October 21, 2010

ASC all about offense

R.J. Long
R.J. Long averages 122.3 yards per game for McMurry's Air Raid offense.
McMurry photo by Gerald Ewing

If you’ve been following the American Southwest Conference scoreboard this season you may have noticed a pattern.

Yes, Mary Hardin-Baylor is atop the conference standings as usual. And, of course Hardin-Simmons and Louisiana College are right there behind the Crusaders battling for second place. The programs at McMurry and Texas Lutheran show marked improvement under relatively new coaching staffs, while East Texas Baptist, Howard Payne and Sul Ross State struggle to find consistency. Perhaps the biggest surprise is to see last season’s co-champs, Mississippi College, at the bottom of the standings still searching for a ASC victory this late in the season.

But even more surprising than the fall of the Choctaws is the number of points being scored. There are currently three teams in the conference averaging more than 40 points per game. And none of them is named Mary Hardin-Baylor. (They rank a paltry fourth in the conference with 37.2 points per game.) Louisiana College is currently second in D-III in scoring (47.2 ppg), while Hardin-Simmons (44.1) and McMurry (43.7) are eighth and ninth respectively.

This quite a jump from last season when the conference leader in the category, Louisiana College (38.8 ppg), edged out UMHB (38.5) and Mississippi College (37.7) for the ASC scoring crown.

If you look at the total yardage gained, the ASC offenses look even more impressive. Six of the nine teams in the conference rank in the top 50 in D-III (out of 236.) The Louisiana Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the nation (538 yards per game), while Hardin-Simmons is fifth (508 ypg.) McMurry (17th - 469), UMHB (25th - 441), Mississippi College (25th – 441) and Sul Ross State (49th – 405) are all averaging over 400 yards a game. Only three teams cracked the 400 per game mark last season.

Perhaps no weekend personified this scoring binge better than last Saturday. Hardin-Simmons scored 73 points and rolled up a conference record 759 yards in a win over Sul Ross State. Louisiana College and McMurry both topped the 60-point mark. For McMurry it was the second time this season that they had reached 60.

In all this season, ASC teams have topped the 50-point mark three times, 40-point mark 12 times and the 30-point mark 13 times. In all, they have scored 1832 points in 57 games, which average out to 32.1 points a game.

What accounts for this offensive explosion? I decided to ask three conference coaches with varying levels of time spent in the ASC: Pete Fredenburg of UMHB (13th year), Dennis Dunn of Louisiana College (fifth year) and McMurry’s Hal Mumme (second year in ASC).

The trio all agreed that main reason is that there is a wealth of talent at the skill positions in the conference this season.

“I think it’s more due to personnel,” Mumme said. “Good quarterbacks, good receivers and good running backs usually mean a lot of points.”

“There a lot of reasons to attribute it to,’ Fredenburg said. “First and foremost is that there’s really some skilled athletes that are playing receiver and quarterback. That challenges defenses. Guys that throw the ball as much as some of them do are going to have a chance to make some yards. And then you throw in the really quality athletes and you’ve got your hands full.”

Dunn feels that crop of veteran quarterbacks in the conference is especially good this season.

“You have three very, very good Division III quarterbacks,” Dunn said. “Our guy is a three-year starter and is very experienced. He’s got a very good supporting cast.

“I think you could say the same for Hardin-Simmons. They’ve got (Justin) Feaster back, a four-year starter with a great supporting cast. And then Jake Mullin at McMurry has experience with a great supporting cast. The style of offense (in the conference) lends itself to a lot of big plays.”

Ben McLaughlin
Louisiana College quarterback Ben McLaughlin was named to this week's D3football.com Team of the Week.
Louisiana College athletics photo

Ben McLaughlin, Dunn’s signal-caller, currently leads D-III in passing yards per game with 396 yards per game. The senior has 27 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions. McLaughlin became the conference’s all-time leading passer last week by passing for 491 yards and six touchdowns against Howard Payne, giving him a career total of 10,660.

Meanwhile, Mullin, a junior, is second in the country (383 yards per game) and 34 touchdown passes and just one interception. He also ranks eighth in passing efficiency, one spot behind the Cowboys' senior Feaster. The HSU quarterback has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, averaging 264 yards a game with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. His number would probably be even bigger but has been pulled out of a few blowout victories.

Mississippi College’s Tommy Reyer, a junior, and Sul Ross State’s Monty Morales, who hasn’t played since getting injured in the Lobos fourth game are also ranked high. Reyer is 26th at 252 yards a game, while Morales is 29th at 249.5.

Even the quarterbacks in the conference without gaudy passing numbers can hurt you in other ways. UMHB’s LiDarral Bailey and ETBU’s Sed Harris could both threaten the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. And Texas Lutheran sophomore Mitchell Bunger has shown the ability to both run and throw it too.

All three mentors mentioned coaching as a factor too. Continuity and quality being the most important factors.

“I think it can be attributed to the consistency of staffs staying together and with the same offensive system,” Dunn said. “When I got her I was the fourth coach in four years.

“Now these kids are familiar with system. The players have been in the system for some time. We’re not still learning what to do, where at a point where we can take advantage of what the defense is giving.”

“Yea, I think there’s a lot to that,” Mumme agreed. “Coach Dunn has been there a while, I’ve been here a year. Of course, Coach Keeling has been there (HSU) forever. That’s probably the three scoring-est teams in the league. Sul Ross was scoring with everybody for a while but they got their quarterback hurt.”

“I really think the guys at Louisiana College and McMurry  are really well-coached,” Fredenburg said.  “They do a great job of running their offense and they do a nice job of getting the ball in their play-makers hands. Their quarterbacks do a great job of seeing it all. Hardin-Simmons is also prolific on offense.”

The variety of offensive systems can also made it tough on conference defensive coordinators according to the UMHB coach.

“Our league week in and week out pretty difficult to defend.” He said. “You have to be able to be pretty diverse in order to defend 40 throws a game and turn around and play a team like us that tries to run the ball at you.”

Still couldn’t this offensive be explained by bad defense? Four teams are giving up more than 30 points a game and five are allowing more than 400 yards per game.

“I hesitate to call it bad defense because defensive coordinators these days have a tough job,” Mumme said. “I wouldn’t want to be one,” he added wryly.

If Mumme has reason to doubt that it’s bad defense, he has the luxury, McMurry leads the conference allowing just 248 yards a contest.

Fredenburg, whose Crusader defenders have dominated ASC offenses for years, have allowed an uncharacteristic 377 yards game, though they have limited opponents to 63 rushing yards a game.

“I think our case it was a little bit of bad defense,” he said. “I am not taking anything away from (opponents). But we are just pretty young on defense and guys are just learning to play.

“You certainly know that people that spread the field and throw it a bunch are going to make some yards. It’s no different than when the run-and-shoot came in vogue. Offenses made some big numbers. It’s just kind of a cycle right now, everybody throwing it and spreading it out. Defense will ultimately catch up, but right now they are struggling some.”

Meanwhile, Dunn has had to deal with defensive issues of his own. The Wildcats have allowed 39 points and nearly 450 yards a game.

“It’s hard to say,” Dunn said the conference defensive woes. “The last couple of years we’ve played extremely good defense. This year we are young and inexperienced.

“I don’t know if that’s the case around the league. Mary Hardin-Baylor, and I think that Pete would tell you, they’re very good defensively, but they’re not where they been (in the past) in terms of linebacker and defensive back play. But they are still very good up front.”

But still the best way to win despite any statistical numbers is to make plays when you need them. And that has been the thing that has kept UMHB atop the ASC this season. Against McMurry, they came up with big special teams’ plays despite being slowed on offense and exploited in the secondary on defense. Against Hardin-Simmons, the much maligned defense forced four turnovers and gave their powerful offense extra chances. Then against Louisiana College, the Crusaders picked off a pass in the end zone with less than a minute to play to preserve a 42-38 victory.

