The ACU Wildcats return to Shotwell Stadium this weekend to take on longtime rival Incarnate Word at 3:05 p.m.
The Wildcats enter Saturday’s game coming off an impressive win against FBS opponent Troy. ACU also starts Southland Conference play against Incarnate Word ending their non-conference gauntlet at 1-2. Ken Collums, head coach, is happy with his teams performance heading into Saturday.
“To go into a hostile environment and win a game against Troy tells me that these guys have something,” Collums said. “I would’ve rather of seen us play that out with three wins but your not going to win every game.”
ACU’s offense looks to continue on their already strong season in large part to the play of sophomore quarterback Parker McKenzie. McKenzie was named Southland Conference offensive player of the week for the second time this year. He has started off well this season going 69-for-96 for 880 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
The sophomore has had a lot of help from a rising receiving corp led by Demarcus Thompson, senior wide receiver. Thompson leads the team in in receptions with 20 and in yards with 232. The biggest surprise of the season has to be junior big play receiver Cedric Gilbert, though. Gilbert has only five catches on the season but for 183 yards and three touchdowns.
ACU’s run game looks to build on last week’s 181-yard outburst. They will have do so without junior running back Herschel Sims who will miss Saturday’s game with an ankle injury. Freshman De’Andre Brown and sophomore Adrian Duncan will have to carry the load. Brown and Duncan have the only two rushing touchdowns from the running backs this season.
The offensive game plan has shifted from week to week, but McKenzie thinks there is no problem with that.
“We are looking for whatever works,” McKenzie said. “We prefer balance if the running game works we will go with the run game.”
On the defensive side, ACU is led by senior defensive end Nick Richardson who is second on the team in tackles with 21 and leads the team with 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. The defense will hopefully lower their points per game average this week as they have allowed 33.3 points per game while the Incarnate Word offense has only averaged 5.3 points per game this season.
Incarnate Word has also come off a rough stretch of games where they faced last years FCS champion North Dakota State, Sacramento State and conference opponent Stephen F. Austin. The Cardinals come in with an 0-3 record after dropping all three games by a combined 129 points. The offense has been drastically hampered this year as starting quarterback Trent Brittain broke his ankle in the Cardinals’ first game of the season.
“They are trying to figure out their quarterback situation since their starter went down, and they are dealing with two young guys,” Collums said. “We just need to play a good clean game and stop the run.”