Mustang Men’s BB splits over the weekend

November 14th, 2016 No comments

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for the second year in a row Western New Mexico men’s basketball opened up the season with a pair of games against Oklahoma Panhandle University. This time we were at home which has to help, especially when you have a young team like Western New Mexico. With a lot of new faces in the first year head coach, you can expect a steep learning curve. There are going to be some deep valleys and probably some high peaks, but the one thing you want to see is the season moves along, is improvement and a leveling out of those peaks and valleys, hopefully more towards the peak in the Valley.

Friday night the Mustangs opened up with a win, 83-73 over the Aggies. Jordan Enriquez, who led the Mustangs in scoring both nights, was the most consistent player as far as scoring. A few things I liked about the game was the adjustments we made, especially on the defense in the second half. In the first half of Friday night’s game Oklahoma’s Jace Kerr went off on the Mustangs scoring 22 points. He was aggressive and basically outworked the defenders for Western New Mexico. But in the second half Coach Enriquez opted for a zone defense which completely shut him down. In fact the shooters for Oklahoma could not get a good shot and missed a lot especially from three.

Offensively for the Mustangs on Friday night, you saw what you’re going to see from young players. CJ Vanbeekum is probably most representative of what we will expect. CJ came off of the bench and hit a couple of quick three-pointers gaining some confidence but then he started taking some shots that may be were not the best selection. Eddie Giron got the start and was pretty consistent but did have some times where he couldn’t get off a good shot. We also saw that Latrell Spivey is going to give us a solid presence inside on both ends of the floor. He is a competitor and doesn’t mind banging around inside defensively or going for rebounds. And Emery range gave us a double-double with points and rebounds. Overall I like the hustle and the effort put forth by the team on both ends of the floor.

Saturday night was a bit of a different game for both teams. On Friday night it was high-scoring in the first half but Saturday night it did not look like either team would come close to the offense of output that they showed on Friday night. In the last 5-6 minutes of the first half both teams started making some shots but neither team could really get into a rhythm on Saturday night. That is until the second half, When Oklahoma Panhandle State University got hot from downtown. In the second half Oklahoma shot 51% from the floor and just over 40% from three point land. The Mustang stayed with the man-to-man defense most of the second half which was a bit surprising giving that Coach Tafoya told us in the halftime show that we should expect to see more zone, especially the 1-3-1 zone that the team had been working on. We did not really see that.

Offensively we saw will probably be described as a Valley shooting the ball. The Aggies stayed in a zone defense throughout the night and it kept Western New Mexico from executing the dribble penetration that is the core of their offense. In the second half, we really had trouble with that defensive scheme as evidenced by taking only three foul shots in the second half. That’s a clear indicator that we are not aggressive enough offensively. We were standing around on the perimeter in that does not put you in a good position to take a three point shot.

Overall there some good things to be positive about as well as some things that need to improve one last thing I would say that we need to improve especially given the new rules about fouls, is go to the basket aggressively and shoot expecting to make it. Too often on both nights I saw our players drive to the bucket and go up expecting to get filed and not really worrying about making the shot. We have to go up every time expecting to make the shot, trying to make the shot especially if they’re not gonna call those files or if they do and we make it it’s an old-fashioned three-point opportunity.

Mustang football loses in dramatic fashion

November 14th, 2016 No comments

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I don’t think that I have been inundated with so many questions after a football game that I was this past weekend. So many people left in the game with about a minute and a half remaining and could not believe that we lost. Many of them were listening to the broadcast and asked if I meant what I said as far as the execution in the last couple of minutes and overtime: that is, was it as bad as it sounded. I didn’t make any opinions just observations. And yes it was.

Unfortunately what happened on Saturday encapsulates or represents what is happened for a number of years here at Western New Mexico when it comes to football, we just cannot beat teams when we have the opportunity. By that I mean when a better team, a better program comes into Silver City or we go to their place we have been competitive but have not gotten that hump overcome. West Texas A&M had some good wins this season but they are not that good of the football team. WNMU dominated the time of possession, at their best running performance of the season, held the buffaloes running game in check; there were a lot of good things to talk about. But as has become their pattern, Western New Mexico gave up too many big plays and lost the game. Execution on special teams was not very good as evidenced by the onside kick.