So I get the feeling that a lot of coaches may be feeling the same as Dunn, whose 3-3 Wildcats have to look back on the season as one of missed opportunities. They lost late in the fourth quarter to Belhaven in their opener and in overtime to Huntingdon.

“We are really three possessions away from being 6-0,” Dunn said. “ It’s good and bad. It’s good in the fact that we’re gotten to the place where we are in the upper echelon of this conference in terms of competition, but it’s bad in that we could be sitting here controlling our own destiny with having to depend on some other things to happen.”

Game of the Week
DePauw (6-0, 4-0 SCAC) at Trinity (3-3, 1-2).
DePauw can clinch a share of the SCAC title this weekend in San Antonio. That may be easier said than done for the Indiana Tigers, who have never won at E.M. Stevens Field. A victory should clinch them the conference’s automatic bid, since they have already beaten Centre and Millsaps. Meanwhile, the 3-3 Texas Tigers are fighting just to have a winning season. They haven’t had a losing year since the early 1990’s. They still have tough games left after this one with trips to Centre and Huntingdon before closing the season at home against Austin.

Millsaps (4-3, 3-1 SCAC) at Centre (4-2, 2-1). The winner of this game keeps hopes alive for the SCAC title but will need help to earn and NCAA bid (i.e. two DePauw losses.) Neither team is likely to earn a Pool C bid with nonconference losses.

Mary Hardin-Baylor (6-0, 4-0) at East Texas Baptist (3-4, 2-3). This may be the last time the Crusaders are seriously challenged before the playoffs come around. Their next three opponents have a combined record of 6-12. Tiger quarterback Sed Harris can cause defenses all sorts of problems.

Contact Me
You can reach me at jason.bowen@d3sports.com , Conrad on Post Patterns or on Facebook at Facebook.com/jasonbowen3 or Twitter @d3jason.

 

If you’ve been following the America Southwest Conference scoreboard this season you may have noticed a pattern.

Yes, Mary Hardin-Baylor is atop the conference standings as usual. And, of course Hardin-Simmons and Louisiana College are right there behind the Crusaders battling for second place. The programs at McMurry and Texas Lutheran show marked improvement under relatively new coaching staffs, while East Texas Baptist, Howard Payne and Sul Ross State struggle to find consistency. Perhaps the biggest surprise is to see last season’s co champs, Mississippi College, at the bottom of the standings still searching for a ASC victory this late in the season.

But even more surprising than the fall of the Choctaws is the number of points being scored. There are currently three teams in the conference averaging more than 40 points per game. And none of them is named Mary Hardin-Baylor. (They rank a paltry fourth in the conference with 37.2 points per game.) Louisiana College is currently second in D-III in scoring (47.2 ppg), while Hardin-Simmons (44.1) and McMurry (43.7) are eighth and ninth respectively.

This quite a jump from last season when the conference leader in the category, Louisiana College(38.8 ppg,) edged out UMHB (38.5) and Mississippi College (37.7) for the ASC scoring crown.

If you look at the total yardage gained, the ASC offenses look even more impressive. Six of the nine teams in the conference rank in the top 50 in D-III (out of 236.) The Louisiana Wildcats are ranked number one in the nation (538 yards a game,) while Hardin-Simmons is fifth (508 ypg.) McMurry (17th - 469), UMHB (25th- 441), Mississippi College (25th – 441) and Sul Ross State (49th – 405) are all averaging over 400 yards a game. Only three teams cracked the 400 per game mark last season.

Perhaps no weekend personified this scoring binge better than last Saturday. Hardin-Simmons scored 73 points and rolled up a conference record 759 yards in a win over Sul Ross State. Louisiana College and McMurry both topped the 60-point mark. For McMurry it was the second time this season that they had reached 60.

In all this season, ASC teams have topped the 50-point mark three times, 40- point mark 12 times and the 30-point mark 13 times. In all, they have scored 1832 points in 57 games, which average out to 32.1 points a game.

