Football Coach’s Clipboard: Rivalry week looms for the Cru in ASC Championship game against Hardin-Simmons

Above image by CJ Holloran/@cjhall_photography

BELTON, Texas- The final gameweek of the 2021 spring season for UMHB football has arrived in a season that felt way too short. The five-game slate will conclude with the biggest game of the season, as the Cru not only battle rival Hardin-Simmons, but will do it on the road in the first-ever ASC Championship Game. Read all about the matchup, hear from head coach Pete Fredenburg, take a look at our two-deep depth charts for UMHB and more in this week’s “Coach’s Clipboard”.

Quotes from UMHB head coach Pete Fredenburg:

On the Hardin-Simmons rivalry: “It usually comes down to the game between us and Hardin-Simmons [to decide the conference title] and really it’s nothing unusual. Obviously there is a big time boost in energy and effort every time you play Hardin-Simmons and I’m sure its the same for them.”

On how Saturday’s 60-25 win over Louisiana College prepared the Cru for this game: “We felt like we gave up some plays defensively that we were disappointed in, but I think the cool thing was how the offense exploded. They’ve always been very capable and we were excited to see that happen. I think the scenario that really has worked to our benefit was the game against East Texas Baptist, the open date, and a great game against Louisiana College. I feel like we’re playing at our best, and in good shape, and Lord willing, we’ll be prepared and have a great game against Hardin-Simmons, a very good football team.”

On the UMHB crowd that will make the trip to Abilene: “I think we’re going to have a big crowd at Abilene. I understand that they’re going to fill up the stadium if they can, so I think it is one of those venues that is going to be very exciting for everybody to watch.”

UMHB Two-Deep Depth Charts

Offense

QTQGCSGSTTE
John Kazmierski, JRJesse Hoke, FRSteven Selllers, SRJeffery Sims Jr., JREthan Ruckman, FRGary Ruckman, SR
Reuel Tandoh, FRWyatt Crawford, FRMatt Sanders, SOLance Jones, JRJohn Kazmierski, JRConnor Mullins, FR
WRQBRBSlot WRWR
KJ Miller, JRKyle King, JRMontana Miller, FRBrenton Martin, SRRomello Cook, JR
Jaylan Jenkins, SRTommy Bowden, SO.Melek Hamilton, SOBrandon Jordan, JRKadarius Daniels,SR

Defense

DEDTDTDE
Khevon Shepard, SRSante Parker Jr, JRJosh Patteson, FRE’Monte Smith,
Caleb Johnson, SRTristan Green, FRKobe Giles, FRGlenn Thornton, JR
WLBMLBSLB
Mikkah Hackett SRAkeem Jackson SRJacob Mueller SR
Nicholas McDaniel,FREli Huron, SOJackson Sennie FR
CBCruFSCB
Titus Dunk SOJayden Smith JRJefferson Fritz SRDrake Johnson SO
Tavion Page SOCourtney Patridge-Lee SOOmari Frazier FRJordan See FR

Injury Report: K Anthony Avila (Groin) is doubtful, RB Montana Miller (hand) is healthy

Rankings: Though D3football.com did not do a national poll for this spring season, Jay Sports Network has, and UMHB is ranked No. 1 in the nation in its most recent poll entering Saturday’s contest.

About the opponent: Hardin-Simmons Cowboys

Date: March 27

Time: 1:00 p.m. CT

Place: Abilene, Texas (Shelton Stadium, Capacity: 4,000)

Team Notes:

  • HSU enters the contest 4-0 and has played four straight weeks, unlike UMHB, which had two bye weeks over the course of the regular season. The Cowboys most recently defeated Sul Ross State 58-6 to clinch the ASC West Division title.
  • Though D3football.com did not do a national poll for this spring season, Jay Sports Network has, and HSU is ranked No. 2 in the nation in its most recent poll entering Saturday’s contest.
  • In the all-time series, UMHB leads 21-6 and has won 21 of the last 23 meetings between the two programs.
  • HSU is head coached by Jesse Burleson, who is in his 10th season as the Cowboys’ head coach. He ranks second in HSU history in all-time career wins as head coach and has led HSU to four NCAA playoff berths. He faced UMHB once as a player in the Cru’s inaugural season in 1998, playing center for the Cowboys from 1995-1998.

Storylines to watch:

  • A year of firsts- This unusual abbreviated season has brought about plenty of “firsts” for these two teams and the ASC as a whole. Not only was it the first time football season was contested in the spring, but this meeting between UMHB and HSU will mark the first-ever official ASC Championship Game. However, the two teams have battled atop the conference standings year in and year out, with the winner of the matchup having gone on to win at least a share of the ASC title in every season since the inaugural meeting in 1998.
  • A familiar face is leading the HSU offense– Many UMHB fans will recognize HSU’s starting quarterback, as Giddings, Texas native Kyle Jones was a Crusader for two seasons from 2016-2017. Jones started four games in 2017 before transferring out and spending a year as a student at Texas Tech. He landed in Abilene in the fall of 2019, taking over as the Cowboys’ starter with six games left in the season. He remained in that role with the team this spring, and has completed 64 percent of his passes, with 11 passing touchdowns and one interception.
  • High-scoring HSU offense to keep the Cowboys in the game– Led by Jones’ phenomenal play, the HSU offense has excelled, using a variety of playmakers to outscore its opponents TK-TK. Of course, the defense deserves an equal amount of credit for that, but focusing in on the offense, the Cowboys average an impressive 45.2 points, 272.0 rushing yards, 272.2 passing yards and 544.2 total yards of offense per game. A look at that stat line reveals how balanced HSU’s offensive attack is. The success in the running game is in no small part due to running back Marc Reed, who leads the team with 303 rushing yards and averages 6.73 yards per carry. Jones has plenty of passing options as well, with 16 different players having caught a pass this season. Myles Featherston has been Jones’ primary target with 253 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
  • UMHB defense contributes to the Cru’s point total– The UMHB defense, though having given up more points than usual over the last two games, has a blitz package that is hard for any offensive line to slow down, much less, stop. The Cru defense has scored a touchdown in three of the team’s four games this spring, as linebacker Jacob Mueller took an interception for a touchdown last week against Louisiana College.
  • Two-quarterback system a likely possibility for UMHB– In what Fredenburg has described as an attempt to get the most of their talents, quarterbacks Tommy Bowden and Kyle King have each seen significant amounts of playing time during the spring. King did earn the first start of his collegiate career against Louisiana College and did not disappoint, going 12/21 passing for 259 yards and four scores. Bowden also saw the field and went 4/6 passing. Look for the coaching staff to take advantage of Bowden’s hard-nosed running style as well as King’s consistent passing.
  • Will history repeat itself?- This rivalry has had a tendency to produce close games that are decided in the second half. That was no more evident than in the last meeting in 2019, when No. 1 UMHB defeated No. 15 Hardin-Simmons 15-14 on a game-winning field goal from kicker Anthony Avila, that sailed through the uprights as time expired.

For more on the rivalry between HSU and UMHB and a look at this week’s game, check out Tuesday’s article: “This is nothing unusual”: the fight for the ASC Football championship is between Hardin-Simmons and UMHB once again

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