Put some respect on Tarleton's name

Courtesy of Tarleton Football

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Not too old to learn a lesson

Some people only learn lessons the hard way. I am one of those people.

I seem to have angered the weather, electricity, and water gods with my ode to 2020 last week. I apologize for the fallout from my errant ways and will try to be better moving forward.

It also seems some people at Tarleton have felt a bit disrespected by yours truly and rightfully so.

Two weeks ago I picked McNeese to beat the Texans by 18 points in Tarleton’s FCS debut. The result was a heartbreaking 40-37 loss in double overtime after the Texans held a 14-point lead late in the fourth quarter.

To add to the disrespect, Tarleton debuted in the middle of the small college power poll last week which led to some rancor online.

The final blow was my prediction for Tarleton’s game on Sunday afternoon. The Texans traveled to El Paso to play the program’s first game against an FBS foe, New Mexico State, inside the Sun Bowl. 

I felt the Texans would stay close to the Aggies but depth would be an issue in the end. I was wrong again.

Tarleton posted 33 points in the first half en route to a dominating 43-17 victory that is sure to open eyes around the country and vault the Texans up this week’s power poll.

Surely this writer has learned his lesson, right? Do not count on it.

Spare me the excuses

It did not take long for the excuses to begin following the Texans takedown of New Mexico State. 

Message boards and Twitter lit up with how the spring games were meaningless for FBS teams.

In fact, the excuses seemed to start days before the game.

Aggies coach Doug Martin said he was unlikely to give his starters a lot of minutes this spring during his weekly press conference. Martin also praised Tarleton and said the Texans would finish .500 if they played in the Sun Belt Conference.

I am not here to debate how the Texans would fare in an FBS conference in their first year of transitioning to Division I and I certainly do not want to hear excuses from a team with 85 scholarship players.

The team with the built in excuses on Sunday? That was Tarleton.

The Texans were playing Division II football last year and are unlikely to have been able to fulfill their allotment of 63 scholarships compared to the 36 scholarships they had last season.

Added to the possible excuse list was the pre-game announcement the Texans would be without five starters due to CoVID-19 protocols.

But Tarleton coach Todd Whitten and company are not going to make excuses. Instead, the Texans adapted and showed the true meaning of the “Next man up” mantra.

The fact is Tarleton was the better football team on Sunday and the margin was not close. The Texans demolished the Aggies from the start and scored two touchdowns in the first four and a half minutes of the contest.

This win was huge for the Texans’ program and none of the excuses can explain the whipping Tarleton placed on the Aggies on Sunday.

Breakout performance

One of the five players who missed Sunday’s game due to CoVID-19 protocols was Tarleton starting quarterback Steven Duncan.

If one team was prepared for the possibility of losing its starting quarterback the day of the game it was Tarleton.

Texans coach Todd Whitten had mentioned using a two-quarterback system leading into the spring season. 

Whitten wanted to give Duncan time to learn the offensive system and prepare to take the job full-time next fall.

However, Whitten also wanted to give Cameron Burston some playing time. Burston has exhausted his eligibility even with the NCAA granting an extra year to winter athletes.

This spring was the final opportunity to award Burston for his time and efforts he gave as a multiple-year backup quarterback and his role in helping the Texans’ program succeed to new heights.

Burston put on a show on Sunday afternoon completing 15-of-29 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Texans’ ground attack with 79 yards and two touchdowns on four attempts.

The senior from Vallejo, Calif. was the key to the Texans’ fast start with 91 rushing yards and two touchdowns along with 95 passing yards and a touchdown in the first quarter alone.

Burston’s second rushing touchdown in the first quarter was a thing of beauty. He was immediately pressured after dropping back to pass and proceeded to evade the entire New Mexico State defense for a 21-yard touchdown.

He broke six tackles as he raced across the field and received a nice block from wide receiver Gabe Douglas as he neared the goal line.

Douglas and Burston also teamed up on Tarleton’s second touchdown of the game when Burston hit a streaking Douglas down the right sideline. Douglas made a move on the safety to avoid a tackle and raced to the end zone for an 86-yard touchdown.

Douglas was another player who stepped up in a massive way for Tarleton. The junior transfer from Kilgore Junior College caught seven passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

The former Denton Ryan High School standout saw an increase in action with Texans leading receiver, Tariq Bitson, sidelined on Sunday.

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