By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
On the surface, Eastern New Mexico University’s football team might seem a heavy favorite over Sul Ross State in today’s noon (MDT) matchup at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Alpine, Texas-based Lobos absorbed a 51-6 thumping in last week’s season opener at Texas A&M-Commerce, and while ENMU was picked for sixth place in the seven-team Lone Star Conference in preseason, the Lions were tabbed for seventh.
All LSC teams are playing at AT&T Stadium this weekend in the league’s annual three-day “Football Festival.”
Despite the lopsided loss for Sul Ross, second-year Greyhounds coach Josh Lynn expects a stiff challenge.
“Defensively, they’re an improved football team,” said Lynn, whose squad escaped with a 38-35 win last year at Blackwater Draw. “They played a pretty good first half (at Commerce).”
The game swung with the help of two turnovers turned into touchdowns by the Lions.
Last year, the Lobos went 5-5 (4-3 American Southwest Conference), but they led all of NCAA Division III in scoring (48.8 ppg) and total offense (590 ypg).
On the other side, though, they gave up 49.1 points on average. And last week, the offense managed just 11 first downs and 106 total yards.
“We’re in damage control right now,” said interim coach and athletic director John Tyree. “I’m more worried about us right now than who we’re playing.”
Tyree said the Lions disrupted the Lobos’ offense keyed by a 6-foot-6, 350-pound nose guard. “He just literally destroyed our offensive line,” Tyree said.
He said the Hounds will provide another challenge.
“They’re a well-disciplined option team,” Tyree said. “If you’re not familiar with what they do, it’ll be a rough time.”
ENMU can build on its comeback from a 24-7 deficit to take the lead against Highlands, but Lynn said they can’t count on that.
“We’ve got to get off the bus,” he said, referring to a quicker start. “We can’t be slow starters this week.
“I think we need to carry the momentum over from the second half and just continue to get better.”
Tyree also doesn’t think his team’s setback will have any lingering affect.
“Our kids are pretty resilient,” Tyree said. “We’ve got a really good defensive team, so I think we’ll bounce back.”
ENMU (0-1) vs. Sul Ross State (0-1)
noon (MDT) today at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
• Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
• Coaches: ENMU, Josh Lynn, 2nd year, 3-8; Sul Ross State, John Tyree, 1st year, 0-1.
• Last meeting: 2012, ENMU scored three times in the fourth quarter to defeat the Lobos 35-31 at Greyhound Stadium.
• Last week: ENMU lost to New Mexico Highland 31-28 at Greyhound Stadium. Sul Ross absorbed a 51-6 spanking at Texas A&M-Commerce.
• Sul Ross players to watch: Derrick Bernard, 6-2, 185, So., QB; Kenyon Lee, 5-9, 160, Jr., SB; Earl Hines, 6-2, 235, So., LB; Dillion Wolfe, 6-1 248, Sr., NG.
• Notes: Last year’s meeting was the first between the teams since a 42-0 ENMU win at Greyhound Stadium in 1978. The Lobos lead th series 13-9-1, but have gone 0-5-1 since a 35-13 win at Greyhound Stadium in 1970. … This was to have been a home game for Sul Ross at Alpine, Texas.
• Quotable: “When you talk about football venues in the United States, Cowboys Stadium (AT&T Stadium has got to be No. 1, or at least right up there.” — Lynn.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner