By Dave Wagner
Veteran Eastern New Mexico University football coach Bud Elliott doesn’t talk much about the possibility of winning his 200th game as a college head coach.
Right now, he just wants to see the Greyhounds win a game.
ENMU has dropped its last two games, leaving Elliott at 199 wins in 36 seasons, and hopes to reverse that trend in Saturday’s 1 p.m. season finale against Southwestern Oklahoma in a Lone Star Conference crossover game at Blackwater Draw.
Elliott said the Hounds (6-4), coming off a stunning 49-23 loss at home to rival West Texas A&M in last week’s annual “Wagon Wheel” clash, simply have to go back to the drawing board.
“We need to do more preparation for this outfit,” he said of the Bulldogs (4-6), who are coming off a 21-17 upset of North Division leader Tarleton State. “If we don’t come out of our funk, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Elliott, in his 10th season at ENMU, said he doesn’t think the team has lost confidence in losses at South-leading Texas A&M-Kingsville (44-26) and against WT.
“I just think the Kingsville road trip was hard on us,” he said. “And I think our kids thought, ‘Hey, we’ve had the Wagon Wheel for four years. This’ll be a cakewalk.’”
Like WT, Southwestern will spread a defense, using some four-wide-receiver sets. “We’re going to have to be able to handle that,” Elliott said.
Bulldogs senior quarterback Reade Box threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 149 yards and a score against TSU in earning LSC North co-player of the week honors on offense.
SWOSU’s Paul Sharp, in his 18th year as head coach, said preparing for a team like Eastern in a week isn’t easy, either.
“They’re very unique in this conference, using the flexbone (offense),” Sharp said. “Defensively, they do a lot of things. They give you a lot of stunts and blitzes.”
With the Hounds still clinging to NCAA Division II playoff hopes a year ago, the Bulldogs turned two early ENMU turnovers into touchdowns and went on to a 25-14 victory.
Elliott said junior strong safety Adrian Quigley will not play after injuring a shoulder last week against WT. Junior Theo Watson, Quigley’s backup, also went down against the Buffaloes with a hip pointer, but is likely to be ready to start in Quigley’s place, Elliott said.