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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.

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.

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…

Mustangs get win!

September 18th, 2016 No comments

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The first possession of the game was a peak and valley experience that struck fear into the hearts of long time Mustang fans. The opening drive was well planned and executed as WNMU’s offense was able to use the run to march down the field, mixing in the Wildcat formation. The Stangs took 6 minutes off the clock and appeared ready to get into the end zone with a first and goal at the one yard line. Yeah Stangs!

But once again, a penalty pushed the Mustangs back to the 6 yard line changing the situation. WNMU couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone settling for a chip shot field goal. Now we’re starting the downhill slide, but it get’s worse. The FG attempt is blocked and OPSU returns if for a TD. It was a scenario we’ve seen too many times as Mustang fans over the years.

On the next possession, Tredonte Hill set up the offense with great field position after a huge kick off return. WNMU’s offense sputtered settling for a FG that was good. Then the Stangs took the lead with a TD but the 2 pt attempt was not good. Was this going to be another Mustang tease of it’s fans? Not so fast.

WNMU was able to take advantage of their talent edge and mistakes by the OPSU defense to build a 37-14 lead going into half time. Javia Hall threw the ball well as the Mustang wide receivers were able to get behind the defense. Xavier Ayers had only 2 catches in the first half but they were 75 & 25 yard TD catches. Not too shabby. Javia showed poise in the pocket and his 13 yard scoring pass to Gordie Longville while on the run gives Western fans hope that they have a solid starting QB.

Preston Blincoe ran the ball well, especially early, as did Javia. Give the offensive line credit. Those guys controlled the line of scrimmage early giving the Mustang backs room to run.

The Mustang defense gave up some yards in the second quarter and again in the third after being unbelievably stingy early in the game. But while Panhandle marched up and down the field, the Stangs only gave up two TDs. Their goal line stand keeping the Aggies out of the end zone on 4th and 1 1/2 may have just sealed the victory.

Typically, the Mustangs let down mentally in the third quarter but the big plays came on our side of the ball more so than the Aggies side. Yes, we had some mental lapses that led to scores but for the most part the Stangs limited their mistakes and made some big plays.

To be sure, while the Aggies lone win was against a D1 program, they aren’t the cream of the crop in the LSC, but if you want to win some games, this is what WNMU needs to do, beat the lesser teams handily. And they did that. The Aggies probably had a bit of an emotional let down after their win at AK Pine Bluff last week, an historic win for the program; the Mustangs need to learn from that and not let down on the road against UT Permian Basin. It’s a winnable game if we play like we did this week.

Mustangs at home for first time this season

September 16th, 2016 No comments

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WNMU will look to get its first win of the 2016 season as they host Oklahoma Panhandle State in a key game for WNMU. Western holds a 19-16-2 advantage in the series but this will be the first time the teams have met as conference foes. The teams haven’t met since 2006 when WNMU won 61-17. The Mustangs have won the last 3 meetings.

Things are bit different in this matchup with Western coming in at 0-2 having lost to San Diego and Eastern NM while OPSU has faced 2 NCAA D-IAA foes coming away with a 1-1 record. The Aggies fell to #2 Sam Houston State in the opener, 59-21, then got a road victory against Arkansas Pine Bluff, 20-16.

It was a typical first game of the season between a highly ranked team and a team in OPSU that didn’t have a great outlook for the season. SHS got out to a 14-0 lead before Panhandle was able to get their offense going trading TDs with Sam Houston. Just before the end of the 1st quarter it was 21-14 in favor of the Bearkats. It was big plays for OPSU scoring first on a 90 yard kick off return then a 68 yard pass for another score.

Sam Houston would roll off the next 4 scores, 3 in the second quarter and one in the third to put the game away. Panhandles’ only other score would be a 35 yard pass. The final score was 59-21. OPSU was pass heavy gaining only 55 yards on the ground and 311 through the air on 26-41 passing for 2 TDs and no ints. The running game got only 1.6 yards per carry. The D gave up 279 yards rushing and 389 through the air.

