Joe Price

LSC Live United Bowl and Heart of Texas Bowl

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By Joe Price

Lone Star Conference Blogger

LSC News:

West Texas A&M Football Head Coach Search:

The search for the next WT Buffaloes Head Coach continues in full stride by WT Athletics. Director of Athletics Michael McBroom has indicated to D2Football.com that the search should be wrapped up and a decision made by the end of finals, which is the week of December 12th thru December 16th. This position has been highly sought after by many coaches across the country and in the state of Texas. I have heard and verified a long list of names that have applied for the position. For anonymity, I will not list all of those names. Former Missouri Western Head Football Coach Jerry Partridge has applied for the position and has received an interview. Partridge had a record of 149-83 and went 117-68 in the MIAA in his 20 seasons as head coach.

It appears that WT may be the only LSC football school looking for a Head Football Coach before next season.



NCAA Division II Bowl Games - Previews and Predictions:


LIVE UNITED BOWL GAME
Texas A&M Kingsville (8-3) vs. Southern Arkansas (9-2), 12 p.m. CST Kickoff
(GAC Sports Network)

Texarkana, Arkansas

This week's column is a collaborative effort between former GAC Columnist Armo Wood and LSC writer Joe Price. You will see comments from both writers in the preview below.

The Live United Bowl puts the highest finishing non-playoff teams in the GAC and the LSC conferences. This season those teams are the Southern Arkansas Muleriders and the Texas A&M Kingsville Javelinas. It has been quite some time since these two teams played in the postseason. For SAU it was 2012, beating McMurray by 1-point in the Heart of Texas Bowl. Kingsvilles drought has been going since 2010. The Javelinas lost in the 2
nd round of the NCAA Playoffs to the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats by 31-35 in a close game.


Season Statistics for Southern Arkansas and Texas A&M Kingsville:

Southern Arkansas
Texas A&M-Kingsville
Scoring Offense ppg
36.6
39.6
Scoring Defense ppg
24.5
23.5
Total Offense ypg
479.7
434.2
Total Defense ypg
331.4
333.7
Offensive yards per play
5.8
6.2
Defensive yards per play
5.3
5.1
Rushing Offense ypg
177
188.2
Rushing Defense ypg
147.5
96.3
Passing Offense ypg
302.7
246
Passing Defense ypg
183.9
237.5
Pass Efficiency Offense
145.7
167.7
Pass Efficiency Defense
110.2
128.1
3rd Down Conversion Offense %
44.5
46
3rd Down Conversion Defense %
28.9
35.7
Sacks By
17
45
Sacks Against
21
21
Tackles for Loss
62
98
Tackles for Loss Allowed
63
69
Turnover Margin
+5
+3
Time of Possession
35:04
32:59

Players to Watch:
Texas A&M Kingsville Javelinas
#8 QB Myles Carr 2,606 pass yards, 66% completion, 29 pass TDs/8 INTs, 121 rushing yards and 2 TDs
#33 RB Greg Pitre 622 rushing yards, 4 TDs
#1 WR/KR Anthony Autry 42 receptions, 686 yards receiving and 7 TDs
#6 WR Jordan Thomas 33 receptions, 511 yards receiving and 5 TDs
#88 TE Stehly Reden 22 receptions, 397 receiving yards and 8 TDs
#3 LB ZeMarcus Green 49 tackles, 5 TFLs, 0.5 sack, 1 BU, 5 QBhs
#95 DE Brandon Jones 46 tackles, 14 TFLs, 11 sacks, 1 BU, 4 QBhs
#7 LB Braedon Robinson 47 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, 2 BUs, 4 QBhs

Southern Arkansas Muleriders
#2 QB (So) Barrett Renner 3,167 yards passing, 26 TDs and 12 ints, 100 yards rushing and 1 TD
#3 WR (Jr) Jonathan Weisheit 58 receptions, 602 yards receiving and 1 TD
#7 WR (So) Karonce Higgins 45 receptions, 678 yards receiving and 7 TDs
#11 TE (Jr) Tanner Hudson 43 receptions, 694 yards receiving and 8 TDs
#21 RB (Jr) Michael Nunnery 1,017 yards rushing and 11 TDs

ARMO - Southern Arkansas Offense:
The Muleriders run a spread offense that is pass first, run off the pass. Look for Renner to sling the ball around, particularly to his three top targets: wide receivers Weisheit and Higgins, and tight end Hudson. Weisheit and Higgins provide speedy targets, while Hudson is an athletic tight end whose height and speed at the position create matchup problems for linebackers (too slow) and defensive backs (too small) alike. Just because Southern Arkansas (SAU) likes to pass the ball, does not mean they are incapable of pounding it out on the ground. Nunnery is a former fullback that was converted to running back. He is a tough runner that while unlikely to outrun the defense, will lower the shoulder to get the extra yards.


