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A bookend win to close the season and a call to action.

November 15th, 2015 No comments

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WNMU opened the season with a dominating win against Arizona Christian, then closed the season with another dominating win over Black Hills State. It’s the middle part of the season that left Mustang fans wondering what happened.

WNMU ran the ball extremely well in building an insurmountable lead over the undermanned Yellowjackets. Get this, WNMU ran 27 plays BEFORE attempting a pass. Yes you read that right, 27 plays without even attempting a pass. That resulted in 2 TDs on the first two possessions of the game. Marquis was the focal point but Tracy, Nino, Gordy, Michael and even Xavier got in on the action.

When we did decide it was time to pass, Ball to Young for 86 yards and a TD!

The offensive line played arguably their best game of the season. Give the coaches credit for putting together a game plane that played to Michael’s strengths. He looked more comfortable under center and the line was able to get some surge down field most of the time. It was a simple, straightforward blocking scheme. BHSU wasn’t complicated in their defensive scheme and did bring a lot of pressure, but they were up on the line quickly and still couldn’t stop the running game.

Marquis had 150 and could have had more had he not missed a quarter or so.

The defense was again ball hawking and got the INTs, several passes broken up and a couple of sacks. Alfonso had a pick six for a score in the first.

On some level you wonder if emphasizing the run a bit more during the middle of the season would have resulted in a different outcome. With the injuries on the O line it makes it difficult to get any consistency in blocking, but run blocking is generally easy and you can be more consistent as an lineman. I have to think Mitch still would have put up big numbers because we’d have seen more one on one coverage…

But you can wonder and speculate all you want. The season is done and it has to be classified as a disappointment. At WNMU you have to plan for peaks and valleys. Financial restrictions dictate that we can’t go out every year and get tons of new players. You have to bring in a solid core of young players, get them on the field and get them experience. You’ll have a couple of down years but in years 3 & 4, you become competitive and can challenge for the conference crown. Each season you add a couple of pieces to the puzzle to fill in where injuries or unfulfilled potential have left gaps.

This year should have been that year for WNMU. With Mitch in his final season, and finally having a second year with the same offensive coordinator, we had the personnel to have the ‘peak season’. You can blame some of the problems on injuries to Michael Coe and other guys across the line but those are the realities of being at WNMU. That means coaches have to make adjustments from what they’d like to do to what they can do.

Defensively, the D line had a very good season and was the strength of the team. But once again, inability to tackle and being out of place in the scheme cost us dearly. We have heard the phrase, “guys are doing things we don’t coach” so many times as an explanation. Then that falls on the coaching staff. It doesn’t matter how talented a player is, if he is not holding down his responsibilities on a consistent basis, then put his butt on the bench. Yes, we’ll likely see a drop off in talent but maybe that player will develop into a solid, reliable defender who won’t give up the big plays. Heck, we’re giving up huge chunks of yardage and once again gave up tons of points each game, so what’s to lose?

All the defense had to do this year was give up 27-28 points a game, not 37-38, our offense could have carried us to the win in almost every game if the D had done just that.

WNMU is moving to the Lone Star, finances are going to be an issue again. For over a decade, WNMU did not really have a fund raising arm that was at all effective. The athletic department is just like every other department at the college. Dr. Shepherd is moving to change that but it takes time. With new staff in Institutional Development & the Alumni Association, we hope to see more fundraising take place.

But here’s the deal, don’t wait on them to get to you. We can all step forward and help in some small way. It may not be monetary but it can also be getting involved. So many of the parents, families, alumni, and boosters have given of their time to high school or club sports; let’s get that going for WNMU athletics as well. It’s time for the University Club to come back into existence and build a support network for WNMU.

Mustangs host Chadron

November 4th, 2015 No comments

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It’s senior day, the final home game and we’re coming off a win; Chadron is coming off of an embarrassing loss and faces their worst season in a decade. Shouldn’t that be a recipe for a Mustang victory? You would think. But, that’s why they play the games and don’t discount the pride of the Eagles program. There are certain programs that just seem to have an aura around them and Chadron is one of them. In 2005, the Eagles were 4-6; they haven’t won less than 7 games since then and have competed for the RMAC Championship nearly every season since.

CSC is a team that appears to be struggling in most areas of the game, except for passing defense. They only put up 23 pts a game, while giving up 26. The Stangs by comparison put up 31 and give up 38.

Chadron gets about 400 yards a game, WNMU 519. Defensively they are not as porous as WNMU, 400 to 498 yards per game. They’ll gain 209 per game on the ground v. our 123. Both teams give up just over 200 yards rushing per game. It’s passing where the differences are even more stark: CSC throws for 193 yards, only 9 TDs on the year against 9 INTS. WNMU of course is numero uno not only in the RMAC but the nation; 387 ypg, 23 TDs & 14 INTs.

