Call it a method to the madness.

Considered a lightweight in recent years, the Texas College Steers spar against the heavyweights for one main reason: to get better for the long run.

The last in a stretch of tough matchups comes Saturday (6 p.m., Butler Stadium) when Texas College visits Houston to take on Texas Southern, fresh off the school’s first-ever outright SWAC title. TC played TSU tough in a 2008 meeting in Tyler, losing 28-13. The next year TSU throttled TC by a score of 75-6 in the state’s largest city. The loss marked the seventh in a string of eight straight to Division Is dating back to 2005.

“It’s a good eye opener for us line up against guys from Division I or the SWAC to see their talent matched against theirs,” first-year TC coach George Cumby said. “It’s a good experience because when we go in conference I don't think (the talent) will be at that level.”

The Steers failed to score a touchdown in their first three games against Division I Lamar (58-0), Division II Arkansas-Monticello (41-0) last week, and in the opener to fellow NAIA Belhaven (47-4) in Jackson, Miss.

On the bright side, TC trailed only 12-0 at halftime against Belhaven, pitched a fourth quarter shutout against Lamar and kept the UAM offense out the end zone for a 27-minute stretch.

A shortage of players constituted some of the problem, with the Steers dressing less than 40 players the first week and barely a handful more the last two contests.

Cumby calls the effort a positive to build on.

“The one thing that I really liked is they didn’t quit no matter how tough the situation got,” he said. “They played the whole game despite the score.”

STEER SCOOP: The Texas College volleyball team gained the school’s first two wins of the 2011 athletic season. The Lady Steers topped Dallas Christian last weekend to end the Austin College Tournament (25-16, 25-15, 22-25, 25-7) behind the efforts of SeKeya Roberson (nine kills, 24 digs), Jour’Dan Gardner (nine kills) and Jessica Williams (seven kills); and followed up with a victory over the same school Tuesday on the road (25-16, 25-22, 25-19) with the help of the same trio — Gardner (11 kills), Roberson (seven kills) and Williams (six kills). The Lady Steers play their next official contest Saturday with a tri-match at the University of Dallas. … The Texas College soccer teams, both 0-5, open up Red River Athletic Conference action with their first home matches on Thursday, a doubleheader versus the University of the Southwest (N.M.). 

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