ACU (1-1) aims to earn back-to-back wins at Wildcat Stadium on Saturday against UT Permian Basin (2-0).
The Wildcats are coming off of a 62-7 route of NAIA team Louisiana College. The win gave the Wildcats their first win at home in nearly two years and allowed them to earn their first win of the season.
Saturday, ACU will face the Division II Falcons of the Lone Star Conference, which is home to plenty of familiar foes for the Wildcats. One of these teams is Angelo State, who defeated the Wildcats in their only home game last season, 34-21. The Falcons are also undefeated this season heading into the game and have a program record of 8-0 going all the way to the 2019 season.
One thing that this Permian Basin team has become well-known for amongst the Texas college football world is their aggressiveness and toughness, which is something head coach Adam Dorrel noted the team needs to be ready to combat on Saturday.
“They are a very blue-collar and tough team,” Dorrel said. “They tackle very well and are also very physical; schematically they are very sound. They are a very physical and hard-nosed team and I really want to see our guys match that intensity and physicality.”
Heading up the offense for the Falcons is Clayton Roberts, a redshirt junior quarterback from Houston. The quarterback earned the Lone Star Conference’s Offensive Player of the week last week after throwing six touchdowns in their 42-31 win against West Texas A&M. Another player ACU’s defense will need to keep an eye on is MJ Link, junior wide receiver from Lakeland, Florida. In the Falcons’ last matchup, he earned 160 yards and two touchdowns.
Excepted to make his third-straight start for the Wildcats is Stone Earle, a redshirt freshman quarterback from Keller. Earle is also coming off a successful week where he also threw for 233 yards and six passing touchdowns, which earned him the Western Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week honors.
There are certain things Dorrel wants Earle to work on, like checks and playing better situational football, but is confident in Earle’s improvement based on how he prepares.
“He’s very mature for his age in the way he prepares,” Dorrel said. “He never gets too high or too low, and he’s very grounded in his approach and everything he does.”
As for the Wildcat defense, Dorrel has been pleased with their growth in between the SMU and Louisana College matchup, but there is one thing that he has not seen the team do in their last two matchups, create turnovers.
The Wildcats have not created a single turnover in the first eight quarters the team has played, including interceptions. Turnovers are something Dorrel really wants his team to be able to create and sees it as an essential part to help the team continue winning games.
“We haven’t had a turnover in eight quarters of football, so that had been something we have really been working hard on,” Dorrel said. “It starts with our pass rush, which wasn’t very good last week. It’s got to get better so that we can get the quarterback off his spot and start causing those interceptions.”
Another key that Dorrel wants the team to focus on is competitive maturity, which he admitted the team has struggled with in matchups similar to their upcoming game with the Falcons.
“It is not really about when you get beat but when you aren’t focused, not ready to play and don’t have respect for your opponent,” said Dorrel said. “I know how we get when playing up, there is a nothing-to-lose feel, and me and the coaches have been trying to hammer home to the players this week leading up to Saturday.”
ACU and UT Permian Basin will begin their Family Weekend matchup on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. in Wildcat Stadium, with the game streaming live on ESPN+.