Midwestern State's season didn't start the way the players and coaches expected it when the team rolled into fall camp in early August. The Mustangs had their Week 2 game with West Florida cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and paired with a bye week, they played one game in a three-week span. The team is still dealing with the hardships of a traumatic experience, as they try and recover from the death of teammate Robert Grays.
Despite the early season adversity, the Mustangs have fought on, and are now the No. 6 team in Division II football. On October 7th, Midwestern State made program history, taking down Lone Star Conference rival and then-No. 2 ranked Texas A&M-Commerce, the highest ranked team the Mustangs have ever defeated.
"It was a great team win," quarterback Layton Rabb said. "Commerce is a highly-ranked team and it was awesome to finally get those guys at home. It seems like we’ve played on the road there the last couple of years. It was good for our team. Our coaching staff really wanted this game and so did the players."
Rabb has been on fire of late. The junior quarterback was quiet the first two weeks of the season, passing for a combined 317 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The past two weeks have been another story. Rabb has thrown for 591 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He even added a season-high 67 yards this past weekend. His hard work and personal turnaround hasn't gone unnoitced. Rabb took home his second consecutive LSC Offensive Player of the Week Award this week.
"The first few weeks we had a lot of success running the ball," Rabb said. "If something is not broke, there is no need to fix it. We were going to continue to run the ball until someone stopped us. Teams started to try to load the box more and it just kind of opens up our pass game. That’s the only reason why our numbers have changed any.
"Our receivers do a great job blocking and when we throw the ball, they are out there catching everything. Our tight ends have stepped up this year with Dorian [Johnson] and Blaine [Albrecht]. Those guys are making good receptions in the pass game and getting their blocks in the run game. Then our offensive line is playing lights out in every game we’ve had so far. We’re really jelling right now. We need to keep this going."
One thing that has helped Rabb under center in his first season as the full-time starter has been the running game. The Mustangs have a two-headed monster in the backfield, highlighted by Adrian Seales (464 yards and three touchdowns) and Vincent Johnson (351 yards and nine touchdowns). Johnson notched his second 130-plus yard, three touchdown game of the season against the Lions the past weekend. He and Rabb combined for six of the Mustangs touchdowns.
"Vinnie (Johnson) and (Adrian) Seales have done a great job this year making one or two guys miss each rush it seems like," Rabb said. "Those guys have been tremendous assets to our team. We have two other guys behind them in Chris Smith and Nick Gabriel that can really run, too. We have some guys in the backfield that can really make plays when their number is called. We rely on them heavily."
Midwestern State is the last undefeated team in the LSC. Looking to return to the postseason once agan, Rabb's hot play of late has the Mustangs in the driver's seat for the conference with their latest victory. Let's go under the helmet and find out what makes Rabb and the Mustangs kick.
Favorite football movie: I have to say Friday Night Lights. Growing up in Texas, high school football is really big. I thought the movie was really interesting and fun to watch. Every kid in Texas can relate to it.
Favorite NFL team: I don’t really have a favorite NFL team. I have always been fans of players. Growing up, I was always a big Peyton Manning fan and now I am obviously a big Tom Brady fan. I am an advocate for football, so I love watching a good football game. I’ll always root for a good game.
Player growing up, who was a football player you modeled your game after: Besides my brother (former West Texas A&M quarterback Preston Rabb) and my dad, it was Manning and Brady. Their football IQ, their arm, all the checks they made, all the throws they made is just something special to watch growing up.
Who’s the GOAT: Brady or Peyton? I have to say Tom because of the rings. It’s hard to say that Tom is not the GOAT. I would definitely go with Tom.
What’s in your headphones pregame? I have a variety of music, but once it gets a little bit closer to game time it’s more rap and hip hop.
Pregame meal/ snack you have to have before gameday: Besides the pregame meal, during the bus ride to the stadium I have a Clif Bar and a purple [energy drink].
Superstitions: Not really. I wear the same generic outfit every game so I stick to that. I guess the Clif Bar is a pregame ritual, but there is no real superstition. The Clif Bar is either chocolate chip or chocolate brownie
Favorite cartoon growing up: It’s got to be Scooby Doo. I was a big fan of Scooby. Any time it was on, I wanted to watch it.
What’s something your own teammates may not even know about you? I think I am pretty much an open book. Not sure if there is anything my teammates don’t already know.