Lion Wire Managing Editor Brian Pate takes a stab at 15 preseason questions.
1. Predict the Lions regular season record and how they finish in the LSC.
“I am going to the fatalistic one here and say the Lions finish 10-1 in the regular season and one of those losses is in conference to a team they have no business losing to, or a team like Angelo or Tarleton. The conference is loaded. I could be wrong and I hope I am.”
2. How high are the chances of the Lions finishing the regular season undefeated?
3. What is your biggest concern heading into the season?
“The offensive line and quarterback play. We have never had a complete unknown come in as a starter at QB and the same be said of this presumptive backup. Also, how well will the offensive line mesh.”
4. What are you most confident in?
“The skill position players. Big time guys like Hobbs, Wimberly, and Darrion Landry and of course the running back position is loaded. Also, the front 7 on defense, a lot of experience and playmaking ability, and of course, Kristov Martinez and his kicking.”
5. What are the Lions toughest 3 conference opponents in order?
“1. Midwestern, they are the defending conference champions after all. 2. Angelo State-They are a very good defensive team and always are competitive. 3. Tarleton-The Texans are on their way back up. Todd Whitten is a very good coach.”
6. Who is your breakout player for 2018?
On offense, inside receiver Kelan Smith. He was thrown into the fire replacing Buck Wilson at the Y receiver during the playoffs. On defense, Dominique Ramsey really has the ability to makes some plays, and on special teams, I think you will see the future in Rockwall native and kicker Jake Viquez. I think he will kick some to see what he can do and get his confidence up on kickoffs and field goals.”
7. What are the 3 biggest games of the year in order and why?
Midwestern no doubt is the biggest. Not only do the Lions get to go back to the scene of the crime and have a chance to wipe the smirks off the faces of the Ponies, it would set a tone for the conference. No more close games, I want to see a thorough butt kicking. 2. CSU-Pueblo. How do we stack up at home against a team that is always going to the NCAA playoffs and are in Region? 3. Angelo State. They are really under the radar and more than likely will be finishing their season in the hope of getting back to a bowl game or to the playoffs.”
8. What is one HOME game you would like to see on TV this year?
“I would LOVE to see ESPN come do their small college showcase for the opener against Kingsville. The two most tradition rich LSC schools with the student body showing up in full force. I would LOVE that.”
9. Other than the Lions, what other LSC team would you like to see go to the D2 playoffs?
“Eastern New Mexico. They are good group. The play hard and are never pretentious. Plus, I believe they could go far in the D2 playoffs with how well they run the flexbone/option.”
10. Name the most important player on offense, defense, and special teams.
“Offense: Vincent Hobbs. Defense: Brucks Saathoff. Special Teams: Kritov Martinez.”
11. Which Lion assistant coach is most likely to move up to a bigger school?
“Like my comrades, I believe the eyes will be on Matt Storm because of the obscene amount of offense his units have generated and how good at his job he is, but also be on the lookout for Yogi Gallegos. I have seen how he coaches. He is young, football wise beyond his years and has an acumen for the game. I think some coach at an FCS or Non power 5 conference FBS school could take notice.”
12. What coach on staff would you like to shadow for a game and why?
“Matt Storm. I would love to see what he looks for when he is calling plays and how he attacks different defenses, especially when the game is tight. Would be fascinating to watch.”
13. If you could go to a recruiting trip with Colby Carthel, where would you go and why?
“The Tyler/Longview, Texas area. A lot of good football is played in Smith/Gregg/Upshur counties and Eastern Van Zandt/Western Rusk County. Its just 2-3 hours from Commerce and a lot of recruits are from the mold he likes to recruit. I would also like to show him the private school talent they have in Tyler, not to mention the BBQ places!”
14. If Colby Carthel eventually gets hired away to an FBS school, where could you see him at?
“Call me crazy, but if Kliff Kingsbury flops at Tech this year, Tech AD Kirby Hocutt I believe will make a play to move Mike Leach back to Lubbock. The Pirate can still coach. If that does not happen or if Leach wants to stay up at Wazzu, I believe Tech would come after Colby. They can see what he and his Father did in Canyon and what he has done in just 5 years in Commerce, from conference chumps to national champs. He is a Panhandle guy and would do well there. Another place I could see him at is North Texas. Recruiting to Denton would be no problem for Colby, as current UNT Coach Seth Littrell’s stock is quickly rising and UNT is back competing for conference titles, so Littrell may be up and out sooner rather than later. I do believe Colby could take UNT to the next level. Guy just has that magic touch, but Colby loves Commerce and Commerce loves Colby, so I would be shocked if he leaves.”
15. If you could schedule one team for a neutral site game at the Star in Frisco (which has been discussed as a possibility in the future), who would it be and why, conference or non-conference?
“Ouachita Baptist out of the Great American Conference. OBU has a good program and has a TON of alums in the DFW area and the majority of their undergrad students are from the DFW area. Their campus is only about 3-4 hours from Frisco. They have gone to the postseason 3 straight years and won the GAC title last year. It would be a good game and I think environment would be crazy good.”
Overtime: With this being the first season without Coach Ernest Hawkins, what should the program do to honor his memory?
“Would love to see the Lions run their first offensive play of the season out of the Slot-I formation and let the crowd in on it, similar to what Texas did when they ran a play out of the wishbone when Darryl Royal passed away. Also, a patch on their jerseys with the letters “ERH” would be great.”