By Dave Wagner
As the saying goes, it’s hard to beat anybody when you turn the ball over four times — especially against a good team, and in the first half, no less.
Eliminating turnovers was a focal point for Eastern New Mexico University’s football team this week as it prepared for today’s 5 p.m. Lone Star Conference clash against Angelo State at San Angelo, Texas.
ENMU (1-3, 0-1 LSC) competed reasonably well much of the time in last week’s 34-14 conference loss to Tarleton State at Blackwater Draw. The Greyhounds outgained TSU 401-398 and had nearly as many first downs as the nationally ranked Texans (24-22).
“What took the wind out of us were the turnovers,” Lynn said. “I thought defensively we played pretty well on Saturday, but you can’t have four turnovers in the first half.”
“When you put a team like Tarleton on a short field three times in the first half, that’s a disaster.”
ENMU has lost 12 fumbles this season, four more than it lost all of last season.
This game should be a matchup of ground games. The Rams (2-3, 0-1) lead the LSC in rushing, while the Hounds are third.
“They’re improved athletically with the kids they’ve brought in this year,” third-year ASU coach Will Wagner said of the Hounds. “It’s difficult to prepare for what they do offensively (with the triple-option).”
Angelo’s games to this point have been relatively high scoring. Running backs Jermie Calhoun and Blake Smith lead a ground attack behind a line featuring four returning starters.
“We’ve played some very good opponents to this point, and it’s not going to get any easier,” Wagner said, noting that fourth-ranked West Texas A&M and No. 25 Midwestern State are next up for the Rams. “We’ve played some close games, and in every game we’ve learned something new.”
Lynn said the Hounds are going into the game relatively healthy as a team.
ENMU (1-3, 0-1 Lone Star Conference) at Angelo State (2-3, 0-1) 5 p.m. (MDT) today at San Angelo, Texas
• Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
• Coaches: ENMU, Josh Lynn, 2nd year, 4-10; Will Wagner, Angelo State, 3rd year, 12-15.
• Last meeting: 2012, the Rams handed the Greyhounds a 49-19 loss at Greyhound Stadium
• Last week: ENMU lost to Tarleton State 34-14 at Greyhound Stadium; the Rams defeated McMurry 48-35 at San Angelo.
• ASU players to watch: Kyle Washington, 6-5, 210, So., QB; Jermie Calhoun, 6-0, 215, Sr., RB; Blake Smith, 6-1, 240, Jr., RB; Rush Seaver, 6-1, 240, Jr., LB; Joey Searcy II, 6-0, 335, Sr., DT.
• Notes: Angelo leads the all-time series 22-14-1, and has won six of the last seven meetings. ENMU’s only win in that time came two years ago 23-21 at Angelo, when Bracy McCoy blocked a Rams field goal try in the closing moments. That was also the Hounds’ last road win. … Calhoun (154 yards), a University of Oklahoma transfer, and Smith (111) set career highs last week. ASU is first in the LSC and 13th in NCAA Division II in rushing (269.4 ypg). … The Rams’ losses this season have been to top-ranked Valdosta State (37-3), No. 5 Colorado State-Pueblo (45-24), and co-No. 21 Tarleton (38-34). … Angelo’s six road games this season will result in a total of 4,766 travel miles, almost half of that coming on the trip to Valdosta, Ga.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner