By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
The Tarleton State football team has knocked off ACU the last five times the teams have met, and for ACU quarterback Colby Freeman, Saturday’s game is all about underestimation.
“I think the advantage is ours because the ‘X’ isn’t on our chest; it’s on theirs,” the senior standout said. “Even though there’s been some close games, I don’t think down deep that those guys are really worried about us. We’re excited about being the chasers this week instead of the ones being chased.”
Not so, said Tarleton State head coach Todd Whitten, who edged the Wildcats 12-9 in Stephenville last season.
“I think it’s gonna be an extremely difficult game,” the fifth-year coach said. “I don’t see any weaknesses in ACU. They’re probably one of the top-tier teams in Division II.”
The same could be said about Tarleton, a team ranked 24th in the American Football Coaches Association poll.
“They’ve been one of the traditional powers in this conference for years,” ACU coach Gary Gaines said. “They’re a good football team.”
The Texans have reloaded their roster with 22 transfers and bring back another powerful offense reminiscent of the ones that led the LSC in total offense the last two years.
Senior quarterback Cliff Watkins likes to hook up with senior wideout Will Moody whenever possible. The 6-foot-3 Moody already has 15 catches for 326 yards in two games.
For ACU, senior running back Richard Whitaker has 207 yards on 31 attempts, but the Cats have looked strongest on defense. Junior linebackers Shawn Taylor and Randall Webb have been relentless with opponents, recording 16 and 14 tackles, respectively.
The stakes of Saturday’s 6 p.m. showdown are crucial: Both teams have been nationally ranked this year, both are 1-1 and the LSC matchup could have league championship implications.
“There’s definitely some stakes at hand,” Gaines said.
Freeman agreed and said the Cats can’t afford to give less than 100 percent on Saturday.
“I’d like for every person to be able to walk off the field and know they put all their eggs in the basket for this game,” he said. “If we execute we’re gonna be real hard to deal with.”