Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 Preview - Tarleton State

Our final team preview just may be the LSC darkhorse in 2013.  The Texans have improved in each of head coach Cary Fowlers 3 seasons - from 3-8 in 2010 to 6-5 in 2011 and 6-4 in 2012.  With 17 returning starters and possibly the top recruiting class in the LSC, they look to be even better this year.

2012 Recap - The season opened with a bang, as the Texans not only handed Midwestern State their only conference loss, but limited MSU to their lowest offensive output of the regular season as well.  The team could not match that result, dropping four of the next six games (2 by three points each.  The final three weeks would see TSU finally hit their stride, winning those games and averaging 46 points per game.

Offensively, Tarleton finished 3rd in the LSC with 34.5 points per game, and 2nd in total yards with 462.5 per week.  They showed good balance, finishing 3rd in rushing (176 yds) and 2nd passing (286 yds).  Defensively the team was 5th in scoring (28.3) and 4th in yards allowed (360.4).  Opponents rushed for 138 yds (3rd) and passed for 222 (5th).  Rufus Johnson was 2nd in sacks (10) and led the LSC in tackles for loss with 1.94 per game (17.5 total).

Who's Back - QB's Aaron Doyle and Jake Fenske.  Doyle was the starter until getting knocked out in week 7, with Fenske starting the final three games.  They combined to throw for over 2,600 yards and 21 TDs.  At running back Vaughn Smith and Zach Henshaw combined for 1,356 yards and 12 TDs rushing and another 300 receiving yards.  At WR, Clifton Rhodes III and Jeken Frye had 102 receptions for 1,368 yards and 7 TDs.  Up front, 4 starters return on the offensive line - Nic Perez, Lucas Love (both 2nd team all-LSC), Xavier Ruben (HM LSC) and Chris Burnett.

On defense, Patrick Bettiol (HM LSC) and Juan Gonzalez were starters in 2012 and will be joined by Andre Allen and Ronnie Faimoa.  First team All-LSC Marquis Wadley is joined by Marc Martinez and Julius Hurndon.  Another first team All-LSC performer, Dashaun Phillips, is back, along with Charles Moore and reserves Ramonte Harris.  Desmond Jackson hopes to return to full speed after missing most of last year with an injury.

Kicker Blake Barnes and punter Isaac Arellano are back to try and repeat their all-LSC performances from last year.

Who's New - Despite the number of returning starters, Tarleton will have some new help coming in.  WR Bubba Tandy was the Kentucky high school player of the year and originally committed to Kentucky.  Others to watch are RB Will Clark (ACU/Cisco), WR Nnamdi Egbuonu (Coffeyville CC) and OL John O'Brien (Riverside CC)  For the defense, Keivaughn Barrett (Sacremento CC), Brandon Johnson (El Camino College), Justin Rayside (Riverside CC), Latham Johnson (Lindenwood) and Ethan Perkins (Kilgore JC) on the line and Ben Katzenmeyer (Texas State) at linebacker will provide depth.

2013 Outlook - Which Tarleton team will show up?  The inconsistent squad that could not put back to back games together?  or the one that was clicking over the final three games of the season?  With so many returning starters and some talented new players added to the mix, the Texans are a team to watch.  Best case scenario - The team comes charging out to the gate and doesn't give games away, 9-1 and back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.  Worst case scenario - TSU comes out of tough three game opening set without a win and WT looming in week 5 on the way to a 4-6 season.  Prediction - there's too much experience to expect a prolonged slump early on, but with such a tough schedule, it wouldn't be surprising to see a 7-3 season.

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