By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (October 28, 2016) — Tarleton State still has goals within reach entering the last three games of the season, but all that goes up in smoke if the Texans don’t take care of business at Oklahoma Panhandle State.
Kickoff between Tarleton (4-4, 4-2) and OPSU (2-6, 1-5) is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Carl Wooten Field. Tarleton is coming off a 21-17 homecoming loss to Texas A&M-Kingsville in which the Texans let a 17-0 halftime lead slip away, and Panhandle is riding the high of its second win, 54-44, at Texas-Permian Basin.
The final two games following this for Tarleton appear, on paper at least, to be the most difficult of the season, but the Texans will enter them with at least a share of the conference championship still on the line, as long as they take care of the following three keys at OPSU:
1. OFFENSIVE LINE MUST BE BETTER:
Zed Woerner has been sacked 14 times the last two weeks. Tarleton had just 48 yards in the second half last week.The Texans rushed for just 18 yards at Eastern New Mexico. None of those stats are acceptable, and while OPSU is not ENMU or TAMUK, the line must be better Saturday for Tarleton to establish forward momentum on the ground and to give Woerner time to strike through the air.
2. BRING ON THE PASS RUSH:
Tarleton has 28 sacks on the season, an average of four per game, and will certainly get their share of opportunities against Shane Truelove, reigning LSC Co-Offensive Player of the Week, who has thrown for 2,152 yards and 14 TDs this season.
3. KEEP TAKING IT AWAY:
The fastest way to bury a team you should beat is to harass them into a couple turnovers, something Tarleton has done a tremendous job of the last few weeks. The Texans forced five turnovers at Eastern New Mexico and four against A&M-Kingsville, pushing their season total to 22 takeaways. That’s with only 12 giveaways on the season. EJ Speed is a big reason with his nation-leading five forced fumbles. Cody Burtscher has three interceptions and a fumble recovery.