The No. 3 preseason ranked WTAMU Buffalo football is ready to pick up right where they left off in 2012. The 2012 Buffs finished the season 12-3 overall with a 7-1 mark in the Lone Star Conference, which was good enough to earn WT a share of the conference championship. The Buffs season ended with a 41-18 loss to then No. 2 Winston-Salem State University in the National Semifinals of the Division II playoffs.
Senior quarterback Dustin Vaughn figures to be the ire of opposing defenses all season. Vaughn finished 2012 completing 359 passes out of 555 attempts for a 64.7 percentage. He was also a semifinalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which has been described as the Heisman of Division II Football.
“Dustin, as far as from a leadership aspect, is a real good vocal leader and a real good silent leader,” Interim Head Coach Mike Nesbitt said. “The way he carries himself is a very good example for the younger guys on the team.”
WT’s running game took a hit with last season’s starter Khiry Robinson leaving for the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints. The Buffs will mostly rely on sophomore Geremy Aldridge and senior Aaron Harris in the backfield. Aldridge rushed the ball 34 times for 225 yards and four touchdowns in 2012 and Harris ran it 18 times for 64 yards and one score.
“We’ve got a solid core of running backs,” Nesbitt said. “The cupboard is not empty but the running game with controlled by Dustin and how other team’s play us.”
Seniors Torrence Allen and Nathan Slaughter will return at wide out, giving Vaughn familiarity with his receivers. Allen caught 87 passes for 1430 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and Slaughter caught 67 passes for 827 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Anthony Johnson, a Northern Illinois transfer, also looks to provide some excitement in the passing game for Buff Nation.
The Buff’s defense is returning several players from the 2012 season including Defensive Player of the Year, senior Ethan Westbrooks and the teams leading tackler, senior Taylor McCuller. Westbrooks piled up 60 tackles, including 28 tackles for a loss and 19.5 sacks, while McCuller accumulated 164 tackles and 11.5 tackles for a loss. Senior Kyle Voss returns after a 119-tackle season with 20.5 of them being for a loss of yardage.
“The big thing with our defense is tempo,” Nesbitt said. “We have a lot of guys returning and those veteran guys just need to stay consistent and don’t let the little things get us.”
WT will open the season in Gunnison, Colorado against Western State on Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. On Sept. 12, the Buffs will take on Chadron State as part of the Lone Star Football Festival at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas at 7 p.m. WT’s home opener will be Sept. 21 versus Texas A&M-Commerce at 6 p.m.
“The team has had a good fall camp and they’re ready to bring some excitement to the student body and fans this season,” Nesbitt said.