Monday, August 22, 2011

Incarnate Word 2011 Preview

2010 Recap
Starting a brand new program like Incarnate Word did in 2009 is a tough job.  They brought in a young, inexperienced class and threw them to the wolves in their inaugural season, and went an impressive 5-5 out of the gate.  They followed that up by jumping into one of the toughest conferences in the nation in the second year, and it proved an even bigger mountain to climb.  The Cardinals finished the 2010 season 3-8 which on paper appears to be a step back, but anyone watching the program closely saw progress.  With only seven seniors on the team, the young Incarnate Word squad began to come together and looked very improved at the end of the year.

Early in the season they had an impressive 42-41 overtime win over Central Oklahoma.  A few weeks later they won 27-13 over LSC North Champion East Central, before finishing the season with a 17-16 win over Texas A&M-Commerce.  Week 5 was a tough one for the Cardinals, losing a 38-31 heartbreaker against Midwestern State in Wichita Falls.

The Cardinals offense struggled a bit last year.  They averaged 21.5 point per game (11th), 301 yards per game (12th), and 147 passing yards per game (14th).  Looking back though, Defense appears to have been the main reason for their struggles.  They gave up an average of 37.8 points per game (14th), 411 yards per game (12th), 275 passing yards per game (13th), and a wopping 154 pass defense efficiency (14th).  They were also last in the LSC with only 6 interceptions all year.  They were, however, best in the league at being penalty-free, only giving up 39 yards per game in penalty yardage.

2011 Outlook
Incarnate Word came into the 2010 season built on youth, and appears to be doing the same this season too.  With only 8 seniors on the 2011 team, the Cardinals will hope the experience over the first two seasons of their program begin to pay off.  Behind them will be a wopping 28 juniors returning, 15 of which were starters last season.  This class represents the very first recruiting class for the Cardinals and are now entering their fourth season with the program.

One of the good things about being a new program like Incarnate Word  is the lack of graduation losses. The Cardinal offense will continue to run their Pro-Style offense that relies on a steady running game, and returns 10 starters.  The main weapon returning this year is RB Trent Rios, whose 888 rushing yards paced the Cardinals offense.  The skill positions also return QB Paden Lynch (958 yds, 8 TD) and go-to WR Dominic Hamilton (627 yds, 5 TD)

On defense, Incarnate Word return senior DE Diego McClain (4.5 sacks, 7 TFL) will anchor the line while LB Dakota Mawyer (47 tackles) returns after an injury hampered him last season.  The leader in the secondary will once again be S Chaz Pavliska, who returns for his junior season

Out with the old
QB Thomas Specia (387 yds, 1 TD)
DE Randy Enriquez (1 sack, 3.5 TFL)
DL Herman Torres (17 tkl, 1 sack)
WR Jacob Love (10 catches, 166 yds)

Welcome back
RB Trent Rios (888 rush yds, 8 TD, HM LSC)
TE Andrew Mocio (233 yds, 1 TD, HM LSC)
OL Ty Warnasch (HM LSC)
LB Dakota Mawyer (47 tkl, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 INT, HM LSC)

In with the new
TE Harper Scofield - ESPN #170, Dave Campbell top 25 (defensive end), 2-time All-State
OL Horace Hayes - Three year starter at Schertz Clemens
DL Jarrod White - 1st team 4-7A
LB Joshua Campbell - 27-5A Def MVP, SA Express 1st Team, 117 tackles
LB Nick Morrow - #95 ESPN Inside Linebacker prospect, Academic All-State

All Conference Candidates
RB Trent Rios
TE Andrew Mocio
OL Ty Warnasch
LB Dakota Mawyer
S Chaz Pavliska

Big Games
Weeks 1 and 2 - The two most winnable games of the year for the Cardinals appear to be weeks 1 and 2 - both home games - against East Central and Eastern New Mexico.  Getting off to a quick start will help build some momentum heading into Week 3 against Division 1 Lamar University, and a tough schedule follows after that.

Best Case Scenario
5-6 It’s going to be a tough year for the Cardinals to do much better than this with the schedule they face.  If they can somehow shore up their defense some and the offense continues to pound the ball and control the clock, they could pull off a few possible upsets.  Five wins with this schedule at this point in their history would be a very nice season for the Cardinals.

Worst Case Scenario
2-9 If the Cardinal defense continues to struggle and the offense doesn’t improve in their 4th year in the program it could be a long season.  They face a brutal schedule, with 4 or 5 teams that may be ranked at the end of the year and a Division 1 team in Lamar.

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