Football left out of playoffs

Cody Samples

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Shavodrick Beaver, senior in criminal justice, keeps the ball during a play at Memorial Stadium. The Mustangs would lose to West Texas A&M 12-19 Nov. 16.

Shavodrick Beaver, senior in criminal justice, keeps the ball during a play at Memorial Stadium. The Mustangs would lose to West Texas A&M 12-19 Nov. 16.

Coming into the season, the football team was ranked 15th in the preseason poll and the players were looking to win another conference championship. With 33 lettermen and 13 starters gone from last season’s 9-2 championship team, the players were relying on newcomers to help fill the void.

“You know, we’ve got some young guys there that are learning their way through it but they are flying around and they are in great shape,” Adam Austin, offensive coordinator, said. “We had a great first two days of practice.”

Still, despite the team being ranked as high as 12th in the coaches’ poll and fourth in the super region, the players dropped their final two games to be left out of the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

The team opened the season in the Lone Star Football Festival against Tarleton State.

“I’m not a big football fan, but having the chance to go to the new Cowboys stadium was something that I didn’t want to pass up,” Ashley Channels, senior in biology, said. “Experiencing something like that, it makes me want to come back and watch them again hopefully next year.”

After a game that went down to the final minutes, the Mustangs lost 24-27.

Head Coach Bill Maskill argues with officials after running back Keidrick Jackson gets drilled into the ground by a West Texas A&M defender Nov. 16 at Memorial Stadium. The Mustangs would lose 12-19 taking their conference record to 3-3 with an overall record of 7-3.

Head Coach Bill Maskill argues with officials after running back Keidrick Jackson gets drilled into the ground by a West Texas A&M defender Nov. 16 at Memorial Stadium. The Mustangs would lose 12-19 taking their conference record to 3-3 with an overall record of 7-3.

Still, after the loss, the team would go on and win its next seven games, with one of the wins coming against a top 10 team in the nation, West Alabama. In that game, senior running back Keidrick Jackson broke the school’s rushing record held by Daniel Polk.

“It was good because it was Homecoming, my last Homecoming, and it was one of the top teams, top 10 teams in the nation,” Jackson said.

One of the strengths of this year’s team was the play of the defensive backs and what they contributed to the team.

“We led the conference in interceptions, they didn’t let the ball get outside of us very often,” Bill Maskill, head football coach, said. “They are well coached and they made plays when the ball was in the air.”

And while the defensive line was a strength, the offensive line was a different story, lacking depth.

“We managed to win seven games despite no depth on the offensive line,” Maskill said. “Some of the playing, other guys were in front of them at the end of spring practice. One was thrown in jail, one didn’t come back this semester and two dropped out in the season. We still led the conference in rushing with about 261 yards per game, last year we were third in the country at 324 yards a game.”

The depth on the offensive line is not the only thing that Maskill thinks his team can improve on for next season.

“We need to be able to throw the ball to keep them out of the box, receivers catching balls,” Maskill said. “The kickoff team was not as good as was in the past. It hasn’t been very good, like we like it. Lots of defensive ends, which gave us a pass rush, but not many defensive tackles, we had to roll with what we had.”

Gadrian Muse, senior in kinesiology, runs towards the West Texas A&M running back during the MSU loss of 12-19 Nov. 16 at Memorial Stadium.

Gadrian Muse, senior in kinesiology, runs towards the West Texas A&M running back during the MSU loss of 12-19 Nov. 16 at Memorial Stadium.

When it comes to recruiting, Maskill said he is working not on filling specific positions but on finding guys that can contribute right away.

“Transfers are the ones that are immediate help, the guys that can come in and you project to play right away,” Maskill said. “We graduated two safeties and a corner. We will look at all positions and see if they are better than what we had.”

Although he is looking to fill those specific positions, Maskill said recruiting can sometimes be a little bit of a challenge.

“It’s like a chess game. We like him but he might not like us,” Maskill said. “You like this guy but he wants all this money. This guy over here is almost as good, but might not take as much. We have a list that we are going to go after or look at. Our wants are greater than our needs. What we like to get is not necessarily what we need.”

With an earlier-than-expected offseason, the coaches said they will be focusing on making the playoffs next year.

“Get more speed, agility and strength,” Maskill said. “Strength is always an issue. Power and explosion, things we focus on every year.”

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