Hounds get good work in

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks ENMU senior running back Kyle Harris rambles 15 yards for a touchdown during Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Blackwater Draw. The Greyhounds open the 2007 season next Saturday, facing Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla.

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

BLACKWATER DRAW — For a Saturday in August, the weather was comfortable. And Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo said the Greyhounds got some good work in during the last of three preseason intrasquad scrimmages at Greyhound Stadium.

ENMU went at it for about two hours in a tuneup for Saturday’s season opener against Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla. Ribaudo said he found a lot of things to be encouraged about in the scrimmage.

“We got a lot of work done today,” he said. “We got a lot of situational stuff done.

“We started to show some pass coverages and bring some blitzes on defense.”

The Green squad (primarily the No. 1 offense and defense) defeated the White team 37-8 in the controlled contest. Most of the scoring was the result of short fields set up by turnovers.

Quarterbacks Michael Benton and J.T. Thompson ran the option game fairly effectively, but the Hounds struggled a bit when they put the ball in the air. Thompson scored twice and Benton once on short runs during the regular scrimmage, and each scored again when the Hounds worked on overtime situations at the end.

“We need to be the best option team in the world, so that (part of the attack) needs to be far ahead of the passing game at this point,” Ribaudo said.

Benton, the starter at QB the past two seasons, said the passing game is something that takes time.

“We want to stretch teams,” he said. “We’ve got a few ‘vertical’ plays that I think are coming along.

“I’m just looking forward to trying to get us over the hump. I think we can get it done.”

Defensively, sophomore middle linebacker Brandon Haug said he thinks the Hounds have good depth.

“I thought we played really well today,” he said. “We could all pretty much play (No.) 1 or 2.

“Mike Benton and J.T. can break teams down. They can make things happen.”

Benton said the offense has good competition for positions as well, and he noted that Thompson “has made a lot of progress” since last year.

“Everybody’s working hard, and that’s good to see,” Benton said. “The offensive line has been doing a great job. We’ve got a lot of ‘youngsters’ who are coming along faster than we expected.”

For Haug, the first game can’t get here soon enough.

“I know we’re ready,” he said. “We’re tired of hitting each other. We’re ready to hit somebody new.”

The Hounds have been relatively injury-free through the first two weeks of camp. Freshman defensive end Michael Lewis of Clovis banged up an elbow during Saturday’s scrimmage, but trainer Ed Kabrick said he didn’t think the injury was serious.