Another tough loss

November 22nd, 2015 No comments

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There were probably a couple of things you could expect from the Mustangs on Friday night at they took on Benedictine University in Mesa AZ. First, maybe they’d have a bit of a let down after the emotionally draining loss against NNM; second, Willie McCray would not have a good night after exploding for 39 on Monday. I think both came true, at least to some extent.

The Mustangs had been shooting well, not great, averaging about 40% overall while still shooting poorly, about 27%, from downtown. That goes against what the coaches thought might be the character of this team before the season started. There was a feeling that the team wouldn’t be able to get a lot of inside shots and might have to live and die off of the three point shot. But we’ve done a pretty good job of getting to the bucket so far; albeit against lesser defenses.

But they fell to 38% shooting overall against BenU, and still can’t hit a 3 point bucket; 5-22 (22.7%) on the night. They did shoot well from the line, 10-13 but BenU hit 17 out of 23 from the charity stripe. From what we saw, there was a bit of home cooking but the Mustangs don’t do a great job of creating contact to draw the foul.

Once again the Stangs out rebounded their opponents, 37-36, which continues a positive trend. And a big stat, Western only turned the ball over 12 times on the night, while creating 13 for their opponents.

The difference in the 8 point loss came on 3 more made three point shots and 7 more made FT’s. I know the math doesn’t add up, based upon that it should have been a 10 point win, not 8. But it’s BenU, in their first year of the program and it showed in their game management.

Emery Range didn’t continue his streak of double/doubles but led the team with 12 points on much better shooting, 6-12, than he’s had this season. Makhtar Fall tied for the rebounding lead with 8 in just 24 minutes after getting into foul trouble. Big thing for him was the zero in the turnover column.

As expected, Jordan moved to the bench and while it wasn’t a great performance, he did finally find the bucket, hitting 3-9 and 3-4 from the charity stripe, ending the night with 10 points. That’s what we need from him at this point in early in his career.

The scoring was fairly even on down the line, Tanter 9; McCray 7; Loucks 6; Aby 7; Kesler 6; Saenz & Fall 4. That’s nice to have everyone scoring in that range except that 2 of your starters, Loucks & McCray have got to score more. Between them and Tanter, they were 8-27 from the floor including 2-12 from downtown. Tanter did not get to the free throw line at all. While our offense is not necessarily predicated on the inside-out game, he’s still got to be getting inside and drawing some fouls to keep the defense honest.

While BenU didn’t provide the stats on how points were scored; our impression is that the WNMU defense allowed way to many inside the paint points. BenU had 17 assists as a team and got a lot of inside shots. We’ve got to be tougher inside; now understanding that Loucks and Fall both got called for tic-tac fouls inside which keeps them from being more aggressive.

The Stangs will get another chance at BenU in Silver City on the first. We’ll see if home cooking can spark them to their first win.

A thriller with a sad ending

November 17th, 2015 No comments

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The Mustangs were part of one of the most exciting games to ever be played on Drag’s Court, unfortunately they came out on the short end 107-108 against Northern New Mexico College after it took 4 overtime periods to decided the issue.

There were a lot of positives to take away from the night, as well as some negatives that have to improve. Willy McCray exploded on the night for 39 points, just missing the WNMU single game record by a point. He made some key shots, showed that he can get to the basket and finish, as well as hitting some key free throws down the stretch. He also played good defense and handled the ball well.

Carter Aby also came up with some big plays, including a three point shot to extend the game beyond the 2nd OT stanza. He’s not strong but played passably well inside and got some key rebounds and blocked or altered a few shots to force misses. Carter will get stronger and needs to play a bit more aggressively on defense, but there is a ton of potential there.

The Mustangs turned it over 33 times, essentially in a game and a half, but that’s still way too many mistakes. We also got out boarded by a ton. It didn’t help that Makhtar Fall fouled out early in the 2nd half. His presence inside was missed. Big Mac can be more aggressive offensively, looking for his shot more, as he’s got strength to create space and a nice soft touch.

One of the keys to staying in the game was the play of the younger/newer players. Emery Range had a double/double, very quietly. But at key points and for most of the OT, it was McCray, Aby, Range, Enriquez, Van Den Kerkhoff, and Weeks on the floor. Loucks, Williams, Tanter were all in foul trouble or not effective and on the bench. The performance of the young guys gives us reason to hope that the team will continue to improve as the season moves along.

