Here are Six Thoughts on perhaps the best game I have seen in a long, long time.
- First, this win was huge for the program. This is the deepest ANY Lion football team has gone since 1991, and also since TAMUC joined the NCAA in 1982. 1990 and 1991 saw the Lions go to the National Quarterfinals, but there were fewer games to get to a national title game 25 years ago then now. This team is showing how it is going to be one of the greats when it is all said and done. 30 years from now, someone might look at the records and think “they did not win a conference title,” what they do not get is how close this team is coming to being National Champs for the first time in over 40 years.
- Yogi Berra once coined a great phrase, “It’s Dejavu all over again.” That is what I was thinking about this game, it reminded me of Midwestern. A run/pass option that the defense was getting walked over with, a QB that is an effective runner and effective passer, and turnovers. This team overcame that, and that is something that is invaluable. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you have no resilience, you have NOTHING in the game of football, or in anything that is worthwhile in pursuing.
- If I am a Harlon Hill voter, I am not going to look at Luis Perez’s 4 interceptions. I am going to look at what he did AFTER all of that. Part of what makes a great player a great player is what they do after they have made mistakes or come up short. I remember reading that back in 1997, former Kentucky Quarterback Tim Couch threw his first interception after having played a stellar first few games. Then coach Hal Mumme looked at him after the interception and said “Remember, in this offense, good quarterbacks have short memories.” The way he kept slugging away and just put the team on his back despite all the pressure and fire being thrown at him just shows what most of us know….The Lions will go as far as Perez does.
- I have to throw some major props the way of Lion defensive coordinator Justin Deason. The guy just knows how to adjust when he is getting his lunch eaten, and then turns around and eats the other guy’s lunch. The first half was a bad half and could have been much worse. Deason’s group shut out the Wildcats in the second half and made huge plays in overtime to keep the game in reach. The fourth down stand in second overtime was enormous. Brucks Saathoff continues to show himself to be, in my opinion, All-American material. He has picked off passes in back to back games and got us a turnover when we desperately needed it. Also, the secondary really put the screws on CWU and did not allow big time pass plays. You just have to tip your cap to the entire group, from coaches on down.
- Kristov Martinez is the smallest guy on the field, and stands taller than just about anyone else. Three times this year, and twice in this game, the team has put the game on his shoulders to either win it or tie it. The guy just steps up and knocks them through like another day at the office. Having a kicker that has confidence to go along with the ability to master his craft is invaluable in the game of Football.
- Next week will no doubt be toughest game this team will have played since Colby Carthel took over. The pressure mounts with all of the expectations that were placed on this team before the season even started. All in all, this team has lived up to them. What is scary in a good way is that this team has not played a perfect game in any of the big games, and has still beaten 3 of the 4 ranked teams they have played, and could have made it four out of four. It gets tougher, but this team has what it takes to overcome that, as today showed that clearly.