Joe Price

Lone Star Conference – SR4 NCAA Playoffs Round 1

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Lone Star Conference – SR4 NCAA Playoffs Round 1

By Joe Price
Lone Star Conference Blogger

I’m sure that everyone knows now that my sweet baby girl Charlotte has departed this life and now sits in the arms of Jesus, after only 12 days on this planet. I know that this has been a speechless time and experience that I never wish upon anyone, especially my worst enemy. As Stephanie and I try to put our lives back together and try to become stable again, we appreciate everyone talking about her. We want her to be remembered and not forgotten. I want to thank the LSC Coaches (Wilkinson, Nesbitt, and others) that reached out to me and Coach Carthel for stopping by with his players to see us. I also want to thank the D2 Message Board posters that reached out to me via text. Those texts mean more than you can realize. If you are praying people, please continue to pray for Stephanie and me in this difficult time.

I told Brandon early this week that I wanted to jump back into writing as it is something that I truly love. I want to commend him on the great writing and stepping in for me while I was on leave.

I can say without a doubt that I may be the biggest fan of Lone Star Conference Football. We have some great teams in this amazing conference and great men leading these teams, as well as some outstanding players that have NFL talent.

The LSC concluded last week and was fairly eventful for the last week. ENMU beats Midwestern on the final play of the game with a 19 yard pass with time expiring. WTAMU had to fight back and send the game against Western New Mexico into overtime and win in OT. Other info: Angelo puts 70 points on UTPB; Commerce comes back from a deficit to beat Tarleton; and Kingsville puts on an offensive outing at OPSU.

As most of you may know now, WT has parted ways with Coach Mike Nesbitt. We wish him the best luck on his future endeavors.

Upcoming – December 3rd, 2016 – Bowl Games

The LSC has a total of 4 teams out of 10 teams going into postseason play.

Live United Bowl - Texas A&M Kingsville (8-3) v. Southern Arkansas (9-2), 12 p.m. Kickoff – Texarkana, Arkansas

Heart of Texas Bowl – Eastern New Mexico (7-4) v. Fort Hays State (7-4), 6 p.m. Kickoff – Copperas Cove, Texas

SR4 NCAA Playoffs Round 1 - Previews and Predictions:

#18 Midwestern State (9-2) v. #14 Ferris State (9-2), 12 p.m. CST Kickoff

Big Rapids, Michigan

For the second straight year, the Ferris State Bulldogs will host a team from the Lone Star Conference. Last season, JVL and the Bulldogs posted an 18-point win over Texas A&M Commerce. This season the Bulldogs may be the hottest team heading into the NCAA Playoffs. I believe that they are the team that we all have to be watching for with their season concluding on a 5-game win streak and all with 40 plus point wins and only allowing 23 points at most in the 5 games. On the other side, Midwestern State barely squeaked into the playoffs as the #7 seed while losing last Saturday to ENMU; and, beating out Ashland for the last spot. These teams are led by 2 great Division 2 Football Head Coaches: Ferris State Head Coach Tony Annese, 5th season, 46-11-0 (.807) – 1st meeting against Midwestern State; Midwestern State Head Coach Bill Maskill, 15th season, 119-45 (.726).
Ferris State Notable Losses – Ashland (9-2) on Sept. 24 (Score: 31-39); Grand Valley State (10-0) on Oct. 8 (23-35)
Midwestern State Notable Losses – West Texas A&M (6-5) on Oct. 22 (Score: 27-35); ENMU (7-4) on Nov. 12 (Score: 28-30)

Season Statistics for Ferris State and Midwestern State:
Offense FSU MSU
Points per Game 35.7 35.4
Yards per Game 494.9 422.9
Yards per Play 6.6 6.2
Passing Yards per Game 227.5 226.8
Passing Efficiency 138.3
Completion Percentage 60.49% 58.39%
Average per Rush 5.9 4.9
Rushing Yards per Game 267.4 196.1
Time of Possession per Game 29:11 27:15
Punting Average 44.1 36.4
Field Goals 13-18 6-13
Defense FSU MSU
Points per Game 21.4 24.3
Yards per Game 344.5 396.9
Yards per Play 4.9 5.1
Passing Yards per Game 238.9 196.5
Completion Percentage 56.60% 57.23%
Passing Efficiency 119.7
Rushing Yards per Game 105.6 200.4
Sacks 33 28
INTs 15 8
Turnover Margin plus 4 minus 2
Special Teams FSU MSU
Punt Return Average 7.2 13.7
Kickoff Return Average 20.3 21.9

Scouting Ferris State National Rankings
FSU Defense: 24th in Rushing Defense (105.6 ypg.); 33rd in pass interceptions this year (15); and 25th in sacks (3.00 pg.)
FSU Offense: 9th in Rushing (267.4 ypg.)
Punting: 1st in net punting (40.95)
DE Zach Sieler - TFLs (2.0 pg.) and Sacks (1.27 pg.): 4th in sacks and 7th in TFLs
DB Tavierre Thomas: 25th in Interceptions per game
Kicker Wyatt Ford: 17th in field goals per game (1.18 pg.)
QB Reggie Bell: 12th in total offense (312.7 ypg.)

