Sunday, August 6, 2017

UT-Permian Basin 2017 Outlook

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2016 Recap
UTPB started their program off with a pair of wins, 27-6 over D3 Sul Ross and 49-34 over NAIA Arizona Christian.  Things took a turn for the worse once LSC play started with the Falcons dropping all 9 conference games by an average score of 19-57 and outgained by an average of 206 yards.  The closest they came to winning an LSC game was a 44-54 loss to Oklahoma Panhandle State.  UTPB pulled to within 48-44 with just under 5 minutes to play, but couldn't get the defensive stop on the ensuing possession.

Individually, freshman Kameron Mathis threw for 2,078 yards and 15 TDs.  Mitchell Leonard, Terrell Davidson, Kristian Brown and Jake Anglin formed a productive quartet, combining for 140 receptions, 2,009 yards and 16 TDs.  The running game is in a similar situation, with Brandon Infiesto, Jordan Williams and Marquis Simmons returning after combining for 1,280 yards and 10 TDs.  The offensive line consisted of one senior, one sophomore and three freshman most weeks.

2017 Outlook - Offense
With so many freshmen starting last year for the Falcons, the struggles (340 yds, 19 pts per game in the LSC) were not unexpected.  Year 2 should be better, especially with top skill players returning, right?  Probably, but maybe not.  Two factors could temper any improvement - the roster (as of 8/1) only lists two returning starters on the line and if UTPB isn't getting blown out as dramatically as last year, opponents will be keeping their starters on defense in longer.

Returning Players to watch (all are sophomores unless otherwise noted)
QB - Kameron Mathis (162-335-2,078-15-10)
QB - Caden Coots (39-77-385-2-5) - Jr.
RB - Brandon Infiesto (583 yds, 4 TD rushing, 86 yds, 0 TD receiving)
RB - Jordan Williams (412-1, 41-0)
RB - Marquis Simmons (295-5, 17-0)
WR - Mitchell Leonard (39 receptions, 673 yds, 7 TD receiving) - Jr
WR - Terrell Davidson (36-578-2)
WR - Kristian Brown (36-384-4)
WR - Jake Anglin (29-374-3)
WR - Ben Galaviz (15-122-1)

Newcomer Kyle McBride (Kilgore College) should figure into the mix at WR.

2017 Outlook - Defense
To put it mildly, the defense was not good last year.  The Falcons gave up 545 yards and 57 points per game in conference play and it could have been worse if teams didn't substitute freely in the second half of most games.  The pass defense was especially bad - LSC teams averaged 355 yards per game, with 34 TDs and just 4 Ints.  That was good for QB rating of 194.8 (OPSU was next at 155.2).  Fans can point to the improvement that Tarleton State made from 2015 (572 yards, 53 points) to 2016 (412 yards, 24 points) in conference play and hope for a marked improvement.

Lots of returnees on defense, with 6 of the top 7 tacklers (8 of top 11) as of roster on 8/1.  Three seniors are slated to man the front, with sophomores galore lining up behind them.

DT - Frank Seiuli - 48 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 5 QBH (HM LSC) Senior
DT - Marquee Allison - 27-4-2-2
DE - Diego Assad - 23-6-3.5-0
DE - AJ Fano - 19-6-2-3  Senior
DE - Ieti Manu - 16-4-2-1 Senior
DT - Ray Dinnal-Guerra - 16-4-2-1
LB - Chris Hoad - 114-11-1.5-3, 1 Int, 2 BU
LB - Emilio Solis - 82-9-2-2-0-1
LB - Keegan Gray - 58-10.5-1.5-4-0-1
LB - Cameron Hurd - 51-3-2-3-0-1
S - Montique Coles - 66-1.5-1-0-1-4
DB - Andraque Jones - 33-1.5-1-0-1-5
CB - Alonzon Turner - 32-0-0-0-1-0
S - Jeff Douglas - 26-0.5-0-0-0-0

The Falcons recruited heavily on defense with 18 of their 28 announced signings on that side of the ball.  Look for immediate help from JUCO transfers Ashad Guice (Yuba College) and Kristopher Sutton (Sierra College) on the line and Marquis Davenport (Diablo Valley), Justin Nicholls (Saddleback), and Tristen Thompson (Kilgore) to bolster the secondary.

2017 Outlook - Special Teams
Bailey Giffen handled both punting (37.7 avg) and kicking (5 FGs, 22 PAT, 49.8 kickoff avg) duties and earned HM LSC honors in the process.

2017 Outlook - Non-Conference Schedule
Sul Ross to open the season, then Lamar in Beaumont, and Quincy University in October.

Sul Ross was 6-4 last year, losing to UTPB, Arizona Christian, and D3 powers Hardin Simmons and national champion Mary Hardin Baylor.  QB James Davis (2,101 yds, 18 TD passing, 511 yds, 10 TD rushing) is a dual threat. Last years top two running backs, Adrion Smith and Andre Wilson, combined for 670 yards and 3 TDs are back as are three of the top four receivers, Byron Jones, Steven Savedra and Wesley Moss (combined 100-1,232-10).  The defense is led by DLs Zack Roberson (67 tackles, 22 TFL, 12.5 sacks) and Ennis Harmon (39-6-2.5),  LBs Mike Quinonez (53-5.5-0, 2 Int) and Damian Espinoza (44-2-0) and DB Jacob Castaneda (36-1-0 3 Ints).

Lamar will likely come into licking their wounds after opening at North Texas and looking for a big game to get their season headed in the right direction.  The Cardinals were just 3-8 last year, beating Southeastern Louisiana, former LSC school Abilene Christian and Northwestern State (combined 10-23 in 2016).  In the preseason poll, LU was picked 7th, just ahead of ACU, Houston Baptist, Northwestern State and UIW.  They have a new HC in Mike Schultz and several transfers, including former Texas A&M running back James White.

Quincy was 5-6 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.  The Hawks averaged 31 points per game, rushing for 155 and passing for 254.  The defense gave up just 24 points, 140 yards rushing and 183 passing weekly.  They open their season at Midwestern State.

Best Case Scenario
2-9 if things go their way.  Sul Ross is a winnable game, though not a slam-dunk.  Quincy, while a more established program is not exactly a powerhouse.  The Hawks dropped their final four games last year and will breaking in a new QB as well as replacing their top RB and WR on offense, though by week 8 they should be seasoned.  They were picked to finish 6th in the 8 team GLVC.  For the rest of the season, the Falcons best hope appears to be WNMU.  The Mustangs won last year 68-17, so it doesn't look too promising.

Worst Case Scenario
0-11 is a possibility.  While the Falcons beat Sul Ross 27-6, the game was much closer than the score might indicate.  UTPB was outgained 301-291 and used a big kick return and interception deep in SR territory to pull away in the third quarter.  Quincy was 5-6 last year (with two 4 point losses) and will be favored against the Falcons.  Lamar should not have any problems in week two.  In LSC play, none of the remaining opponents were threatened in last years games.  

Look for the Falcons to open the season with a win once again, but then struggle for the rest of the season.  1-10 is the likely record at the end of the year.

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