Hounds look for improvement in home opener

By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico

Mark Ribaudo knew there would be some kinks going from Eastern New Mexico University’s traditional triple-option look to a spread offense.

The Greyhounds hope they’ve got some of the bugs worked out this week as they prepare to host Southwestern Oklahoma in a 6 p.m. Lone Star Conference crossover game at Greyhound Stadium.

Despite a lengthy weather delay last week, Ribaudo said the Hounds could’ve played better on offense in their season-opening 16-9 loss to Southern Nazarene at Bethany, Okla.

“It was more us than (the weather),” Ribaudo said. “We have a new offense, with new kids. It’s like starting a program over.”

Ribaudo said Cory Baker, a sophomore from Adkins Texas, will start at quarterback this week after redshirt sophomore Eric Wilcockson started at Southern Nazarene. Still, Ribaudo noted the position is there for the taking.

“Corey played well last week (9-for-16 for 54 yards), but we’re waiting for someone to step up,” he said. “We’re going to go through some growing pains, but we’re committed to (the spread). We’ve just got to put in the work and get better at it.”

Defensively and on special teams, Ribaudo said the Hounds played reasonably well.

“(The defense) played well,” he said. “We gave up some passes we shouldn’t have, but experience is a big factor.”

Southwestern is looking for a second consecutive road win after opening with a 29-15 victory at Northwestern Oklahoma.

Fourth-year coach Ryan Held said that his team played pretty well against Northwestern Oklahoma, there is room for improvement.

“There were some good things, but we saw some things we were disappointed in,” Held said. “The level of competition and intensity will definitely go up this week.”

Held said he recognizes the Hounds are in a transition period.

“Obviously, when you have philosophical changes, there are going to be some growing pains,” he said. “It’s going to be a war, I know that.”

The Mustangs have made strides in the past two seasons under Held and last year were part of an unlikely five-way tie for the championship in the six-team LSC North.

Held pointed to a lack of success in crossover games. In his stint at Southwestern, the Mustangs have gone 2-10 against the South.

“We’ve got this thing going in the right direction,” he said, “but we’ve still got to get things going against the South teams.

Southwestern Oklahoma at ENMU
6 p.m. today in a Lone Star Conference crossover game at Blackwater Draw.
Records: Southwestern Oklahoma 1-0, ENMU 0-1.
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Coaches: Southwestern Oklahoma, Ryan Held, 4th year; Eastern New Mexico, Mark Ribaudo, 4th year.
Last meeting: ENMU routed the Bulldogs 28-0 in 2005 at Weatherford, Okla.
Southwestern Oklahoma players to watch: Joe Sawyer, 6-4, 270, Jr., TE; Steve Day, 6-2, 210, Jr., QB; Jake Olivarez, 6-5, 290, So., OT; Cory Summers, 6-3, 300, Jr., DE; Ruzell McCoy, 5-10, 210, Sr., MLB; Greg Franklin, 6-0, 240, Sr, DE.
Notes: Southwestern leads the all-time series 21-14-2, but the Greyhounds have posted shutouts in the last two meetings. They beat the Bulldogs 39-0 in 2004 in their previous matchup at Blackwater Draw. … Prior to coming to Southwestern, Held had relative success in three seasons as Oklahoma Panhandle State’s coach. He went 14-19 from 2002-04 after inheriting a program in the midst of a 28-game losing streak and with just 17 players on the roster. … Held played collegiately under Tom Osborne at the University of Nebraska (1993-96). … After going 1-10 in his first year at the school, Held has led the Bulldogs to consecutive 6-5 marks. … Southwestern finished in a five-way tie for the LSC North championship last season (3-2), but was the only team in the division to post a winning overall record. … Day threw for 250 yards and three TDs in the Bulldogs’ 29-15 win at Northwestern Oklahoma on Aug. 28.
Quote: “I think we’ve got some guys who can make some plays, which I think we’ve definitely been missing in the past.” — Held, on his team’s potential.

— Compiled by Dave Wagner