The passing defense is similarly disparate but not in our favor. Chadron is the #1 passing defense in the RMAC allowing only 205 ypg, 9 TDs and picking off 10 passes. Western NM gives up 260 ypg, has ceded 24 passing TDs and picked off 5 (3 coming last week)

Defensively they will put some pressure on Mitch, as they have 18 sacks and it’s a team effort. The sack leader for CSC is Collin Eisenman with 5.5 but Tyler Kless has 4 and Clay Cundall has 2.5, but a lot of those come because of pressure from other Eagles forcing the QB up into the pocket. Eisenman also has 11 tackles for a loss. WNMU can match with Alfonso Wilson, 11, and Shiane Tupua, 10.

Enough stats. CSC has been in a lot of close games; out of their 5 losses all were 8 or 10 point margins. The one big loss was a 48-10 beat down by Pueblo. The loss last week against Highlands was one in which they made a lot of mistakes, turnovers and giving up a couple of big plays to give the Cowboys their lone victory of the year. But Highlands also ran the ball well against them and had a couple of very long drives, one over 7 minutes.

Matt Vinson and Td Stein have split time at QB but Vinson is the go to guy. Stein started the season as the QB but after a good outing at Missouri A&T it went all downhill. He was benched in the fourth game for Vinson and the next week CSC got their first of two straight RMAC wins. The Eagles pass second and Vinson, 6-0 207 So, has been steady but not spectacular. He has 7 TDs v. 2 INTs but only passes for about 155 yards a game. He will move around the pocket but is not a threat to run. In fact, he’s -73 net rushing yards, so he can be sacked for big losses.

Vinson doesn’t have much to throw to; the top four receivers for CSC have fewer yards receiving, combined, than Xavier Ayers. But they have some size; Bargen is 6-5 and O’Boyle is 6-1. They have 33 & 32 receptions on the year, each with 2 TDs and about 40 yards a game. There’s isn’t much big play potential for CSC in the passing game.

Running however, is a different story. Derek Jackson, 5-9 192 So, is right behind Marques in the RMAC rushing stats category. He’s got 1026 yards on the year, about 109 a game with a 6 yard per carry average. He is similar to Marques in that he is elusive and has some breakaway speed. He has 7 TDs as well. But unlike the Mustangs, the Eagles will get the ball to a couple of other backs; Cody Paul and Kevin Coy. Paul is big, 6-2 212 RF & Coy is the smaller of the three. They don’t get the ball alot, about 8-9 times a game but each averages over 5.5 yards per carry. Coy also has speed with a long of 70 yards this year.

The teams that have beaten Chadron have done so by keeping the offense off the field. The time of possession battles have been won by their opponents, for the most part. The big thing for WNMU’s defense will be to tackle, of course, and not give up the big running plays. We can put pressure on the QB and come up with some sacks. Don’t under estimate the Eagle receivers, but play solid coverage and keep them underneath and they won’t hurt us. The key will be to slow the running game and not give up huge yardage after first contact.

Offensively, as we said, CSC will put pressure up the field on Mitch and they’ll likely be hitting Marques in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line needs to step up and give Mitch a little time to throw; watch for a lot of shorter routes from the receivers and look for Marques to get out on the edges again. Maybe, just maybe, the TE will be more of a target this week along with the slot receiver.

When we looked at the schedule a couple of weeks ago, wondering if we could get to a winning record, this was the game that worried almost everyone. Now it seems like a much more winnable game but that also means it more of a trap game as well.

Finally!

November 1st, 2015 No comments

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It was a win!!! Was it against a really good team? Nope, but they weren’t Arizona Christian either. Was it pretty? Pretty enough to take home to mom. Did we make mistakes? Yep. We can go on like this but here’s the simple fact; this may have been the most balanced game we’ve played all season. Every aspect of the game, as a team, was more consistent than we’d been all season.

If we told you that Mitch would not have a passing TD, how many of you would have thought we’d win? None. You certainly wouldn’t have given us good odds to win. But that’s exactly what happened. To be sure we can’t win consistently if he doesn’t have a passing TD but we showed we can run the ball and score with the run. Look at the balance; 40 rushing plays, 38 passing plays. 156 yards rushing and 329 yards passing. There is no doubt that the 3 man line of ASU gave us more opportunities to succeed but you still have to execute.

Mitch was still under pressure at times but able to connect with both Xavier and Marques for over a hundred yards each. In fact Xavier is just 43 yards away from tying Ronnell Pompey’s WNMU D-II record for receiving yards in a season. Coach Murphy has started going 5 wide over the last couple of games, as well as the twins set and those formations seem to give us a better chance to move the ball through the air.

We’ve said that we need to run the ball more, especially in the red zone and Coach Clark made that an emphasis. Today we ran the ball 40 times for the 2nd game in a row. The previous 4 games we’d run it 22, 26, 16, & 22 times. In the wins against Highland and AZ Christian, we’d run the ball 34 & 32 times. Coincidence? All of our offensive TDs came on runs. And guess who got it the game offensively? Shiane Tupua. Fullback. We were able to punch it in from the 1 or 2.

