By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico
In a battle of projected Lone Star Conference division winners, Texas A&M-Commerce didn’t come out too well last week.
The Lions, North Division favorites, fell behind 35-0 at halftime and absorbed a 45-14 shellacking at the hands of No. 4 Abilene Christian, the projected South winner.
Never mind that, Eastern New Mexico University coach Mark Ribaudo says. The Greyhounds fully expect to have their hands full when they visit Commerce in a 6 p.m. (MDT) crossover contest today.
“They’ve got a lot of talent,” Ribaudo said. “I still think they’re going to win the North.”
Meantime, the Hounds have their own concerns. They are coming off a 29-14 loss at Southeastern Oklahoma in which they let a 14-0 halftime lead slip away.
ENMU’s touchdowns came on a fumble return by Antwuan Pertile and a 7-yard run by holder Michael Carrasco after the snap on a field goal attempt went awry.
The game was played in a steady, at times driving, rain. Still, the Hounds struggled with two yards rushing and five interceptions by quarterback Cory Baker.
“I thought our offense would come around,” Ribaudo said. “It just didn’t.”
Senior guard Carlos Downey said the wet weather wasn’t a particular factor.
“We didn’t execute last week,” said Downey, who transferred to ENMU last year from San Jacinto Junior College in California. “There were times where we had pressure (from Southeastern), but we’re trying to focus on our mistakes this week.”
Downey said the spread offense the Hounds have adopted this season hasn’t been a problem for him. In fact, he played a similar style in junior college and had more of an adjustment last year coming into an option system.
“We’ve adapted to it (as a team) pretty good,” he said. “We just need to execute our plays better.”
Ribaudo and Downey expect the Hounds to have their hands full with Commerce’s large front lines. On defense, Ribaudo said, the Lions try to get pressure mainly with their front four.
“We have to be able to contain their pass rush,” he said. “Our (quick-pass) style helps us. We’ve just got to go down there and execute.”
Defensively, Ribaudo is concerned with Lions quarterback Terry Mayo, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound senior.
Getting pressure on him is the key.
“We can’t let that quarterback just sit back and make flat-footed throws,” Ribaudo said.