By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
As of Friday afternoon, Mark Ribaudo was still hedging on who would be his starting quarterback today.
With Eastern New Mexico University’s football team in southeast Texas to face Lone Star Conference South Division foe Texas A&M-Kingsville tonight, Ribaudo said he wasn’t quite sure if sophomore J.J. Harp, one of four players to sit out last week with a suspension, or Muleshoe freshman Wes Wood would start.
Wood went 41-for-74 for 320 yards in the 30-20 loss to Tarleton State at Greyhound Stadium.
“I haven’t quite made that decision yet,” Ribaudo said. “I want to see how our walkthrough goes later this afternoon.”
Harp, who has set numerous school and NCAA records this season in ENMU’s “Air Raid” attack, is back on the active roster this week, Ribaudo said, along with sophomore wide receiver Darian Dale and backup running backs Michael Henderson and Shonte Patterson.
Even with their return, the Hounds (2-6, 0-4 South) will be without running backs Troy Harris (illness) and Terrence Griffin (concussion) and wide receiver Jesse Poku (knee). Harris and Poku were both out last week, while Griffin went out during the contest.
Clovis freshman Stefan Mills, who saw extensive action in the Tarleton game, will start tonight at running back, Ribaudo said, backed up by Patterson.
It all makes the team’s task more daunting against the Javelinas (7-1, 2-1), who dropped from seventh to 14th in the NCAA Division II rankings after a 38-7 drubbing at Midwestern State last week but remain in the hunt for division and conference honors and a postseason berth.
Javs coach Bo Atterberry said he expects an interesting game.
“The guys were disappointed last week,” he said of the loss to Midwestern. “We’ve just got to get back on track.
“It should be an outstanding matchup. They’ve (Hounds) gone from running quite a bit (in the past) to throwing quite a bit.”
Atterberry said whoever is under center for ENMU should provide a stiff test for his squad.
“(Wood) threw the ball well (against Tarleton),” he said. “Both of them have made some really nice plays.”
Ribaudo said the Hounds, who made a 13-hour overnight bus trip for the game, just have to do what they can against the Javs.
“We’ve got to go out and play our game, not turn over the ball,” he said. “And we can’t give up big plays on defense. We’ll just go out and see how it turns out.”
For Kingsville, the game carries additional weight with postseason implications. Atterberry said he doesn’t want his team looking past ENMU to upcoming clashes with Angelo State and Abilene Christian.
“They’re all important (games), in our opinion,” he said. “You just have to take it day-by-day and week-by-week, knowing that any team in this conference is capable of winning.”
ENMU (2-6) at
Texas A&M-Kingsville (7-1)
6 p.m. (MDT), Kingsville, Texas
Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9
Coaches: ENMU, Mark Ribaudo, 5th season, 17-34. Texas A&M-Kingsville, Bo Atterberry, 3rd season, 17-13.
Last week: The Hounds led then-No. 13 Tarleton State 13-0 at halftime, but the Texans rallied for a 30-20 victory. Kingsville had an eight-game winning streak, dating to the end of last season, snapped in a 38-7 loss at Midwestern State.
Last meeting: 2008, Kingsville posted a 35-32 victory at Greyhound Stadium. The Hounds have won three of the last five meetings at Blackwater Draw, but have never won at Kingsville and trail the all-time series 20-4.
Kingsville players to watch: Billy Garza, 6-1, 235, QB, Sr.; Ryan Lincoln, 6-0, 190, WR, Jr.; Fred Winborn, 6-0, 200, RB, Jr.; Jeff Edwards, 6-1, 230, OLB, Sr.; Delra, Glover, 6-1, 205, S, Jr.; Matt Romig, 6-4, 205, DE, Fr.
Notes: Harp is still ranked No. 1 in Division II in total offense, while Poku is second in receptions and third in receiving yards per game. ENMU is second in Division II in total offense, behind West Liberty (W. Va.). … Harp has had multiple TD passes in each of the last 12 games he’s played. … Freshman PK Taylor Cannon leads the LSC in scoring with 63 points, including 10-of-11 FGs. … LBs Texavier Henry and Nathan Uland rank 1-2 in the LSC in tackles, while CB Mark Patterson is ninth.