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Thread: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

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    Default Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    Please keep in mind the info I have is based upon my own research into stats, last year’s two-deeps, and watching last year’s games. I have not spoken with any head coaches.

    Teams (in order of GAC Coaches Poll rankings)
    Southern Arkansas

    SAU returns seven on offense, including QB Barrett Renner, RB Michael Nunnery, WRs Jonathan Weisheit and Karonce Higgins, and TE Tanner Hudson. Defensively they return nine players.
    They return intact one of the best offenses and best defenses in the GAC. The big questions I see with the Muleriders are 1) can they keep from committing turnovers on both offense and special teams in big games, 2) while they overcame the Henderson hump last year, can they overcome the Harding hump (having lost 11 straight to HU), and 3) they have a new DC, Trent Figg, who probably won’t change the defensive system, but they still have to get used to how he runs things. Another issue to note, Figg came from being the DC at William Jewell the past two years—one of the worst defenses in one of the worst leagues in D2, the GLVC. Granted, he has far more talent at SAU to work with than he ever had at William Jewell.

    Harding
    Harding returns five starters on offense, including three on the offensive line. Defensively, they return three starters, all in the secondary.
    My thoughts on Harding are that while it’s a talented team, it’s an inexperienced team. Outside of inexperience, I don’t see too many issues with Harding’s defense as they have a decent track record in recent years of reloading defensively without skipping a beat. While having three returning starters on the o-line will help, having to replace QB Park Parrish and RB Michael Latu is a pretty tall order for the triple option offense. The biggest issue for the Bisons I see is that they need to develop more of a passing game to complement the triple option (similar to what Carson-Newman in the SAC does).

    Henderson State
    Henderson returns 8-9 guys on offense and seven on defense. The return of four starters on the o-line and RB Jeremy Wilson is a good start, but the loss of RB Jaquan Cole and WRs Courtney Whitehead and Al Lasker will definitely hurt.
    With new DC Tony Tademy, I expect a new defensive system, switching from a 3-4 to a 4-2-5, given that is what TCU (where he’s coming from) has traditionally run. The big concerns I see for the Reddies are 1) offensively they are still rotating between Andrew Black and Evan Lassiter at QB, which really doesn’t allow for any sort of offensive rhythm/gelling to be established, especially with the loss of some key offensive skill players, and 2) defensively they have a new DC presumably implementing a completely new defensive scheme that may not be a good fit for the Reddies given their current personnel.

    Ouachita Baptist
    Ouachita returns seven on offense, including three on the offensive line, QB Austin Warford, RB Kris Oliver, and WRs Allie Freeman and Drew Harris. Defensively they return six (possibly as many as eight).
    With the amount of experience returning on their high-powered offense, along with placekicker Cole Antley, Ouachita should be able to rack up the points and yards. The big issue I see for Ouachita is their defense. They return most of a defense that gave up almost 32 ppg and 424 ypg (275 ypg through the air). While I expect the Tigers to continue their streak of winning seasons, they are likely to struggle in their efforts to improve on their 7-4 record because the majority of the offenses in the GAC incorporate a significant amount of passing.

    Southeastern Oklahoma
    SE have six returning starters on offense, including all five offensive linemen and QB C.B. Cantwell. Defensively they return four starters.
    The loss of WR Kaymon Farmer and RB duo Ronnie Green and Devlon Wortham will most likely keep them from having the offensive production like what they’ve had the past few seasons. Losing as many as they did on defense might give SE the fresh start that they need to build up a conference contender defense. The biggest issues for SE: 1) Will the other offensive skill players around Cantwell step up? 2) Will the new defense get back on a similar 2015 trajectory or will it revert back towards what we saw last year?

