Season three of the Will Wagner era begins with the Rams ready to move the top echelon of the LSC and make a playoff run for the first time since 2005. Wagner's first two seasons have seen Angelo State compile back to back 5-6 seasons, but they did improve their LSC record from 2-4 in 2011 to 4-4 last year. The return of 15 starters including 6 All-LSC performers (3 on each side of the ball) would indicate that ASU is on their way up.
2012 Recap - The 2012 season was a mixed bag. Highlights included a 28-23 win over Abilene Chrstian (#19 in the nation at that time), a near miss at Midwestern State and a chance at a winning record heading into the season finale. On the negative side, lopsided losses to Valdosta State, West Texas A&M and Tarleton State showed that a more improvement is needed to make a run for the conference title and playoffs.
Offensively, Angelo State was in the middle of the LSC, 5th in scoring (26 points per game) and yards gained (362.3). They finished 6th in rushing (123.7 ypg) and 5th in passing (238.5 ypg, 127.3 efficiency rating). The defense was 1st in the LSC in yards allowed (336.9) but only 6th in scoring average (28.5). They allowed 149.5 yards rushing (4th) and 187.5 passing (2nd). Why the discrepancy in the yardage and scoring rank? A negative 5 turnover margin, and red zone defense. The Rams were last in the LSC, allowing opponents to score 89.7 percent of the time in red zone chances (an average of 5.26 points per red zone chance).
Who's Back - The offensive line of Isi Cocker, Trent Davis, Steven Jackson, Anthony Landry and Anthony Lewis combined for 50 starts last year. Alex Young (11 receptions) and Joey Knight (33-476 6 TDs) also were starters at tight end and wide receiver, with key reserves Excelle Osborne and Talon Smith. At running back, Jermie Calhoun and Blake Smith are the leading running backs. Defensively, the returners are pretty evenly spread out. Returning on the D-Line are starters Clayton Callicutt and Jeremy Johnson as well as the dangerous Joey Searcy II, Matthew Golston, Kyle Patterson and Colt Drennan. Rush Seaver and Austin Sparks are back at linebacker, with starters Courtney Moore, Jonathan Family, Jarred Ross, and reserves Nekechie Miller, Dakota Abernathy, and Ryan Clapsaddle in the secondary.
Who's New - While not new to the Rams, either Kyle Washington and/or Warren Truesdale are likely to be the new quarterback this year. Washington got some game experience last year and played well, completing over 60% of his passes for 485 yards with 6 TDs and just 1 interception. Also listed as a new starter is OL Rance Layton, a redshirt freshman from Seminole, Tx. Some other transfers to watch for - WRs Anthony Yancy (Fresno CC) and Chris Omigie (Kansas transfer, was a Rivals 3 star recruit out of Arlington Martin)
2013 Outlook - After tonight's season opener, ASU has a rough three week stretch that sees them face Colorado State-Pueblo (probably not quite as strong as the last two years), Tarleton State and Valdosta State. Two winnable games follow at McMurry and home vs. ENMU. The next two games will be at WTAM and hosting Midwestern State, with a final three game stretch of games at TAMC, home vs. TAMK and at UIW. Best Case scenario - with an experienced offensive line and defense across the board, the Rams could win 7 or 8 games and challenge for a playoff spot. Worst case - 4-7 if the quarterback situation does not work out very well and the red-zone woes and turnover margin do not improve. Prediction 6-5 with a win over one of the four 2012 playoff teams.