They’re going to run and run and…you get the point.
Eastern New Mexico has attempted only 26 passes this fall, less than many teams attempt per game in football’s modern era.
In a 14-10 win over Northeastern State on Sept. 6, the Eastern did not attempt a single pass, something Tarleton Head Coach Sam McElroy said he does not remember ever seeing or hearing of before in a college football game.
The Greyhounds play a throwback style of football centered around the option running attack. And run they do. For a nation’s best 360.1 yards per contest.
That is what the Tarleton State Texans are up against in Black Water Draw, NM Saturday. The run.
Game time for the Lone Star Conference South battle is 6 p.m. MST on location - 7 p.m. local time.
The Texans will be taking the field as a top 10 team for the first time in five years. Tarleton moved up three spots to No. 10 in this week’s AFCA poll, released Tuesday.
Tarleton enters the contest on a roll. The Texans defense shut Midwestern State out in the fourth period while Travis Evans found the end zone twice in a 44-32 win.
Eastern New Mexico comes into the game on a down slide. Facing a weak schedule early on, the Greyhounds began the season 4-0, and were drawing votes for the coaches’ top 25.
The beginning of South Division play has hit ENMU hard, however, as the Greyhounds have dropped three straight.
Nationally-ranked Abilene Christian and West Texas A&M overpowered the Hounds in weeks one and three of South action, and Angelo State pulled off a double overtime upset in week 2.
Michael Benton is the engine that drives the Eastern offense, and does it via the run more than 90-percent of the time.
Benton is the only player in the LSC with over 1,000 yards rushing this season. He is first in total rushing yards, and second in yards per contest at 145.7.
Unlike many quarterbacks who can run, Benton is hardly a double threat. He has thrown for only 108 yards, completing only four of 17 pass attempts with two interceptions.
Adding a second punch to the Greyhound rushing attack is JT Thompson. Despite carrying the ball only 38 times this fall, Thompason has picked up 478 yards, an average of 12.8 yards per carry.
Defensively, Eastern ranks ninth in the conference overall. The Greyhounds surrender an average of 396.1 yards per game - 134.9 on the ground and 261.2 through the air.
The Texan defense is third-best in the LSC against the run, posing a challenge for the Greyhound offense. Tarleton has allowed 111.3 rushing yards per game this year.
Tarleton certainly holds the edge in passing. Quarterback Scott Grantham has thrown for 240.7 yards per contest.
Rushing the ball, Tarleton is picking up an average of 183.6 yards each time out. They are fourth in total offense in the league at 424.3.
The meeting in Black Water Draw will mark the 16th time the Texans and Hounds have tangled on the giridiron.
Eastern dominates the total series tally by a count of 12-3. Recently, however, its been all Tarleton.
The Texans picked up their first win over the Hounds in school history in 2001, 55-14.
The teams didn’t play again until 2005, when Tarleton won for the first time on the road against Eastern, 34-27.
Last fall the Texans won their third straight against the Hounds in a 48-0 route. Benton was injured early in that game, and the Eastern offense was totally derailed without him.
Brad Keith is the sports editor at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.