Ribaudo: Air attack is shaping up

By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico

BLACKWATER DRAW — So far, so good, Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo says.

The Greyhounds’ transition from a triple-option offense to one which will rely more heavily on the passing game continued Saturday morning during a two-hour scrimmage under brisk conditions at Greyhound Stadium.

“I was looking for the offense to move the ball,” said Ribaudo, who will be entering his fourth season at the helm in the fall. “I think we scored six touchdowns today — five during the scrimmage and one in the ‘skelly’ (7-on-7 skeleton drill).”

The Hounds are now halfway through spring practice. They have another scrimmage on tap for 9 a.m. Saturday and will finish it off with an alumni game on April 26, both at Blackwater Draw.

“I’m really happy with where we are right now,” Ribaudo said. “We have the capability of making some plays on offense — at least we’ve shown that in the spring.”

The players appear to be having fun with it as well.

“It’s enjoyable,” said center Ryan Torres, who will be a third-year sophomore in the fall. “It’s like getting a new car.”

Torres, who started all six Lone Star Conference South Division games for the Hounds last fall, said the wide-open attack is more like what he played at North Crowley High School in the Fort Worth area. He said it’s just something the Hounds had to do.

“I guess football today is all about the big plays,” he said. “It’s just really cool. We still run the ball, but this is really exciting to do.

“When I got here (in 2006), this (the triple-option) was very new to me. This feels like I’m going back to my roots.”

Only about 60 of the 70 players in camp took part, with some nursing injuries. Ribaudo said there are positives and negatives to having a relatively small group.

“The good thing is you really get to look at some guys,” he said.

While he was excited about the offense, Ribaudo said the Hounds didn’t play badly on the defensive side of the ball.

“I thought our first defense played really well,” he said. “We didn’t give up that many yards, and we got some turnovers.

“I’m as happy with this football team as I’ve been at any point. We’ve got a lot of good character guys, and they play hard.”

Torres said it wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy playing the triple-option offense.

“We love the triple option,” he said. “It’s just that when you see something like this, you get excited. It’s just great to feel that enthusiasm with everybody.

“There are always going to be kinks to work out. There’s different blocking schemes to learn, but it just opens everything up.”