Sunday, August 27, 2017

LSC Football Roundup Week 1

Please keep Hurricane Harvey's victims in your prayers.

LSC Landscape going forward
With the announced addition of 8 Heartland Conference schools to the LSC in 2019, we thought we should take a look at what the combined conference would look like.  In fact, we felt it was our duty to do so.

With that, we will have combined power rankings for all the sports starting this fall. Power Poll (Preseason)
  1. Texas A&M-Commerce - starting season off with national runner up North Alabama
  2. Midwestern State - Mustangs have never made NCAA playoffs three years in a row
  3. Texas A&M-Kingsville - is dodging Harvey a harbinger for upward trending Hogs?
  4. Eastern New Mexico - will change at HC disrupt the always surprising Hounds?
  5. Tarleton State - if all the transfers gel as a team, Texans could be surprise of LSC.
  6. Angelo State - Can Rams win more than 5 without Kyle Washington?
  7. West Texas A&M - will rebuilding year result in fewer wins?
  8. Western New Mexico - could surprise a couple of teams this year.
  9. UT-Permian Basin - will be better even if W/L doesn't show it. 

Week 1 Schedule
McKendree at Angelo State, 6:00 (ASU Notes)
#5 Texas A&M-Commerce at #6 North Alabama, 6:00 (TAMC Notes) (UNA Notes)
Quincy at #24 Midwestern State, 7:00 (MSU Notes)
#18 Southwest Baptist at Eastern New Mexico, 8:00 (ENMU Notes)

Tarleton State at Delta State, 2:00 (TSU Notes) (DSU Notes)
Western New Mexico at San Diego, 4:00
Sul Ross at UT-Permian Basin, 6:00
#13 Azusa Pacific at West Texas A&M, 6:00 (WTAM Notes)
Central Washington at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7:00 (TAMK Notes)  (CWU Notes)


Daily News headlines
 UTPB ready to host Sul Ross - Lee Scheibe, Odeessa American
Rams' suffocating 'D' puts on show in opener -  Charles Bryce, San Angelo Standard-Times
Seales, Mustangs run wild in openerAndy Newberry, Times Record News
Perez eager for Tarleton opener -  Brad Keith, The Flash Today
Getting Personal with Carter JamesKale Steed,
Three keys to a Buff victoryKale Steed,
Maroon and White Zone game previewKale Steed,

After Season ending injury, Mykelbust ready for action - Kale Steed,
MSU coach knows uncertainty of season openers - Andy Newberry, Times Record News
Coyotes, Raiders give MSU defense a boost  - Andy Newberry, Times Record News

LSC announces 8 team expansion in 2019 -Kale Steed,
Crosby Cougar alum Lewis comes to the rescue - Elliott Lapin, Houston Chronicle
Rams want home cooking to start in openerCharles Bryce, San Angelo Standard-Times
Tarleton athletics accepting donations for hurricane victims - The Flash Today
UTPB  hosting a supply drive at this Saturday's football game at Football home opener
Wk 1 LSC Power Rankings - Kale Steed,
Faber, Cook battling for reins - Charles Bryce, San Angelo Standard-Times

Whitten has big expectations for offensive line - Brad Keith, The Flash Today
MSU offensive linemen have much to live up to - Andy Newberry, Times Record News
Rams eager to prove doubters wrong in 2017 - Charles Bryce, San Angelo Standard-Times


Moses back to help Javelinas to new heights - Coy Slavik, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
UTPB getting ready for 2017 season - Lee Scheide, Odessa American

Game Previews 
(for a look at OOC opponents, click on the team preview link and scroll down to non-conference schedule)

McKendree at Angelo State, 6:00 (ASU Team Preview) - This could be a low scoring game, with two good defenses and two average offenses.  Last year, the teams combined for 9 turnovers, which led to 4 TDs and a FG with McKendree getting the upper hand in a 33-19 win. If Jake Faber (or Carsen Cook) can get off to a strong start, it could boost the Ram offense and set the stage for a solid season for Angelo State.  Rams in a close one 24-14.

Quincy at #24 Midwestern State, 7:00 (MSU Team Preview) - Quincy was 5-6 last year, dropping 6 of their last 8 games.  The offense, which averaged 409 yards and 30.7 points, returns four starters on the OL, including two all-conference picks and 3 time All-GLVC TE Owen Schoenenberger, but must replace their QB, leading rusher and leading receiver.  The defense, which allowed 24.5 points and 323 yards per game returns 8 of their top 11 in tackles from last year, all LBs and DBs.  The Mustangs defense and rushing attack should make this a comfortable season opener, MSU 35-14.