    Arkansas Tech
    Offensively, Tech returns around six starters, most of them at the skill positions. Key players returning are QB Ty Reasnor and the RB duo of Bryan Allen and Braden Stringer. Defensively, they return around six, mostly in the secondary.
    Last year, the big issue for Tech was injuries on both sides of the ball. Though they lost half their starters to injury for the season, Tech still had a winning record. Of the five games they lost, four of them were by one possession. I expect Tech’s defense to be back in the mix (as they usually are most years) and their run game to be in the top tier of the GAC once again. Tech’s biggest issues are 1) can they stay healthy, particularly on the offense side of the ball, and 2) will they have receivers that can step up in their limited passing game since they lost all their big playmakers at receiver?

    Southwestern Oklahoma
    SWOSU returns eight on offense, including all five offensive linemen and RB Karltrell Henderson. They return five starters on defense.
    Losing QB Marc Evans and WR D.J. Jones will negatively impact offensive production. On the defensive side they lost some key playmakers from a defense that was middle of the pack. Here is my big concern. The last time SWOSU lost a really good QB to graduation yet returned most of the rest of their offense and a good chunk of their defense, they ended up having a 3-win season, which included an OT win against SNU. Can the Bulldogs actually show an ability to reload and at least get into the post-season mix?

    Arkansas-Monticello
    Offensively, the Boll Weevils return around eight starters including 4 starters on the o-line, along with QB Cole Sears and WR Jalen Tolliver. Defensively, UAM returns around 6 starters.
    The offense overall made improvements especially in scoring and the run game. The defense took a step back last year, however, in fairness, part of that is attributable to the changeover in defensive schemes (Boll Weevils went to a 3-4 scheme). Their new DC, Darren Drago, comes from Henderson (where he was the linebackers and the strength and conditioning coach) where they also ran a 3-4 scheme. If UAM is going to finally break through into a winning season, then the Boll Weevils must do two things. First, the o-line must continue to improve in both pass protection and the run game. Second, the defense has to actually make stops.

    Northwestern Oklahoma
    The Rangers return seven on offense. Defensively they return five.
    Northwestern’s offense lost their starting QB Reid Miller and four of their top five receivers. While they return three starting offensive linemen, I’m not sure the aforementioned losses (on an offense that is passed based) will allow them to have the same offensive production as last year. I see a lot of big question marks on defense with the loss of several playmakers and the hiring of DC Ken Gordon, who comes from Nebraska-Kearney--one of the worst defenses in the MIAA during his tenure. In fairness to Gordon, Kearney wasn’t exactly a hotbed of defensive talent when he arrived.

    East Central
    East Central returns eight on offensive, including four offensive linemen and QB Jackson Lamb (who had 1000 yards passing in 6 games before he suffered a season-ending injury). They return seven from one of the league’s bottom tier defenses.
    After a collapse that led to a 1-10 season, the Tigers return a lot from last year’s team. The loss of WR David Moore is a big blow to ECU’s hopes of reviving their offensive prowess. ECU needs to add a run game that can complement their pass heavy offense. The big issue: will ECU learn from last year and make the needed improvements?

    Oklahoma Baptist
    OKBU returns ten on offense and five on defense.
    Returning four starting offensive linemen plus QB Dezmond Stegall, RB Isaiah Mallory, and WRs Josh Pettijohn, Stephan Turner, and Cagney Roberson will definitely provide some offensive weapons with which to improve upon last year. I think they could increase their number of wins. However, OKBU lost a lot of defensive playmakers, and they need the ability to make defensive stops to get those extra wins. Another issue I see is needed depth on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Bison must improve depth on both lines if are to have a chance at breaking out of the bottom tier. The final two issues I see are 1) can they finish when they have the lead, and 2) can they get over the Southern Nazarene hump?

    Southern Nazarene
    They return six on offense, eight on defense.
    What is there to really say about the Crimson Storm? Looking at the positive: the new style of offense and defense netted them two wins last season…more D2 wins than all previous seasons combined since they joined the GAC. Also, they had a better record than ECU. They will need to continue to improve through recruiting.


