old
  • QB Josh Neiswander - Angelo's all-time leading passer with 8,212 yards and 61 TDs. 
  •  WR V'Keon Lacey - 127 receptions for 1,447 yards and 15 TDs in two seasons. 
  •  FB John Norcott - 2nd team all-LSC South in 2010 
  •  OT  Conner Cook - HM all-LSC South in 2010 
  •  DT Cody Smith - HM all-LSC South in 2010 and 2008, 2nd team in 2009.  Had 25 career tackles for loss. 
  •  DE Devin McDonald - HM all-LSC South in 2010, tied for team highs with 8.5 TFL and 4.5 sacks in 2010. 
  •  LB Brandon Mayse - 2nd team all-LSC South in 2010, 62 tackles, 2 Ints, and 4 passes broken up in 2010. 
  •  CB Markeith Jones - HM all-LSC South in 2010 and 2009.  9 career interceptions and 14 passes broken up.
Welcome back
  • RB Tristan Carter - 603 yards and 5 TDs rushing, 30 receptions, 193 yards and 6 TDs. 
  •  WR Dakari Pecikonis - 2nd team all-LSC South in 2009, 2010.  83 recs, 1,595 and 12 TDs with 2 years to play 
  •  WR C. J. Akins - 36 receptions, 548 yards and 6 TDs 
  •  TE Nate Bayless - 2nd team all-LSC South, 44 career receptions, 470 yards, and 5 TDs. 
  •  OG Austin Sumrall - 2nd team all-LSC South in 2010 
  •  OL Andrew Krutsinger, Ryan Merryman, Keefer Preece - 26 combined starts in 2010 
  •  LB Austin Benson - HM all-LSC South in 2010, led team with 66 tackles, tied with 8.5 TFL and 4.5 sacks 
  •  S Alvin Johnson - HM all-LSC South in 2010, in 2 seasons, 83 tackles, 6 Ints, 9 passes broken up
  •  DB Dekkar Williams - 42 tackles, 2 Ints, 5 passes broken up in 2010 
  •  CB Terrance Preston - 31 tackles, 3 Ints in 2010. 
  •  DB Jake Eannarelli - started 8 games, 28 tackles, 2 TFL 
  •  P George Shamblen - 1st all-LSC South, averaged 43.4 yards per punt
In with the new
  • QB Blake Hamblin - poised to take over QB spot after backing up Neiswander last year 
  •  QB Jake Strickler - threw for 3,200 yds and 32 TDs for Mendocino College, was a San Jose State commit 
  •  RB Donovan Roberts - spent three years at New Mexico State 
  •  OL Rodney Smith - first team all-region as a soph at Modesto College 
  •  OL Jesse Collins - two year starter at Cabrillo College
  •  DL Wayne Blackwell - 41 tackles, 11 TFL, 3 sacks at Ventura College in 2010 
  •  DL Kyle Patterson - first team all-region as a soph at Mt. San Jacinto, 11.5 TFL 
  •  DL Mike Mosley - 31 tackles, 5 TFL at Northwest Missouri in 2008 
  •  DL Lawrence Rumph - One of the top JC prospects in 2010 while at Navarro College 
  •  LB Colton Lyon - #78 MLB prospect by

All Conference Candidates
  • WR - Dakari Pecikonis (All-American Candidate)
  • TE - Nate Bayless 
  •  OL - Austin Sumrall 
  •  DL - Godwin Ubah 
  •  DL - Lawrence Rumph
  •  LB - Austin Benson 
  •  DB - Alvin Johnson 
  •  DB - Terrance Preston 
  •  P - George Shamblen (All-American Candidate)

Big Games
Week 2 - at Chadron State  The Eagles have not made the playoffs the past two seasons, but sport a 50-11 record over the past 5 seasons.  They have a lot of guys returning, especially at the skill positions on offense.  This is a great non-conference matchup on paper.

Week 9 - Texas A&M-Kingsville in San Angelo   To make the playoffs, the Rams need to knock off at least two of the teams picked ahed of them in the preseason poll, and they have come close to beating the Javelinas the past two seasons, dropping the two games by a combined 10 points.