What accounts for this offensive explosion? I decided to ask three conference coaches with varying levels of time spent in the ASC: Pete Fredenburg of UMHB (13th year), Dennis Dunn of Louisiana College (5th year) and McMurry’s Hal Mumme (2nd year in ASC.)

The trio all agreed that main reason is that there is a wealth of talent at the skill positions in the conference this season.

“I think it’s more due to personnel,” Mumme said. “Good quarterbacks, good receivers and good running backs usually mean a lot of points.”

“There a lot of reasons to attribute it to,’ Fredenburg said. “First and foremost is that there’s really some skilled athletes that are playing receiver and quarterback. That challenges defenses. Guys that throw the ball as much as some of them do are going to have a chance to make some yards. And then you throw in the really quality athletes and you’ve got your hands full.”

Dunn feels that crop of veteran quarterbacks in the conference is especially good this season.

“You have three very, very good Division III quarterbacks,” Dunn said. “Our guy is a three-year starter and is very experienced. He’s got a very good supporting cast.

“I think you could say the same for Hardin-Simmons. They’ve got (Justin) Feaster back, a four-year starter with a great supporting cast. And then Jake Mullin at McMurry has experience with a great supporting cast. The style of offense (in the conference) lends itself to a lot of big plays.”

Ben McLaughlin, Dunn’s signal-caller, currently leads D-III in passing yards per game with 396 yards per game. The senior has 27 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions. McLaughlin became the conference’s all-time leading passer last week by passing for 491 yards and six touchdowns against Howard Payne, giving him a career total of 10, 660.

Meanwhile, Mullin, a junior, is second in the country (383 yards per game) and 34 touchdown passes and just one interception. He also ranks eighth in passing efficiently, one spot behind the Cowboys senior Feaster. The HSU quarterback has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, averaging 264 yards a game with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. His number would probably be even bigger but has been pulled out of a few blow out victories a few times this season.

Mississippi College’s Tommy Reyer, a junior, and Sul Ross State’s Monty Morales, who hasn’t played since getting injured in the Lobos fourth game are also ranked high. Reyer is 26th at 252 yards a game, while Morales is 29th at 249.5.

Even the quarterbacks in the conference without gaudy passing numbers can hurt you in other ways. UMHB’s LiDarral Bailey and ETBU’s Sed Harris could both threaten the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. And Texas Lutheran sophomore Mitchell Bunger has shown the ability to both run and throw it too.

All three mentors mentioned coaching as a factor too. Continuity and quality being the most important factors.

“I think it can be attributed to the consistency of staffs staying together and with the same offensive system,” Dunn said. “When I got her I was the fourth coach in four years.

“Now these kids are familiar with system. The players have been in the system for some time. We’re not still learning what to do, where at a point where we can take advantage of what the defense is giving.”

“Yea, I think there’s a lot to that,” Mumme agreed. “ Coach Dunn has been there a while, I’ve been here a year. Of course, Coach Keeling been there (HSU)forever. That’s probably the three scoring-est teams in the league. Sul Ross was scoring with everybody for a while but they got their quarterback hurt.”

“I really think the guys at Louisiana College and McMurry  are really well-coached,” Fredenburg said.  “They do a great job of running their offense and they do a nice job of getting the ball in their play-makers hands. Their quarterbacks do a great job of seeing it all. Hardin-Simmons is also prolific on offense.”

The variety of offensive systems can also made it tough on conference defensive coordinators according to the UMHB coach.

“Our league week in and week out pretty difficult to defend.” He said. “You have to be able to be pretty diverse in order to defend 40 throws a game and turn around and play a team like us that tries to run the ball at you.”

Still couldn’t this offensive be explained by bad defense? Four teams are giving up more than 30 points a game and five are allowing more than 400 yards per game.

“I hesitate to call it bad defense because defensive coordinators these days have a tough job,” Mumme said. “I wouldn’t want to be one,” he added wryly.

If Mumme has reason to doubt that it’s bad defense, he has the luxury, McMurry leads the conference allowing just 248 yards a contest.