#18 Southwest Baptist at Eastern New Mexico, 8:00 (ENMU Team Preview) - Another GLVC-LSC matchup.  Last year SBU took a 49-35 contest with a lot of help from ENMU.  The Greyhounds turned the ball over 4 times, twice inside their 15, leading to 14 Bearcat points.  SBU returns QB T.J. Edwards, who lead SBU to 42 points and 504 yards per game in 2016.  ENMU should be able to run the ball again (444 yards in last year's game), as SBU gave up 413 yards and 29 points per game.  Another shootout, but ENMU shouldn't be so generous this time.  ENMU 35-31.

Game of the Week
#5 Texas A&M-Commerce at #6 North Alabama, 6:00 (TAMC Team Preview) - Let's get the prediction out of the way, the Lions will win.  More specifically, the top-ten ranked, pre-season conference favorite Lions will win.  That much is guaranteed.  Of course that could mean either team.  UNA is the defending national champion and a D2 national power year in and year out, having made the playoffs 12 out of the last 14 years and 21 times since 1980.  They won 3 consecutive national championships in 1993, 1994, and 1995, defeating Texas A&M-Kingsville in the semifinals in 1993 and the championship game in 1994.  None of any that may matter, because the 2017 UNA Lions do not return much of their personnel, and that includes the head coach.   Chris Willis takes over after 5 seasons as the Lions' DC and 15 years overall as an assistant at UNA.

He will have to replace outstanding QB Jacob Tucker (2,800 yds passing, 900 yds, 16 TDs rushing, 3rd in Harlon Hill).  It will likely be either RS Soph. Blake Hawkins, Rico Bruton-Jr. (Mt. San Antonio) or Matt Markham-Jr. (Harding transfer).  Hawkins was the fourth leading rusher (185 yards) and was 20-32 for 225 yards and 3 TDs passing in limited action last year, while Bruton was a second team all-conference for the Mounties and Markham redshirted after transferring in.  Returnees on offense include RB Damon Cox (519 yds, 8 TDs), WR Dre Hall ( 80-1,179, 9 TDs), WR Delvon Carpenter (42-786, 6 TD in 2014), WR Hagan Scott (22-208, 1 TD), and just one starter on the OL, Lance Harrod.  Newcomers Alex Norwood (WR), Kentucky transfer Tanner Fink (TE) and linemen Khadedryck Todd (Jones CC), Devin McCallister (ND State College of Science), DeVaris Nalls (Murray State) and Cole Hardin (Vanderbilt).

The UNA defense might need to introduce themselves to each other with just 2 returning starters, and 6 transfers.  Up front returning starter Freddie Reed is joined by newcomers Maurice Burton (Scottsdale CC) and Jaylin Dailey (Mississippi Gulf Coast) and returning backups Eddquerion Harris and Frank Williams.  The linebacking corps is all new, with true freshman Christon Taylor and transfers Kenneth Steele (Mesa CC) and Joshua Amanfo (East Arizona CC) slated to start.  Maurice Carnell is the sole returning starter in the secondary, and will be joined by backup Dorsey Norris and transfers Chris Johnson (Albany) and Josh Thurman (NE Mississippi CC).

Texas A&M-Commerce returns a lot more experience across the board and had 4 players named to the preseason All-American team (QB Luis Perez-1st, OL Jared Machorro-1st, yusef Sterling-Lowe-2nd and Travon Blanchard-2nd just a couple of days after announcing he is walking on for his senior year).  This will probably be a pretty close game, but we give the edge to TAMC in a big win, 28-21.


Tarleton State at Delta State, 2:00 (TSU Team Preview) - With just four returning starters on offense, the key for the Texans is to stop (or slow down) RB Chris Robinson.  Robinson rushed for 976 yards and 19 TDs and had 551 yards and 5 TDs receiving and has three returning starters on the OL, including Derrick McClelland, a Gene Upshaw nominee.  No other starters are back at skill positions.  The defense was not good in 2016, allowing 39 points and 420 yards per game (5.9 per play).  DSU has 5 returning starters, with 4 of them at LB or secondary.  This could bode well for the Texans looking to get their running game in gear.