Marques got 34 touches for a total of 246 yards; 29 rushes for 144 net, 5 yards per carry. 5 receptions for 102 yards. We said in the pre-game he needed 28-30 touches for us to win. He’s a playmaker and good things happen if you keep going to him. And Xavier; 9 receptions for 111 yards. Xavier gets open and catches the ball. Larry Young’s a dynamic threat and Xavier can no doubt make big plays but he’s the consistent playmaker in the WR corp.

The defense for WNMU had a good outing. Any time you can get 3 interceptions, 2 of which stopped drives at key times, that’s a good thing. We had been allowing 492 yards a game to our opponents; ASU was held to 393 yards, which is about their average. But too often we’ve seen offenses explode against our D and ASU did not do that. No one had a career day on Saturday.

We tackled better this game than we had been, that helps. A couple of key sacks and tackles for a loss to stop drives as well. But we didn’t give up any huge plays for scores. ASU got a 49 yard passing play on a misdirection but the long run of the day was only 14 yards. The DBs stayed behind the receivers all day and while we gave up some yardage, allowed them to convert some third downs, there wasn’t the moral busting, game changing big plays. I don’t know right now what was different but do it again.

I don’t know if there’s a direct correlation between staying over the top but we got 3 interceptions in the game. It’s a small sample size but let’s try that again and see if it works against Chadron and Black Hills. Let’s give some credit to Juwan Sumpter, he continues to be the most consistent and best DB from a pass defense standpoint. He leads the league in passes defensed and he had a couple key ones yesterday, including a pass broken up in the end zone. Alfonso Wilson continued to hit hard as well and is among the leaders in tackles for a loss.

The line played solidly and put pressure on the freshman QB; Shiane had 3 tackles for a loss and a sack. They provided the impetus for keeping ASU’s offense in check.

It wasn’t the eye popping big play making offensive game we’ve come to expect from WNMU. The D gave up some yards but not the points. Like we said, it was a consistent performance with guys making plays at key times. In other words pretty solid football. And it was a win because of it.

Winning record hopes dashed by loss to WSCU

October 26th, 2015 No comments

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Inconsistency doomed the Mustangs’ hopes for a winning record this season as they fell to Western State Colorado 45-28. The Mustangs took the lead early, 7-0, as they put together an impressive drive 68 yard TD drive that ate up just over 3 minutes of game time. WSCU put together the next 4 scoring drives, a FG followed by 3 TDs to build a 24-7 lead from which the Mustangs would never recover.

Give the Mustangs credit, they did play well at times and got the score back to within 10 but we just couldn’t seem to get over the hump, both offensively and defensively. The game plan did change somewhat with a more balanced offensive attack, 40 rushes and 49 passes. The team did improve the red zone conversion, 4-6 and they did run the ball in the red zone. It was successful when Gordie ran for a TD but we couldn’t punch it in from the 2 yard line with 4 tries. The offensive line is just decimated with injuries and it shows. The did give Mitch time to pass most of the time; gave Marques some good holes, most of the time; but it was those other times that made it difficult.

Once again the WRs and QB were on different pages several times with receivers either not looking for the ball or the ball being throw to them on a different route than what the receiver ran. Once again, there wasn’t a sense of urgency when it seemed it was needed. One of things that used to give us an advantage was putting the defense on their heels by speeding up the tempo every so often.

Tackling once again proved to be a problem for the Mustang defense. Austin Ekeler is a top notch back but of his 344 net yards, I would bet dollars to donuts about 200 came after first contact. It was the same with some of the receivers as well. That allowed Ekeler to have a 65 and an 83 yard TD run. And let’s not forget that a punter, yes a punter, had a 69 yard run for a TD as well. That play may have been the game changer as the defense had come up with what appeared to be a three and out and the momentum was swinging the Mustangs’ direction.

The coaches complain that players are doing things that aren’t being coached but some of it may be unconsciously being coached. During half speed run through or tackling drills, players are hitting each other high, above the waist. That’s what they are practicing and too often that’s what they are doing in games, just at full speed. I even had a coach tell me he’s come to the conclusion that some of the players on the field just aren’t as good as what they thought. Then it’s time, especially now, to put in the younger players. It’s going to accomplish two things; it will get them some experience for next year and it will shed more light on who’s really listening and trying to make plays the way they are coached. It may also tell us what positions need to be upgraded through recruiting.

This team has talent and there wasn’t any quit in them. They can make plays, we’ve seen it over and over. Certainly the lack of funding hurts because we don’t have the depth of talent at most positions. Nothing against any other players, but if Mitch goes down, Marques goes down, the talent level is dropping way off. Just look at what’s happened with the offensive line. But we also need to play with more consistency and if players keep making the same mistakes over and over, put them on the bench. I’d rather see a guy trying and doing the right things than a talented player giving up big plays that cost us the game. Maybe you can coach that less talented player up; just look at some of the teams we’ve played and lost to; they didn’t have the talent but they were more disciplined. Heck, even Highlands was more disciplined.

