By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
What you see isn’t always what you get with the Midwestern State football team.
When the Indians are on their game, they’ve shown they can play with anybody in the Lone Star Conference.
Even Midwestern State coach Bill Maskill says he doesn’t know what to expect from week to week.
“We’ve got good players, (but) we’ve been an up-and-down team,” said Maskill as the Indians (4-4, 1-3 South Division) prepared for today’s 6 p.m. clash against Eastern New Mexico University at Blackwater Draw. “I can’t tell you what we’re going to do.”
Both teams have come through a stretch where they’ve faced the top teams in the division. Midwestern was impressive in a 41-14 drubbing of Texas A&M-Kingsville and lost in the final seconds to both Angelo State and West Texas A&M, but the Indians committed seven turnovers in getting blown out at Tarleton State 37-7.
Even in last week’s 42-31 win over East Central, turnovers were a problem, Maskill said.
“We turn the ball over so much,” he said. “Last week we had three turnovers, and two of them resulted in touchdowns for East Central.”
Meantime, the Greyhounds (4-5, 2-3) are looking to end a three-game losing streak. Eastern’s last win was a 38-14 flogging of Angelo State.
ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said his team’s physical style takes a toll on opponents, but it also has an impact on his own squad.
“When we went on that run we were pretty healthy, and we were playing good football,” Ribaudo said. “But when you play the style we play, it tends to wear on you.”
Ribaudo doesn’t think the Indians, who were picked third in the LSC South preseason poll, have necessarily underachieved.
“Their WT game (a 47-44 loss on a last-second field goal) was just like ours (a 52-51 setback in overtime),” Ribaudo noted. “One bounce the other way and they’re right in there.”
Ribaudo believes it’s hard to project who’s going to win in the South from week to week. Previously unbeaten WT’s 58-53 home loss to Angelo and Abilene Christian’s 18-7 win over Tarleton last week were further examples of the unpredictability of the division.
“It’s one of those years,” Ribaudo said. “Everybody’s having that one (bad) game. You’ve just got to show up at the game and see what happens.
“There’s not a team in the South this year that’s not a good football team.”
Midwestern has been in every game down to the wire except for the loss to Tarleton. Maskill said the Indians are balanced on offense and have decent talent overall on defense.
“Defensively, we’re about like we’ve been,” he said. “We’re not overly big but we run to the ball. Offensively, we’ve been able to run the ball because we’ve been able to throw it.”
Midwestern State at ENMU
6 p.m. today at Blackwater Draw
Records: Midwestern State 4-4 (1-3 Lone Star Conference South), ENMU 4-5 (2-3).
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3.
On the web: www.enmu.edu/athletics.
Coaches: Midwestern State, Bill Maskill, 4th year; ENMU, Mark Ribaudo, 1st year.
Last meeting: 2004, the Indians beat the Greyhounds 34-20 at Wichita Falls, Texas.
Last week: Midwestern State defeated East Central 42-31; ENMU lost at Texas A&M-Kingsville 26-14.
Midwestern State players to watch: Ross Harrison, 5-11, 210, Jr., TB; Fred Moore, 5-10, 200, So., LB; Ryan Roberts, 6-0, 205, Fr., QB; Justin Foyt, 6-2, 238, Fr., DE.
Tidbits: The Indians’ only division win to this point was a stunning 41-14 rout of then-sixth-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville two weeks ago. … Midwestern may have as much depth as anyone in the LSC. For example, Maskill has made extensive use of three quarterbacks, all completing between 54 and 57 percent of their passes, and the Indians have seven receivers between 10 and 18 catches for the season — all averaging 10-18 yards a catch. … Except for a 37-7 setback at Tarleton State, Midwestern’s other losses this season have come by a total of six points. … The Indians have won the last three meetings with ENMU and hold a 6-4 lead over the Hounds all-time. … With five new head coaches in the seven-team South, Maskill is second in longevity to Kingsville’s Richard Cundiff (six years).
Quotable: “They’re right in there. They’re not a program struggling for athletes.” — Ribaudo, on how Midwestern compares with other top teams in the LSC.