For the Tarleton State offense, the best thing about next week’s season opener will be facing somebody besides the Texan defense.
Tarleton opens with Northeastern State at 7 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Stadium, but first they held their annual public dress rehearsal with an intrasquad scrimmage Wednesday night.
“Our defense is fast,” Fowler said. “We can really fly to the ball.”
That speed was on display Wednesday, as the defense was dominant for the most part against their offensive counterparts. The Texans, who open the season ranked No. 18 in the nation by D2football.com, were third in the Lone Star Conference in both total defense and scoring defense last year.
The offense averaged just 3.6 yards per run and passed for only 72 yards. The good news offensively, was starting QB Nick Stephens passed for 41 yards in the two-minute drill, setting up a 29-yard field goal before time expired.
The only offensive touchdown came when back-up quarterback Aaron Doyle hit Chuck Stermer over the middle and the receiver fought through a tackler right at the goal line. Stermer and Arthur Buckingham led the team in receptions, with Devon Gray also making multiple grabs.
Stephens is the clear starter over Doyle, Fowler says, but Doyle will see time. The Texans have packages specifically intended to take advantage of the redshirt freshman’s mobility, and may even use him in the wildcat.
“Nick is the starter, I know that,” Doyle said at Tarleton’s media night Tuesday. “I’m just fortunate to learn from him. There’s no rivalry between us at all. I just want to help the team, whether it’s returning kicks or punts, running the wildcat, whatever.”
The special teams made highlights, particularly when track star turned receiver Jamal Mays split the seams on a punt return for a 75-yard touchdown.
The Texans worked systematically through a number of game-type situations, including all kinds of punting situations, and goalline, two-minute and four-minute offense and defense.
“We wanted to go through as many scenarios as possible,” said Cary Fowler. “The only thing we didn’t do was onside kick, and that’s just because we didn’t want to get anybody killed.”
The Texans are moving into game-week mode and classes begin on campus next week. Fowler likes kicking the season off at home during Thursday of the first week of school.
“All the spirit groups and everybody will be on campus and excited about the start of the new year,” Fowler said. “Not just a new football season, but a new school year, too.
“It’s for real now,” Fowler continued. “We’re tired of working against each other, we’re ready to go to work against somebody else. We’ll be excited Thursday night to go against somebody wearing green instead of purple.”
Lowery moves to running back
Fowler says Brandon Lowery, a true freshman from Sachse, has been moved to running back. The Texans looked at Lowery as a receiver, but Fowler says the team is already deep at that position. Lowery played running back in high school.
“He ran a 10.3 in the 100 in high school,” Fowler said. “I told our offensive coaches we needed to find somewhere to use him or I would make him an outside linebacker. I just know I don’t want a guy with his ability just standing on the sideline or red-shirting.”
Military Appreciation Night
University officials have dubbed Thursday’s season opener as Military Appreciation Night. All current and former military members and their immediate families will be admitted free of charge and will be recognized during the game.