Brad Keith

Sports Editor

brad.keith@empiretribune.com

I’m sure Cary Fowler wishes he could tell his players that Scott Buisson, the Arkansas-Monticello quarterback who is the epitome of a preseason Harlon Hill Trophy candidate, is the best quarterback they will see all year.

But as Tarleton State’s defensive coordinator, Fowler knows Buisson represents the norm, not the exception.

The Texans have the opportunity to be strong on the defensive side if the secondary learns on the run and catches up to their talented slew of defensive linemen and linebackers. And they better, because quarterbacks with similar ability to the one they will face in Thursday’s season opener are a dime-a-dozen in the Lone Star Conference.

Tarleton will face East Central’s Marcus Johnson, an All-America candidate who would likely also be receiving Harlon Hill hype if he was part of a more formidable team. They will face Billy Garza who helped turn the fortunes of Texas A&M-Kingsville after transferring from Illinois last year and is back for an encore performance as a senior.

They must find a way to limit Steve Day, who already owns virtually all Southwestern Oklahoma’s passing records and is now teamed up with the same head coach he helped win an Oklahoma state title back in his high school days, Zac Eskridge, who appears ready for a breakout year after starting as a freshman at Midwestern State, and J.J. Harp, who improved weekly as a freshman in Eastern New Mexico’s new spread-it-out offense. Josh Neiswander is healthy again at Angelo State, and make no mistake about it, with or without Billy Malone and Keith Null, Abilene Christian and West Texas A&M will both have somebody more than capable of slinging the ball all over the field to a number of talented skill players.

Buisson had the best game (statistcally speaking) of any quarterback in NCAA history last year when he became the only player at any level of college football to ever pass for 400 yards and rush for 200 in the same game.

While the Texans’ defense is certainly better than that of Henderson State - the victim of Buisson’s historically successful day - it is still going to be difficult, if not impossible, to shut a quarterback of his stature down.

As much preparation as it takes to get ready for signal callers like the UAM?standout, the Texans had better get used to it, because as the calender turns and weeks go by, the only thing that won’t change is this - the opponent will have a great leader at the most important position on the field, a quarterback capable of taking a game over at any time.