Fredenburg, whose Crusader defenders have dominated ASC offenses for years, have allowed an uncharacteristic 377 yards game, though they have limited opponents to 63 rushing yards a game.

“I think our case it was a little bit of bad defense,” he said. “I am not taking anything away from (opponents). But we are just pretty young on defense and guys are just learning to play.

“You certainly know that people that spread the field and throw it a bunch are going to make some yards. It’s no different than when the Run-And-Shoot came in vogue. Offenses made some big numbers. It’s just kind of a cycle right now, everybody throwing it and spreading it out. Defense will ultimately catch up, but right now they are struggling some.”

Meanwhile, Dunn has had to deal with defensive issues of his own. The Wildcats have allowed 39 points and nearly 450 yards a game.

“It’s hard to say,” Dunn said the conference defensive woes. “The last couple of years we’ve played extremely good defense. This year we are young and inexperienced.

“I don’t know if that’s the case around the league. Mary Hardin-Baylor, and I think that Pete would tell you, they’re very good defensively, but they’re not where they been (in the past) in terms of linebacker and defensive back play. But they are still very good up front.”

But still the best way to win despite any statistical numbers is to make plays when you need them. And that has been the thing that has kept UMHB atop the ASC this season. Against McMurry, they came up with big special teams’ plays despite being slowed on offense and exploited in the secondary on defense. Against Hardin-Simmons, the much maligned defense forced four turnovers and gave their powerful offense extra chances. Then against Louisiana College, the Crusaders picked off a pass in the end zone with less than a minute to play to preserve a 42-38 victory.

So I get the feeling that a lot of coaches may be feeling the same as Dunn, whose 3-3 Wildcats have to look back on the season as one of missed opportunities. They lost late in the fourth quarter to Belhaven in their opener and in overtime to Huntingdon.

“We are really three possessions away from being 6-0,” Dunn said. “ It’s good and bad. It’s good in the fact that we’re gotten to the place where we are in the upper echelon of this conference in terms of competition, but it’s bad in that we could be sitting here controlling our own destiny with having to depend on some other things to happen.”

Game of the Week

DePauw (6-0, 4-0 SCAC) at Trinity (3-3, 1-2). Depauw can clinch a share of the SCAC title this weekend in San Antonio. That may be easier said than done for the Indiana Tigers, who have never won at E.M. Stevens Field. A victory should clinch them the conference’s automatic bid, since they have already beaten Centre and Millsaps. Meanwhile, the 3-3 Texas Tigers are fighting just to have a winning season. They haven’t had a losing year since the early 1990’s. They still have tough games left after this one with trips to Centre and Huntingdon before closing the season at home against Austin.

Millsaps (4-3, 3-1 SCAC) at Centre (4-2, 2-1). The winner of this game keeps hopes alive for the SCAC title but will need help to earn and NCAA bid (i.e. two DePauw losses.) Neither team is likely to earn a Pool C bid with nonconference losses.

Mary Hardin-Baylor (6-0, 4-0) at East Texas Baptist (3-4, 2-3). This may be the last time the Crusaders are seriously challenged before the playoffs come around. Their next three opponents have a combined record of 6-12. Tiger quarterback Sed Harris can cause defenses all sorts of problems.

Contact Me

You can reach me at jason.bowen@d3sports.com , Conrad on Post Patterns or on Facebook at Facebook.com/jasonbowen3 or Twitter @d3jason.

If you’ve been following the America Southwest Conference scoreboard this season you may have noticed a pattern.

Yes, Mary Hardin-Baylor is atop the conference standings as usual. And, of course Hardin-Simmons and Louisiana College are right there behind the Crusaders battling for second place. The programs at McMurry and Texas Lutheran show marked improvement under relatively new coaching staffs, while East Texas Baptist, Howard Payne and Sul Ross State struggle to find consistency. Perhaps the biggest surprise is to see last season’s co champs, Mississippi College, at the bottom of the standings still searching for a ASC victory this late in the season.

