Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 Preview - Midwestern State

The Mustangs have established themselves as an annual playoff caliber team and a contender for the LSC title.  Since taking over the MSU program, Coach Maskill has made the playoffs 5 times, won or shared LSC titles 3 times and compiled an 88-34 win-loss record.  All that is lacking is playoff success - MSU is just 1-5 in the NCAA playoffs, with the lone win coming against Missouri Western back in 2006.

2012 Recap - The Mustangs stumbled out of the gate, dropping the season opener to Tarleton State by a 17-20 score.  The offense had its worst regular season outing of the season, gaining just 319 yards, while the 17 points were half of their next lowest output.  From that point, MSU reeled off 9 straight wins, with a wild 52-48 victory over WT for a share of the LSC title.  The offense led the LSC in scoring (38.6) and rushing offense (324) and was third in total offense (459).  They were especially effective in the red zone, leading the LSC with a 90.7% conversion rate and an LSC best 5.76 points per red zone opportunity.  The defense was 4th in scoring (25.4) and 5th in yards allowed (372).  Teams rushed for 149.5 yards per game (4th) and passed for 223 (6th).  

In the playoffs, the Mustangs hit the road and faced Indianapolis in the first round.  The offense was stymied in the first half, picking up just 6 first downs and going three and out on 3 of their 6 possessions, and to make things worse, star QB Brandon Kelsey was injured toward the end of the half.  backup Jake Glover led MSU to two quick TDs in the third quarter and a brief 14-7 lead. The Indy defense only allowed 63 yards the rest of the game, taking a 31-14 win.

Individually, Keidrick Jackson rushed for 1,354 yards and 21 TDs, just 33 yards short of Dominic Rhodes team record.  Chauncey Harris was third in the LSC with 79.9 yards rushing per game and Kelsey was 5th with 74.8.

Who's Back - Running backs Jackson and Harris lead the returnees.  Jackson (2,827 yards) is second on MSU's career rushing list and needs just 764 yards to take the top spot.  Just one starting lineman, Bryan Keith, returns.  At receiver, Joe Sanders is the top returnees (just 7 receptions).  For the defense up front,  Armonti Yharbrough, Tyler Tackett, Cameron Williams and Kevin Lowery combined for 87 tackles, 10 for loss and 6 sacks. Gadrian Muse was a starter at LB, while Nick Bourgeois and Daniel Laudermilk saw quite a bit of playing time as well.  The secondary returns two first team All-LSC honorees, Taiyon Jackson and Donald Napoleaon.  Other players with experience include Neiko Conway, Ricardo Riascos, Antoine Morris, Marqui Christian and Dominique Williams.  Greg Saladino was a 2nd team All-LSC kicker last year as well.

Who's New - Offensively, MSU brought in four OL transfers - Nathan Bartley (Arizona Western), Nahtan Devan (Palomar JC), Chester Faiai (Idaho) and Tre' Goodwin (Tyler JC).  Zack Davis and Andre Phillips are new WRs.  At QB, both Jake Glover and Shavodrick Beaver saw the field last year and should both get playing time this year, though we have not seen yet who the starter will be.

Defensively, the Mustangs loaded up on the line, with 5 transfers - Paul Brown (Kilgore JC), Aaron Moore (Iowa State), Bernard Afutiti (BYU), Travis Stephens (Blinn JC/Kansas) and Herb Monroe (Ventura JC).  Behind them, Paul Eteaki (Glendale JC), Donny Walsh (Grossmont JC), CJ Steward (Kent State) at linebacker and LaKeith Murray (Ventura JC) in the secondary should all add solid depth to the defense.

2013 Outlook - the Mustangs lost a lot from last year's team.  The offense was hit especially hard, losing 4 starting linemen, their top 4 receivers, and the key to the offense, QB Brandon Kelsey.  How well the line gels and the quality of QB play will (obviously) be the key to MSU's success.  The opening game against Tarleton could very well be a repeat of last year's opener if the offense takes a while to get things going.  The Mustangs should get some benefit from home field against Texas A&M-Kingsville, West Alabama and West Texas A&M, though it will be hard for them to sweep.  Best case scenario - Glover/Beaver fill Kelsey's shoes, the O-Line gels and the defense plays well enough to keep MSU in games, MSU goes 9-1 and makes the playoffs again.  Worst case scenario -  run game not up to recent standards and passing game not efficient enough to compensate, 6-4.  Prediction - offense is a bit more balanced, but not as efficient, and defense is middle of the pack again, 8-2 just missing out on the playoffs.

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