First off let me say a big thanks to Brian and Russell for allowing me to be a part of “The Lion Wire” and to all the people who have welcomed and congratulated me. Being a former Lion I have to start with a football post but look forward to exploring all TAMU-Commerce sports so here goes.
With the loss of the all time leading passer in school history, Luis Perez, to graduation the Lions are now faced with trying to find someone who can fill his shoes. A very daunting task to say the least as he leaves with almost all of the major school passing records. The Lion coaching staff was faced with an almost identical situation 26 years ago. After leading the Lions to back to back NCAA quarterfinal playoff appearances Bobby Bounds left as the top passer in ETSU history. His back-up Mike Meador was also a senior and for the first time in 3 seasons there would be a new QB taking snaps. Perez was a special player being his accomplishments were made in only 2 seasons. His back-up Rodriguez could have been special as well if he was given the opportunity. Both have taken their final snaps for the Lions. They leave behind a huge void. After watching the spring game it is safe to say the cupboards are not bare.
With a very solid defense returning they have an excellent chance to defend the title and reclaim the LSC title as well. Wheeler, who appears to be heir apparent to the QB spot and the other challengers will have lots of targets to pass the ball to and a solid running game also that make things easier. They lost a lot of great O-linemen so we will have to keep a eye on those guys. The Blue Gang is in excellent shape. This defense returns 9 starters and will rival that ’92 defense that is very highly regarded and was statistically one of the top ones ever. Bottom line is that it will take more than a QB to replace Perez…it will take a tremendous team effort to do so…and these Lions are more than capable of doing just that!
Both Bounds and Meador stayed as grad assistant coaches for the 92 season and helped develop Clint Dolezel into a top QB in the LSC and a 2nd place finish. Perez has other aspirations so he will probably not be around like those guys were. The playoff Gods were against us though as a 8-3 record and #14 ranking in the final regular season poll were not enough for a 3rd consecutive playoff appearance even after a convincing blowout 40-3 win against Cameron in the regular season finale (only 16 teams were allowed then vs. 28 now). I am looking for an even better performance from this ’18 squad as the valuable experience gained by the returning players will make them contenders again. Leadership may come from a different position than QB but just know that just like in 92…it will come!