But even more surprising than the fall of the Choctaws is the number of points being scored. There are currently three teams in the conference averaging more than 40 points per game. And none of them is named Mary Hardin-Baylor. (They rank a paltry fourth in the conference with 37.2 points per game.) Louisiana College is currently second in D-III in scoring (47.2 ppg), while Hardin-Simmons (44.1) and McMurry (43.7) are eighth and ninth respectively.

This quite a jump from last season when the conference leader in the category, Louisiana College(38.8 ppg,) edged out UMHB (38.5) and Mississippi College (37.7) for the ASC scoring crown.

If you look at the total yardage gained, the ASC offenses look even more impressive. Six of the nine teams in the conference rank in the top 50 in D-III (out of 236.) The Louisiana Wildcats are ranked number one in the nation (538 yards a game,) while Hardin-Simmons is fifth (508 ypg.) McMurry (17th - 469), UMHB (25th- 441), Mississippi College (25th – 441) and Sul Ross State (49th – 405) are all averaging over 400 yards a game. Only three teams cracked the 400 per game mark last season.

Perhaps no weekend personified this scoring binge better than last Saturday. Hardin-Simmons scored 73 points and rolled up a conference record 759 yards in a win over Sul Ross State. Louisiana College and McMurry both topped the 60-point mark. For McMurry it was the second time this season that they had reached 60.

In all this season, ASC teams have topped the 50-point mark three times, 40- point mark 12 times and the 30-point mark 13 times. In all, they have scored 1832 points in 57 games, which average out to 32.1 points a game.

What accounts for this offensive explosion? I decided to ask three conference coaches with varying levels of time spent in the ASC: Pete Fredenburg of UMHB (13th year), Dennis Dunn of Louisiana College (5th year) and McMurry’s Hal Mumme (2nd year in ASC.)

The trio all agreed that main reason is that there is a wealth of talent at the skill positions in the conference this season.

“I think it’s more due to personnel,” Mumme said. “Good quarterbacks, good receivers and good running backs usually mean a lot of points.”

“There a lot of reasons to attribute it to,’ Fredenburg said. “First and foremost is that there’s really some skilled athletes that are playing receiver and quarterback. That challenges defenses. Guys that throw the ball as much as some of them do are going to have a chance to make some yards. And then you throw in the really quality athletes and you’ve got your hands full.”

Dunn feels that crop of veteran quarterbacks in the conference is especially good this season.

“You have three very, very good Division III quarterbacks,” Dunn said. “Our guy is a three-year starter and is very experienced. He’s got a very good supporting cast.

“I think you could say the same for Hardin-Simmons. They’ve got (Justin) Feaster back, a four-year starter with a great supporting cast. And then Jake Mullin at McMurry has experience with a great supporting cast. The style of offense (in the conference) lends itself to a lot of big plays.”

Ben McLaughlin, Dunn’s signal-caller, currently leads D-III in passing yards per game with 396 yards per game. The senior has 27 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions. McLaughlin became the conference’s all-time leading passer last week by passing for 491 yards and six touchdowns against Howard Payne, giving him a career total of 10, 660.

Meanwhile, Mullin, a junior, is second in the country (383 yards per game) and 34 touchdown passes and just one interception. He also ranks eighth in passing efficiently, one spot behind the Cowboys senior Feaster. The HSU quarterback has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, averaging 264 yards a game with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. His number would probably be even bigger but has been pulled out of a few blow out victories a few times this season.

Mississippi College’s Tommy Reyer, a junior, and Sul Ross State’s Monty Morales, who hasn’t played since getting injured in the Lobos fourth game are also ranked high. Reyer is 26th at 252 yards a game, while Morales is 29th at 249.5.

Even the quarterbacks in the conference without gaudy passing numbers can hurt you in other ways. UMHB’s LiDarral Bailey and ETBU’s Sed Harris could both threaten the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. And Texas Lutheran sophomore Mitchell Bunger has shown the ability to both run and throw it too.

