|Posted September 4, 2010|
Tougher test awaits Pack in home opener
Related: CSU-Pueblo vs. Northwestern Oklahoma State pregame
Related: Live stats feed of tonight's game
Related: Listen live at www.590kcsj.com
Related: Watch live via B2Networks.com
By Joe E. Cervi, The Pueblo Chieftain
Barefield tried to play coy when talking about his Northwestern Oklahoma State University football team.
But just as "the wind comes sweepin' down the plain" in Oklahoma, his comments were nothing more than hot air.
"They're a good ball club and have the advantage of playing a game already and getting those first-game jitters out of the way. We'll have to do all we can to just give 'em a game," he said with a laugh before his Rangers rolled into town to take on Colorado State University-Pueblo tonight.
"Of course, I don't think we can sneak up on them two years in a row."
The Rangers, an NAIA program, beat CSU-Pueblo a year ago. The ThunderWolves' Jamaal Johnson scored on a 70-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. That was the only lead the Pack would have in the game.
"They might be an NAIA school, but they could compete in the RMAC," CSU-Pueblo head coach John Wristen said. "They have lots of guys who could be Division I players and definitely Division II players."
NW OKLAHOMA STATE at CSU-PUEBLO
Site: Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
Kickoff: 6 p.m., MDT.
Radio: 590 AM (5:30 p.m., pregame).
Records: CSU-Pueblo (1-0), NWOSU (0-0).
Coaches: CSU-Pueblo, John Wristen, third season; NWOSU, Keith Barefield, fourth season.
Last meeting: NWOSU won 34-28 last season in Alva, Okla.
Series: NWOSU leads the series 3-0.
About the Rangers: Barefield said his team had several disadvantages heading into tonight's game. Then again, that's life on the road. The Rangers possess talent at key positions, including tailback and wide receiver. Senior tailback Nate Guillory is a smaller back at 5-foot-8, but runs hard and has exceptional speed. The Aggies also boast a definite size advantage.
About the ThunderWolves: CSU-Pueblo gets another dose of Oklahoma football tonight, which means it must focus on stopping the run. Inside linebacker Damon Schiele was RMAC defensive player of the week and Lee Meisner, his teammate inside, could have been the pick. They were expected to lead and have through one game. Outside linebacker was a concern going into this season but first-time starters Louie Lozano and Jason Campbell played well last week. And the T-Wolves welcome the return of the injured Beldy Nseka, who the coaching staff gives rave reviews . . . Gio Rider, a fullback from Pueblo County High School, was injured last week and did not make the trip to the opener last week but returns to the starting lineup tonight . . . Running back Jamaal Johnson, who sat out the opener for disciplinary reasons, will play tonight. Johnson rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown last season against the Rangers.
— Joe E. Cervi
The mutual admiration between the two coaches ends at kickoff as both Wristen and Barefield expect a high-scoring battle tonight.
"It's going to come down to which defense plays better," Wristen said.
Barefield said CSU-Pueblo passed the eye test. Because NWOSU is an NAIA school, coaches are allowed to scout in person. That is prohibited in the RMAC.
"They look and act like a more mature team," he said. "Their personnel looks more mature and they look more accustomed to their schemes. They've made a big leap forward from last year to this year in a lot of areas."
The Rangers, a preseason top-25 team in the national NAIA poll, boast a roster stocked with talent. Senior tailback Nate Guillory, a 5-foot-8, 185-pounder from Houston, has the ThunderWolves' full attention.
Guillory rushed for 130 yards last season, though the Pack kept him out of the end zone.
"He and Jesse (Lewis) are a lot alike," Wristen said. "Smaller guys who run like big, powerful guys with great speed. They have more than just Guillory, too."
The Rangers ran for nearly 300 yards last year and promise to bring that same attack to Pueblo.
"Nate's a solid back with some a lot of talent," Barefield said. "Now, if we can just make a crease or two for him to get through."
Barefield said the Rangers need to get off to a solid start and eliminate as many mistakes as possible.
Despite rushing for 130 yards and two scores last week, Lewis might miss tonight's game with a sore knee. Wristen said Lewis will be a game-time decision.
EXTRA POINTS: There are several promotions for tonight's game. First the athletic department is calling this a "Red Out" and encouraged all fans to wear red clothing. . .There also is a "Take a Kid To the Game" deal where discounted or free tickets will be available to kids 12-under. For each full price reserved seat purchased by an adult, a child will receive a half-price reserved seat for just $5. Alternatively, a child could receive a free Thunder Hill ticket with each Thunder Hill seat purchased by an adult.