Hounds ready for spring game

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Eastern New Mexico University’s offensive linemen, at least the healthy ones, are getting a healthy amount of work during spring drills.

Only seven have participated in spring workouts, coach Mark Ribaudo said, meaning several of those players are getting extra reps as the Greyhounds try to rebuild that group for the 2011 season.

ENMU winds down spring practice with its annual Green-&-Silver game, set for 4 p.m. today at Greyhound Stadium. The Hounds have one more practice remaining on Tuesday.

Ribaudo said the game will match the No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense (Silver) against the No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense (Green). It will feature game-like conditions, except for special tams.

The seventh-year coach said he’s generally been happy with the way things have gone.

“We’ve gotten a lot of work done,” Ribaudo said. “It’s been a great spring. We’ve had a couple great springs in a row now.

“We set goals for each phase of the game, and we’re hitting about 90 percent of those goals.”

That includes the O-line, despite its relative lack of numbers. Ribaudo said some of the linemen may get in for as many as 100 plays today.

Guard Jaime Villafuerte, who will be a junior in the fall, said his position is relatively well-fortified, noting that center and tackle is where the team has been a bit short-handed.

He said the hard work is paying dividends.

“It gives us more reps and helps our technique,” said Villafuerte, a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder from San Antonio. “The first couple of days (in spring drills) were tough, just trying to get used to our pads, but towards the end our bodies get used to it.”

Villafuerte started several games last season, and is competing with senior-to-be Chance Robledo for playing time on the left side. He played more on the right side last year.

“I was more confident on the right side, but I’m getting used to the left,” he said.

Ribaudo said 26 scholarship freshmen are expected to join the ranks when fall practice begins in August, along with 40 or 50 walk-ons.

They will start out behind the players who are currently on campus.

“With freshmen, you just don’t know how far along they are,” Ribaudo said. “You just have to go through two-a-days and see who can help you immediately.”