College football: Hounds looking to keep pace in LSC South

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

Buoyed by three consecutive come-from-behind wins, Eastern New Mexico University is smack in the middle of the Lone Star Conference South Division race.
Coach Bud Elliott, though, said the Greyhounds can’t afford to look too far ahead as they prepare to take on Texas A&M-Commerce in a 1 p.m. (MDT) kickoff on Saturday at Commerce, Texas.

ENMU (4-3, 3-0 South) has third-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville and Midwestern State, both unbeaten in the division, remaining in South play. But first things first — a loss on Saturday to the Lions (2-4, 0-2) would take some of the luster off those other contests.

Elliott says the coaching staff has stressed a “take-’em-one-game-at-a-time” approach.

“I think we’re getting pretty good at (doing that),” he said. “I don’t look ahead at all myself, and I don’t think our team does either.
“But this’ll be a tough road trip. Our players need to be rested.”

Although Commerce’s wins have been in LSC crossovers against Northeastern State and Southwestern Oklahoma — still both winless — the Lions’ losses have been against pretty good teams.

First-year coach Scotty Conley pointed out that they trailed Kingsville 17-13 through three quarters before losing 31-13, and last week led Midwestern in the fourth quarter before falling 26-23 at Wichita Falls. The Lions also lost to 2003 NCAA Division II playoff qualifier Southern Arkansas 21-19 in their opener.
“We had our chances to win it and we didn’t,” Conley said of the MSU clash. “We just haven’t pulled it off yet. We’ve played quite a few ranked teams, and we’re trying to get our program established.

“I’ve been impressed with (Eastern’s) ability to win; that’s the most important thing. We realize they’ve got some leadership and some play-making ability.”
Senior quarterback Buster Faulkner leads the Lions. A transfer who helped Valdosta State to the NCAA Division II championship game in 2002, Faulkner has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,752 yards, with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions.

He also has six receivers with at least 12 catches this season.
Elliott said the Lions are somewhat different than last week’s opponent, West Texas A&M, which relies on a West Coast-style short passing game.

“(Commerce likes) to throw the ball deep on you,” he said. “They throw a lot of stuff at you. They’re a good football team, with good speed.

“I think they’re still getting it together. They’ve got some good athletes and they’ve lost some close ballgames.”

Elliott said the Hounds are beginning to get some injured players healthy again, notably guard Robert Acuna and running backs Fide Davalos and Robert Garza. All have missed time recently with knee or leg injuries.