Free throw shooting was good in regulation, 75% from the stripe in both halves, but it dropped significantly in the OT periods, as did overall shooting. Some of the shot selection in OT needed to improved, a few shots were taken too early in the rotation and the shooter was off balance or not squared up to the basket. Those things should improve as players get more comfortable with the system and their role in the overall scheme.

There is a lot of improving to do, defensively especially, but the light is there. It just needs to get brighter quickly. There will certainly be ups and downs but these are the types of games that the Stangs should feel confident that they can win in the future.

Mustangs open at home against Northern New Mexico

November 16th, 2015 No comments

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I know what some of you are saying, “What’s Northern New Mexico?” There is a college in Espanola and they’ve been around since 1901, or so they claim, in some form or another. They’ve been a junior college and a 4 year institution and come close to closing a number of times. They’ve been a high school with college curriculum, starting as a teacher’s school for Spanish language students. While most of their life has been primarily as a community college, they were given the OK 10 years ago to offer a 4 year degree elementary education and a year later the OK to offer any four year degree.

Athletically they are an NAIA school meaning they can take anyone they can get to fog a mirror. They offer basketball and cross country for both men and women. Until last year, they basically recruited Northern NM and into AZ. They were always small and fast. But over the last couple of years, head coach Riley Cordova has realized he can recruit from all over and has a varied roster, ranging from NM and AZ kids to adding kids from NC, VA and Egypt, Brazil, and Cameroon.

They are coming off a 20 win season and just missed getting back to back AII Conference championships losing the last game of the season in a thriller to the Ashford Saints. The Eagles are tabbed as the #2 team in their conference in the pre-season poll.

As usual they will try to play an uptempo game and will go deep into their bench. No one on the roster averages more than 19 minutes; in fact 4 guys average 18-19 minutes a game and only one guy gets less than 10 minutes a game, he gets 9.5 minutes a game. They are a mix of young players with experienced players; 8 freshman or sophomores, with 9 upperclassmen. 4 are transfers from other schools while the rest have been in the program.

The Eagles are 2-1, getting easy wins over Dine College & Future College, 111-43 & 96-65. Their lone regular season loss was to Arizona Christian, ranked #4 in NAIA(?), 61-79. They did lose to exhibition games to RMAC members, Adams State (91-80) and Colorado Springs (88-71). Both schools are pretty good.

Physically, WNMU and NNMC are similar with some decent size but a lot of guys in that 6-4 to 6-5 range with lanky builds. Like us they don’t have a ‘go-to’ scorer but a lot of guys contribute. Only 2 players average double figures with a whole bunch of guys getting 6-7 points a game. That means defense, team defense, will be key for the Mustangs.

Marcus Ellis, a 6-2 guard, leads the way with 11 ppg and a season high of 14 against ACU. He’s a decent 3 point shooter, 3-7 on the year, but prefers to get inside and create on his own. He is a solid defender and will get 2-3 steals a game but will also turn it over a couple of times.

Thomas Bullock, 5-9 guard, is second in scoring at just under 11 per game but he’s had a couple of good games, 13 & 15, while being held to just 4 against Az Christian. He shoots 75% from the field, having hit all 6 shots against Future College and 5-8 against Dine.

Their leading rebounder is Patrick Bendegue, 6-7 220 center. He’s grabbing about 8 per game and can get off inside, if he’s playing against smaller players. He was also shut down by ACU as they have players inside who can match up with him defensively. Makthar Fall will get the task of handling him inside.

As we said, there are a lot of guys who can score 6-7 a game. They are very active but for the most part create their own shots, their leading assist man has only 3 per game and isn’t a starter. They’ll push the ball up the floor and penetrate off of the set offense, looking for high percentage shots. They hit about 48% from the floor. They do turn it over a lot, almost 20 per game but they also create about 20 turnovers per game for their opponents.

They do not shoot free throws well, 57% from the stripe on 54 attempts. They also hit only about 31% of their 3 pt attempts. But they will out rebound their opponents by a ton as they crash the boards well.

In a quick overview, the Mustangs are relying on Makhtar Fall for about 15 a game while several guys are getting between 5-9 a game. We are shooting solid from inside, 43% overall, but terrible from 3 point range, 22% and the charity stripe, 46%. We have been out rebounding our opponents but need to protect the ball better, a lot better.