This is an interesting matchup if for no other reason there are so many new starters for both teams.  Experience at QB should help Tarleton be more consistent on offense and take this one.  Tarleton 31-17.

Western New Mexico at San Diego, 4:00 (WNMU Team Preview) - The Mustangs are 0-6 vs. the University of San Diego, including a 27-0 setback last year.  The Toreros went on to make the FCS playoffs, defeating Cal Poly 35-21 in the first round, before losing to North Dakota State 45-7 in round 2.  They outscored their opponents 35.7-15.6 and outgained them by a 441-267 margin.  Looks like a long night for WNMU as USD rolls to a 35-7 win.

Sul Ross at UT-Permian Basin, 6:00 (UTPB Team Preview) - A rematch of the Falcons' first game and first win in the program's history.  Sul Ross finished last year 6-4, and have improved in each of HC John Pearce's three years (2-8, 3-7, 6-4).  Dual threat QB James Davis leads a veteran group on offense, while Zack Roberson (22 TFL, 12.5 sacks) is back on defense.  This could be a pretty good game, but UTPB should be able to put it away.  UTPB 28-21.

#13 Azusa Pacific at West Texas A&M, 6:00 (WTAM Team Preview) - Azusa Pacific has had WT's number the last two seasons, squeaking by the Buffs 27-24 in 2015 and taking a more decisive 28-10 last year.  The Cougars lost just two regular season games (23-27 at Colorado Mines and 24-33 at Colorado Mesa), earning their first NCAA playoff berth.  QB Andrew Elffers leads an experienced group back.  Elffers (despite a poor game against WT) threw for 2,100 yards and had a 21-3 TD-Int ratio.  He has two of his top three receivers and top two running backs returning as well.  Aaron Berry, Mykal Walker and Taliuaki Suliafu headline a stingy defense that gave up just 16 points per game.

Redshirt freshman, Justin Houghtaling, is penciled in at QB, with Myron Buchanan and Jordan Johnson joining him in the backfield and Avery Lewis, Markel Steward and Jazz Thind at wideout.  That's a total of 0 yards passing, 0 yards rushing and 11 yards receiving.  At least there is experience up front.  This week's game notes lists 2016 starters Dillon Vaughan and Travis Vornkahl, 2016 part-time starter Nathaniel Nanai, 2015 starter Michael Whitfield, and true freshman Marshall Crabb as starters and 2016 starter Moses Mondesir as a backup.

The defense is more seasoned with a front comprised of veterans Gerred Johnson, Solomon Perdue, Lance Hyder and Kaelin Young (transitioning from LB).  Carter James is joined at linebacker by senior Trevor Myklebust, Hayden Dennis and another true freshman Eric Collins.  The secondary has Chazz Slatinsky returning, but the rest of the two-deep are either new to the team, or saw little to no action last year.

The most interesting thing about this game is the changes in philosophy for the Buffs on both sides of the ball.  They are trying to be more physical and disciplined and this will be a tough opponent to gauge their progress.  APU takes this one 31-17.

Central Washington at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7:00 (TAMK Team Preview)
Central Washington pays a visit to Kingsville in the season opener.  The Wildcats were 7-3 last, dropping games to FCS Portland State and two to Azusa Pacific.  They held a 34-21 scoring edge and 433-340 yardage advantage.  Jonathan Hillel looks to be the starting QB.  As a backup, he threw for 384 yards and 5 TDs backing up Justin Lane.  If not Hillel, then it could be Reilly Hennessey, an East Washington transfer.  Running backs Christian Cummings, Austin Pernell and Jordan Tufaga (677 combined yards) and wide outs Justin Peterson and Christian Gasca (38-684, 6 TDs) and TE Kyle Self (17-206, 2 TD).  James Moore leads three returning starters on the OL.  

The strength of the defense will be at LB and the secondary.  All-American LB Kevin Haynes and Sean Elledge were busy last year, combining for 185 tackles and 36.5 TFL last year.  In the secondary, Max McIntosh, Jackson Huerta, Darien Williams and Tyren Sams had 192 tackles, 6 interceptions and 20 passes broken up.  The are some holes up front with Bo Banner the leading returnee.