Against Pine Bluff, OPSU fell behind early but took the lead into the intermission at 7-3. APD would dominate the third quarter and hold a 16-7 lead going into the final stanza. The Aggies came up big with 2 long drives culminating in TDs for the final 20-16 margin of victory. The last drive was a 91 yard march that ended with another big pass play, 55 yards for the score.

OPSU found a running game getting 115 yards, averaging 3.4 per carry. The passing game was efficient once again gaining 228 yards on 22-34 passing for 3 TDs and no INTs. The defense held Pine Bluff to 140 yards rushing, but had tackles for losses totaling 47 yards. They gave up only 203 yards passing allowing no scores on the passing game.

The passing game is run by Sr QB Shane Truelove, 6-1 219 from Norco CA. He’s 39-61 for 440 yards and 4 TDs with no turnovers on the season. He’s got a big arm and can move in the pocket. He’s also a threat to run carrying the rock 16 times for 44 yards. But he’s clearly a pass first QB who gets rid of the ball quickly. They’ll set up the long ball with intermediate passes.

12 players have caught the ball for OPSU but Truelove’s favorite target is El Paso native Andrew Hernandez. He’s a 5-8 172 Sr with great speed and elusiveness. He’s caught 14 passes averaging 15 yards a catch with a long of 69 and put the ball in the end zone twice. The other main target for Truelove is Brandon Trotter, another Sr, from Phoenix AZ. Trotter, 5-11 193, also has good speed. He’s caught 8 passes, 6 against Pine Bluff. He’s got 1 TD with the long of 55 yards.

The defense for Panhandle is likely better than their stats will tell you. They’ve played 2 DI opponents and have given up a lot of yards and points, but most of it in the game at Sam Houston. Their leading tacklers are DBs and LBs which isn’t always good. They can be aggressive and will bring blitzes often. They can come up with tackles for loss and did so against both of their opponents. The Mustang offensive line will have their hands full.

What can WNMU do to counter Panhandle’s defense and can we stop their passing game? Tune in to the kickoff show right here at 11:30 on Saturday to find out. Or listen on 92.9 FM

Mustang football loses LSC opener

September 12th, 2016 No comments

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WNMU entered Lone Star Conference play by facing cross state foe Eastern New Mexico University. What a fitting way to enter the new conference with a chance to knock of ENMU; if that could have been done. ENMU is an established program that also happens to run the triple option offense; something hardly any school does these days. Not to mention that ENMU was inaugurating a new stadium so it was like homecoming for them. WNMU was trying to replace a number of talented players on both sides of the ball but especially on offense. It did not set up well for WNMU and the game played out that way.

WNMU did improve slightly on offense, over week 1, by gaining a total of 294 yards on the ground. But they gave up 572 yards, 466 on the ground. Much of what WNMU was able to gain offensively came later in the game when Eastern let down a bit. That said, Javia Hall came back into the game, after being benched, and was able to move the ball down the field. Hall may have solidified his position has starting QB going 14-26 for 242 yards and 2 TDs against 2 INTs. Xavier Ayers showed why he was an All American last year with a solid game; 6 receptions for 118 yards. Rodney Lawson grabbed 3 balls for 60 yards and a TD. Henry Norman also caught 3 balls from his TE position for 44 yards. Tredonte Hill caught a couple of balls including a TD. I really thought he caught more but those are the official stats.

There’s the bright spots for WNMUs offense. Maybe, if we are real homers, we can say the offensive line did a little bit better job of providing some pass protection for Hall and Matt Hommel when he was in at QB. But that’s being relative. Let me back up a bit too, Deandre Williams, the FR RB from Tucson, I thought showed some potential as a running back. Officially he carried 5 times for 24 yards, but again I thought he carried for more yards. And he showed some ability to run downhill. Maybe if he’d had more room to run, along with Blincoe, McNair and company, we’d have put up more yards offensively.

