This Saturday will mark another first-time matchup for the Texans when they play host new to Lone Star Conference member Western New Mexico.
Tarleton enters the game with a 2-3 record and an early 2-1 record in LSC play. They recorded their second win last week in an impressive 48-20 beatdown of conference newcomers Texas-Permian Basin. The energy the team has rolling is something head coach Todd Whitten hopes they take into Saturday night.
“I think the momentum of coming off a win is always a good thing to have. We’ve had a very good week of practice on both sides of the ball and I like our chances to play well on Saturday night,” he said. “Whether that’s going to be enough to beat these guys, I don’t know, but we have had a good week.”
The Mustangs (2-3, 2-2 in LSC) will travel to Stephenville coming off a tough 43-22 loss to No. 10 Midwestern State last week.
Western New Mexico is expected to be a tough unit to stop when they have possession. Their offense is led by quarterback Javia Hall who has thrown for 1,118 yards and 12 touchdowns through the season’s first five games. The Mustangs’ leading rusher is DeAndre Williams who has carried the ball 46 times for 279 yards and a touchdown.
Hall’s primary target will likely be receiver Xavier Ayers. He’s brought in 35 catches for 556 yards, including seven touchdown grabs.
“Western New Mexico is a good team and they can be very, very explosive offensively. They possibly are the most explosive team in our league,” Whitten said. “They have one of the more capable quarterbacks in the conference, who originally signed at UTEP and came in from Trinity Valley Community College. He really makes them go and I’ve been impressed by him on film.”
While the Mustangs offense is receiving a lot of hype, Tarleton’s isn’t one to pass over. Last week’s win moved Whitten’s career record at Tarleton to 25-0 when his team scores 40 or more points. With that a likely goal, the man once again leading the charge will be quarterback Zed Woerner.
Woerner finished 17-23 for 289 yards and four touchdowns last week and will be looking for a repeat performance come Saturday.
“Zed is very important in everything we do. We need him to play well every week. If that happens then we have a chance to win every week,” Whitten said. “That’s a bit of pressure on him, but that’s the way it goes playing that position. We nee him to play well and he’s had a good week of practice. Hopefully he can go out and have another good performance.”
One area Whitten hopes his team can improve upon Saturday is their running game.
In the win over the Texas-Permian Basin, the Texans rushed the ball a total of 39 times for only 117 yards. That’s an average of only 2.1 yards a carry.
A quick fix isn’t in the works for Tarleton’s ground game as much of it is due to injury and inexperience up front.
“I wish I could say that it’s because we were passing so effectively, but that isn’t the case,” said Whitten. “We are so inexperienced, young and injured up on our offensive line. We aren’t getting a whole lot done up front offensively. We need to get healthy and hopefully these youngsters we’re playing will get better each week. Right now, we just aren’t that good up front.”
Tarleton and Western New Mexico are scheduled to kick things off Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at Tarleton’s Memorial Stadium.