Western Colorado v. WNMU

October 23rd, 2015 No comments

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Western Colorado comes to Silver City riding high on a 2 game winning streak, their only 2 wins of the season, while WNMU is mired in a losing streak and needs to win out to get a winning record. Not the combination you’d necessarily want if you are a Mustang fan.

We’ve talked at times this season about the Mountaineers’ stud running back, Austin Ekeler; he and Marquis Rodgers are similar runners; fast, elusive, hard hitting. Ekeler is 2nd in the RMAC standings, 942 yards total, 7.0 yards per carry, 152 yards per game, and 10 rushing TDs. Marquis has dropped to #4 at 113 yards per game, 780 total yards and 7 TDs.

But what is surprising and probably overlooked is that Western Colorado is a much more balanced offense than they have been the past couple of years. In fact, these two teasm are eerily similar in many respects. Both have a top tier running back; neither has a very good offensive line. Neither defense is anything to write home about, as a unit but each has some aspect that is above average.

With a couple of big wins over the last 2 weeks, 62-23 v. BHSU & 56-7 v. NMHU, is now #4 in scoring per game – 37 pts per game, ahead of the Mustangs at 31 ppg. The defenses are in the bottom half with the Stangs allowing 39 ppg and WCU allowing 32 ppg. In total offense Colorado is right behind the Mustangs at 447 ypg & 512 ypg respectively. Both allow about 490 ypg.

One of the big differences is the Mustang running game, which to some extent, has forgotten about Marques is averaging only 117 ypg while Western Colorado puts up 190 ypg. Talking to Coach Clark, he also lamented the lack of a power running game in the red zone, saying that may be part of the reason we have been unable to convert red zone possessions into points, especially TD’s, the last 3-4 weeks.

The passing game for the Mountaineers is powered by Jr Brett Arrivey who is in his 3rd season at the helm. He’s comfortable in the system, with a 62.8 completion percentage, 1946 yards passing, 18 TDs v. 4 INTs and a 142.7 QB rating. They get about 281 ypg through the air. It’s mostly short passes underneath and they try to let the wide receivers get yards after the catch. The talent at WR is not stunning but they have a couple of solid route runners with good hands. Travis Haney and Darren Brady each have 25 receptions for 394 and 315 yards. Haney has 5 TDs and a long of 58 yds, while Brady has 2 scores and a long of 31. Compare that to Xavier Ayers with 59 receptions for 958 yds 4 TDs an d a long of 86 or Larry Young with 44 grabs, 659 yds and 8 TDs.

Defensively these teams are similar. For Western Colorado, the LB corp is their strength, for WNMU it’s the D line. Jacob Bernhard, Jack Millard and Jordan Woodyard are among the RMAC leaders in tackles for a loss, with Bernhard 2nd with 12 TFLs. They don’t get a lot of sacks in the 3-4 scheme but will get up the field and put pressure on the QB. Their D backs are OK, they can be beaten long. They’ve got 8 INTs v. WNMU having only 2 on the year.

The O line for Western Colorado is not big, not very athletic, and they have given up 15 sacks this year, while the Mustangs have given up 11. Our D line should be able to win the battle in the trench. But once again it will come down to execution of responsibilities as well as tackling. We aren’t going to flagellate that moribund equine any longer.

Watch for a couple of things to happen this week by WNMU especially on the offensive side, that should help our running game. Coach has also made a couple of changes to the O line to get some stability or positive consistency there. Defensively, you may see some pressure up the field and a lot of men in the box with the sole purpose of stopping the running game. But the DBs will have to cover man to man and not give up the big plays. Expect a high scoring game though, with the D for WNMU having a goal of forcing WSCU to put together long drives rather than quick scores.

Glassman sets record as Stangs lose to Mesa

October 19th, 2015 No comments

Mitch Glasmann

Mitch Glasmann put his name atop another list as a record holder Saturday but the Mustangs just couldn’t get past the Mavericks in Grand Junction. Once again, it was inconsistent play, especially from the offensive line and the back seven of the defense that caused the loss. Not to take anything away from the Mavs, they are a good football team and made the adjustments in the second half but the Stangs have the talent to beat this team.

In the first quarter it looked like it was going to be a long day as Colorado Mesa came out and ran the ball down the Mustang’s throat at will. Hubbard and Tan are good backs and the O line for Mesa is solid but too often the Mustang defensive players were hitting him and not wrapping him up or there wasn’t anyone at the point of attack. The offense wasn’t playing well either as the line wasn’t opening up holes for the running game, but was opening holes for the rush on passing plays.