Players to Watch:
Midwestern State Mustangs
#14 QB Quade Coward – 2,135 pass yards, 58% completion, 15 pass TDs/9 INTs; 376 rush yards, 4 TDs
#34 RB Vincent Johnson – 697 rush yards and 19 TDs
#7 WR Statron Jones – 408 yards and 2 TDs
#2 Safety Sir’Vell Ford – 69 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INTs, 4 BUs and 6 PDs
#93 DT Darian Childers-Brown – 36 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, 7 QBhs
#48 DE Alec DiValerio – 32 tackles, 10 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, 2 BUs, 2 PDs and 1 QBh
#52 C Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy

Ferris State Bulldogs
#7 QB Reggie Bell – 2,046 pass yards, 61.3% completion, 11 pass TDs/6 INTs; 1,081 rush yards, 15 TDs
#24 RB Jahaan Brown – 824 rush yards, 7 TDs, 204 receiving yards
#96 DE Zach Sieler – 60 tackles, 22 TFLs, 14 sacks
#2 DB Tavierre Thomas – 32 tackles, 5 INTs, 6 BUps and 2 TFLs
#37 Kicker Wyatt Ford – XPs – 48-50 and FGs – 13-17 (76%)
#60 C Jake Daugherty
#38 LB Anthony Darkangelo – 102 tackles, 9 TFLs, 1 sack
#13 P/QB Trevor Bermingham – 47.3 punt avg. and 72 long

Ferris State enters this game as one of the hottest teams in the GLIAC and the nation. QB Reggie Bell has taken up the reins from JVL for the Bulldogs. The defense for Ferris has played well over the later part of the season and held their opponents to an average of 18 points per game. For the offense, the Bulldogs have relied on the running game and have used good balance of the pass to help out when needed. FSU is led in the running efforts by their running QB Bell and RB Brown. I expect the Mustangs to get a heavy dose of run from the Bulldogs. The Mustangs have not been as good this season in the rush defense but still boast a decent run defense. Midwestern appears to be regressing over the later part of the season, instead of progressing like most teams and like Ferris State. I feel that the Mustangs have an uphill battle on taking on a really good Ferris State team.

Game Analysis: Both of these teams are coming in with very different momentum swings, like I previously stated above. The one issue at hand that I find in this matchup: the MSU defense is giving up 100 more rushing yards per game than Ferris State and 50 more yards overall; the Mustangs do have a better overall pass defense and that shows something for how much the LSC throws the ball. The Mustangs will have a difficult time running on Ferris State and will need to rely on the arm of Quade Coward. A good thing is that has been the story all season for the Mustangs. Midwestern State in the past has been a run heavy team; but, this season they have relied more on the passing game. The Mustangs should be used to the fact of a running QB (like Bell), as Quade Coward and many previous MSU QBs have run the ball frequently. However, the MSU D-Line will have to tend with a good Ferris offensive line to slow down the running game and put pressure on Bell. I believe that the Mustangs will need to have some key turnovers and favorable field positions to be able to pull out a win in this game. The key to it all: Can the Mustangs push the ball on the Ferris Defense…

I just think that the Ferris defense will just be too much for the Mustang offense to put enough points on the scoreboard.

Prediction: Ferris State 37 Midwestern State 24

#25 Colorado Mesa (9-2) v. #7 Texas A&M Commerce (9-1), 2 p.m. Kickoff

Commerce, Texas

For the first time since the year 1991, the Texas A&M Commerce Lions will host an NCAA Playoff Football game in Commerce, Texas (that’s only been 25 years or so). The Commerce Lions come into this game with good momentum and as the LSC Champions, with their only loss coming to Midwestern State by 1-point. On the other side, Colorado Mesa came up with a critical and crucial win over a ranked Azusa Pacific team last week. I believe this win last week propelled them into the NCAA Playoffs. This game will be the first meeting between the 2 schools in football. These teams are led by 2 great Division 2 Football Head Coaches: Colorado Mesa Head Coach Russ Martin, 5th season, 25-19 (.568) – Texas A&M Commerce Head Coach Colby Carthel, 4th season, 34-13 (.723).
Colorado Mesa Notable Losses – Black Hills (7-4) on Oct. 8 (Score: 34-48); Dixie State on Oct. 15 (Score: 31-38)
Texas A&M Commerce Notable Loss – Midwestern State (9-2) on Oct. 8 (Score 25-26)