    New regional realignment
    With the new regional realignment, the GAC’s silo scheduling will hurt the conference come playoff selection time—both in terms of number of GAC playoff participants and playoff seeding. Many of the GLIAC teams have two OOC games, and many of the GLVC teams have at least three, if not four. Having looked at who some of the OOC games are for the GLIAC and GLVC, they are going to potentially have several teams with stronger SOS’s than any GAC teams. Given that the football committee has hinted that it prefers to reward teams scheduling OOC games, I think it very possible that we could see instances where 2-loss GLIAC and GLVC teams get in over a 1-loss GAC team. Playoff teams from the GLIAC and GLVC with the same record as a playoff team from the GAC will more likely have a higher seed. If the GAC wants to avoid this problem they need to schedule two OOC games. Two reasons for scheduling two OOC games: 1) Puts the GAC on at least a similar SOS playing field as the GLIAC, while avoiding diminishing returns that comes with playing 4 OOC games. 2) Two OOC games will help make scheduling easy for GAC teams as they will be able to rotate which travel partner pairings do not play every two years, as opposed to rotating every year which teams do not play one another.
    Last edited by Armo Wood; 08-16-2017 at 12:10 AM.

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    Default Re: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    This write up is like a Rib Eye Steak dinner that I have been waiting on for months. Good job Armo and thanks. Football in the GAC is 16 days away and this should help with folks making pick considerations or maybe a chance to add to their team updates.

    Look forward to other comments.

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    Default Re: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Redready View Post
    This write up is like a Rib Eye Steak dinner that I have been waiting on for months. Good job Armo and thanks. Football in the GAC is 16 days away and this should help with folks making pick considerations or maybe a chance to add to their team updates.

    Look forward to other comments.
    I'll miss talking to you guys about football. Maybe during basketball?

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    Default Re: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by laker View Post
    I'll miss talking to you guys about football. Maybe during basketball?
    Well, we have to stay in touch, so whatever it takes I'm in.

  5. Default Re: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    Ty Armo for your thoughts. There are a few exciting players to watch including Jacob Peyton, Horatio Smith, and Maurice Wright this coming season. The Offense finished in the mid to lower half of the Conference in the key stats and on a team that has totally emphasized building that side of the ball in recent years that has to improve. Replacing a QB who racked up some big numbers albeit mostly against the bottom level Defenses in the Conference along with the fact he was kept in entire games that were out of hand against others 2's and 3's is a challenge. Not 1 player on the current roster took a game time snap here in the last 2 years. Against top Defenses the Rangers Offense struggled, were stymied and became stagnant. They have to find a way to move the ball and score on everybody.


    Defensively Coach Gordon inherits what he left, a team that hasn't been a hotbed of talent aside from Joby St. Fleur and Jordan Norris who were brought along and developed nicely. This is the year we find out if recent recruiting has been a success. Of major concern to me and others I have talked to is the fact that Gordon was out interviewing for other DC jobs almost right after he came here and reviewed the situation. It's very difficult to get your players to buy into total team commitment when they see Coaches who are looking to get out just after they arrive. A number of other Coaches have left and that gives me pause.

    One more thing that needs to happen before this team can move forward is to quit living in the past. Far too often interviews, comments, coaches shows, game broadcasts, and even promotional ads/tweets go back to 20 years ago and the team that was (playing at a lower level of ball). I know of nobody who really cares much at all what happened back then before some of the students here were even born. It's far past time to move on.

    This is Coach Walters 3rd year and that is the year where typically a team makes a big step forward after transitioning to a new Coach if it is going to. The pressure is on to produce a winner this year. There are 3 games on the schedule that should not be lost. That's half way to being a winner. Another 2 or 3 wins should come from an improving program over middle of the pack teams. Anything less than 6-5 or 7-4 would be a big disappointment to me.

