The Blitz: Analysis of 17 teams following a wild Week 2

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I had a couple of “deja vu” moments during football games last weekend. The first moment happened Friday night when my wife was sitting near one of my ex-girlfriends from nearly 30 years ago while I was covering a high school game. Neither of us realized this was happening, but my sister, who is friends with my ex-girlfriend, knew and sat next to my wife at the game. Thankfully, the ex-girlfriend was kind despite how wrong I treated her at the end of the relationship.

The second moment came while watching the Texas sub-FBS teams on Saturday night. First, I watched Texas A&M-Commerce build a 19-6 lead and was in control of its game at Tennessee Tech. That is until the Lions defense wore down in the fourth quarter resulting in the Golden Eagles scoring 20 consecutive points to send the Lions to a heartbreaking 26-25 loss.

Later, I was watching Midwestern State struggle on the road against Eastern New Mexico, who was leading the Mustangs 14-13 in the fourth quarter. That’s when the real deja vu happened. MSU’s Dylon Davis stepped in front of a crossing route and returned the ball 43-yards for his fourth career pick-six, which propelled MSU to a 28-14 victory.

Why would that bring back deja vu? I’m sorry Lions fans, because I know you don’t want to read again about how you built a 23-0 lead over the Mustangs at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington last year before Davis sparked a thrilling 31-30 comeback with a 70-yard pick-six.

What truly struck me as odd is that all of these events happened in Week 2 of the last two seasons. Will this comeback victory propel MSU to another Lone Star Conference title or send Texas A&M-Commerce to a disappointing season as it did last year? Only time will tell, but Saturday’s events certainly sent this writer down memory lane.

Western Athletic Conference

  • Abilene Christian coach Keith Patterson mentioned his team was unsure what to expect from the PVAMU passing attack after the Panthers only attempted eight passes in Week 1. The Wildcats secondary struggled early, but Patterson and his staff made the necessary adjustments throughout the game to earn the victory.

  • The Sam Houston offense has struggled through its first two games, and there is one glaring area causing the Bearkats problems - the offensive line. This isn’t breaking news, but let’s look at some stats. Last year’s o-line had a 78.5 pass block rating from Pro Football Focus (PFF), while this year’s line has a 57.8 grade through the first two games. Ethan Hagler is the only returning starter and has struggled since moving from center to right guard. This unit will need to improve quickly for the Kats. The o-line has allowed 24 pressures on 70 pass attempts this year compared to 66 pressures on 458 pass attempts last season.

  • ACU DL Tyrin Bradley and Tarleton K Adrian Guzman earned WAC Player of the Week honors following their performances against Prairie View A&M and TCU, respectively.

Southland Conference

  • UIW WR Darion Chafin showed why the NFL scouts are enamored with his ability after setting UIW’s single-game receiving record with 262 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions in a win over Nevada. Through two games, the Cardinals are the second-highest overall rated team (90.9) in FCS, according to PFF. UIW’s offense (79.8) and defense (85.6) are rated seventh in FCS thus far.

  • Chafin was joined by UIW teammate Chris Whittaker and Lamar K Chris Esqueda as Southland Conference Players of the Week.

  • The Texas A&M-Commerce defense did everything they could to get the Lions their first win against an FCS team. However, the Lions defense will wear down over the season if the offense continues to be ineffective. Wearing down results from transitioning to the FCS, where teams have already built depth.

  • Houston Baptist was rolling along until the offense stalled in the second half of a disappointing 21-20 home loss to Lindenwood. The Huskies rushing attack was ineffective averaging 1.7 yards per attempt, which, combined with two fumbles, ultimately proved costly.

Southwestern Athletic Conference

  • Texas Southern’s football locker room is being upgraded and will receive new lockers next week. Other improvements include enhanced ventilation and new flooring in the locker room and player’s lounge.

  • Prairie View A&M struggled to establish the run against a stout ACU offensive line last Saturday. This will be another tough week for the Panthers, who have a brutal non-conference schedule.

