Hounds seek 2-0 start in LSC North

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Eastern New Mexico University defensive end Bracy McCoy assists with a tackle during last week’s game against Texas A&M-Commerce. McCoy had two of the Hounds’ four sacks in the game.

By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University’s debut in the Lone Star Conference North Division turned out to be a rousing success last week.

Meantime, sophomore defensive tackle Bracy McCoy was breathing a sigh of relief.

The 6-foot-2, 264-pounder from Freeport, Texas, delivered two sacks for 16 yards in losses against Texas A&M-Commerce quarterback Adam Farkes in a 44-21 rout of the Lions at Blackwater Draw.

“It’s a big relief for me,” McCoy said. “The first three games were a little bit slow for me. It just makes me feel more confident with myself.”

The Greyhounds (2-2 overall) look to keep it going in the North with a 1 p.m. (MDT) kickoff today at struggling Southwestern Oklahoma (0-4, 0-1 North).

On paper, it looks like a game ENMU should win. That’s the kind of thinking, though, that can get a team in trouble.

“Southwestern is a better football team than last year, no question about it,” ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said. “Their defense is better, and their special teams are better.

“Their talent level is up, but they’re waiting for things to jell.”

McCoy was part of a defense that played better last week than the score indicated, allowing only one touchdown to Commerce. He had half of the team’s four sacks.

Even after the Lions scored twice in nine seconds to tie the game 21-21 in the second quarter, the Hounds felt they were in good shape.

“We got so much heat on their quarterback,” Ribaudo said. “You just knew (something) was going to happen.”

McCoy said the defense was able to shrug off the sudden turn of events. After Commerce tied it, ENMU’s offense promptly drove for a field goal shortly before halftime and the Hounds pulled away from there.

“One of our defensive coaches told us, ‘Just go out and make something happen,’” McCoy said. “Coach Rib told us that kind of stuff happens, and we just had to fight through it.”

Southwestern’s Dan Cocannouer, a successful high school coach in Oklahoma before taking over the Bulldogs’ program in 2009, is trying to keep a positive outlook.

“Last week our defense played great again, but on offense we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said. “One thing about it is the guys haven’t given up. We’re still two or three spots away (from being competitive week-in and week-out).”

Cocannouer knows his defense, which has already faced West Texas A&M (77-14) and Midwestern State (46-9), will have its hands full trying to slow ENMU’s “NASCAR” attack.

“We have to try to control the clock, but our offense is struggling right now,” he said. “We just can’t get all 11 people on the same page.”