By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo doesn’t think people should put much stock in records heading into the Greyhounds’ homecoming game today against Lone Star Conference South Division rival Angelo State.
The Hounds (4-1, 0-1 South) will be out to rebound from their first setback of the season when they face the Rams (1-3, 0-1) in a 2 p.m. kickoff at Blackwater Draw.
“We’re closer than people might think,” Ribaudo said. “It’s a big game for both teams. We both want to get back on the right track.”
Both squads lost last week to nationally-ranked South opponents — ENMU to Abilene Christian, Angelo State to Midwestern State. But the Rams’ lone win was over Central Oklahoma (27-18), a team ENMU beat 21-7, while their opening game was a 17-13 loss at Division I-AA Sam Houston State.
The Hounds were overwhelmed at Abilene Christian, losing 45-20. Freshman slotback Dustin Bohannon said they were caught off-guard by the Wildcats.
“ACU was a much faster team than what we’d seen,” he said. “They were more physical and just faster.
“I think we can see it as a wake-up call. Coach told us it was a bump in the road; it’s not the end of the road.”
Ribaudo said third-year Angelo coach Dale Carr is slowly putting together a program.
“He’s got young kids,” Ribaudo said. “They’re trying to build from the ground up. Watching them on film, I think they’re getting better every week.
“Angelo reminds me a lot of (Abilene Christian). They’re not that far behind where ACU was.”
Abilene Christian was the first of four ranked South teams ENMU will face in a six-week span, but Ribaudo said the Hounds didn’t put their best foot forward in the game.
“I was kind of disappointed in our effort,” he said. “They’re a good team, though; you can’t take anything away from them. They had four really good weapons (on offense).”
As usual, the Hounds — who have thrown 14 passes in five games — will need to execute their option attack today behind senior quarterback Michael Benton.
“If we can do that, I think a lot of things will fall into place,” he said.
Angelo State at ENMU
When: 6 p.m. today in a Lone Star Conference South Division game at Greyhound Stadium.
Records: Angelo State 1-3 (0-1 South), ENMU 4-1 (0-1).
Last week: ENMU suffered its first loss of the season at then-17th-ranked Abilene Christian 45-20. Angelo State absorbed a 44-16 setback at then-No. 13 Midwestern State.
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Coaches: Angelo State, Dale Carr, 3rd year; Eastern New Mexico, Mark Ribaudo, 3rd year.
Last meeting: The Rams snapped a four-game losing streak to ENMU with a 17-7 victory in San Angelo, Texas.
Angelo State players to watch: Josh Neiswander, 6-1, 185, So., QB; Chris Fowler, 5-10, 175, So. WR; Jordan Cortez, 5-11, 205, Jr., LB; Daniel Thomas, 5-9, 190, Jr., TB; Matt Owens, 6-5, 310, Sr., OT.
Notes: Angelo State leads the all-time series 18-12-1. … Prior to last season, Angelo’s last win in the series was a 28-0 shutout at Blackwater Draw in 2001. … The Rams have allowed just four sacks this season. … Thomas has rushed for more than 100 yards three times in four games this season, including last week when he gained 166 yards on a season-low 23 carries at Midwestern. He ranks fourth in the LSC in yards rushing per game (140.5), while ENMU quarterbacks Michael Benton (175.8) and J.T. Thompson (109.8) are No. 1 and No. 5, respectively. … The Rams are second in the conference in turnover margin, having forced 10 (six interceptions, four fumble recoveries) while giving up five.