Give the Stangs credit, in the 2nd quarter it was like a switch was flipped. The defense that gave up 250 yards and 21 points held the Mav offense to just 11 yards and zero points in the second. The offense was able to put together some drives and get 20 points on the board; the only score for CMU came on a 63 yard INT return for a TD.

While we came back in the second, the red zone problems remained evident. WNMU had chances to get points on the board but went for a FG on fourth and short; it was blocked. Shortly after that we got a FG after being unable to punch it in while in the red zone. Then we got a long TD and another TD to get to 20. If we had been able to get TDs on the first two red zone possessions, this is a different game. But even at that, we were down eight at the intermission and looked like we’d solved the issues of the first quarter.

Not so fast. Too many mental errors and an apparent lack of focus allowed Mesa to find the running game once again. While the offense continued to put up yards, interceptions doomed any hope we had of winning. A couple of the INTs were throwing mistakes caused in some part by pressure from the defense; a couple of tipped balls led to the other INTs. Once again there were times when Mitch and the receivers were not on the same page.

The running game never really got going, which is mostly on the O line. Still you have to keep handing off to Marques even if he’s only getting 3-4 yards a carry. He has the ability to break big runs at any moment. In some ways he’s a workhorse who gets better the more he carries the ball. I know the passing game was working but we were also turning it over through the passing game. In the 2nd half, we didn’t have the same big pass plays we had in the 2nd quarter.

And defensively, we allowed three Mavs to rush for over 100 yards. Hubbard could have had more if they’d kept him in the game but they took him out in order to get Tann some carries.

It was more of the same of what we’ve come to expect from WNMU; inconsistent play as a team due in large part to mental errors. There were individuals who had a good game but too often guys were out of position or trying to things, as the coaches say, “that we don’t coach”. But that’s been the story for too long.

Get Ready for a shootout

October 8th, 2015 No comments

Mitch Glasmann

One of the most exciting games I have seen in the last 14 years was a 66-67, 5 overtime shootout between WNMU and Ft. Lewis, and it was a homecoming game for the Mustangs. This week, we could see that score in regulation time as the top two offenses in the RMAC face off in Silver City; it just so happens to be home coming weekend. #8 Colorado School of Mines will bring their high powered passing attack to town to face off with against the Mustangs; this week, Mitch could break the career passing yards record in the RMAC but it won’t be easy.

CMU is first in scoring with 49 points per game while WNMU is fifth at 34 ppg. In total offense, Mines is tops at 517 yards per game with Western right behind at 498 ypg. Of course it’s passing that powers both offenses, Mitch and the Stangs are #1 at 359 yards a game with Mines #2 at 342 per game. In rushing Mines gets 174 per game while WNMU averages 139 yards a contest. But that number for WNMU is misleading given the Stangs have taken some huge losses on sacks; the two teams would be pretty even in that category. Also Mines has carried the ball 212 times while we’ve only toted the rock 135 plays.

Looking at the NCAA rankings, WNMU is #4 in the nation in passing offense with Mines #7; Mitch Glasmann is #3 in total passing yards with Justin Dvorak #5. Marques Rodgers is the #7 running back in the nation but is #2 in the nation in all purpose yards behind Austin Ekeler of Western State. Xavier Ayers is #4 in receiving yards with Larry Young II sitting at #32. TE Cole Spurgeon of Mines is 20th in the NCAA.

So have we set the scenario well enough? Mines comes into Saturday’s contest 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the RMAC. Four of their wins have come against below average teams, the other against Chadron State who does have a losing record. Their RMAC foes are a combined 2-13; South Dakota Mining and Technology does have a 3-2 record but 2 wins were against D-III or NAIA schools. William & Jewell is 1-4. Chadron held the Orediggers to just 28 points, 219 yards passing and 363 yards total. Whatever they did to Mines is the blueprint for slowing down Dvorak and his wide receivers. You also wonder just how good the Orediggers are given their light schedule. Trust me, they are good.

Cole Spurgeon is the top target; 6-3 235 Jr, he’ll line up at TE or WR. His speed is hard for most linebackers to handle while his size is a problem for DBs. He’s got 28 catches for 473 yards and 7 TDs. Nate Wiemers and Ty Young follow with 26 & 21 receptions for 324 & 248 yards per game. Wiemers is 6-3 180 & Young is 6-5 205. You know Dvorak loves the big guys and they’ve been able to throw it up and let the size of the receivers dominate the shorter DBs. Mines has 6 players with double digit receptions averaging between 17 & 10 yards a catch. They can make big plays but really don’t, it’s all underneath and mid range with some yards after the catch.

Compare that to WNMU where Xavier has 37 catches, Marques 34, Larry 29, then Evan Beebe with 10. Michael Ball as 9 catches. We have 3 guys with long receptions over 50 yards and that’s on multiple occasions.