All three mentors mentioned coaching as a factor too. Continuity and quality being the most important factors.

“I think it can be attributed to the consistency of staffs staying together and with the same offensive system,” Dunn said. “When I got her I was the fourth coach in four years.

“Now these kids are familiar with system. The players have been in the system for some time. We’re not still learning what to do, where at a point where we can take advantage of what the defense is giving.”

“Yea, I think there’s a lot to that,” Mumme agreed. “ Coach Dunn has been there a while, I’ve been here a year. Of course, Coach Keeling been there (HSU)forever. That’s probably the three scoring-est teams in the league. Sul Ross was scoring with everybody for a while but they got their quarterback hurt.”

“I really think the guys at Louisiana College and McMurry  are really well-coached,” Fredenburg said.  “They do a great job of running their offense and they do a nice job of getting the ball in their play-makers hands. Their quarterbacks do a great job of seeing it all. Hardin-Simmons is also prolific on offense.”

The variety of offensive systems can also made it tough on conference defensive coordinators according to the UMHB coach.

“Our league week in and week out pretty difficult to defend.” He said. “You have to be able to be pretty diverse in order to defend 40 throws a game and turn around and play a team like us that tries to run the ball at you.”

Still couldn’t this offensive be explained by bad defense? Four teams are giving up more than 30 points a game and five are allowing more than 400 yards per game.

“I hesitate to call it bad defense because defensive coordinators these days have a tough job,” Mumme said. “I wouldn’t want to be one,” he added wryly.

If Mumme has reason to doubt that it’s bad defense, he has the luxury, McMurry leads the conference allowing just 248 yards a contest.

Fredenburg, whose Crusader defenders have dominated ASC offenses for years, have allowed an uncharacteristic 377 yards game, though they have limited opponents to 63 rushing yards a game.

“I think our case it was a little bit of bad defense,” he said. “I am not taking anything away from (opponents). But we are just pretty young on defense and guys are just learning to play.

“You certainly know that people that spread the field and throw it a bunch are going to make some yards. It’s no different than when the Run-And-Shoot came in vogue. Offenses made some big numbers. It’s just kind of a cycle right now, everybody throwing it and spreading it out. Defense will ultimately catch up, but right now they are struggling some.”

Meanwhile, Dunn has had to deal with defensive issues of his own. The Wildcats have allowed 39 points and nearly 450 yards a game.

“It’s hard to say,” Dunn said the conference defensive woes. “The last couple of years we’ve played extremely good defense. This year we are young and inexperienced.

“I don’t know if that’s the case around the league. Mary Hardin-Baylor, and I think that Pete would tell you, they’re very good defensively, but they’re not where they been (in the past) in terms of linebacker and defensive back play. But they are still very good up front.”

But still the best way to win despite any statistical numbers is to make plays when you need them. And that has been the thing that has kept UMHB atop the ASC this season. Against McMurry, they came up with big special teams’ plays despite being slowed on offense and exploited in the secondary on defense. Against Hardin-Simmons, the much maligned defense forced four turnovers and gave their powerful offense extra chances. Then against Louisiana College, the Crusaders picked off a pass in the end zone with less than a minute to play to preserve a 42-38 victory.

So I get the feeling that a lot of coaches may be feeling the same as Dunn, whose 3-3 Wildcats have to look back on the season as one of missed opportunities. They lost late in the fourth quarter to Belhaven in their opener and in overtime to Huntingdon.

“We are really three possessions away from being 6-0,” Dunn said. “ It’s good and bad. It’s good in the fact that we’re gotten to the place where we are in the upper echelon of this conference in terms of competition, but it’s bad in that we could be sitting here controlling our own destiny with having to depend on some other things to happen.”

