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Mustang football loses LSC opener

September 12th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to 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.

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