Lone Star Conference

  • The biggest question facing Angelo State this year was regarding an offensive line that saw a lot of changes during the offseason. The Rams offensive linemen put those questions to rest, paving the way for 264 rushing yards and a 6.1-yard average per attempt. ASU has all the ingredients needed to be a national contender.

  • I was surprised at how easily a Justin Carrigan coached team was physically beaten in UTPB’s season opener. The Falcons got the message from Carrigan, recording five sacks and allowing a measly 0.5 yards per rush attempt against Western Colorado. However, the lack of offense is a concern for UTPB.

  • West Texas A&M showed improved consistency over a season ago with a comfortable win over Adams State. However, the Buffs seemingly relaxed after taking a 27-6 lead early in the fourth quarter, allowing the Grizzlies to pull within one score late, which indicates WT is still lacking a “killer instinct.”

  • MSU’s Davis and ASU K Asa Fuller were named LSC Players of the Week following their performances in Week 2.

American Southwest Conference

  • I wrote about three things I learned from No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor’s loss to No. 6 Wisconsin-Whitewater. I made one point regarding the lack of “nastiness” from the Cru until the third quarter. I want to clarify that it is not a lack of effort or physicality. UMHB can beat nearly every team in DIII without being nasty, but playing with a chip on its shoulder is a necessity to win a national title.

  • Howard Payne lost the turnover battle, which was the difference in a 42-39 loss to George Fox. The Yellow Jackets have improved in many areas over the last four years, but the secondary remains a weakness.

  • HPU QB Landon McKinney (249 yards, 2 TDs passing),  McMurry LB Devin Nixon (11 tackles, 7 solo), and UMHB K Anthony Avila (43-yard FG) were named ASC Players of the Week.

Southern Athletic Association

  • Some of Trinity’s vulnerabilities were exposed in a 17-16 overtime win over Wheaton (Ill.). The Tigers main weakness is their ability to extend a drive on third down. Trinity has converted on 35 percent (6-of-17) of its third down attempts this season and had a 2-for-8 performance against Wheaton. The Tigers need to improve on third down to compete against UMHB or Hardin-Simmons.

  • Tigers WR BJ Stewart ( 7 rec, 108 yards, TD) and LB Caleb Harmel (11 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 0.5 sack) each earned SAA Player of the Week honors following their victory over Wheaton.

Sooner Athletic Conference

  • Arizona Christian will leave the SAC and become an affiliate member of the Frontier Conference in football beginning with the 2023 season. ACU president Len Munsil had an interesting quote in the statement, “Having won three conference championships in our first seven years in the Sooner Athletic Conference (previously the Central States Football League) and after seven consecutive winning seasons, we are excited to move to a new level of competition and game-day experience."

  • Texas Wesleyan did not get off to a fast start last week, but a 22-point second quarter led the Rams to a comfortable 52-0 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State. The Rams have a showdown against No. 10 Ottawa (Ariz.) at 7 p.m. Saturday in Fort Worth that will likely determine the SAC title and a playoff berth.

Southwestern Junior College Football Conference

  • Turnovers and unsportsmanlike penalties during the second quarter doomed Navarro’s hopes of an upset at No. 1 New Mexico Military. The Bulldogs offense gained 606 total yards two weeks after being shut out for the first time since 1997.

  • Blinn used a punishing ground attack to defeat Cisco. The Buccaneers used the Wranglers own game plan against them and held a 75-41 advantage in total plays, including a 55-23 edge in rushing attempts. Blinn will face another stiff challenge in two weeks against No. 1 New Mexico Military.

  • Meanwhile, Cisco seems to lack an offensive identity against Blinn. The Wranglers expect to rely on the flexbone to keep opponents off balance. Instead, Cisco used multiple formations and ended the game with 18 pass and 23 rush attempts. That will not be a winning combination for the Wranglers.

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