ABILENE, Texas - Saturday, HSU Cowboy football hits the road for the first time in 2017 to take on Brown County rival Howard Payne and new coach Braxton Harris.
A difficult task for the Jackets who sit 0-2 on the year, with HSU ranking second nationally in scoring average of just over 64 points a game, and second in the nation in total offense -- recording 638 yards per game in its first two contests of the year.
But the focus remains one game at a time.
“We're going to go out and expect to be 1-0 at the end of the day and play the absolute best we can," said head coach Jesse Burleson at Thursday’s practice. “That’s what’s gotten us to this point and the approach we take with our football team.”
And the ball has found nearly every playmaker so far for the Cowboys, who spread the wealth. Running backs Jaquan Hemphill and Devonte walker coming off 200+ yard games last week, while both Alex Bell and Reese Childress each had over 140 yards receiving against Louisiana College.
And the Cowboys have thrived in the red zone so far, scoring on all 10 trips inside the 20 with nine being TD’s. Defensively, HSU have allowed just three points all year to opponents in the red zone – an impressive mark that has the Cowboys ranked fourth nationally as a defense, while being ranked first nationally in offensive red zone production.
“You’re usually good at what you emphasize, and so we go in there knowing we have to score touchdowns and we emphasize that and work it every week,” said Burleson. “Defensively it’s the same thing and we take a lot of pride in protecting our end zone.
“It’s one thing to be good outside the 20’s but when you get inside the 20’s, you better be extra special and so we emphasize that and make sure we have a lot of pride down there,” added Burleson.
Howard Payne is still getting adjusted to its new coach, who previously served on the Texas Lutheran staff, and HSU knows it can't overlook a team looking to get out of a 14 game winless streak.
“I mean we expect their absolute best,” said Burleson. “Anytime it's Hardin-Simmons and Howard Payne, I mean it's a big deal and that goes back all the way to my playing days. I still remember that and those battles we had week-in and week-out and so we don't expect anything less this week and just expect them to give everything they've got.”
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