By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 5, 2016) — Tarleton State (5-4, 5-2) is still alive in the Lone Star Conference Championship race, but the Texans are the underdogs against No. 11 Midwestern State (7-1, 6-1) Saturday.
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium Saturday, with both Military Appreciation Night and Senior Night festivities planned.
MSU and Texas A&M-Commerce are co-leaders in the LSC standings, followed by Tarleton alone in third and Texas A&M-Kingsville, West Texas A&M all with 4-3 conference marks in a three-way tie for fourth.
What are the keys for Tarleton to keep itself in the hunt for the LSC championship with a win Saturday? Check it out:
1. START STRONG: Midwestern State has made a living on strong starts, building a lead of just more than a touchdown, on average, by the end of the first quarter of their games. The Mustangs are outscoring opponents by an average of 13.5 points, with 8.4 points of that margin coming in the opening 15 minutes.
2. PRESSURE VS. PROTECTION: Tarleton has 33 sacks and its quarterbacks have been sacked 33 times this season. That’s second in sacks and first – or last, you could say – in sacks allowed. Midwestern isn’t the sack happy team in the conference with 19 on the season, but the Mustangs have been exceptional in pass protection, allowing just eight sacks, or one per game. The Texans must protect Zed Woerner – or Derek Kiser, who played most of the second half last week – and must put heat on talented MSU signal caller Quade Coward. They also must contain Coward, who does have some dual threat prowess with 348 rushing yards on the year.
3. GIVEAWAYS AND TAKEAWAYS: This has been one of Tarleton’s biggest strengths this season – winning the turnover battle. The Texans have 26 takeaways and 14 giveaways on the year and could stand a few of the former and none of the latter to help them against the nationally-ranked conference leaders. Midwestern has 14 takeaways and 12 giveaways.