This is a game we can win and after losing two on the road to OPSU, we need to get a win tonight. We’ll go into more detail in the tip off show.

Mustang Basketball shows promise in two losses

November 15th, 2015 No comments

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WNMU basketball is in another rebuilding mode after a dismal season last year. But there seems to be some cause for hope in watching the team’s openers at Oklahoma Panhandle State on Friday and Saturday. If the Mustangs can learn to shoot free throws and not turn the ball over a million times a game, we’ll be at worst competitive and we’ll have a chance to win some games. I can say one thing, we look more like a college basketball team than we have in a couple of years.

In the season opener, WNMU outshot OPSU percentage wise, 40% to 37%; out rebounded the Aggies 49-34 (I don’t think we’ve had that big a margin in a decade); and had more points in the paint, fast break points and bench points. But we had 37 turnovers which led to 23 points in a 21 point defeat. Not to mention we hit only 12-22 free throw attempts and were 1-14 from downtown. The turnovers allowed OPSU to take 75 shots compared to our 55.

In game two, a 9 point loss, it was more of the same but not on as big of a scale. We improved our shooting percentage to 46%, including a 50% clip in the first half, while OPSU hit only 38% & 19% from downtown. We won the rebounding battle again, 44-36 and our bench added 26 points to 12 from their bench. But we went 10-22 from the charity stripe, the Aggies were 27-35. The Stangs had 23 turnovers leading to 23 points for the home team. You can’t overcome that many mistakes.

The Mustangs have some young players who are going to have to learn but each improved in the second game so maybe there’s some hope to see this team get better as the season progresses.

Bright spots include transfer Makhtar Fall, 6-8 220 Sr, who led the Mustangs in scoring and rebounding both nights; 14 & 9 followed by 16 & 7 in the second game. He gives WNMU an inside presence that we’ve haven’t had in a decade.

Emery Range, 6-5 190 Jr, is another player not afraid to get the ball inside. He added 5 pts and 8 rebounds followed by a double/double, 11 & 11.

Steven Loucks, the returning Jr 6-7 190, didn’t see a lot of playing time on night one due to foul trouble getting 5 pts and 2 boards in 16 mins but he came back strong with a double/double as well, 11 pts & 10 rebounds.

There are several young guys with potential to grow into solid players and maybe a couple of stars in the group. Jordan Enriquez, Carter Aby, & Willie McCray all saw significant playing time and contributed to the effort. They will be inconsistent early but look for them to grow quickly into their roles.

Brandon Tanter, Brandon Williams, and Adam Kessler will all see more playing time, but one of them needs to step up and seize the role of floor leader as the ball handler. They’ve got to be enough of a scoring threat, driving inside, to keep defenses honest and they’ve got to protect the ball. Some of those turnovers are not on them, with a lot of new faces, guys don’t always know where to be and when the PG is trying to move the ball quickly, errant passes happen. It’s just like the timing between a QB and a WR.

There is room to hope based upon the performances at OPSU. Panhandle is a team that is similar to ours, they are coming off of a bad season with a lot of new faces. We just need to protect the ball, find a couple of consistent scorers and continue to rebound, block shots and hustle. We’ll get some wins if that happens.

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.

And there are still 2…

November 2nd, 2015 No comments

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It’s a mild surprise but it’s one we said could happen, Mesa went down to Golden and got a win over Colorado Mines to remain undefeated and set up a showdown with CSU Pueblo. For once, there was a big surprise in the results.

But first, Pueblo went on the road to get an easy win at Black Hills State. The running game of Pueblo continued to dominate, which makes for a good playoff run, as Cameron McDondle ran for 248 yards and 3 TDs. He carried the ball 30 times and continues to lead the nation in rushing yards, 1783, rushing yards per game, 199.2, and rushing TDs, 22. Black Hills remains winless. Pueblo remained ranked #4 in the nation as everyone in the top 7 won this week.

Mesa entered the weekend at #19 and hit the road to visit #12 Mines. Mines’ QB Justin Dvorak did not play ostensibly due to injury. Without their high powered QB the was inconsistent and turnovers killed them. 2 INTs thrown by their freshman QB, the first returned by CSM for a TD; the first score of the game. 2 lost fumbles also led to scores by CSM. Mesa only threw for 189 yards, 72 coming on a key TD play late, and they only ran for 157. CSM threw for 227 and ran for 234 but couldn’t get over the hump. Give Mesa credit for winning despite not playing that well, a road win at Mines is a big thing. Mesa moves up to #16 while Mines with two straight losses drops to #21. Mines’ hopes for a post season bid are done.

