Opponents of the Tarleton State University Texans might have to sometimes be reminded that they are indeed in a football game and that it's not yet track season.
It's an easy mistake to make when the Texans are going up and down the field with the ease of Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt.
The Texans, who wrapped up a perfect 10-0 regular season and a Lone Star Conference championship (9-0) this past Saturday with a 58-0 home victory over Western New Mexico, have one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. They average well over 40 points and over 500 yards.
It's the first time the Texans have gone undefeated since joining the NCAA ranks in 1994. As a reward, they are hosting a first-round NCAA Division II playoff game today (Saturday, Nov. 17) against Azusa Pacific (8-3) at 1 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Co-offensive coordinator Jonathan Beasley said the reason for the explosive offense is, well, simple. Being successful doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require knowing how to work together, which often just comes from experience.
"We have simplified things for the guys. We just want them to go out and play ball," he said. "Simplifying things has allowed them to play fast and not have to think so much.
"Also these guys have gotten in better shape and played together for a couple of years now. It has allowed them to gel as an offense and grow together."
The Texans have a handful of rushers with over 250 yards this season, led by senior Xavier Turner (1,100 yards, 18 TD) and junior Daniel McCants (869, 6 TD). Another half a dozen receivers have at least 10 catches, led by junior Zimari Manning (32 catches, 643 yards, 9 TD) and sophomore J.F. Thomas (17 catches, 422 yards, 5 TD).
"It makes the defense have to cover the whole field. If you want to double cover one of our wideouts, the other one will make a play," said co-offensive coordinator Scott Carey. "If you want to cover all the wideouts, the running backs will make a play, so it makes it tough on a defense. They can not just focus on one dimension of the offense."
And it's all filtered through senior quarterback Ben Holmes, who was on the practice squad as a junior. However, he had previously enjoyed success at the college level, passing for nearly 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns in 18 games for Nassau Community College.
Holmes has completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 2,031 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. In addition, he's rushed for 333 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
And he's humble.
“My job is really easy when you can look around and are confident in every wide receiver we have,” Holmes said. "We communicate during the course of the game which helps a lot as well. I trust all of them that no matter what ball I throw they will come down with it."
He expressed equal confidence in his running backs.
"They can take it the distance at any time. I've seen them all make something out of nothing and I think that's why they are one of the best running back groups in the nation,” he said.
While Holmes is slow to take credit, his coaches heap the accolades on him.
"Holmes has done a great job for our offense. He has put the ball in our playmakers' hands and allowed them to make plays," Beasley said. "He has managed our offense very effectively. Holmes has done a great job of keeping us in manageable downs and distances. His athleticism has also allowed us to be more productive in the run and pass game."
Carey called Holmes "A natural competitor leader."
"With his athletic ability and leadership qualities it is easy to see why he has been successful," Carey said. "It has been fun to watch him grow as a player and a leader of this football team."
The Texans also have a strong defense, which complements the offense — and vice-versa.
"I think you have to be a potent offense in this conference to compete. There are a lot of teams in this conference that can score points," Carey said. "I think it is easier for a defensive coordinator to call the game when he knows the offense is going to go out and score points."
Holmes is also quick to credit the Texans offensive line for providing him with consistent protection.
“What coach Carey has done with the O-Line this year is just amazing. I rarely have been sacked, and when I have been it's my fault," Holmes said. "They are the reason for our success, and they don't get enough credit.
“I think we have done a good job of getting better each and every week, and that starts with the coaching staff getting us ready. We mesh well as a team, and I think that helps as well. We have a great group of men that want to win each week.”