JOE Texas A&M Kingsville Offense:
The Javelinas run a pro-style offense that rely on the pass more than the run. The Javelinas will spread the wealth running the ball with several different backs and they have done so all season. Myles Carr has looked very much improved throwing the ball this season; however, he has trouble with added defensive pressure some times. He will run the ball if needed and has some great speed. One of his favorite targets is Autry with the deep ball. Greg Pitre has had really good success running the ball this season and has great shiftiness and breakaway speed. I really like the play of Tight End Reden this season, being a big target for Carr to throw to. Dont forget about WR Jordan Thomas, I think that he may be one of the unsung heroes of this offense. Lastly, the Javlinas offensive line deserves good recognition and will be a force in the trenches.
ARMO - Southern Arkansas Defense:
The Muleriders 4-2-5 defense greatest strength is in the secondary and its ability to defend the pass, but the defensive line has struggled to put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. On paper the run defense looks good, however, SAU struggled against three of the top four rushing offenses in the GAC. Another area of strength for SAU is third down defense. The Muleriders tend to be very aggressive in third down situation and come out on top a little over seventy-percent of the time.
JOE Texas A&M Kingsville Defense:
The Javelinas have a man-to-man defense with certain packages. The strength and heart of this team is the rush defense. They have the #14 nationally ranked rushing defense that is anchored by DE Brandon Jones. This also goes along with their #13 ranked TFLs in the nation. Basically, the D-Line and LBs get a great push and press into the backfield quickly to be the #5 team nationally in team sacks. The secondary has been a little susceptible at times and has bent but not broken. Kingsville has one of the better defenses in the LSC.
ARMO - Outlook:
These two teams are fairly well matched, come into this game with high powered offenses and suspect defenses. Having said that there are a few areas where each team has a leg up on the other. While both teams like to pass the ball and have the ability to gain yards on the ground to keep opposing defenses honest, SAU has the edge in the offensive passing game, while Texas A&M-Kingsville (TAMUK) has a slight edge in the offensive rushing game.
TAMUK has a very good defensive front that has recorded 45 sacks and 98 tackles for loss. The Javelinas are also very good, statistically, at stopping the run. However, the Javelinas give up almost 238 yards per game through the air. For SAUs offense to have a good day the offensive line is going to have to play better than it has so far this season. Yes, giving up 21 sacks is an improvement from the 26 the Muleriders gave up last year, but that is still not good in the overall scheme, especially when going up against a great defensive front.
SAU has a great secondary, and they have had to be, given the lack of consistent pressure the defensive line has been able to exert on opposing quarterbacks. While the Muleriders have struggled against some of the better rushing teams in the GAC this season, they have been good on third down defense.
I like SAU to win this game for three reasons:

  1. While both teams can pass the ball, SAU is the only one of these two teams that is good at defending the pass. Granted TAMUK has a great defensive front capable of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but offenses can adjust to that kind of pressure and TAMUKs stats show that is exactly what opposing teams have done and been successful.
  2. While I expect TAMUK to have some success against SAU on the ground, pass-oriented offenses forced to rely on running the ball to generate more of their offense tend to work themselves into three-and-outs quite often. Given TAMUK 46-percent third down conversion rate and SAUs 29-percent third down conversion defense, I see TAMUK getting a lot of three-and-outs.
  3. Magnolia, AR (where SAU is located) is only 53 miles from Texarkana. While this is not a home game, it might as well be one. Granted, I expect TAMUK to travel well, especially given that this is the first time they have been to the post-season in years. However, given Magnolias proximity to Texarkana, I expect the stadium to be packed with SAU fans.


Armo - Muleriders in a high scoring affair, 42-38

JOE - Outlook:
These two teams are matched well and should put on a good show for the fans. Both teams boast a great season record and get to have some postseason play action.
Southern Arkansas has a terrific offense and a good defense. They were really close to making the NCAA Playoffs this season but had an untimely lost to Ouachita. Most GAC teams dont get enough respect for their level of play but I am willing to bet that SAU is a team not to take lightly by anyone. They only lost to Harding (now playing for NCAA Quarterfinals) and the loss that I previously mentioned. They were perfect the rest of the season in wins.
The Javelinas had a really high-powered offense this season; however, the Muleriders had even more offense than the Javelinas with almost 500 yards per game. They do like to run the ball but use the passing game for the majority of their damage. I feel that they may really challenge the Kingsville secondary in this game. The Muleriders appear to be a step ahead of the Javelinas in the pass defense and that really could be the difference-maker in this game. I believe that the Javelinas will need to run more than they do on average to make up those extra yards.
I think the SAU secondary and Javelinas secondary is the real deciding factor in this game.

Joe I hate picking against the LSC but Ill take the Muleriders with lots of points being scored in this game.
SAU 40 TAMK 36


HEART OF TEXAS BOWL GAME
Eastern New Mexico (7-4) vs. Fort Hays State (7-4), 6 p.m. CST Kickoff
(ESPN 3)

Copperas Cove, TX

The Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds are headed back to the Heart of Texas Bowl for the 2nd straight season. They played in this game last season against Arkansas Tech in a high scoring affair, suffering a loss by 35-51.
The Greyhounds are 3-2-1 against Fort Hays State, and the teams have not met since a 30-23 loss in Hays, Kansas, on November 17, 1979. The Tigers have won the last two meetings between the teams.

