Let’s start with the obvious. The Texas A&M-Commerce defense is what has gotten this team to a 10-2 record this season and a second round in the NCAA Division II playoffs. No other reason. Scott Power has earned every single penny of his contract and then some. The relentless pressure, the outstanding line of scrimmage play, the turnovers created, all of those are reasons why this team is playing right now. Duluth’s offense did not score 17, points, they scored 3. Think about that, a team that was 11-0 was almost shut out by a second place, 2 loss team defense. We have a chance to make a run because of that outstanding defense and all they have done.
Offense….again a mixed bag. Kane Wilson threw two ill advised passes that gave the Bulldogs 14 of their 17 points. Two passes that were taken to the house by UMD Defensive backs. Wilson did look good on the opening drives and also delivered some perfect strikes to receivers. Just one problem, there were some very uncharacteristic drops by guys like Ryan Stokes and Vincent Hobbs. Also, The Lions left at least 21 points off the board by having a TD pass called back due to offensive pass interference, and receivers who had beat coverage dropping what would have been easy walk in touchdowns. That cannot happen if you want to have a shot against Tarleton State.
Special Teams-first, the good. Kristov Martinez continued his golden kicking and rocked a 42 yarder like it was nothing. Tristan Perry punted well again, and Dominique Ramsey may have been the guy who turned the tide in this game. The Lions were down 14-10 with under a minute to play when Ramsey took a punt, spun, juked, swiveled, and ran through coverage to take a punt back to the house with just under 5 seconds remaining in the second quarter and sending the Lions back into the locker room with a lead.
Now, the bad. We have issues at deep snapping obviously. This is the third time in 5 games I have seen bad snaps for field goal and extra point attempts that either caused field goals to be blocked or in this case, left 7 points off the board and twice basically caused turnovers. The running game was also not as effective as it had been, but considering the fact that Duluth is used to defending strong ground games, it might explain that. No fumbles, but dropped passes and so many missed scoring opportunities left so much off the board that could have and should have been.
Finally, we get a rematch with Tarleton after they drilled Azusa Pacific in the first round. It was not even remotely a contest and the Texans are good and we know it, but we also know that we can beat these guys. Remember, the score was 24-21 at the start of the fourth quarter before the avalanche of completely unforced turnovers came. We have the film, and we have the ability and talent. I have full faith in the coaching staff that they have plan of attack that will put us in a position to win, and also have full faith that our players have learned from their mistakes from the last tilt with Tarleton and the game yesterday.