Game Preview: Howard Payne at No. 2 UMHB

Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru

BELTON, Texas- In its final regular season home game of the 2021 season, No. 2 UMHB football prepares for Howard Payne, a 6-2 team led by its passing attack. 

The Cru is 8-0 on the year, 7-0 in conference action, while HPU opened the season with six straight wins before losing its last two. It is set to be a competitive matchup in Belton on Saturday afternoon, with a noon kickoff. 

It will also be the first time HPU head coach Jason Bachtel faces the Crusaders while leading the Yellow Jackets. UMHB leads the all-time series 19-2, having won the last 13 meetings. 

We cover the opponent, touch on the storylines and bring you UMHB’s two-deep depth chart in this week’s game preview. 

Howard Payne @ No. 2/2 UMHB
Date: Nov. 6

Place: Crusader Stadium, Belton, Texas

Time: 12 p.m. CT

Streaming: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/umhb/

READ: No. 2 UMHB, Crusader defense, readies itself for ASC’s top passing offense on Saturday

About the opponent: Howard Payne Yellow Jackets

Head Coach: Jason Bachtel (2nd season)

Conference: American Southwest

Season Record (overall/conf): 6-2, 5-2 (Notable results: @ ETBU, W 49-38, vs Belhaven, L 24-10, vs Hardin-Simmons, L 38-10)

Names to know: 

OFFENSE: So. QB Landon McKinney (139-of-238 passing, 2,328 yds, 25 TD, 9 INT, 84 net rush yds, 3 TD), Jr. RB Tauren Bradley (111 carries, 488 yds, 4.4 yds/carry, 1 TD), Gr. WR Jake Parker (42 catches, 822 yds, 9 TD), Jr. WR Otis Lanier (38 catches, 638 yds, 7 TD)

DEFENSE: So. LB Dai’Shawn Fisher (50.0 total tackles, 23 solo tackles, 6.0 TFL), Sr. DL James Jakubowski (45.0 total tackles, 17 solo tackles, 4.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 2 pass breakups), So. LB Peyton Lowe (49.0 total tackles, 31 solo tackles, 10.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 2 INT)

Three storylines to watch

Matchup of the ASC’s best: This contest pits the ASC’s top passing attack against the league’s best passing defense. HPU, with an air-raid style offense, has thrown for a conference-high 2,689 yards, while the Cru defense, coming off a shutout of Belhaven, has led the ASC in fewest passing yards allowed, 883. In fact, UMHB is the only team in the league to have allowed less than 1,000 yards through the air. The HPU passing offense has struggled in the Yellow Jackets’ last two contests, both losses, against Belhaven and Hardin-Simmons. HPU struggled to gain early offensive momentum facing both Belhaven and HSU, not scoring in the first quarter of either contest, despite both contests being played in Brownwood. On the road in Belton, against a better defense statistically, the biggest question will be how the Yellow Jackets come out of the gate, and what the Crusaders do to counter the widespread passing attack. 

Redding under center: Quarterback Ryan Redding started last week’s win over Belhaven, leading the Cru to a 29-0 win. The senior was 8-of-20 passing for 114 yards, and had a solid showing in his first start of the year under center. Kyle King, who had started the previous seven games, was held out due to a turf toe injury, and when asked on Monday about King’s status, Fredenburg noted that King’s timetable was unclear. On Thursday’s depth chart (see below) Redding is listed as the starter. 

“I think he did ok,” Fredenburg said of Redding’s performance against Belhaven. “I think he’s going to learn a lot from that game and obviously play with more confidence. I was proud of the job that he did.” 

Kicking game looking to improve: Anthony Avila has been a solid force at kicker for the Cru this season, but continues to struggle when it comes to kicking PATs. The senior was 1-of-2 on field goal attempts last week, connecting from 25 yards out before the second one was blocked. He was also 2-for-4 on PATs. On the year, Avila is 39-of-44 in that category. 