Game of the Week

DePauw (6-0, 4-0 SCAC) at Trinity (3-3, 1-2). Depauw can clinch a share of the SCAC title this weekend in San Antonio. That may be easier said than done for the Indiana Tigers, who have never won at E.M. Stevens Field. A victory should clinch them the conference’s automatic bid, since they have already beaten Centre and Millsaps. Meanwhile, the 3-3 Texas Tigers are fighting just to have a winning season. They haven’t had a losing year since the early 1990’s. They still have tough games left after this one with trips to Centre and Huntingdon before closing the season at home against Austin.

Millsaps (4-3, 3-1 SCAC) at Centre (4-2, 2-1). The winner of this game keeps hopes alive for the SCAC title but will need help to earn and NCAA bid (i.e. two DePauw losses.) Neither team is likely to earn a Pool C bid with nonconference losses.

Mary Hardin-Baylor (6-0, 4-0) at East Texas Baptist (3-4, 2-3). This may be the last time the Crusaders are seriously challenged before the playoffs come around. Their next three opponents have a combined record of 6-12. Tiger quarterback Sed Harris can cause defenses all sorts of problems.

Contact Me

You can reach me at jason.bowen@d3sports.com , Conrad on Post Patterns or on Facebook at Facebook.com/jasonbowen3 or Twitter @d3jason.

 

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Andee Djuric

Andee Djuric is a freelance writer and copy editor currently based in Virginia. She has 13 years experience covering sports for multiple metropolitan daily newspapers in the southeast. She is a graduate of Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., with a B.A. in English.
2012 columnist: Kyle Robarts
2008-11 columnist: Jason Bowen

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October 30, 2013
Rhodes protected by its Shield
Rhodes’ head coach says linebacker Michael Shield “epitomizes what we do on defense.&rdq...
October 23, 2013
Choctaws no longer being written off
Mississippi College started the season a dismal 0-3, but the team has done a complete 180 degree...
October 16, 2013
Millsaps kicker able to put the past behind him
A missed kick during his freshman year has always haunted Beau Brady. After nailing the game-winner...
October 9, 2013
TLU strengthened by bond of brothers
The quarterback and receiver pair -- twins Brent and Cameron Peavy -- have made sacrifices throughou...
October 2, 2013
Leahy is safety net for Centre’s defense
After spending the summer working in an oncology clinic and meeting the people there, med-school-hop...
September 24, 2013
ETBU sizzles through the sky with 3 quarterbacks
East Texas Baptist has rotated all three of its quarterbacks this season to put up some gaudy...
September 17, 2013
Caton an unexpected gift for fledgling Hendrix program
The wide receiver is one of just a handful of transfers on a team dominated by freshmen, including...
November 7, 2012
Louisiana College looking for elusive eighth win
The Wildcats have earned seven wins each of the past four seasons, and they stand at that number for...
October 24, 2012
Ex-NFL coach sees good in D-III
Aaron Pelch gave up a job in the NFL to return to Division III and take the reins at Millsaps after...
October 16, 2012
Cru alum Freeman makes a big leap
It took a few years and a few instances of heartbreak, but former UMHB linebacker Jerrell Freeman...
October 9, 2012
HSU freshman makes immediate impact
Jessie Ramos is the kind of player that Hardin-Simmons coaches will be glad to have on their roster...
October 3, 2012
Being a BSC backup isn't all bad
Tailback Joe Moultrie may play in the shadow of All-American Shawn Morris, but the backup doesn't...
September 26, 2012
Third-generation Hawk helps put team back on the map
Huntingdon quarterback Neal Posey comes from a solid pedigree -- the school's baseball field is...
September 18, 2012
Is this the start of Sul Ross rising?
After stumbling through losses in its first two games, Sul Ross has a lot to be happy about after...
September 11, 2012
Football, family and schoolwork lure transfer to Trinity
Quarterback Nyk McKissic felt something was missing playing at the Division I level. So he reached...
September 4, 2012
Backyard Brawl burdened by Mother Nature
Months of preparation by Millsaps and Mississippi College were delayed as Hurricane Isaac delayed...
August 28, 2012
10 games to watch for 2012
Kyle Robarts was born and bred in the heart of Texas -- surrounded by football at several levels....

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