You also have to wonder why West Texas A&M went for a two-point conversion leading 13 to nothing early in the game. Had they kicked a field goal there would’ve been no overtime all other things being equal. Along the same lines, you have to wonder why Western New Mexico took a 5 yard delay of game penalty with the kick team on the field and then went for two. I said at the time maybe they were trying to create some room for the passing game but them job you threw it underneath to a receiver that was running right to left and not towards the end zone. Combine that with our absolute unexplainable execution on the onside kick, when it seemed like our team was waiting for to go 10 yards as well and then made no move for the ball or to block any of the other teams players.

On the last touchdown drive in regulation, those of us in the booth saw the receiver for West Texas on the near side of the field jumping up and down on the first play and the second play and then his quarterback got the hint or the coaching staff in the booth did and they found him for the game-tying touchdown. In fact it was the same play on which they scored in overtime. And of course Western New Mexico gets a couple of stupid penalties in overtime that put us in a deep hole which we could not overcome. I understand that kids are going to make mistakes but the mental errors that led to some of the big plays and the penalties and the lack of execution are too frequent and occurred to regularly throughout the last few seasons.

There were some very good performances as usual, DeAndre Williams stands out with one of his best games as a running back. Give credit to the offense of line, they were not good, but they were good enough at times to give him some room and let him get in to the secondary without being hit in the line of scrimmage. The receiving corps, including Henry Norman and Xavier Ayers also had good games as we come to expect. I don’t want to forget Rodney Lawson. Defensively, we did a really good job of putting pressure on their quarterback, Arbuckle, but when their second quarterback came in he was better at getting rid of the ball early. He did not have a great game but he was efficient and did just enough to help his team win.

It will be interesting to see how the Mustangs recruit this year. The glaring need is at offense of line. It has been a problem for a couple of years, much of that due to injury and a lack of depth. But it seems that we have gone the route of trying to find the biggest lineman we can, most of them over 300 pounds, and it hasn’t worked. Maybe it’s time to look around for more athletic, hard-working, lineman. Certainly there is some need for help now with graduation in the defense of backfield and probably some depth at linebacker. It’s hard to tell sometimes about the ability of players who do not see a lot of game time and don’t get a lot of reps with the team in practice. There may be some more depth at those positions that we just don’t know about.

One thing about it, I believe we can compete in the Lone Star conference more than I did before the season. We did not see a lot of power football teams that you would equate with Texas football. Our offense clearly, even with a underperforming offense of line, can put points on the board in this league. We have to find the defense of players and create the scheme that well at least slow down our opponents. Once again our defense gave up around 34-35 points a game on average. We just can’t continue down that road.

Lastly, we know that Western New Mexico athletics is one of the most underfunded programs in the nation as well as our conference. right now, there’s not a lot of hope for increasing funding in the future. That’s where the fans and the alumni come in to play, we have to step up and raise money, donate money, do whatever we can to help this program compete in the financial department as well.

Basketball tips off a new era Friday

November 11th, 2016 No comments

matt

Western New Mexico University opens a new era in men’s basketball this Friday night, as Matt Enriquez, takes the reins of the men’s program. Matt of course has been at Western New Mexico for a long time starting his career as a player and a coach wearing the purple and gold. Matt was the assistant coach for Mark Coleman as well as interim head women’s basketball coach last season, but this will be his first full-time stint as a head coach and taking the reins of the men’s program.

Matt will have a tough job to rebuild a program that fell on hard times over the last three seasons winning very few games. Some familiar faces will be on the floor for the Mustangs but it will be a team filled with new players as we enter the Lone Star conference for the first time. Not only will Mustang fans have to get used to a new coach, new players, but also a new conference with different teams visiting Silver City. What can we expect from Mustang basketball this season?

there were probably two deficiencies in Western New Mexico basketball the last few years: size and shooting. Coach Enriquez may have addressed one of those deficiencies. Jordan Enriquez was probably the only consistent shooter last year but he will be joined by a couple of players who can knock down the rock. Eddie Giron is a freshman out of Monterey Mexico who has the potential to be a very consistent outside shooter both from midrange and beyond the arc. Emery Range will be back at the 3-4 position giving us a good swing player who can shoot at times and take it to the bucket. Willie McCray will be back at the point for the Mustangs and having some shooters to pass the rock to will help open the floor for him.

Latrell Spivey is the new big man on the roster. The 6 foot eight Junior from Glendale community college plays a bit more aggressively inside it is a solid rebounder and defender. That will help if he can get nine or 10 rebounds a game and have about as many points per game. Beyond him, the Mustangs do not have a lot of height until Daniel Van Den Kerkhof returns to action in about a month. The 6 foot 10 sophomore played well at times and while not a big body can score and rebound well enough. Until then the size advantage and other teams have over Western New Mexico will be significant.

This team will be young and probably streaky and not very deep. But coach has done a couple of things that we like. in practice, he is very good at explaining why certain things should be done the way he is coaching. For example he has put in some new offense of plays and tells them what the design of the play is intended to accomplish, whether that’s drive and pitch out or not put the ball on the floor and gain an advantage to passing quickly to get open shots. I think when guys understand why they are doing something it makes it easier for them to buy into it. He will also play more of an up-tempo type of offense trying to get open shots quickly as we will have an advantage over some of the size players that other teams have with our speed.

I think this team has the core players in position to win more games than they have the last two or three years and to build for success in the coming 2 to 3 years. They are probably a player or two away from being competitive in this league should a lot of the younger players live up to their potential. One thing I like about this team is that they seem to get along and really want to win as a team rather than just accomplish individual goals. That might be the most important principle installed into his team’s psyche by coach Enriquez.

Mustangs revert to form

November 7th, 2016 No comments

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Once again we had technical difficulties in the broadcast; after the Mustang’s opening TD the video feed from TAMUK went haywire. We couldn’t make the trip to Kingsville due to other commitments and couldn’t get the feed back.

Western New Mexico got off to a great start forcing a fumble on Kingsville’s first possession of the game after it looked like they were going to start putting a drive together. The Mustangs then came out with a little trick play as Rodney Lawson took the handoff and threw a pass to Matt Hommell for a 64 yard gain that set up a Mustang touchdown run by DeAndre Williams. That said up the Mustangs for the potential to get a big upset.

While the defense was able to create for total turnovers, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, the offense was unable to consistently move the ball. Certainly they put together some good drives and DeAndre Williams came up with some big runs that we haven’t seen from him this season. In fact he averaged almost 6 yards per carry on only 15 carries. But there were so many fumbles by Mustang ball handlers which we recovered. In looking at the official stats they had us as to fumbles but none recovered by the Javalinas. If you look at the play-by-play there were more fumbles than that along with some untimely penalties.

It’s difficult to assess what was going on in some of those drives. But certainly Western New Mexico had a chance to take all of the momentum into halftime getting the ball inside Kingsville’s 5 yard line 1st and goal with plenty of time to run three plays. However the Mustangs came away with zero points and a three point lead. That really put the momentum into the home teams side of the field.

Defensively some great place, no doubt about it. But too many big plays given up to our opponents. Again we had a couple of situations where Kingsville was put in third and long either do to Mustang defense of plays or their own penalties and then we gave up a big third-down play and kept their drive alive. If you look at the box score you’ll see that their top runners and receivers all had long plays well over 20 yards. In fact after it appeared that the Mustang offense was going to put together a drive, it was stopped in on the very first play by Kingsville they got a 54 yard touchdown pass.

You have to last week’s performance by the defense and not giving up any big plays, the Mustangs gave up way too many big plays. If you look at the majority of the game, the Mustang defense really played pretty well but just could not play consistently once again. Neither could the offense. Too many times it looked like we were putting together drives that would end up in points but we just could not get it done. Clearly going on the road to be Kingsville and then beating West Texas A&M was going to be a tall order but it was within our grasp. When you factor in that West Texas A&M got clobbered in their game this weekend had we beat Kingsville I would’ve put the odds on Western New Mexico to win both of their last games.

The loss guarantees the Western New Mexico will once again fall short of any type of winning record. They could have won the last two games and gotten over 500 in the Lone Star conference portion of their record which would be fairly impressive in our first year as a member of the Lone Star conference.

Mustangs Get the Win

October 31st, 2016 No comments

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it was not pretty by any means but a win is a win and at this point we will take all that we can.. The Mustangs were able to defeat a pretty good program from Angelo State University, albeit a team that is definitely experiencing a down year.

Initially, this was shaping up to be a bit of a different game in the first half and we have seen over the last few weeks. First of all, Western did not give up a big play early in the game, like a kickoff or punch return. Secondly they grabbed the lead first rather than falling behind. What was concerning was despite dominating the time of possession and running up many more plays than their opponent, Western New Mexico was only up 10 to nothing at the half.

In fact it looked to be a dominating performance early for Western New Mexico as they got an interception and fumble on Angelo State University’s first couple of possessions after forcing a three and out on their first possession. Western New Mexico’s offense was also moving the ball at will. But then things seem to take a step backwards. I will tell you one thing, if Tyler Vargas did not get the game ball and is not the special teams player of the week in the conference it is a tragedy. Tyler and the Rams inside their 10 yard line 4 times in the first half. this allowed the defense to pin their years back and get aggressive.

Angelo State University is predominantly a running team and you would think that despite being deepened their own territory it would not have bothered them; especially because Western New Mexico is one of the worst run defenses in the conference giving up 220+ yards a game to their opponents. But the Mustangs did not give up a big run or a big pass play for that matter. This might be the first time in six years that they have not given up a long run or backbreaking play in the game. Give them credit for that.

I don’t think that having to use three quarterbacks hurt Angelo State University. Having a new quarterback run the offense when you are a running team is not as big of an adjustment as if you are a passing team. I do think when the starting quarterback Carson Cook left the game, his replacement Jesse Drummer was able to throw the ball effectively right out of the gate. But the coaching staff for ASU went right back to the run and did not build upon that momentum. I know Drummer ended up 3-7 for a total of 12 yards but it seemed like he had caught the Mustang defense off guard. He was replaced Jake Faber, who throws a very pretty spiral but the Mustang quarterbacks were all over his receivers and did not give him many open targets.

The Mustang offense was inconsistent but was able to do just enough to come away with the win. Rodney Lawson had a big day receiving while Henry Norman caught his first two touchdown passes of the season. As I said during the broadcast, it’s no doubt because I brought up that point during the pregame show. Not really but; he is a big target and are lined run blocking is not very good.

With the win, Western New Mexico holds out hope for a winning record in the conference should they be victorious in their last two games. It will be a tall order that the defense doesn’t give up big plays, anything can happen. They cannot get above or to .500 overall book and match their best record of the last few years at 5-6.

This Week in the Lone Star

October 25th, 2016 No comments

How quickly things can change in just one week in the Lone Star Conference. Going into last week’s action, Midwestern State was in the driver seat for the conference championship with Texas A&M Commerce needing help. No one really thought they would get it that quickly and once again the conference championship race has tightened up.

The big game last week of course was West Texas A&M going to Midwestern State and getting to win 35 to 27. While almost everyone gave West Texas a chance, I don’t think many people believed they would get the win. Combine that with Texas A&M Commerce pounding Angelo State University 62 to 14, they are now back tied for the conference lead with Midwestern. Both teams are 5-1 but Midwestern holds the tiebreaker based on the head to head win.

Other results that could have an impact upon postseason play from last week include Kingsville’s win over Tarleton State, 21-17. Panhandle gets an insignificant win as far as conference standings are concerned at UT Permian Basin, 54-44. Like Western New Mexico, Eastern New Mexico played out of the conference embarrassing Bacone 62-0.

After last week’s action, we seem to be clearly moving into the upper tier and lower tier rankings. After the two teams tied at the top, Midwestern and Commerce, Eastern New Mexico, West Texas, and Tarleton State all sit at 4-2 in conference play. Theoretically any one of them could jump up into first place the season. Those teams are followed by Kingsville at 3-3, with Angelo State and Western New Mexico at 2-4. Oklahoma Panhandle State is 1-5 and UT Permian Basin remains winless at 0-6.

Just a few weeks left in the conference schedule each game seems to take on much more importance. The biggest game this weekend has to be West Texas at Texas A&M Commerce. If West Texas A&M can knock off Commerce, they would not only pull into a tie with them in the standings but it becomes highly likely that they would debut higher in the NCAA regional standings than would their opponent. This could put Commerce on the outside looking in postseason play. It’s possible preteens could get into the postseason from the Lone Star not likely.