The Javelinas start the 2017 season with a 7 game winning streak, second best in the nation behind national champion Northwest Missouri.  The defense should be the strength of the team early on.  All-American DL Brandon Jones (9.5 sacks, 11.5 TFL) and Braedon Robinson (career 32.5 TFL) are the headliners, but LBs Trevor Moses, DeMarcus Spurlock, Peyton Tilley and DBs Josh Wilson, Jarrod Sanders and Devonte Williams are solid veterans as well.  Newcomers Junior Henderson and Teke Cheetham-West should make their presence known also.

The offense is a bit of a mystery with just 5 returning starters.  Conner Smith appears to be the pick to start at QB but that is not set in stone.  RB Nick Pelrean, TE Stehley Reden and WR Jordan Thomas return to give the offense several productive options at the skill positions, as does UNLV transfer Keith Whitely.  Special teams could play an bigger than usual role early on.  Julio De la Garza is one of the best kickers around.  Return men Jordan Thomas and Sean Landez could be getting some help from recent Oklahoma State transfer Jeff Carr.

The final game of the opening weekend could be one of the better matchups.  Two solid teams looking to get over the playoff-hump and this could be a catalyst game.  Home-field advantage helps the Hogs, TAMK 35-24

The Lone Star Conference will expand to 19 member institutions as league officials announced Tuesday that eight schools have accepted invitations to join the LSC in the fall of 2019.

The LSC Council of Presidents voted unanimously this summer to offer full membership to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, Dallas Baptist University, Lubbock Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University, Rogers State University, St. Edward’s University, St. Mary’s University, and Texas A&M International University.

"We look forward to collaborating on and off the athletic field knowing that our student athletes will benefit from this expansion,” said Texas Woman’s Chancellor Carine M. Feyten, chair of the LSC President's Council.

With 19 members, the LSC will become the biggest conference in NCAA Division II. The LSC, founded on April 25, 1931, started as a five-member conference of Texas-based schools and with the latest expansion will become a 19-member league with 13 members in Texas, three in Oklahoma, two in New Mexico, and one in Arkansas.

“This is an exciting time for the Lone Star Conference. The addition of these eight schools makes the LSC the largest and most dynamic conference in NCAA Division II. These nineteen institutions will represent the very best in Division II through a shared commitment to excellence in academics, athletics and student-athlete development,” said LSC Commissioner Jay Poerner. “I am thankful to the leadership of the LSC Council of Presidents for its guidance in leading this expansion effort.”

  •  Located in Fort Smith, Ark., UAFS has an enrollment of more than 6,600 students. The Lions sponsor 10 NCAA Division II sports (volleyball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's basketball, baseball, men's and women's tennis). 
  •  DBU is located in Dallas with an enrollment of 5,156 students. The Patriots sponsor 14 NCAA Division II sports (volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's basketball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field). 
  •  Located in Lubbock, Texas, Lubbock Christian has an enrollment of 1,912 students. The Chaparrals sponsor 15 NCAA Division II sports (volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field). 
  •  Oklahoma Christian is located in Oklahoma City, Okla., with an enrollment of 2,600 students. The Eagles sponsor 16 NCAA Division II sports (men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, men's and women's swimming). 
  • Located in Claremore, Okla., Rogers State has an enrollment of 3,889 students. The Hillcats sponsor 14 NCAA Division II sports (men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field). 
  •  St. Edward’s is located in Austin, Texas, with an enrollment of 4,056 students. The Hilltoppers sponsor 13 NCAA Division II sports (volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's tennis). 
  •  Located in San Antonio, Texas, St. Mary’s has an enrollment of 3,567 students. The Rattlers sponsor 11 NCAA Division II sports (volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's golf, men's and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's tennis). 
  •  Texas A&M International is located in Laredo, Texas, with an enrollment of 7,200 students. The Dustdevils sponsor 11 NCAA Division II sports (volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women’s basketball, baseball, softball). 

    Adding the eight institutions marks the LSC’s first expansion since UT Permian Basin and Western New Mexico joined the conference in 2016. The league has had 38 institutions compete as members over its 86-year history. The LSC conducts conference championships in 17 sports (eight men and nine women). Men's championships include football, cross country, basketball, baseball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, golf and tennis. Women's titles are determined in volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, softball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, tennis and golf.

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Lone Star Conference

Angelo State University

Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University

Texas A&M-Commerce

Tarleton State University

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Texas Woman's College

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

West Texas A&M University

Western New Mexico