Hardin-Simmons vs. Trinity
1 p.m. | Oct. 3, 2015 | Stevens Stadium
Radio: 100.7 FM
Internet Broadcast: www.hsuathletics.com
Play-by-play: Al Pickett
Color Commentary: Chad Grubbs
Hardin-Simmons will take on Trinity for the second straight season. The Tigers are off to a 4-0 start after going 4-6 in Jerheme Urban's first year in 2014. HSU has not played at Trinity since 1999 when the Tigers held off a late Cowboy rally 40-33 in the NCAA playoffs. HSU is looking for its first 4-0 start since the 2008 season, which is the last time HSU was in the NCAA playoffs.
On The Air
You can hear Saturday's game on 100.7 in Abilene and on the internet at www.hsuathletics.com. You can also listen on your mobile phone using the HSU Athletics app. Al Pickett will be in his 11th season in the Cowboys' play-by-play chair and 13th overall on the broadcast team. HSU director of athletic communications Chad Grubbs will handle the color commentary.
The Cowboys will renew its Wilford Moore game with McMurry. The game will be played at noon at Wilford Moore Stadium at McMurry. The game is named after Moore, who is in both school's athletic hall of fames - as a player at HSU and as a coach at McMurry. HSU won 23 straight in the series before a 24-14 loss to McMurry in the last meeting in 2011.
Last Time Out
Hardin-Simmons jumped out to a 49-0 lead and beat Wayland Baptist 49-7 on Sept. 19 in Abilene. Jessie Ramos caught 10 passes for 237 yards and two scores and became the school's all-time leader in all-purpose yards.
The Tigers are off to a 4-0 start and have been fueled by a defense that is allowing just 11.8 points and 359 yards per game. Trinity has intercepted 11 passes on the year and recovered six fumbles, giving them 17 takeaways in four games. Offensively the Tigers are averaging 27.8 points per contest and 372.2 yards per outing. Running back Jeremy Simmons averages 102.8 yards per game on the ground and Austin Grauer has thrown for 699 yards and nine touchdowns with just two interception. Wide receivers Rhodes Legg and Cody Sandman each have 16 catches and four and three touchdowns respectively. Trinity started the season 1-3 last season against the same four opponents that it has already defeated this year.
Weston Garner threw for 220 yards and four touchdowns, Kerry Sloan had 135 yards rushing and two scores as HSU won 42-17 last season in Abilene. It was the first meeting between the two schools since the 2000 NCAA playoffs.
In The Polls
The Cowboys are ranked No. 18 in this week's D3football.com poll. HSU has moved up from No. 21, to No. 19 to now No. 18 in the last three weeks. Trinity is receiving votes in the poll. In this week's, AFCA poll HSU is ranked No. 15 and Trinity is just outside the poll at what would be No. 27.
An HSU Win Would
• give the Cowboys a seven-game non-conference winning streak.
• move HSU to 21-6-4 all-time against Trinity.
• make HSU 14-5 in non-conference games under Burleson.
• give HSU its first 4-0 start to a season since 2008, which is the last year the Cowboys made the NCAA playoffs.
The Cowboys will be taking on their fourth straight opponent that goes into the game with the Cowboys undefeated. Obviously, Southwestern was undefeated in the season opener, Texas Lutheran was 1-0, Wayland Baptist was 2-0 and Trinity comes into the game at 4-0.
HSU has made an obvious improvement in the passing game from a year ago. Last season the Cowboys had just 16 touchdown passes on the year and averaged 7.3 yards per pass, 11.4 yards per completion and just 227.3 yards per game through the air. This year the Cowboys have already thrown 14 touchdown passes, are going further down the field averaging 12.1 yards per attempt, 16.5 yards per completion and 363.3 yards per game. HSU has completed 73.3 percent of its passes on the year.
In The Backfield
The Cowboy defense has made a living in the opponents' backfield all season long. HSU is averaging 10 tackles for loss per game and have 10 sacks in the first three contests. No one has more than two sacks, but seven different players have recorded a sack on the year and all four starting defensive linemen have at least four tackles for loss.
The Cowboys have no one that will wow you with tackle totals on the season. Conlan Aguirre leads the team with 23 tackles. The Cowboys get it done more with a group effort. HSU has 16 different players that average three tackles per game.
The Cowboys had 600 yards of offense against Wayland Baptist, marking the first time HSU had hit 600 yards in game since Nov. 3, 2012 in an overtime win at Texas Lutheran. The Cowboys had 426 yards through the air and 174 on the ground.
The Cowboys have not allowed many opportunities to opponents in the red zone so far this season. Opponents have scored on just three of six opportunities inside the HSU 20 all season.
Senior Jessie Ramos broke Collin McCormick's school record for all-purpose yards in a career. He now has 4,706 yards in his career. He is also moving up the charts in several other categories.
• Receiving yards, ranks eighth with 2,485 yards. Can move past Barry Donham, John Jones and Joe Lemberg with 94 yards this week.
• Receptions, ranks sixth with 181.
• Receiving touchdowns, ranks third with 27.
• Touchdowns scored, ranks fifth with 35.
• Kickoff return yards, ranks first with 2,005
The Cowboys show up all over the NCAA stats this week both individually and as a team. Here is the top 20 rankings for the team nationally.
• The Cowboys lead the nation in blocked punts with three and the three blocked kicks overall rank ninth.
• HSU leads the nation in passing efficiency rating.
• The Cowboys rank fourth in completion percentage at 73.3 percent.
• HSU ranks five in scoring offense at 53.3.
• HSU is 10th in passing yards per game with 363.3.
• The Cowboys are 11th nationally in net punting and 15th in punt returns.
• HSU ranks 12th in red zone defense at 50 percent.
• The defense ranks ninth in tackles for loss.
• HSU is eighth in turnover margin at 2.33 per game.
• The offense is ranked 16th overall with 524.3 yards per game.
• Last but not least, the Cowboys are tied in winning percentage as they are one of just 46 teams that is still unbeaten on the season.
• Jessie Ramos is the only player in the nation at any level averaging over 200 yards per game in either rushing or receiving. He also is third in all-purpose yards (232.7), sixth in receptions (9.3), eighth in touchdowns (7).
• Weston Garner leads the nation in yards per pass attempts (13.15), passing efficiency (227.5) and is third in completion percentage (76.4).
• Nico Francino ranks 14th in punting at 41.6 yards per kick.
• Cory Ward is 17th in forced fumbles.