By JOSEPH HAMRICK
Texas A&M University-Commerce will face a more physical football test as new head coach Don Carthel takes his Lions to AT&T Stadium in Arlington today to face Delta State University of Mississippi at 5 p.m.
In Carthel’s debut last week, the Lions blew out NCAA Division III member Sul Ross State 51-6, and had top notch performances by both star offensive and defensive players, Tyrik Rollison — who threw for 364 yards and four touchdown passes — and Tevin Moore — who recorded two sacks. Carthel said it feels good to win, but has his team focused on the task at hand.
“Winning’s a lot better than losing,” he said. “It’s good for these guys getting off to a good start. But we’re facing a bigger, stronger and faster team now.”
Even though Delta State is a very physical team, Carthel said he has some plans for his defense to stop the Statesmen, who recorded 242 yards rushing in their 24-14 victory in the season opener against Mississippi Valley State.
“This hopefully allows us to slow them down a bit,” he said.
Rollison said it felt good to get a win under his belt, and added he feels right at home with the Lions, considering his home town of Sulphur Springs is a 15-minute drive away.
“This is the start of something new,” he said. “The start of something good. It feels like I’m home.”
Rollison was never sacked in the first game, and said he does not think that will change in the game today.
“They have nothing that our offensive line can’t handle,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in them. They worked their butts off.”
Rollison said his eyes have been glued to the films of both the Lions and the Statesmen’s opening games, trying to find ways for him to improve on his game.
“There has been a lot of studying,” he said, adding in the first game he noticed he stared down his receivers too much and will focus more on reading the defensive scheme more.
The Statesmen have two large running backs in Richard Freelon (6-0, 210 Sr.) and Timothy Foy (5-9, 195 Fr.) that will likely keep the Lions defense on their toes. Freelon rushed for a team-high 84 yards on 17 carries. Foy ran for 74 yards and one TD on 19 carries.
Moore said he anticipates a lot of aggressive running from those two but thinks his defensive line is more than capable to handle them.
“We’re focusing on getting off the ball and being aggressive,” he said. “We’re coming out with the same intensity.”
Although the Statesmen’s offensive line is large, Moore said his line should be able to outmuscle them.
“They’re big but not too athletic,” he said.
C arthel said his team made a few mistakes during their opener, but was thankful that they were all “correctable mistakes” that could be improved upon through practice.
“Our run blocking wasn’t up to speed,” he said. “But we’ll just get better with time.”