ENMU gridders preparing for UCO

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

Sure, the Eastern New Mexico University football team was happy with its 24-15 win over East Central on Saturday at Ada, Okla.

But as far as the Greyhounds are concerned, it’s all in a day’s work.

“At practice (Monday) there was a good attitude, but you still have to focus on the opponent for this week,” receiver Logan Capps said, referring to Saturday’s 6 p.m. home opener against Central Oklahoma (1-2) at Blackwater Draw. “We can’t let (the win) take our focus away.”

After absorbing a 42-7 pasting in their opener at Northeastern State the week before, the Hounds came back with a solid all-around performance on Saturday against the Tigers.

ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo stresses the take-them-one-at-a-time approach.
“You have to do that in this league,” he said of the Lone Star Conference. “You need to stay on an even keel.”

The Hounds controlled the ball for nearly 40 minutes to 20 for East Central. Meantime, ENMU’s defense came up with five turnovers, including a 30-yard interception return for the game’s first points by sophomore defensive end Randall Hutchinson late in the opening quarter.

“That’s an amazing stat,” Ribaudo reflected of the ball-possession domination. “When you have that, and 110 or 115 more yards in returns than the opponent, that’s usually a recipe for a win.”

Because of their domination in time of possession, the Hounds’ leader in tackles — linebacker Jeremy Mullins with seven — was in on fewer stops than the top four tacklers for East Central.

“Their defensive stats may look good, but (everything else shows) another picture,” Capps said.

A redshirt freshman from Cloudcroft who also throws javelin for the ENMU track team, Capps is still waiting for his first collegiate reception. He did, though, make a solid contribution on special teams, Ribaudo said.

Capps, part of a three-man rotation at receiver with senior L.J. Johnson and sophomore Mark Perea, said the receivers are usually asked to block first and catch passes second.

He’s happy to help out on special teams.

“We stress specials a lot,” he said. “Some teams take those (platoons) for granted, but it’s another way to get on the field.”

First-year receivers coach Gabriel Rodriguez said the receivers understand their roles.

“In our offense, the No. 1 priority for them is run-blocking,” he said. “They know that, and take pride in it.

“That’s one thing with my group of guys. They’re going to block just as hard as they run their (pass) routes.”