Hounds will look to throw ball in 2008

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Get ready for Air Ribaudo.

Eastern New Mexico University coach Mark Ribaudo said the Greyhounds are scrapping their option offense next season, and have recruited accordingly as they prepare to make the change.

National signing day for football is Wednesday, and Ribaudo said he hopes to have about 30 letters-of-intent in hand that day.

“We need to (be able to) put (recruiting behind us,” he said. “We’re hoping to get most everything done on Wednesday.”

The Hounds threw only 75 passes in 2007, but Ribaudo expects the ball to be in the air a lot more this fall.

“We’re excited about it,” he said. “We’re trying to recruit some big, tall throwers and a bunch of different kind of receivers.

“And we’re trying to get the biggest offensive linemen we can. When you run this kind of offense, that’s what you need.”

Ribaudo, beginning his 12th season at ENMU and fourth as head coach, said it’s just hard to compete in the Lone Star Conference with the option attack, which has been run effectively in recent seasons with the likes of Heath Ridenour, Steven Hinson and Michael Benton at quarterback.

“It’s hard to recruit quarterbacks when you’re not going to throw the ball,” Ribaudo said. “You need to have an offense that can score a lot. It’s come to the point where we couldn’t generate enough points.”

The Hounds have 78 players currently in off-season workouts, Ribaudo said. He added that there aren’t specific areas they are looking at in recruiting.

“We’re trying to recruit everything,” he said. “In Division II, and especially at Eastern, you’ve got to try to sign everyone you can get.”

Defensively, he said the Hounds will make minor changes, but nothing all that noticeable.

ENMU went 5-6 in 2007, but 0-6 in the LSC’s South Division. After sweeping crossover games against North Division foes Northeastern State, East Central and Central Oklahoma, the Hounds will take on the other three North teams in 2008 — hosting Southwestern Oklahoma in week 2 followed by road trips to Southeastern Oklahoma and Texas A&M-Commerce.

Their division schedule is the same as last season, except the sites will be reversed. ENMU opens South play in week 5 at home against Abilene Christian.