By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
After going through an un-Tarleton State-like 3-8 campaign in 2010, second-year Texans coach Cory Fowler is looking to change the culture of the program.
Forty-three of the 100 players on Tarleton’s roster are in the freshman class as Fowler tries to steer away from a reliance on transfers and build a program from the ground up. The Texans have also implemented an “air-raid” offense, similar to the one employed the last few seasons by Eastern New Mexico University.
Thus, the teams may have a similar look when they meet in a 2 p.m. Lone Star Conference clash today at Greyhound Stadium, something that may be beneficial to both defenses.
“In practice, we like facing our offense,” said senior defensive lineman Aaron Vaughan. “You can tell we’re used to that.”
Both programs borrowed the offense from Texas Tech. Texans offensive coordinator Lee Hays has spent time at Tech and West Texas A&M.
While the Texans are 0-3 (0-1 LSC), they’ve been in every game against quality opposition.
“We’ve played some real good teams,” Fowler said. “We knew when we made this schedule we’d have a young team. We’re starting from ground zero.”
The Greyhounds (1-2, 0-1) managed to break through last week for a 28-19 win at Oklahoma Panhandle State, but ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo acknowledged the performance was far from flawless.
“It was nice to get in the win column, especially on the road,” he said. “We still didn’t play our best football, but that’s the best Panhandle team I’ve seen in 20 years.
“We needed that game. We needed to show our kids we can win games if we do things right.”
A key play was sophomore Jayson Serda’s 89-yard touchdown return of the second-half kickoff, staking the Hounds to a 28-10 lead.
“It never felt like we got in a rhythm, but we came out with a win,” said Vaughan, a 6-foot-5, 255-pounder from Texico who will see action at end, tackle or sometimes nose guard. “We need this game to give us some momentum, and it’s a conference game.”
The Hounds figure the Texans will be looking for a little revenge from last year — ENMU won 35-10 in Stephenville, Texas.
“We caught them at the perfect time last year,” Ribaudo said. “They had a lot of injuries and it was the last game of the year.
“They’re a better team now. We’re going to see a different Tarleton football team.”