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.

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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