Overall Opining: Last night The Lions really caught lightening in a bottle. Not only did they absolutely destroy a tough ASU team on the road, but just up the road in Canyon (or should I say WAY UP the road in Canyon), West Texas A&M took down Midwestern State to put us in a tie with the Mustangs for the LSC lead. Now, I know there are a lot of questions regarding what happens with the tie and what not. Here are the possible scenarios. First, if both teams win out, we share an LSC title with the Mustangs. Yes, they have head to head against us, but two things should factor into this, one, we just beat a team by 40 plus on the road that they barely beat at home last week, and if we beat WT this Saturday, that really should bring perspective into it. Now, neither one of us it out of the woods yet. We have WT Saturday in Commerce, the next week we head to Odessa to play UT-Permian Basin, and then wrap up with a peaking Tarleton State team in Commerce. MSU has Permian Basin at home, Travels to Tarleton, and then wraps up with Eastern New Mexico at home. One loss for either team gives the other team an outright title, but right now, we are in a position where we should be very thankful for what we have and that we have another chance to show the country that the loss to MSU was somewhat of a fluke (and it was, IMHO).
Now, back to the game. Special teams under Colby Carthel are magic. It is like the guy has fairy dust and sprinkles it on the his players because what you see is magic. Turnovers and big plays have swung so many games over the past 4 years and had an impact on the games. We needed separation, and the fumble return for a TD and Shawn Hooks second straight game with a punt return for a TD really caused the team to relax and cause the team to start to focus on putting it on the Rams. This is the largest victory that TAMUC has scored over ASU in years, so means something also.
Offense-Justice Luce-The Lucas Lovejoy product hauled in 8 passes for 125 yards and a score. He was Johnny on the spot last night and was running routes with a crisp execution and the scouting report probably does not have him a “guy to watch” but last night shows that Luce can be dangerous and I have seen it before. This is a younger guy who will be a major factor in Lion passing attacks to come and more this year. Just watch. Welcome to the MVP circle Luce!
Defense-Hatari Byrd and Brucks Saathoff-Another great overall game by Byrd who had 8 tackles and was all over the field last night. Also, Saathoff was fantastic with 5 tackles, 1 for loss, and one huge pass break up that was oh so close to being an interception.
Special Teams-Shawn Hooks and Kinston Carter-Both guys made huge plays that took ASU effectively out of the game. Hooks took a one hop bounce and took the ball to the end zone, and Carter scooped and scored the series before. Those two scores were critical in pulling away from the Rams and at that point the feeling was the it was ball game.
Offense-A plus. 35 points scored, no turnovers, Luis Perez was great last night and Ovie Urevbu was a fantastic complement to Richard Cooper in the run game, and the receiving game was great also. Nothing to complain about here.
Defense-A plus. The defense felt it’s way through the first couple of series to adjust and make sure the Ram offense did not get into scoring position the rest of the night. Cannot coach big playmaking.
Special Teams-Just fantastic. Punt return for a TD, fumble on a punt return, Hector Dominguez and Kris Martinez both played well as did Buck Wilson. A plus.
Coaching-A Plus-Carthel and crew did not panic when ASU took a 14-7 lead. They kept telling the players to do their job and make routine plays. What people don’t sometimes realize (myself included) is that this is a young staff and mistakes will be made, but the staff continues to grow and mature as coaches and learn from past mistakes. Carthel is all about accountability and I have heard him say in the past that coaching is where the buck stops. He is showing what a great coach he continues to grow into. Not another guy I would want leading my alma mater’s program.