As far as running the ball, it’s the Sam Seeton show for Mines and Marques for WNMU. You know about Marques. Seeton is a 6-0 205 sophomore who carried only 3 times last year. This year, 96 carries 473 yards (94 per game) with 6 TDs. He gets about 5 yards a carry and his long is 32.

The big thing for Western, offensively, is the play of the offensive line. It was dismal last week and hasn’t been above average since the first game of the year. This week we’ll see some changes in the trenches. Connor Mowat will get the start at center and Hakiteli Tuivai will move to right guard. Tuivai is making the move from D line last year to O line this year. The 6-0 305 lb sophomore was an all league selection as well as all region selection as an O linemen in high school. Mowat is a true freshman, 6-0 270, from Hawaii. He was a state champion wrestler; both have solid skills, good hand and foot work but need to learn the college game. Now is the time to see what they can do; it can’t be any worse than what we’ve seen the last 2 weeks.

They will go against a defense that is pretty solid. Third in the RMAC giving up only 16 points a game; fourth allowing only 370 total yards a game – 170 rushing & 200 passing. Again, they haven’t faced a good offense yet, nothing compared to what we’ll put on the field Saturday. Mines has sacked the opposing QB 17 times, has 9 interceptions as well. They run a 4-3 set; the D line is light weigh at 235/260/265/240. The ends have speed and all of them are tall, over 6-0. You look at the stats and the pressure comes from everywhere. They will bring LBs, DBs, the kitchen sink. D linemen Emmanuel Graves & Tommy Hoskins lead the way with sacks 3 & 4.5; Hoskins is tops in tackles for a loss with 6.5, Graves has 5, DL Andrew Renfrew has 4, LB Jeff Grenfell has 3.5 as does LB Drake Thenell. The stat sheet is littered with players that have 1 or 2 sacks/TFLs, fumbles forced, INTs. It’s just a solid, aggressive defense. The O line will have their hands full.

But we can also get to the QB, not to sack him necessarily but to put pressure on him. Dvorak is mobile, especially in the pocket and has only been sacked 6 times this year. But our D line will match up well against the O line of Mines; it’s just a matter of can they get through and get in his face? Dvorak completes about 68% of his passes and gets rid of the ball quickly. LBs and DBs will once again have to maintain coverage since he throws to so many targets. And of course, finish. Their skill players are big and strong and will not go down easily. Play solid technique and hit them low, which given their height shouldn’t be that hard.

It has all the makings of a high paced, high scoring game. But two of the last four, including the last one in Silver City were relatively lower scoring affairs. We’ve had more success against Mines in the last few years than any other good team in the RMAC. We’ll see what happens on Saturday.

Ft Lewis drops Mustangs

October 4th, 2015 No comments

You are bound to have a bad game once in a while, you just hope that you can overcome the mistakes and eke out a win. There’s no doubt the Mustangs had a bad game but Ft. Lewis is a much improved team and they gave us some chances to get back in the game but we just couldn’t do it.

6 turnovers are hard to overcome; who would have thought that Marques Rodgers and Mitch Glasmann would both have had turnover plagued games on the same day? That’s hard to overcome, even with Marques rushing for 202 yards on 21 carries. What makes it more difficult to overcome is the continued mental errors being made on both sides of the ball.

PJ Hall, FLC running back, had a career day with 25 carries and 193 yards. Statistically his day was comparable to Marques’ day but he’s no where near the runner. Marques has a rare combination of speed, power, and elusiveness. Hall doesn’t have the speed and isn’t as elusive; he’s more of a straight forward downhill runner. The thing that gave him a big day was the defenses’ inability to wrap him up. He often was hit at the line of scrimmage, the Mustang defensive line did a solid job of controlling the line of scrimmage but weren’t able to get a solid hit on him consistently. That leaves it up the the linebackers and defensive backs to come up and make the tackle for a short gain. Too often Mustang defenders were hitting him high and not wrapping up. Same with the QB, Doyle. He’s a bigger guy and you are not going to stop him or anyone else for that matter if you don’t hit them low and wrap up. When that happened, both went down easily.

The defense didn’t let the FLC passing game hurt us too much. Doyle is a solid passer but not spectacular; he does just enough to keep opposing teams honest. Juquelle Thompson is a solid receiver but we kept him relatively in check all day. But once again too often there were several yards after first contact because we didn’t wrap him up. Juwan Sumpter had another solid day for WNMU; really the pass coverage was better against FLC than it had been. We got 3 sacks on Doyle which was good. When you come down to it, lack of consistency and intensity was key.

Just look at the great goal line stand the defense put together to keep FLC out of the end zone after a turnover. The offense did what they needed to do, 2 plays, 99 yards and a TD. But on the ensuing possession the defense looked like they were relaxing and resting on their laurels, instead of coming out fired up and dominating FLC. We gave up a couple of big plays and a TD. That may have been the most significant drive of the game as it gave FLC the momentum and took away an opportunity for WNMU to impose their will on the Skyhawks.