Season Statistics for Colorado Mesa and Texas A&M Commerce:
Offense CMU TAMC
Points per Game 42.91 41.1
Yards per Game 506.7 461.5
Yards per Play 6.9 7.1
Passing Yards per Game 263.27 307.1
Passing Efficiency 142.68 167.26
Completion Percentage 58.50% 65.30%
Average per Rush 5.9 4.9
Rushing Yards per Game 243.5 154.4
Time of Possession per Game 26:28 28:10
Punting Average 37.9 41
Field Goals 22-27 15-21
Defense CMU TAMC
Points per Game 30.73 18.2
Yards per Game 463.3 381.1
Yards per Play 5.9 5.5
Passing Yards per Game 258.55 250.1
Completion Percentage 56.60% 63.50%
Passing Efficiency 125.66 126.41
Rushing Yards per Game 204.7 131
Sacks 17 16
INTs 14 (1 TD) 19 (3 TDs)
Turnover Margin minus 3 plus 7
Special Teams CMU TAMC
Punt Return Average 15.28 (2 TDs) 18.1 (4 TDs)
Kickoff Return Average 21 20.82

Scouting Colorado Mesa National Rankings
CMU Offense: 8th in Scoring Offense (42.9 ppg.); 9th in Total Offense (506.7 ypg); 12th in Rushing Yards per Game (243.5); 7th in Red zone Offense (90%)
Blocked Kicks: 13th in blocked kicks (6)
DB Dustin Rivas: 3rd in blocked kicks (four) and 22nd in INTs with 2.0 per game.

Players to Watch:
Texas A&M Commerce Lions
#12 QB Luis Perez – 2,802 pass yards, 66% completion, 27 pass TDs/3 INTs
#23 RB Richard Cooper – 927 rush yards and 7 TDs
The Entire Wide Receiver Core – 5 Wide outs with 225 yards or more
#5 Punt Returner Shawn Hooks – 18.00 avg. per return with 3 TDs
#21 DB Yusef Sterling Lowe – 45 tackles, 4 TFLs, 3 INTs, 4 BUs
#9 LB Brucks Saathoff – 50 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1 sack, and 1 INT
#11 DL Tavita Faaiu – 23 tackles, 8 TFLs and 4 sacks

Colorado Mesa Mavericks
#10 QB Sean Rubalcaba – 1,965 pass yards, 57% completion, 10 pass TDs/8 INTs; 287 rush yards, 2 TDs
#44 RB David Tann – 1,020 rush yards, 20 TDs, 520 receiving yards with 5 TDs
#85 WR/PR Josh Brown – 681 receiving yards and 4 TDs; 20.90 avg. per return and 2 TDs
#20 DB Dustin Rivas – 59 tackles, 5 INTs, 2 BUs and 1 TFL
#90 Kicker Ryan Sheehan – XPs – 51-51 and FGs – 22-27 (81.5%)
#63 OL Austin Fleer
#42 DL Blake Nelson – 99 tackles, 14 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT, 4 BUs and 13 QBHs

Colorado Mesa comes into this game with big play from last week to advance to the NCAA Playoffs. QB Sean Rubalcaba has been efficient passing the ball the past several weeks, going 22 for 33 last week in their win. Also look for QB Eystin Salum to possibly see some involvement as he gained some significant yards 2 weeks ago against South Dakota Mines (passing for 15-31 for 217 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INTs and rushing for 143 yards for 1 TD). The Mavericks have been balanced with passing and rushing on the season (rush: 243.5 avg. pass: 263.27 avg.). CMU appears to have some struggles on the defensive side of the ball by giving up 463 yards per game. I strongly feel that when it comes to the NCAA Playoffs that defense wins National Titles.

Game Analysis:
These two offenses should be quite a show to see. However, I am focused on the defenses in this game. But, both offenses almost average to a combined 1,000 yards per game. If you look at the defense categories, the Commerce Lions clearly are a frontrunner in the defensive statistics. The big factor is the yards per game with only 381 yards given up by the Lions defense. The Lions will need to continue to have a stellar rush defense (131 ypg.) and keep the momentum. The secondary has been a little more susceptible at times but have an incredible 19 INTs on the season with 3 TDs from the INTs. Look for lots of fireworks in this game but when it comes to it, I just don’t see the Mavericks slowing down the Lions offense in the running game or passing game. I think the Lions rush defense will give up more yards than average but will bend but not break. I suspect the Lions defense to be the MVP of this game to send these Lions on to the next round. Let’s see what the Commerce Coaching Staff has in store this weekend…

I think that the Commerce defense will be the deciding factor for this game…odd for the LSC right?

Prediction: Texas A&M Commerce 43 Colorado Mesa 31

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Updated 11-18-2016 at 09:14 PM by Joe Price

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