By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (September 30, 2016) — Tarleton State finally enters a game as a heavy favorite.
But games aren’t determined on paper, and there are things Tarleton must do well to celebrate its second win of the season on Family Weekend against a group of its former coaches now at Texas-Permian Basin.
It’s the first road game in program history for UTPB, which opened its program with four straight home games and is 2-2 on the season. The Texans are 1-3, but have played a more foreboding schedule.
Here’s what it will take for Tarleton to get the job done Saturday:
1. KEEP EVERYTHING IN FRONT AND WRAP UP: UTPB will be in the same air raid offense that Tarleton ran under Justin Carrigan, the head coach of the Falcons who was once offensive coordinator for the Texans. Such an offense plays sideline-to-sideline, counting on putting the ball in space and slipping tackles for big gains. Tarleton must counter by keeping everything in front, and must tackle in the open field much better than a week ago at West Texas A&M.
2. RUSH THE PASSER: Tarleton has 20 sacks through four games, two more than the Texans had all of last season. It’s the most noticeable improvement on the team to this point of the first year under head coach Todd Whitten and needs to continue on Saturday. Defensive end Chase Varnado leads the way with 5 sacks, linebacker Cody Burtscher has 4.5 and defensive end EJ Speed has 3.5.
3. CLEAN IT UP: Turnovers and penalties were costly in last week’s loss at West Texas A&M and would be the fastest way to let a team like Texas-Permian Basin stick around. If the Texans can keep from giving the ball away and backing itself up offensively, it should be a happy family weekend crowd late Saturday night.