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East Texan previews 2010 Lions football season

By Caleb Slinkard
On September 1, 2010

Team Overview

Last Season: 5-5, Lone Star Conference North Division Champions

Head Coach: Guy Morriss


2009 Statistics: 24.5 points per game, 76.1 rushing yards per game, 222 passing yards a game.

Key Returning Players: OL John Marshall, QB Adam Farkes, RB Marcus Graham, WR Taylor Fore, WR Adam Jones, and OL David Sudderth

Key Losses: OL R.J Brisbon, QB/TE Reid Herchenbach

Overview: The offense got off to a slow start last season in their first year under Morriss, only scoring a total of 21 points in their first three games. A 56 point effort against Eastern New Mexico in Week 4 jump-started the offense as Adam Farkes established himself as the starting quarterback over Reid Herchenbach. A&M-Commerce won five out of their next six games en route to a 2009 LSC North Division crown and with the Lions returning almost all of their key offensive players from last season, they look to continue improving.

"We expect to be an explosive, high scoring offense," Farkes said. "During the season we won't ever start a possession without thinking we're going to finish in the endzone."

Grade: A-

Quarterbacks: Adam Farkes (1,953 passing yards, 12 TDs, 14 INTs, 51.8 completion percentage) proved that he was a playmaker last season and enters the 2010 year as Morriss' unquestioned starter. He'll be playing his second year in Morriss' offense and will be throwing to a familiar group of receivers. In order for the Lions to have a successful season, Farkes will need to cut down on his turnovers and improve his completion percentage.

2009 Starting Day quarterback Reid Herchenbach is gone, and transfer J.J. Harp will have to sit out the year because he transferred within the LSC, so Morriss will only have two quarterbacks going into the season. Much of the Lions offensive promise lies in Farkes remaining healthy the entire season.

"We're in a dicey situation at quarterback," head coach Guy Morriss said. "We may have to go through the season with two guys and that is a scary thought."

Running Backs: First team all-LSC Marcus Graham (677 rushing yards, 7 TDs) returns to lead a rushing attack that showed flashes of brilliance but was inconsistent in 2010. Junior transfer Jamar Mosley rounds out a very deep, if somewhat undersized, unit.

"We have a gifted bunch of runningbacks," Morriss said. "Marcus Graham is our starter, London Hamilton saw a little bit of action last season and Jamar Mosley has looked good in practice. There's three guys right there who have decent speed and are slasher-type rushers."

Wide Receivers: All leading receivers return to the Lions this season, including Taylor Fore (491 receiving yards, 4 TDS), Adam Jones (33 receptions, 349 receiving yards) and Blake Patton (28 receptions, 359 receiving yards). This is an experienced and deep group that will provide Farkes with plenty of scoring opportunities.

"Our receivers are better and we added some young freshman that will help us," Morriss said. "We have some depth of good guys so we can keep them fresh and keep them rotating."

Offensive Line: Almost across the board Lions players and coaches are excited about this season's offensive line. Anchored by fifth year senior John Marshall and all-LSC redshirt junior David Sudderth, assistant head coach and offensive line coach Jake Peavy's squad is confident in their ability to push their opponents off the ball and create openings for the running game.

"We're more comfortable in the system now and we've gotten a year stronger," Morriss said. "So far what I see in practice, and it's only practice, is that we're knocking people off of the ball better. We feel pretty good about it."


2009 Statistics: 28.5 points allowed per game, 34 sacks, 8 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries

Key Returning Players: LB Cory Whitefield, LB Stephen DeGrate, DB Israel Hughes, DB A.J. Billings

Key Losses: DL Willie Green, LB Chad Washington, DB Alex Contreras, DL Anthony DeGrate, DB Shea Rodriguez

Overview: The Lions' defense won many games for them in 2009 and always seemed to force a turnover or make a tackle at just the right time. Unfortunately for them, many of their key starters graduated last season, leaving the Lions with tremendous holes at defensive line and secondary. There are plenty of young players ready to fill those gaps, but the jury is still out on whether they will be able to step up in time. Morriss switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme because of defensive line losses and the number of playmakers he has at the linebacker position.

Thankfully for Morriss, LSC Linebacker of the Year Cory Whitefield will be returning.

The senior linebacker led the team with 111 total tackles and will have to have an even better 2010 season if the Lions expect to be as good as they were last season.

"I think our defense is really going to be solid this year," Whitefield said. "Ever since we switched to the 3-4 guys have been flying around and [the defense] looks pretty good. We're going to have to play like we have a chip on a shoulder and that every turnover should be ours."

Grade: B-

Defensive Line: With LSC Defensive Lineman of the Year Willie Green (9 sacks) and Anthony DeGrate (9 sacks) both gone, the Lions have little experience at the defensive line position. Morriss' switch to a 3-4 will take some of the pressure off of the line, but the Lions will have a hard time repeating last season's success.

"We really struggled to find the kind of d-lineman we wanted to fit our system or we would have stayed in the 4-3," Morriss said. "We signed some good players and they're going to be young and if they grow and develop we may mix in a 4-3."

Linebackers: This is the strength of the Lions defense and will have to shoulder much of the defensive load. With the only two defensive seniors, Whitefield and Stephen DeGrate (58 tackles, 3 forced fumbles), the linebackers should be up to the task.

"We really feel good about our linebacker corps," Morriss said, "Right now they're the strength of our defense.

Secondary: Leaders Alex Contreras (41 tackles) and Shea Rodriguez (54 tackles) are both gone, which means that returning starters A.J. Billings (41 tackles, 2 INTs) and Israel Hughes (43 tackles, 2 INTs) will have work even harder to stop attacking quarterbacks. Unfortunately for the Lions, Hughes is injured right now and could possibly miss the whole season.

Prediction: This is one of A&M-Commerce's most favorable schedules in a long time, and Morriss' squad has a chance to record double-digit victories. A more realistic finish is 8-3.


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