“We didn’t protect well and we didn’t kick well,” Fredenburg said at Monday’s press conference. “We’ve got to really spend some time regaining the confidence needed for our kicker to kick like he’s capable of.” 

Two Deep Depth Chart 

*-Team Captain, L-Varsity Letter, SQ- Previously on varsity roster in past season(s) but has seen no playing time, TR- Transfer

Offense

Quarterback: Ryan Redding (Sr.-3L), Jackson Tingler (So.-JV)

Running Back: Aphonso Thomas (Jr.-1L), Kenneth Cormier Jr. (So.-1L)

Wide Receiver: Brenton Martin (Sr.-2L), DJ Weaver (Sr.-2L) 

Wide Receiver: KJ Miller (Sr.-2L), Aaron Sims (Sr.-1L)

Wide Receiver: Brandon Jordan (Sr.-1L), Jamaal Hamilton (Jr.-TR)

Tiger End: *Gary Ruckman (Sr.-2L), Connor Mullins (So.-1L)

Left Tackle: Jesse Hoke (So.-1L), Hayes Chizer (So.-SQ)

Left Guard: Reuel Tandoh (So-1L), John Kazmierski (Sr.-2L)

Center: Jeffery Sims Jr. (Sr.-3L), Jacob Dailey (So.-1L)

Right Guard: Matt Sanders (Jr.-2L), Adam Dobbins (Sr.-SQ)

Right Tackle: Wyatt Crawford (So.-1L), Ethan Ruckman (So.-1L)

Defense

Right Defensive End: Sante Parker Jr. (Sr.-2L), Khevon Shepard (Sr.-4L)

Right Defensive Tackle: Josh Patteson (So.-1L), Tristan Green (So.-1L)

Left Defensive Tackle: Pete Smith (Sr.-3L), Anthony Clayton (Jr.-TR)

Left Defensive End: E’Monte Smith (Sr.-4L), Caleb Johnson (Sr.-3L) 

Weakside Linebacker:  Jacob Mueller (Sr.-3L), Mikkah Hackett (Sr.-4L)

Middle Linebacker: Akeem Jackson (Sr.-4L), Durand Hill (Fr.-HS)

Strongside Linebacker: Omari Frazier (So.-1L), Jackson Sennie (So.-1L)

Cru (Flex Safety): Jayden Smith (Sr.-3L),  Jordan See (So.-1L)

Free Safety: *Jefferson Fritz (Sr.-4L), Khryen Deal (Fr.-HS)

Cornerback: Titus Dunk (Jr.-2L), Tavion Page (Jr.-2L)

Cornerback: Keith Gipson (Sr.-3L), Chaka Watson (So.-1L)

Special Teams

Kicker: Anthony Avila (Sr.-3L), Brandon Cunningham (Jr.-2L), 

Punter: *Jefferson Fritz (Sr.-4L), Brandon Cunningham (Jr.-2L)

Punt Returner: *Jefferson Fritz (Sr.-4L), KJ Miller (Sr.-2L)

Kick Returner: Aaron Sims (Sr.-1L), KJ Miller (Sr.-2L)

Long Snapper: Jacob Mueller (Sr.-3L)

Holder: Tommy Bowden (Jr.-2L), Ryan Redding (Sr.-3L)

Two-Deep Notes: QB Ryan Redding is listed for the first time this season as the starter at QB. He started last week’s game in place of the injured Kyle King…QB Jackson Tingler, in his first year on the varsity roster, is listed for the first time this season on the depth chart…Ethan Ruckman, coming off a right ankle injury, is available for this week’s game and is listed as the backup at right tackle to Wyatt Crawford…DE Caleb Johnson returned to action last week against Belhaven, tallying three solo tackles. He missed four games following the Southwestern victory and is now listed as the backup at left defensive end…DB Jackson Sennie is back on the two-deep after missing the last six games due to an elbow injury.

Riley Zayas is the managing editor of True To The Cru. He has worked in sports journalism since 2016 and can be contacted at rileyzayas@truetothecru.com or followed on Twitter, @ZayasRiley. 

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