Best Case Scenario
9-2   The Rams get solid quarterback play, and the defense shows improvement over last season, allowing ASU to sweep their non-conference schedule, and split with the top 4 preseason picks in the LSC.
Worst Case Scenario
4-7   The defense does not show marked improvement and allows 30+ points per game, while the offense struggles to find it's footing early on and becomes turnover prone trying to make the big play.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eastern New Mexico 2011 Preview

2010 Recap
After moving to the LSC North in 2010, Eastern New Mexico had to be excited about finally catching a break from their usual brutal schedule in the LSC South from years past.  Replacing Texas A&M-Kingsville and West Texas A&M with LSC North teams did the Greyhounds some good and helped them gain confidence heading into 2011.  Convincing wins over Central Oklahoma, Texas A&M-Commerce, Tarleton State and Southeastern Oklahoma (by an average of 20+ points) were offset by losses to Northeastern, East Central and Southwestern Oklahoma.  The Greyhounds seemed to be one of the more inconsistent teams in the LSC.  They would dominate the same caliber of teams they would lose to the very next week.
One thing that wasn’t inconsistent was their offense.  In what is becoming more of the more high profile offenses in the LSC, the Greyhounds showed that they had the offensive talent to play with the big boys.  

They averaged 24 points and 430 yards per game, both ranking 3rdin the LSC.  Usually thought of as a passing offense, ENMU actually averaged an impressive 128 rushing yards per game, good enough for 7th in the LSC.  But as usual, their 301 passing yards (4th) were what carried the Greyhound offense all season long.  While the production was there, the passing game did have it’s issues as well.  ENMU’s passing efficiency was only 122.8 (8th), and their 22 INT’s were the most in the LSC.  They also gave up 27 sacks last season (11th) and had the lowest Time of Possession in the LSC (24:36 per game).  Wesley Wood finished the season with 3,313 passing yards, 30 TD’s and 22 INT’s. WR Jessie Poku had a stellar season with 86 catches for 932 yards and 11 TD’s.

Anytime you have an offense that passes as much as the ENMU offense does, one of the first things you notice is the toll it takes on the defense over an entire season.  The Greyhounds weren’t immune to this either, while they did have some bright spots.  While they were decent in points per game at 29 (7th), passing yards against at 237 yards per game (6th), and 25 sacks (5th), they really struggled giving up 409 yards per game (11th), and the rush defense gave up 171 yards per game (12th).  They did however, look really good in a couple of key areas, with 17 INT’s (2nd), and their pass defense efficiency was great at 109.5 (2nd).  Their secondary was led by Tillman Stevens, who ended the season with 122 tackles, 6 INT’s and the LSC North Defensive Back of the Year accolades. On the defensive line, Matt Kalisch had an excellent year racking up 9.5 sacks, good enough for 3rd in the LSC.

2011 Outlook
Looking at the Greyhounds in 2011, it seems pretty obvious that there is one main question facing them if they want to take the next step:  Can they plug all of these holes?  ENMU is facing a ton of losses on both sides of the ball, and they’re not just anyone.   One thing that is certain in the current state of the Lone Star Conference…depth is extremely important.  For the Greyhounds to continue their improvement, they’ve got to hope they have some players to fill the big shoes left by some very good players this season.

The powerful Greyhound offense is losing it’s best offensive playmaker in WR Jessie Poku, as well as 3 other All LSC offensive linemen, and 2nd Team LSC North WR Carl Bouldin.  Tony Valenzuela and Troy Harris return to give the ENMU offense a nice rushing attack, along with Darian Dale and Arvin Jackson out wide catching Wes Woods’ passes. Youngsters Andy Lopez (RB) and Domingo Morales (WR) may be in the mix this year as well.

While the offensive holes will be tough to fill, it’s nothing compared to what the defense will be facing.  In losing Kalisch, Uland, Sweet, Stevens and Mitchell, they are coming into 2011 without the following (deep breath): 1 LSC North Defensive Back of the Year award, 4 LSC North 1st Teamers, 1 HM LSC North, 251 tackles, 34 TFL, 14 sacks, 9 INT’s and 2 FR.  Ouch.  The good news is that the Greyhounds still have some good players around on defense.  The secondary will be led by pre-season All American Curtis Jackson, while the defensive line is anchored by Bracy McCoy (1st LSC North) and Ian Ogando.  Perron Sellers will help lead the ENMU linebackers.

