Midwestern State (0-1) at West Georgia (2-0)
The Mustangs find themselves in an early season hole after dropping their season opener last week to Tarleton State 27-24. The running game never got going, with the Mustangs limited to just 79 yards on the day (All-American candidate Keidrick Jackson had just 46 on 17 carries and no TDs). Shavodrick Beaver got the start for MSU and completed 6-9 passes for 85 yards and a TD on MSU's second series of the game. Jake Glover came on in relief with MSU down 27-10 and helped the Mustangs pull to within 27-24 as he went 11-18 for 174 yards and 2 TDs. The defense allowed TDs on four consecutive Tarleton possessions, including long sustained drives of 12 or more plays that averaged 5 minutes.
UWG is 2-0 on the season, beating Mars Hill 31-21 and Miles 31-7. They are rushing for an impressive 253 yards per game, with Quan Jones leading the way with a 127 average. Not much of a passing game - only 69 yards per game. The defense is allowing 137 yards rushing and 174 through the air. Last year, the Wolves went 3-7, losing three games by 7 or less, and dropping 7 of their final 8 games. MSU beat UWG 35-17 in the regular season finale.
Running back Chauncey Harris did not play last week and is not listed on the two-deep for this week. He rushed for 232 yards last year against West Georgia.
Is it deja vu all over again? Look for the Mustangs to bounce back ala 2012 and pick up the road win 35-17 again.
McMurry (0-2) at Texas A&M Kingsville (1-0)
The Warhawks will be joining the LSC for football next year, but will face 5 LSC (and two former LSC teams) this year. They travel to Kingsville to face the Javelinas this weekend. They have had a rough go so far this year, losing 60-17 to ACU and 50-13 to Stephen F. Austin. They were competitive for a while in those games, trailing ACU 32-17 midway through the third quarter, and leading SFA 13-10 with just over 5 minutes to play in the first half, however in both games things turned ugly eventually. They have allowed 295 yards rushing and 306 passing per game, while gaining 142 on the ground and 203 through the air. Soph. Brady Lambert has the tough task of coming in after Jake Mullin's record setting career at quarterback. His favorite targets have been Jeret Smith (16 receptions for 187 yards) and Greg Livingston (10-55). The run game is led by Paxton Grayer and Chris Simpson (combined 126 yds per game). Defensively, 4 of the teams top tacklers are in the secondary, not a good sign.
On the other hand, Texas A&M Kingsville has won both of their contests (last week's is considered an exhibition and does not count either as a win or stats for the team and players). Robert Armstrong had a monster game last week, official or not. He not only grabbed 18 passes for 177 yards and 3 TDs, but also carried the ball on the last two plays of the game, getting the game winning 11 yard run in the third overtime. The team does not appear to have settled on a quarterback, with senior Dean Brantley and redshirt freshman Alex Rios splitting time under center. The stats look good (combined 65% completion rate, 5 TDs, 1 Int), but they have yet to find a consistent offensive rhythm. The running game has yet to materialze, averaging just 125 yds per game (95 taking away one long TD run). The defense has played better, allowing just 308 yards per game, but has also had some rough stretches.
Look for the Javelinas to show some improvement playing at home, taking a 31-17 win.
Tarleton State (1-0) at Angelo State (1-1)
For the second straight year, Tarleton State opened their season with a win over Midwestern State. The defense was stellar, limiting the Mustangs to just 338 yards, with just 79 coming on the ground. The offense struggled early, but put together 4 consecutive TD drives in the middle of the game, just enough to get the win. Aaron Doyle and Jake Fenske split time at QB and both were effective. Zach Henshaw and Jerome Regal each had 80+ yards rushing and four different players had 3+ receptions.
Angelo ran into the RMAC buzz saw that is Colorado State Pueblo. The Rams fell behind 21-0 in the second quarter, but fought back to pull with 21-17 midway through the third quarter. However that was as close as they would get as CSUP was able to pull away and win by 3 TDs. Kyle Washington was having a really good ball game (173 yards passing, 139 yards rushing) before leaving in the fourth quarter. Jermie Calhoun and Blake Smith were held to a combined 75 yards on 29 carries. Rush Seaver had a solid game on defense with 7 tackles and an interception that he returned 100 yards for a TD.
This is a big game for both teams for different reasons. Tarleton needs to build on last week's big win - last year they were unable to, dropping a game to ACU that they should have won. Angelo is in the middle of a 3 game stretch that will either make or break their playoff chances (Valdosta State up next week). We think Tarleton will pull it out, but a healthy Washington could make this a close game. Tarleton 31-21.
Game of the Week
Texas A&M Commerce at West Texas A&M
In the offseason, this was a game of interest, not so much for the actual contest, but the father vs. son, former defensive coordinator now head coach at a new school angle. However with Texas A&M-Commerce's early season performance and the dismissal of Don Carthel at WT, the focus is now on the game itself.
With a new coach and staff in place and a roster with a lot of transfers contributing, Texas A&M Commerce is off to a fast start. The Lions currently lead the LSC in scoring and are fourth in yards gained. Most of those yards are coming through the air (374 per game, 50 rushing). Tyrik Rollison is second in the LSC with 333 yds passing per game and a 158.4 rating. He is spreading the ball around with 3 players aready over 100 receiving yards. Not much of a running game yet. The defense is also showing improvement second in both scoring and yards allowed. Tevin Moore has 5 of the teams 19 sacks and 8 of the teams 38 tackles for loss. Disclaimer - Sul Ross State is a middling D3 school and Delta State was 3-7 last year, but recent TAMC teams would not have done as well.
Even the biggest Chadron State fan could not have drawn up a better open to last Thursday night's game. A 77 yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage, a 7 yard TD pass on the next CSC offensive play after a turnover and a 17 play 82 yard TD drive on the third possession to take a 21-0 lead. WT was on the ropes and about to go down 28-3 when Curtis Slater got a game-saving interception early in the second quarter. The second half was a completely different story with the Buffs clicking on all cylinders. Big returns from Nathan Slaughter opening the second half and Jeremy Watson in fourth set up two short WT TD drives. Aaron Harris had 59 yards rushing and 2 TDs and Dustin Vaughan went 17-23 for 225 yards and a TD. Just enough to pull out the win and avoid the upset.
So who does this Lion team remind me of in recent years? New coach, pass-happy offense, early season success..... maybe, just maybe, the 2005 Buffaloes. Their coming out game was in week 5 against #3 Texas A&M-Kingsville. So can TAMC duplicate that statement game? Not likely. Not with Dustin Vaughn at the helm for the Buffs, with plenty of weapons around him and at home. No, not likely at all. WT 38-17.