    #RRR

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    Default Re: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    That was a good write up on your team Racous Ranger. Add that to what Armo wrote and it looks like it's FB season. Need some other Ar and Ok inputs from posters.
    I have made my week one picks and it's going to be an interesting week to say the least. Several games can go either way, but I still had to make a choice. I believe in most picks I went with historical performance. Again that would be MOST!! picks.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Racous Ranger View Post
    ...Of major concern to me and others I have talked to is the fact that Gordon was out interviewing for other DC jobs almost right after he came here and reviewed the situation. It's very difficult to get your players to buy into total team commitment when they see Coaches who are looking to get out just after they arrive...
    If this is true--and I have no reason to doubt you Racous--this is disconcerting on so many levels. That Gordon was interviewing so quickly, says so many things about him as a coach, most are not good.

    As you rightly point out that will negatively impact morale. I hate to say this, but as long as he is there, under that kind of cloud, NWOSU is not likely to see any defensive improvements. If the Rangers cannot improve defensively, I think with their style of offense they will struggle to improve beyond four (maybe five wins) a season.
    Last edited by Armo Wood; 08-18-2017 at 07:13 PM.

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    Default Re: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Armo Wood View Post
    Please keep in mind the info I have is based upon my own research into stats, last year’s two-deeps, and watching last year’s games. I have not spoken with any head coaches.



    East Central
    East Central returns eight on offensive, including four offensive linemen and QB Jackson Lamb (who had 1000 yards passing in 6 games before he suffered a season-ending injury). They return seven from one of the league’s bottom tier defenses.
    After a collapse that led to a 1-10 season, the Tigers return a lot from last year’s team. The loss of WR David Moore is a big blow to ECU’s hopes of reviving their offensive prowess. ECU needs to add a run game that can complement their pass heavy offense. The big issue: will ECU learn from last year and make the needed improvements?

    ECU earned this write up last year with a less than stellar performance. I know they are a lot of returning players on the roster, but I think there will be some new faces at some starting roles via JUCO and other college transfers. Losing David Moore is huge (he is having a great preseason for Seattle, btw), so we will need some WR's to step up. Our defense was atrocious last year. We have a young DC who I think is doing a good job and getting better every year as a coordinator.

    I am optimistic about the season. I truly think the Tigers are capable of a winning season.
    Last edited by TigerGuy; 08-24-2017 at 07:43 AM.

  9. Default Re: Preseason thoughts on GAC teams & regional realignment

    Last season was a little disappointing going 4-7 and struggling in games against the top of the conference. Hoping that this year will be better and some of Coach Walters recruits will be juniors and able to compete. Offense was improved last year from the first year and improved to the middle of the pack in points per game. Another year of improvement and they will be in the top half offensively. Replacing the QB is a big question mark for this team. The running game was sub par and ended up being 11th in the conference. If they can't improve on running the ball the new qb will probably have a tough time getting any rhythm. If its anything like last year defensively I see it being hard to ask a new qb to go win games for you when having to play from behind and score on every possession. New defensive coordinator seems to be well liked but I am confused and disappointed to here that he may have been looking to leave for another job so soon. I agree that may spell trouble and another repeat of horrid ranger defense in 2017. With that being said and trying to find some hope for this season, if you look at the GAC stats NWOSU defense was dead last in total defense so rankings wise it can't get any worse. I had my hopes up for last season and the offense seemed to make strides while the defense took a step in the wrong direction. With what I am reading here it doesn't seem like we should expect much from the defense again this season even with the new coordinator.

    Offense - Improvement may be slower without a quarterback returning. Run game has to improve to win games.

    Defense - Looked like swiss cheese last season. Dead last so improvement may not be such a far removed thought. However, it doesn't sound like they have a whole lot of talent to work with.

    Overall - 5-6 is reasonable. Certainly not the run up the conference ladder like I had hoped this year would be.

    Best Case - 15-0 New QB steps in and takes offense to another level. Defense understands it is supposed to tackle and prevent opponent from crossing goal line.

    Worst Case - 2-9 New QB is no Reid Miller and the defense is the same, not worse because that seems impossible.


    GAC Final Standings:

    Henderson
    Southern Arkansas
    Ouachita Baptist
    Harding
    Southeastern
    Arkansas Tech
    Northwestern
    Arkansas-Monticello
    East Central
    Oklahoma Baptist
    SNU
    Southwestern

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