Offensively, the offensive line crumbled in the second half. They played well enough in the first half for Western to put together some drives, giving Mitch some time to throw and Marques some room to run. The hole they opened up on the 92 yard run was beautiful. The FLC linebackers and DBs had moved out of the middle of the field and that’s all Rodgers needed. But when we needed to come back in the 2nd half, the line couldn’t block 4 rushers with 5 guys. Too often Mitch had a defender in his face as soon as he dropped back or got set to throw. FLC didn’t have to blitz and was able to use 5-6 defensive backs. When the QB is having to throw while running or can’t step into the throw, the throw is not going to be accurate.

To be sure, there were several times Mitch and the wide receivers were not on the same page; a couple of times the intended receiver was not even looking for the ball. A couple more the receiver was running a different route than what it appeared Mitch thought he was running. That could be an unheard audible or unseen signal between the two, but it still cost us because our receivers could have had a dominant day against the FLC defense.

There were a good amount of good plays made on both sides of the ball; but once again you look at a few plays that defined the game, on both sides of the ball. Every team, from Pueblo to Highlands to Alabama and Ohio State, makes errors in a game. The key is to not make them glaring errors that turn into big plays for the opponent. To a big extent, that really is what separates good teams from not so good teams. I have yet to see an opponent on the field this year that could match WNMU’s skill players. There have been one or two players on every team we faced that are good; but not with the depth that we have on our roster. The difference has been in the number of big plays they make or we allow, and the number of big plays we make or they allow. Too often the differential favors them.

Mustangs @ Ft. Lewis

October 1st, 2015 No comments

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One of the toughest things is trying to figure out how good a team is early in the season. That difficulty is compounded when your opponent has played 3 of their 4 games at home against lesser competition. Ft. Lewis College comes into Saturday’s contest with WNMU sitting at 3-1, 2-0 in RMAC play. Their lone loss and road game came against D-I Montana State, ranked #11 in FCS ranks at the time. That was a 45-14 loss. Their wins came against Oklahoma Panhandle State followed by conference wins against Black Hills and NM Highlands, 48-7 & 49-7 respectively. Add in that the team has 46 freshman and 19 sophomores, you’d think you have an inconsistent team with a lot of questions to answer. But they’ve done what Coach John L. Smith has asked them to do and they are 3-1.

Offensively, WNMU and FLC score about the same number of points per game, 39 & 38 respectively. How they get there is a bit different. The Mustangs of course have the top offense in the RMAC in terms of yards but so far it’s been the passing game that’s carried them; 401 yds per game with 14 TDs. Ft. Lewis is next to last in passing offense with 150 yard per game and only 6 TDs. But QB Jordan Doyle, 6-2 227 lbs SR, is very efficient. He completes about 61% of his passes but has only thrown 82 passes this season. Mitch by comparison has a 59.8% completion percentage with 1588 yards on 189 passing attempts. The problem with him, for the Mustang defense is that he can run the ball. He’ll run 9-10 times a game at about 5 yards a pop. Once again the line and LBs for Western will have to play contain to keep him from having big runs, which he can do. Last year he had several runs over 25 yards and was the team’s leading rusher.

This year the Skyhawks are a run first offense, third in the RMAC at 231 yards per game with 11 TDs coming on the ground. PJ Hall, 5-6 181 SO, powers the running game for Ft. Lewis. He played quite a bit last year as a freshman and has improved this year. He’s averaging 100 yards per game, 4.5 per carry and has 4 TDs. His long run is only 29 yards; that’s the 2nd worst among the top 10 running backs in the conference. Marques Rodgers by comparison, even with a tough game last week, is still #3 in the RMAC at 120 yards per game. The biggest difference between the 2 running offenses is the O line. FLC has a mixture of experience and youth. 3 of their 5 starting linemen have played together for 49 games with 2 redshirt freshman joining them. They are all in the 6-2/6-3 260-270 lb range. They play well together but will have their hands full with the Mustang defensive line which is the best in the RMAC. The key will be the play of the WNMU linebackers, staying home and pursuing once they see where the play is going; then of course, finishing…

The Mustangs have 2 of the top receivers in the RMAC; Xavier Ayers and Larry Young II. Xavier is tops in the league with 29 receptions and 507 yards; his long reception of 86 yards also leads the RMAC. Larry leads the conference with 7 TD receptions to go with 24 catches and 385 yards. His 71 yard long is the 3rd best in the RMAC so far this year. Marques rounds out the top 10 RMAC receivers with 28 receptions and 258 yards. As you would expect, FLC doesn’t have anyone with the stats that our receivers have, but Juquelle Thompson has big play ability and can be dangerous. The 6-0 170 lb senior was an All RMAC 2nd team selection last year despite only catching 17 balls. This year he’s already caught 15 passes for 258 yards and 3 TDs. He’s got a long of 82 yards. He’s also a top return man in the kicking game.