Season Statistics for Fort Hays State and Eastern New Mexico:
Fort Hays State
Eastern New Mexico
Scoring Offense ppg
27.91
33.55
Scoring Defense ppg
22.18
24.18
Total Offense ypg
381.1
479.4
Total Defense ypg
359.5
337
Offensive yards per play
5.5
6.7
Defensive yards per play
4.7
5.3
Rushing Offense ypg
151.3
346.9
Rushing Defense ypg
147
96.4
Passing Offense ypg
229.8
132.45
Passing Defense ypg
212.5
240.6
Pass Efficiency Offense
130.24
168.7
Pass Efficiency Defense
122.95
133.37
3rd Down Conversion Offense %
31
40
3rd Down Conversion Defense %
41
34
Sacks By
32
30
Sacks Against
26
19
Tackles for Loss
78
80
Tackles for Loss Allowed
72
77
Turnover Margin
+9
+3
Time of Possession
28:09
34:28

Players to Watch:
Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds
#1 RB Kamal Cass 1,125 rushing yards, 13 TDs
#8 QB Wyatt Strand 1,216 pass yards, 58% completion, 11 pass TDs/7 INTs, 674 rushing yards and 10 TDs
#3 RB Tayshaun Gary 538 rushing yards and 4 TDs
#11 WR Aaron Johnson 38 receptions, 758 yards receiving and 5 TDs
#7 LB Brad Hardin 78 tackles, 9 TFLs, 0.5 sack, 1 INT, 2 BUs, 6 QBhs, 1 FF
#26 LB Desmond Blue 55 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 2 INTs, 4 BUs, 3 QBhs

Fort Hays State Tigers
#4 QB Jacob Mezera 2,342 yards passing, 16 TDs and 6 INTs, 50 yards rushing and 2 TDs
#2 RB Shaquille Cooper 825 rushing yards and 5 TDs, 354 receiving yards and 4 TDs
#9 WR Layne Bieberle 27 receptions, 409 yards receiving and 5 TDs
#8 DL Sie Doe, Jr. 76 tackles, 18.5 TFLs, 15 sacks, 2 BUs, 2 QBhs, 5 FFs
#40 LB Alex Schmidtberger 135 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 3 BUs
#5 DB Raheeme Dumas 32 tackles, 1 TFL, 6 INTs, 7 BUs,

The ENMU Greyhounds suffered some untimely injuries this season that plagued them throughout. The injuries ended up costing the Greyhounds a few games along the way. It appears that the majority of the team is healthy and ready to play against Fort Hays State.

FHSU plays in the MIAA and has a balanced offense and an incredible defense. On defense, the team is led by a dominant Defensive Line and the MIAA defensive player of the year in Sie Doe, Jr.
This will be an interesting matchup like most MIAA-LSC games can be. Typically, the MIAA has dominated the LSC in football but we will see if that is still the case.
ENMU Offense versus FHSU Defense
The ENMU Offense will be running their infamous triple-option offense that is #2 in the nation in rushing followed right behind #1 Harding that is still in the NCAA Playoffs. The offense will battle one of the best D-Lines in Division 2 and will have to try and maintain some talented defensive ends. The ENMU offensive line will have to play a major role in creating a push for the triple-option of ENMU. If the Hounds do have to throw the ball, most of those passes are going to WR Aaron Johnson. Stand has made some great throws but it is clearly not their norm to throw the ball frequently, only enough to keep the defense guessing and off-balanced. The ENMU passing game will probably not be a major factor in this game, which may give FHSU an advantage to send some safety blitzs to help combat the run game. The last time that FHSU saw the triple-option was in 2013.
FHSU Offense versus ENMU Defense
The FHSU offense has had a good balance this season with a little more passing yards than rushing yards. RB Cooper is on the 1st Team as the Running Back for the MIAA, which illustrates his ability at the running back position. The ENMU defense has been stellar against the rush attack, ranking #15 nationally in the run defense. However, what they dont give up on the ground, they struggle with in the passing game. The ENMU secondary has really had a difficult time stopping the pass dominant teams this season or teams that throw the ball well. I suspect that the Tigers will have some success in this area as Mezera has a very capable arm and passing game. The Tigers running game is good but does not appear to be as good as last season.

Concluding Thoughts: Overall, this looks to be a great game. It can be difficult some time to see where the LSC stands compared to the good MIAA teams. There is a considerable difference, especially on the defense side of the ball. I think the FHSU defense will be better than we all think and will throw the ball well on the Greyhounds. The question is this: can the Tigers stop the ENMU running game.

Prediction: Fort Hays State 34 ENMU 14

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Comments

  1. ccchhhrrriiisss's Avatar
    Great analysis! I was glad to the see the Javelinas win the upset.
  2. Joe Price's Avatar
    Thank you Chris! I was glad to see the Javelinas pull out the win in the wet conditions. They did just enough to pull it. Their passing in the 2nd half was critical at times and proved to make the difference.