Eastern New Mexico will be at Kingsville and could stay in the hunt with the win or they drop out with a loss. Midwestern State will host UT Permian Basin, which should be an easy win for them. If they win and Texas A&M Commerce loses, Midwestern State regains the inside track for the conference championship. This is the time of year it gets really exciting. For some teams anyway.

The other games will be played include Tarleton State University at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. I call it an also-ran game because Tarleton needs a lot of help to get postseason consideration. They will likely win and moved to 5-2 but there will be at least two other teams that match or beat their record. They are down the line when it comes to tiebreaker. Then Western New Mexico will host Angelo State University to say who will still have a chance to get over .500 in conference play this year.

Mustangs Can’t Stop Skyhawks

October 25th, 2016 No comments

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first, we apologize for not being able to bring you the game on Saturday due to technical difficulties. I was able to watch a good portion of the game and reviewed in detail the box score including the play-by-play. I was also able to talk to some people that did watch the entire game and were there.

The Mustangs took a break from Lone Star conference action to make a foray back into the Rocky Mountain athletic conference facing former RMAC foe Fort Lewis College. For Lewis is having an unexpectedly down year after being picked about the middle of the pack in the preseason poll for the RMAC. the biggest change is that head coach John L Smith is no longer at the helm of the football team. Under his guidance the Skyhawks had begun making great strides towards becoming a very competitive football team. Going into last week’s action they had fallen to 1-6. It looked like an opportunity for a win for Western New Mexico.

The Mustangs were able to stay close in the first half although once again early big plays made it seem like the Mustangs were going to falter early. But in what has become a pattern for the Mustangs over the last couple of games they were able to fight back. it was a close game going into the halftime. Generally Fort Lewis College at gained their yardage and score their points through the air. The running game was kind of an afterthought. Western New Mexico’s running game was not very strong throughout most of the day with the exception of two big runs from Tracy McNair. Tracy had over 100 yards on the day within 8 yard per carry average buddy at runs at 66 and 22 yards.

In what also appears to be a trend recently, at the halftime Fort Lewis decided they were going to run the ball more than they had in the first half. And they were able to do so with success. We saw Texas A&M Commerce and Oklahoma Panhandle State do this with great success. Fort Lewis was able to control the clock and the ball in the second half and put points on the board. Even towards the middle of the fourth quarter when some of the backups for Fort Lewis were in the game they really began to pile up the running yards.

Of course the turnovers by Western New Mexico did not help. We certainly lost some scoring opportunities because of interceptions and fumbles, not to mention that it put our opponents on a short field and our defensive units backs against the wall. Despite their losing record, we know that for Lewis is a tough opponent, has talented players and they took advantage of the opportunities. In talking to some of the people that were watching the game live or at the game, it sounds like our offense of line had a tough day. We have not been a great run blocking team but we have given the quarterback time in the passing game. Just not this past Saturday.

Unfortunately, the loss, which is our fourth in a row, guarantees another losing season for Western New Mexico football. With three games left we can get to five wins against six losses. That would match our best record over the last several seasons.

Mustangs don’t give up

October 17th, 2016 No comments

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Mustang fans had to feel a little bit of apprehension and déjà vu with the way the game started on Saturday. Although it was not the first play of the game, Western New Mexico allowed Texas A&M’s special teams to get a very quick score with a 79 yard punt return the first time they touch the ball. So for the second week in a row Western New Mexico was behind and the other teams offense had not yet taken the field.

Unlike last week, our offense answered quickly and tied the game rather than falling behind by three scores. Job you hold continues to be able to throw the ball well. You know that Xavier Ayers is always going to give you a spectacular game, but Tredonte Hill, Herman Moore, and Rodney Lawson are each giving us big plays. It’s clear that the passing game is clicking once again for Western New Mexico. The offense of line is giving job you time to throw plus the play calling gets the ball out of his hands quickly.

The run blocking needs to improve. DeAndre Williams is showing that he has the talent to be an above average running back in this league. He hasn’t broken any longer runs but that is more because he is getting hit by defenders quickly, usually at or within a yard or two of the line of scrimmage. Right now the running game is doing just enough to keep defenses honest, but it could be a much bigger producer of yardage and scores than it has been.