While the two teams put up a similar amount of points, defensively is where they really part ways. Ft. Lewis is third in the RMAC in scoring defense giving up only 19 pts per game (11.8 to DII opponents) while the Stang defense allows 34 pts per game. They are 2nd in run defense allowing 106 yards per game and have allowed only 4 rushing TDs. WNMU is 5th in rush defense allowing 175 per game and 6 TDs on the ground. While FLC hasn’t faced a strong passing offense that is anything like ours, they have a solid passing defense, allowing 229 yds per game and 7 TDs. We have allowed 271 yards per game and 13 passing TDs.

The strength of this defense is in the linebacking corp led by Jr Andrew Ike. The 6-1 185 backer also plays TE but is now more focused on defense than last year. He has 32 tackles but only 1.5 for a loss and 1 sack. Shane Nelson is his LB partner in the 4-2-5 scheme that FLC runs. He is solid and gets a lot of assisted tackles. In this scheme, the LBs don’t put a lot of pressure up field but they cover well and stop the long runs. What they haven’t really seen is a runner like Marques. The front 6 in the FLC defense won’t have the same speed as we saw last week against Pueblo, which means Rodgers should have the ability to turn the corner when he pops outside the tackles.

The speed on the Skyhawk D comes in the backfield. Theo Chambers, Daniel Walker, and Amery Duncan have speed; all have been or are returners/wide receivers. Their ball skills aren’t great but Walker is 6-4 and can match up with Larry Young. Our speed won’t be a big advantage against this unit but don’t be surprised if we come out throwing underneath the coverage, they will play off the receivers and don’t want to give up the big play.

This is one we can win on the road. But it will come down, as it always does, to discipline and focus. We’ve harped on those two issues not just every game this season but for the past few years as well. IF everyone does their job, maintains their responsibility and executes, this can be a victory. The offensive line doesn’t have to play great, just good; the defense doesn’t have to pitch a shutout, just make FLC earn every yard and if they are going to score, make them put together long drives; no big plays. We have more talent but we’ve seen what that means without execution and discipline.

Glasmann breaks record in loss to CSUP

September 28th, 2015 No comments

Mitch Glasmann

It’s one of those situations; you broke the record but the team lost a tough game. Hard to be really happy about the personal record while suffering through a game you could have won. Glasmann breaks the RMAC passing TD record in the effort but I’m sure is dwelllingg upon the fact that the team had so many chances to score late in the game and couldn’t get it done.

The tough thing about this game is it went pretty much like every other game with CSU Pueblo since they brought back the program. We stayed competitive in the first half and couldn’t get it done in the second half or the score doesn’t really reflect the competitive nature of the game.

The defenses dominated play in the first quarter and a half with neither team really threatening to score. Then someone somewhere flipped a switch and both offenses revved up their engines and began scoring almost at will. While Western started the scoring, CSUP was able to answer. The Mustangs then got a bad break and the T-Wolves intercepted a pass deep in WNMU territory. The Stang defense made them earn the TD but then the offense came right back and moved the ball down field into the end zone to tie the score at 21 going into half time. Both teams made some mental errors during the scoring frenzy that allowed the offenses to get some big plays but give credit to the offensive units, they forced the defenses into situations that created mismatches or confusion.

Then the T-Wolves came out of the intermission and dominated on both sides of the ball early. But Western would answer and get back within a score but couldn’t get the ball into the end zone or through the uprights for that matter. Western closed the game with 5 straight possession that got into the red zone but came up empty. The defense did a good job of recovering and keeping Pueblo from really pulling away as they have in past games. They got a key forced fumble and recovery that gave us good field position but again no points. There were some key mental errors on both sides of the ball; a bad snap on the extra point attempt; missed coverages; missed blocks.

Not being able to run the ball hurt but the passing game was outstanding. We saw what a defense with good team speed and discipline can do to the running game. Against Highlands, Marques was able to bounce outside and turn the corner. Pueblo didn’t allow him to do that, they took good angles and their speed forced him to run north/south instead of east/west. The receivers ran good routes and the game plan put them in position to get open and make plays. There was pressure on Mitch all day but the line gave him just enough time to make throws. Putting up 500 yards passing against this defense is damn impressive.

We knew that their running game is one of the best not only in the RMAC but in the country. McDondle got 193 yards averaging 8 per carry. Despite that, the Mustangs, especially on the D line did a good job. They also got pressure on the QB. McDondle had a couple of long runs to get his yards up there but I thought we did about as good as we could against him. Thompson did hurt us with any long runs scrambling. There were a couple of typical coverage errors that once again gave up big plays but the DBs did play better overall.

Simply, the Pueblo team is the cream of the crop in the RMAC. They have talent, play with discipline and are well coached. We had our chances but couldn’t get it done. Time to learn from it and move on to next week against another well coached team but much less physically talented. The Mustangs are not out of this thing by any means.