Out With The Old

WR Jessie Poku – 1st LSC North, 86 catches 932 yards, 11 TD’s
DE Matt Kalisch – 1st LSC North, 56 Tackles, 15.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 FR
LB Nathan Uland – 1st LSC North, 100 Tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1 FR
LB Devin Sweet – 1st LSC North, 36 Tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 INT,
S Tillman Stevens – 1st LSC North, LSC North Defensive Back of the Year, 122 Tackles, 7 TFL, 2 Sacks, 6 INT
DS Karlton Graves – 1st LSC North, 2nd LSC North OL
WR Carl Bouldin – 2nd LSC North, 35 catches for 534 yards and 5 TD’s
OL TJ Clevinger – 2nd LSC North
RB Tony Valenzuela – HM LSC North, 656 rushing yards and 7 TD’s
OL Ryan Torres – HM LSC North
CB Rodney Mitchell – HM LSC North, 37 tackles, .5 TFL, 1 INT

Welcome Back

QB Wes Wood – 1st Team LSC North, 2010 LSC North Co-Offensive Back of the Year, 2nd in LSC in Total Offense, 3,313 Passing Yards and 30 TD’s
RB Tony Valenzuela – 627 Rushing Yards and 7 TD’s, HM LSC North
WR Darian Dale – 1st Team LSC North, 65 catches for 704 yards, 5 TD’s
WR Arvin Jackson – 25 catches for 175 yards and 2 TD’s
OL Adam Robinson – 1st Team LSC North
DB Curtis Jackson – 2nd Team LSC North, 98 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 INT
DT Bracy McCoy – 1st Team LSC North, 37 tackles, 9 TFL, 4 sacks
DT Ian Ogando – 36 tackles, 2.5 TFL
K/P Taylor Cannon – 1st Team LSC North Kicker and 2nd Team LSC North Punter
RB Troy Harris – 243 yards and 1 TD
WR Chase Kyser – HM LSC North, 43 catches for 375 yards and 4 TD’s
LB Perron Sellers – HM LSC North, 78 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks

In with the new

RB Andy Lopez (Artesia, NM/Artesia) – 2 Time All State, led Artesia to State Championship
WR Domingo Morales (Hitchcock, Texas/ Santa Fe HS) – 1st Team All County and 1st Team All District,
OL Josh Sell (Liberty, Texas/Liberty)  - 3 time All-District
DT Xavier Bryant (Mt. Enterprise, Texas/Kilgore College) – 2nd team All Conference, 1stTeam All District

All Conference Candidates

QB Wes Wood
RB Tony Valenzuela
WR Darian Dale
WR Arvin Jackson
OT  Adam Robinson
DT Bracy McCoy
DT Ian Ogando
K/P Taylor Cannon

Biggest Games
Week 1 – New Mexico Highlands -  The season opener for the Greyhounds is the first game against a N.M. team since 2005.  Definitely need to win this game and start the season off right.
Week 7 – Northwest Missouri - Definitely a good game to see just how improved the Greyhounds are.  The first game against perennial powerhouse Northwest Missouri in Eastern’s history.
Week 8 – West Texas A&M.  After a one year absence, the Wagon Wheel game is back!  A tough game for ENMU to pull off, but as we’ve all heard before:  Throw out the records in rivalry games.

Best Case Scenario
7-4.  Much like A&M-Commerce, Eastern New Mexico has the talent to win any game they play outside of the big 3 (WT, ACU and TAMK).  But they also face a very good Northwest Missouri in out of conference.  Those 4 games will be extremely difficult to win, but there’s not another game on their season that is out of reach.

Worst Case Scenario
3-8.  While I don’t see this as much of a possibility, it’s definitely the worst possible outcome for ENMU.  They shouldn’t have any problem with New Mexico Highlands or Pandhandle State, and I can’t see them not winning at least one other game in the LSC.  But they have GOT to find a way to plug all of those holes - especially on defense – if they want to continue improving this program.

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