Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quotes from LSC head coaches

Each LSC head coach spoke in reverse of order of predicted finish, meaning for the second straight season, Incarnate Word head coach Mike Santiago went first since the Cardinals were picked to finish last.

Mike Santiago, Incarnate Word - "Last year we played for respect from you guys; this year we're playing with a purpose, and that's for me not to go first in this deal next year."

Guy Morris, Texas A&M-Commerce - "That poll is OK because it's not where you start, but where you end up.  We're very proud to be a member of the Lone Star Conference, and we're proud to be playing with the big boys again."

Mark Ribaudo, Eastern New Mexico – "We feel really good about our offense, and we've brought in several new defensive players that we feel really good about.  But we feel good about our team and feel like we're going to field a very good team.  The trophy has been in Portales, N.M., a few times, and our goal is to get it out there again."

Cary Fowler, Tarleton State  – "We endured a tough year last year with a lot of injuries.  We open up with Abilene Christian, and in my 20 years we've never been beaten as badly as ACU beat us last year (65-3), so we know that game will be extremely tough.  Our biggest addition is Lee Hays as the offensive coordinator.  Anyone who knows him knows that we're going to throw the football and we're excited to see how this shakes out."

Bill Maskill, Midwestern State – "We were 8-3 last year and it was a disappointing year.  We just weren't as good overall as we were in the previous season.  We got drilled in the Kanza Bowl and it left a bad taste.  We're not willing to accept an 8-3 season; our sights and standards are set higher than that. We've got guys than can play, but we're lacking in experience and that's going to be the challenge for us."

Don Carthel, West Texas A&M – "Defensively we feel like we've got a strong team; the most talented group we've had.  We might have our first QB controversy since 2005 with Tanner Marsh and Dustin Vaughn.  Both are tremendous prospects, but neither has much experience.  We're optimistic; it's going to be tough for our offense early, but we think we have some guys that can help us win some games.  Our offensive line won't scare anybody getting off the bus, but we've got a really smart group with some high GPAs.  I hope there's a correlation there, but sometimes you want some guys on that line who struggle a little bit in the classroom but can get after it on the field."

Bo Atterberry, Texas A&M-Kingsville – "Pre-season No. 2 ... if it doesn't have a No. 1 beside it, we're not very interested in it down in Kingsville."

Chris Thomsen, Abilene Christian – "We talk a lot in our program about cornerstone players, and the three we have here today are those kind of guys: Matt Webber, a walk-on from Paradise, Texas; Mitchell Gale, a fourth-year junior.  Aston Whiteside is a fifth-year senior from Vernon, Texas, and graduating in May.  Happy that those kind of guys represent our program.

We had a really fun season with great senior leadership; those guys held it together and took us through the season.  We lost a lot of cornerstone guys, but we have 16 seniors on this year's team and a lot of those guys have been in this league for a while and know what it takes to win in this league.  We've got some inexperience at linebacker and receiver, but have some players who we believe can step up and fill in those spots for the guys we lost."

Wildcats tabbed to win LSC football title

It's no surprise, but the defending Lone Star Conference champion ACU Wildcats have been picked to defend their conference football championship in the 2011 pre-season poll, which was just announced at the LSC's annual Media Day.

The Wildcats received 17 of 23 first-place votes and 201 total points with last year's runner-up, Texas A&M-Kingsville, checking in second with five first-place votes and 177 total points.  West Texas A&M is third in the poll, followed by Midwestern State, Tarleton State, Angelo State, Eastern New Mexico, Texas A&M-Commerce and Incarnate Word.

ACU junior quarterback Mitchell Gale – who threw for 3,595 yards and a school single-season record 38 touchdown passes last year – is the Pre-Season Offensive Player of the Year.  Senior defensive end Aston Whiteside – who had seven sacks last year and was a first team all-region performer – is the Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.

Media Day is here ...

... which means the 2011 ACU football season can't be far away.  In fact, the Wildcats report in just 15 days (Aug. 10) with the first practice set for Aug. 11.  The season-opener is Thursday, Sept. 1, against Tarleton State in Stephenville.

But first things first, and that means the annual LSC Media Day festivities in Fort Worth.  We're just about set to begin with the unveiling of pre-season polls in football, volleyball, men's and women's soccer, and men's and women's cross country.  Joining ACU head football coach Chris Thomsen in attendance today are senior defensive end Aston Whiteside, senior offensive lineman Matt Webber, and junior quarterback Mitchell Gale.

Check back here throughout the next 90 minutes for updates on the pre-season polls and pre-season players of the year, and then look for a complete recap on acusports.com.

Hard to believe it's here, but the 2011-12 athletic year is upon us.  Go Wildcats!