Today we sit down with d2messageboard.com user “Zombie8myBrainz” (save the laughing for later) who is a fantastic resource on all things Eastern New Mexico Football. He sat down to answer some questions going into this match up and also on Eastern Football as it stands. Here we go:
TLW: “After the 2-0 start, how is Eastern Feeling?”
Z8: “In my opinion, there are mixed feelings. Our season opener was against then AFCA #18 Southwest Baptist and the defense and special teams looked very sharp aside from a few miscues, but the defense looked vulnerable at times against a relatively unknown Western New Mexico team in our second outing. Some of this may be chalked up to Western not receiving its proper due when it comes to talent, but with five turnovers in our favor, a winning margin of only 3 points left much to be desired. The talent is good enough to get us wins if we minimize mistakes. Wyatt Strand showed some potential as a passer in the 1st game but was fairly quiet against Western New Mexico.”
TLW: “Josh Lynn is gone after 4 solid seasons, he is now at Nebraska-Kearney, and now you all have a new head coach, Kelley Lee. Tell us about him. “
Z8: “I don’t know much about him aside from the fact that he used to run the offense and had been with Lynn for five seasons before taking over the reins. From what I’ve heard on campus, it appears that he has little tolerance for off the field shenanigans and hold his players accountable for their actions and attitudes while interacting with university staff. “
TLW: “What are your overall thoughts going into the game?”
Z8: “ENMU will be entering into this contest as an underdog against a heavily favored and nationally rank Commerce team, but I think the years of having LSC teams sleep on us are gone. I think Commerce will not be taking this contest lightly, and I feel that ENMU can deliver a formidable challenge if they start firing on all cylinders.”
TLW: With the offenses being polar opposite, what does ENMU need to do to win?
Z8: “Time of Possession and scoring on every drive is absolutely key to winning this contest. Commerce is explosive and can score quickly if ENMU allows them on the field repeatedly without scoring in between possession, I fear the game may get out of reach. Solution: hold onto the ball as long as possible and score on each drive. This will keep our defense fresh and allow us to be more aggressive in the pass rush which will hopefully disrupt the passing game for Commerce. What we cannot do is have quick 3 and out on offense and prolonged drives against the Greyhound defense.”
TLW: “What is your biggest concern going into the game?”
Z8: “It’s #3 Texas A&M-Commerce, so everything is a big concern. The offense is skilled and can pass or run, and that defense is very very fast. “
TLW: “On the flip side, if you were a Commerce fan, what would concern you the most about the Hounds?”
Z8: “The Hounds are scrappers. If I were a Commerce fan, my biggest concern would be having the Greyhounds within 1 or 2 scores near the end of the game because they can make things happen and play beyond their normal skill level when a game is within reach.”
TLW: “Eastern was beaten soundly last year by TAMUC, but beat an Midwestern State team that Commerce lost to. Tell us about that win over MSU last year.”
Z8: “MSU slept on ENMU last year, they were looking past us, and we capitalized on their mental lapse. I love the Greyhounds, but if that game was played ten times over, I don’t know if we would win more than 3 of those contests.”
TLW: “While Commerce and Midwestern have been the top two programs the last few years, Eastern has been flying under the radar. Do the Hounds get the respect they deserve?”
Z8: “No, they do not and probably will not. I would almost be willing to bet that if ENMU did beat #3 TAMC we still wouldn’t land in the top 25. I will say that the bowl games have been nice, but I’m still bitter about that Conference Championship and no trip to the playoffs.”
TLW: “What match-up are you most interested in seeing?”
Z8: “If you are talking match-up between personnel, I cannot say I’m familiar enough with TAMC to choose any. I am interested in seeing how Kass will bounce back he didn’t lead in rushing yards and had less than 100 yards total last week. I think he’s the competitive type who will like to go out and reestablish his dominance as a back this game.”
TLW: “Finally, care to predict a score?”
Z8: “I am a homer, so GREYHOUNDS 31-28!
Overtime: Where does the Wagon Wheel Award come from? Fans would love to know….
Z8: “I will defer that answer to someone else….”
WTSUBuff: “The Wagon Wheel Rivalry, a tradition started in 1986, gives possession of the wagon wheel “trophy” to the winner of the West Texas A&M vs Eastern New Mexico football game. ENMU’s Dallan Sanders reached out to a WT administrator with the idea of a traveling trophy and the two decided on a wagon wheel. The “trophy” is now set on the stadium hill of the host school and the victorious team charges up the hill to take possession of it at the end of the game. Each team has won the wagon wheel 14 times since 1986 (the game was not played in 1991 or 2010) “