On the other side of the ball, a couple of guys stood out to me, starting with Connor Mowat at tackle. He had 9 tackles including an assist on a sack and a TFL. But he made some plays that don’t show up in the stats, because he’s clogging up the middle and letter the back 7 get to the ball carrier or QB. Leo Marin and Alfonso Wilson benefited from his work. Ivan Dangerfield also had a lot of tackles. Steven Stewart was also all over the place making plays. Just having a lot of tackles doesn’t mean to me that you made plays; it can also mean that the other team was on the field more than our offense was; we lost that battle 39 minutes to 21 minutes. So we had 100 tackles as a team while ENMU only had 56 or thereabouts.

But let’s talk about the eye test for WNMU. We dug a hole early because ENMU’s offense is designed to run a lot of plays and stay on the field. Our offense didn’t help that by not moving at all early in the game. My overall impression of the defense is that we are, more than ever, back to what we were 5-6 years ago. There is clearly a ton of athletic ability on the defensive side of the ball. We saw that from the some of the plays that were made by individuals, such as Mowat, Stewart, Marin, Wilson to mention a few. But almost like clockwork, after we made a solid stand, or a good play like a sack, we invariably gave up a big play right away. The lack of intensity and discipline was apparent once again. ENMU’s Kamal Cass is a good runner, but his 230+ yards were as much a product of good line play, giving him room to run, combined with WNMU players being out of place a few times. Look at his carry chart: a bunch of runs for less than 5 yards, then a few for 6-11 yards. Boom, 78 yards for a TD or 22 yards for a 1st down after a WNMU tackle for a loss (of course on 3rd down & long)

Coach Clark said the plan for the defense was to force the QB to make a late decision in the read. We did that a lot of times, but it was the inconsistent play due mainly to mental errors that allowed ENMU to keep drives alive and make big plays. The DBs were supposed to keep the WRs in front of them and not give up big plays. 80-85% of the time they did that, but once again, they’d bite on a run fake and give up a 20+ yard pass for a 3rd down conversion that kept a drive alive.

Offensively, it’s no surprise that we were going to suffer a bit after 4 years of being one of the top offenses in the nation due to the loss of Mitch Glasman and a very talented WR corp. Marques Rodgers being ineligible doesn’t help either. Throw in a new offensive coordinator and you’d expect to have some growing pains. There is talent outside as I said before about the WRs. Williams shows potential at RB as well but he’s still unproven. The offensive line play, 3/5 of which have started for multiple years now, well it’s not good. Too many mental errors, picking up the wrong key or not being able to block the other guy. It’s not surprising as I watched this group in spring ball and in pre-season loaf through drills too often. You play the way you practice and if you don’t practice smart, practice hard, and work on your craft, then you play that way as well. It’s the rare player that can turn on the switch for games. I’ve seen talent in this crew, but simply they don’t work hard enough in practice. Surprisingly I thought this unit did a better job against Eastern of pass blocking than they did run blocking; pass blocking is harder and more technical. Again there were flashes but not enough consistency.

And much of that comes down to coaching. It’s the same modus operandi for WNMU that we’ve seen for too many years. A lack of consistent mental discipline, mental toughness, which leads to too many mistakes. Other teams do make mistakes but not as many and often not in the big situations. At least the teams that win don’t make those types of mistakes. And to get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a big defensive play, for taunting; well that typifies the problems this team faces.

IF, and it’s a BIG IF, this team can find a way to match the mental toughness of our opponents, we have the talent to win a few games. Right now, as we looked at the schedule there were 2 games most observers thought we’d have a chance to win: UT Permian Basin and our opponent next week, Oklahoma Panhandle State. UT Permian Basin is in their first year of football and they are now undefeated, 2-0 having downed Sul Ross State and Arizona Christian University. We know those teams and have beaten them in the past, but those weren’t easy wins. We open at home next week against OPSU, who are 1-1 on the season having lost to #2 Sam Houston State and beat Arkansas Pine Bluff by 4 points on the road. If we play smart, disciplined football we can win both. If we don’t… volleyball is playing well.