Ft. Lewis moved back above .500 with a solid road win at Western State Colorado, 39-24. Ft. Lewis ran for 366 yards, 112 coming from someone named Obgonnaya. PJ Hall, who killed WNMU only had 75. 3 QBs combined for 12-14 and 210 yds with 3 TDs. But it was the FLC defense that held Austin Ekeler to only 107 yards rushing and no TDs. FLC converted all 5 trips into the red zone and won the time of possession battle by 17 minutes. Key stats.

And no one saw this coming. I’d have bet my own money that NM Highlands was not only going to lose but would get trounced as they traveled to Chadron St. But the team formerly known as NM Correctional Facility got a 24-16 win for their first victory of the year. Thank goodness we won since wouldn’t want to be tied with them in the conference standings! Highlands had a balanced attack but held Chadron to just 221 of total offense. And talk about time of possession wins; 40 to 20 minutes in favor of Highlands. Chadron either comes to Silver City next week demoralized or pissed off.

Of course the big game this weekend will be Mesa at Pueblo. Mesa won’t be able to stay with Pueblo and that means the RMAC will likely have just one team in the post season; Pueblo. The T-Wolves’ running game is just too good and Mesa’s not ready for that. Their only hope is to get a time of possession win similar to what Highlands got last Saturday and score on almost every possession.

Highlands will look for win #2 and should get it against Black Hills State in Las Vegas while Adams State and Ft. Lewis battle it out in a rivalry game. Give the edge, a big one, to FLC. Western State will be at Mines, if Dvorak is back at the helm, Mines wins this one. If not it’s a toss up with an edge to Mines for being at home. Chadron will visit the Mustangs.

Hat tip to Alfonso Wilson for being named Defensive POTW in the RMAC!

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.

And then there were 2

October 29th, 2015 No comments

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After last week’s action, there are now 2 unbeaten teams in the RMAC standings, Colorado Mesa and CSU-Pueblo. With Pueblo’s drubbing of Mines, they moved up to #4 in the rankings, while Mines dropped to #12. Mesa moved up to #19 in the latest poll.

The big surprise this week was once again, not who won but how easily they won. Pueblo put a whooping on Mines, 49-21. The Pueblo D was able to expose the weaknesses in Mines’ how powered offense. Not to mention that Cameron McDondle ran for 304 yards, which helped to eat up clock time and keep Mines’ offense on the sideline.

Colorado Mesa had a tougher time on the road against Ft. Lewis but came away with the 8 point victory, 21-13. They needed big plays to get the win, a 74 yard run and 71 yard reception got the first two scores of the game. Now they get to host Mines next Saturday before going to Pueblo the following week. Maybe they were looking ahead a little bit? After a quick start, FLC drops to 3-3 in the conference.

The rest of the games were the ‘eh’ games, teams just playing to salvage their seasons. Chadron came from behind to get the win over Black Hills State, 39-38; a much closer score than predicted getting them to 3-3 as well. Adams State got a rare road win over NM Highlands to pull to 3-3 in the RMAC. Highlands stays winless. Of course, the Mustangs dropped the game to Western State, who is also now 3-3 in conference play.

We’ll just point this out quickly; Western State players were selected across the board as Players of the Week in the RMAC. Ekeler for his offensive performance; Jacob Bernhard got the nod defensively with 20 tackles; punter Dakota Swinehart special teams, mostly for his fake punt TD.

The key game this week will be Mesa at Mines. A win by Mesa should set up another battle of undefeated teams the following week and will effectively take Mines out of the post season picture. Mesa has the blueprint, a good defense and a strong running game to beat Mines. But Mines is playing with a sense of desperation and we know that a good passing game can put up yards on Mesa; Mines will do a better job of scoring and should get the win.

Pueblo travels to Black Hills State for an easy win. They won’t be overlooking anyone at this point.

And then the ‘eh’ games that only fans of the involved teams will be interested in watching. Highlands will make the trek to Chadron for another loss. Ft. Lewis will hit the road to take on Western State in a battle of two teams on the rise. Give the edge to the home team and their running game but don’t be surprised if they have a bit of a let down and FLC comes away with a close win.

WNMU will hit the road to take on Adams State, always tough at home… more on that tomorrow.

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.