Thunderbirds look to go 2-0 in the WAC facing conference foe Tarleton State University

The Southern Utah University Thunderbirds will face the Tarleton State University Texans for a Western Athletic Conference battle on the gridiron this upcoming Saturday, October 8. The game will start at 6 p.m. at SUU’s Eccles Coliseum. The two teams battled each other last year in Arlington, Texas, when the Thunderbirds came out on top 40-35 in their only win of the 2021 season. 

Last time out
In last week’s matchup, the Thunderbirds were looking to go 4-1 on the season but lost a close matchup with the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels. With the loss to the Colonels the Thunderbirds enter this week with a 3-2 record.

Steve Jenkins led the Thunderbirds’ offense with 73 receiving yards and a touchdown, but once the Colonels took the lead in the first quarter, they never gave it up. Parker Mckinney led the Colonels with an impressive 331 passing yards in the game, pushing them to a 35-28 victory over the Thunderbirds. 

The Tarleton State Texans head into the conference matchups fresh off a bye week. Their balanced offense led to a 43-28 victory over the University of North Alabama on Saturday, Sep. 10.

Beau Allen threw for 316 yards, and his primary target was Jaden Smith, who accounted for 173 of those yards and two touchdowns. The ground game was led by Derell Kelley III’s 161 rushing yards and 7.7 yards per carry, which balanced their offensive attack. The Texans are 3-1 this year and have their first WAC conference game against the Thunderbirds.

Keys to victory
The Thunderbirds will look to contain the Texans’ leading receiver Jaden Smith, who has 489 receiving yards and six touchdowns on the year. Containing running backs Derell Kelley III and Deangelo Rosemand will also be an emphasis due to their combined 451 yards and three touchdowns this season. 

Offensively, the Thunderbirds will look for Isaiah Wooden, who has 418 yards and four touchdowns receiving. When they have targeted Wooden early, it has led to opportunities for other Thunderbird receivers as the defense shifts their attention towards him. These are names to look for as the Thunderbirds try to go 2-0 in the WAC against the Texans. 

Fans can also watch the game on ESPN+

Article by: Chevy Blackburn
Photos by: SUU Athletics