Look at was this happened in the last two home games. Once again this week we haven’t first and goal, essentially on the other teams goal line. Yet we cannot punch the ball in with the running game. In fact we cannot move anybody forward when both teams are lined up in goal line formations. Maybe the solution is to go into the spread formation at the goal line or try running off of tackle either out of goal line formation or spread formation.

Defensively, we continue to give up big plays but we also continue to make big plays. Sometimes when you’re going to get turnovers you’re also going to give up a lot of big plays. We did put pressure on the other quarterback, especially in the first half keeping Commerce from getting comfortable in the passing game. Texas A&M came out in the second half with the idea that they would establish the run and they did so. That also helped them to get more room in the passing game. We did not seem to have an answer for their commitment to the run in the second half.

One observation about the Lone Star conference in general; the top teams in this conference do not seem to be the type of team you would expect of Texas football, that is hard-nosed physically overpowering teams. We have played the top-ranked teams in the conference and Eastern New Mexico was the more physical of the teams we have played yet I don’t feel like they are the best team in the conference. Looking back at the RMAC, we look at teams like Pueblo, Mesa, Chadron, and as I understand it Black Hills State is teams that are very physical. Maybe we will see more physicality from the teams we face later in the season but it’s something that was just an observation and a bit of a surprise given the reputation of the Lone Star conference and Texas football in general.

Mustangs Rally Falls Short at Tarleton

October 10th, 2016 No comments

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Western New Mexico University had an exciting game against Tarleton State University on Saturday night. While the score at the end of the game was close and Mustang fans probably felt like we had a chance to win, it certainly did not start off that way.

The Mustangs won the opening toss and chose to defer to the second half so they kicked off. Bubba Tandy and the Tarleton State kickoff return team dominated WNMU’s kickoff team as Tandy ran 102 yards to pay dirt and was never really threatened with being tackled.

The Mustang offense came out and quickly move the ball down the field to midfield but their drive stalled. Tarleton State then got a big play touchdown and with just about four minutes expired in the game, Western New Mexico was down 14 to nothing. However the Mustang offense would continue to move the ball both on the ground and through the air. We just could not put points on the board as Tyler Vargas missed a pair of 35 yard field goals. But the Mustang defense was able to keep Tarleton out of the end zone for the rest of the first stanza.

Tarleton would getting another touchdown in the second quarter extending their lead to 21 to nothing. But Western New Mexico would begin to come back and got the score back to within eight points. Coming out of the intermission, W NM you use the big pliability to score within seconds using two big pass plays to get into the end zone. The game was quickly tied at 21 apiece after a two-point conversion.

But Tarleton State was able to score on their next two possessions taking the leap permanently. Western New Mexico would not quit either on offense or defense as they put more points on the board and got some turnovers to stop Tarleton’s offense. However, to missed field goals and 2 missed extra points put W NMU behind. However Tarleton also had some errors, getting penalized 13 times for over 120 yards. Two of those penalties were significant in that a touchdown was called back and an interception of a Mustang pass was also indicated. Western New Mexico was able to score on the next play which definitely changed the complexion of the football game.

A couple of general observations about the game. At the intermission we talked about the adjustments that each coaching staff might make in the second half. Tarleton State had carried the ball very little in the first half gaining only 22 yards. In looking at their previous games while they tend to favor the past, they had clearly run the ball more in those games then they had Saturday night in the first half. I also thought that when Western New Mexico put pressure on Tarleton’s quarterback it not only forced him into quick throws and making errors, but it helped to slow down the running game and that’s part of the reason Tarleton only ran for 22 yards in the first half.

We expected Tarleton to run the ball more and they did. They gained about 125 yards on the ground in the second half most of it coming from their top running back, Sadler. It seemed to me that Western New Mexico did not put as much pressure upfield from the middle linebacker’s in the second half as they did in the first half. And Tarleton was a be able to take advantage of that which also took time off the clock.

Western New Mexico was able to have a balanced office in the first half and DeAndre Williams continue to run the ball well in the second half opening up the passing game for Hall and the wide receivers. I thought Western New Mexico might look to throw the ball downfield the having seen that our wide receivers were able to get behind Tarleton’s defensive backs. Clearly our coaches saw that as well based upon what they did in the first possession of the second half.

