By Dave Wagner
Make no mistake, fourth-year Tarleton State coach Cary Fowler is glad to be 3-0, including 2-0 in the Lone Star Conference.
He says, though, that it’s all behind the Texans as they prepare for today’s 2 p.m. Lone Star Conference matchup against Eastern New Mexico University at Blackwater Draw in ENMU’s Homecoming game.
“What’s happened in the past is in the past,” Fowler said. “Our total focus right now is on this game.”
The Texans, ranked 22nd in NCAA Division II, have beaten Midwestern State, Angelo State and Abilene Christian by a combined 14 points, including last week’s double-overtime victory over ACU.
“Defensively, they’re pretty danged good,” ENMU coach Josh Lynn said of the Texans. “Their defensive front is big; they (rotate) eight guys in there that can play.
“They’re the best team we seen so far, by far.”
ENMU (1-2), which is playing its LSC opener, is coming off a 33-26 loss at Incarnate Word, a game delayed twice by lightning in which the Hounds cut a 19-point deficit to 26-23 in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals turned a first-series fumble by ENMU into a touchdown, then added a field goal after the Hounds fumbled away the kickoff for a 10-0 lead in just over six minutes.
Lynn thought the two delays — one before the opening kickoff and one in the second quarter — might have actually benefited the Hounds.
“I think we came back and played better after the second delay,” he said. “Looking at that game, if you take out the first quarter, we’d have been all right.
“The defense played great in the second half. I think they allowed less than 100 yards in the second half.”
After a 48-yard field goal by ENMU freshman Mitchell Cox cut the lead to seven with just over a minute left, the Hounds recovered two onside kicks only to have both nullified by penalty.
Fowler said he thinks Lynn is closer to getting the Hounds going than people realize, noting that Lynn has transitioned the offense to more of the veer look that the Hounds played under the late Bud Elliott.
“Josh is a great coach and he’s doing great things,” said Fowler, the defensive coordinator at Midwestern State (2000-07) and Tarleton (2008-09) before taking over the TSU program. “I’m seeing what looks like the old ENMU teams.
“We’re a team that runs the football, too. It’s going to be just a good, old-fashioned football game.”