This game, like many close games, came down to special teams and penalties. Tarleton states penalties and more of an adverse effect upon them than Western New Mexico’s did up on their team and their efforts. But our special teams, especially the field-goal and extra point unit made too many mistakes. While a kicker has to ignore what’s going on around him, every time Vargas was into kick, there was pressure coming from somewhere. Early it came from around the end but later it came right up the middle of the offensive line for Western New Mexico resulting in an extra point being blocked. That gets into a players head. We just did not seem to be able to stop Tarleton’s defenders from getting through and putting pressure on the kicker.

It was impressive that Western New Mexico’s players did not quit early after falling behind quickly and they made a game of this. Now they are going to have to use that determination against this weekends opponent as commerce comes in suffering their first loss of the season and needing to dominate and win out in order to stay in the postseason hunt.

They are who we thought they were…

October 3rd, 2016 No comments

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The narrative from some corners of the Mustang Nation is that we put a scare into #10 Midwestern State University on Saturday. Maybe but I don’t think so; first and probably foremost, that team has come from behind all season and for something like 13 games in the last 2 season including 3 of 4 this season. It should have been all 4, but… They don’t panic and they know how to win. Did they have to take us seriously? Sure, we have the ability to put up some points but MSU did what they do, make some big plays and let their opponents make some mistakes.

Those of you that listened to the broadcast on Saturday know I was critical of the coaching staff and their play calling. After a couple of days, I am no less critical. This loss is on the coaching staff. First of all, the decision to go for it on 4th down on the first drive of the game rather than kick a field goal. Vargas is a good kicker and that’s a relative chip shot. In my opinion put some points on the board. Based on our conversations last week and before the game, I believe Coach Clark wanted to get up big and early to try and distance themselves from MSU, putting some pressure on them. Um, did I say MSU doesn’t panic under their 17 year head coach?

First it sent the wrong message to our team; that we weren’t going to be able to move the ball like we did on the first drive or in the last two games for the rest of Saturday’s game. It was a lack of confidence message & maybe also that our defense probably couldn’t stop MSU so we’d have to score a ton of points to have a chance to win. Put some points on the board, get some momentum and show faith in your team.

As it turned out our defense did what we knew they could do early, stop MSU on 2 consecutive possessions. Again, the offense had a chance to put points on the board but the coaching staff decided to go for it on 4th down again and got stopped cold. Now it’s clearly set in the minds of our players and coaches that Clark and his staff don’t think we can win unless it’s a shootout and FG’s aren’t going to cut it.

The other thing that was clear early was that Javia was not 100%. His wheels were not functioning at a high level. He made a couple of runs early that showed he was not feeling good about running, going down quickly; at least once it cost us a key third down conversion. Javia just didn’t have the explosiveness that he normally does, otherwise a couple of those runs are not only first downs but 20+ yards. The other team saw that too and were willing to let him run because they knew he was not going to break a big run and they could stop him quickly.

So why did WNMU decide to try and have Javia go for a QB sneak so many times when we had it on the 1 yard line? Javia clearly couldn’t jump over the pile and reach to break the plane with the ball. It was also obvious that our offensive line wasn’t going to overpower a goal line defensive set; nothing in the last 2-3 years has given anyone confidence that they could do so. Let Deandre take the hand off and jump over the pile or give it to someone like Henry Norman, a tall tight end who can jump high, they have a better chance of breaking the plane.

Taking the points and getting that TD rather than getting stopped makes it a much different game and maybe the D doesn’t feel such pressure to hold MSU back. But true to form, Clark’s defense gave up some big plays that were either scores or led to scores. The 71 yard run on the first play after a Vargas punt pinned MSU deep in their own territory is all to often a regularity for WNMU’s defense. Clark has said it a million times in 6 years, “kids are doing things we aren’t coaching” leading to big plays. Well, then you either are recruiting smart kids or you’re not clear about what you want them to do because it’s happened every season. For so many years we’ve had an offense that was among the best in the nation and could score, but WNMU defenses can’t stop anyone consistently.

No we did not put a scare into the #10 team in the nation. We did exactly what they probably expected us to do and they did what they have done for over a season. If you truly believe that we had a legitimate shot, not a puncher’s chance, to win this game, then call the game like that; play the game like that; show your team that you believe in them. Hold people accountable as well but that’s another story for another time…