Before we get to it, there is a reason why we wait to do a Morning After set of thoughts. When you have a game like Football where adrenaline is pumping and everyone is passionate about their opinions, you have to let that die down. The game yesterday was full of that because there was a good chance that we could have lost. After the game, I ate some dinner and laid down to just think about the game in totality and also got the opinion of my co-writers to ensure what we evaluate is something everyone can see. Anyway, blah, blah. Time to get to the five thoughts.
- Overall-One word, survival. We survived a tough road test. While this is no excuse for a lot of the mistakes that kept WOU in this game, you just traveled 2,100 miles into another time zone and played an afternoon game. Those things do affect a team, that is why cross country trips are so hard to play, and the team you play is going to make things harder on you as they can. Was it the blowout we had hoped for? No, it was not. It was however a game that we HAD TO WIN, and we won it. A team played harder than us for 4 quarters, but we dug deep and won the game. 2-0 is our record.
- Offense-Despite my early screaming about the slower tempo of the offense, the offense played pretty well. Miklo Smalls played about as well as you can ask. He was efficient, made plays with his feet, extended plays, and did not turn the ball over. Our receivers also played well as a unit. Ryan Stokes was your big play guy as he made two huge catches that set up scores. Again, we left 8 points off the board as the O-Line got whipped in the first half, but then as the game went along, the O-line started imposing their will on a good WOU D-Line, and that is when you saw the running game come to life courtesy of EJ Thompson. The grinding nature of the offense really wore WOU down and it no doubt helped win the game.
- Defense-In the first quarter, it appeared the Lion Defense was going to just dominate, but as the game wore on, the Wolves started going to the air, and they were hit and miss in the air. The Lions held the Wolves to just 75 yards on the ground, but had 226 passing yards, most of them coming on two pass completions. There is one thing to note, WOU got a lot of those yards from big plays and huge 3rd and 4th down conversions. Was this an aberration in the defense? Perhaps. Let’s hope so.
- Special Teams-The coverage units for both punting and kicking were both great. No complaints here. Jake Viquez was money on all his kicks. The only thing I do have a complaint about was the running rugby punts. They were terribly ineffective but not Viquez’s fault. Once he was allowed to punt traditional style, it was night and day. The return game was pretty ineffective but give credit to WOU for their great coverage and their punting was very good.
- Going Forward-I do not think there is a single coach or player in the Lion program that was happy with the performance today, and that is a good thing. Relieved that they won? Yes. There is a difference between being happy and satisfied. We return back to the Hawk to face something we know is coming, Eastern New Mexico, 2-0 and ready to come ground and pound. We know what to expect. Put this game in the books, learn from the mistakes, and keep getting better one practice, one day, and one game at a time.
How the rest of the LSC fared
Eastern New Mexico-44, Colorado-Mesa-37
Texas A&M Kingsville-72, Sul Ross State-0
# 16 Midwestern State-28, Lindenwood-27
# 5 Tarleton State-56, Doane-3
Northern Arizona-55, Western New Mexico-21
West Texas A&M-49, William Jewell-21
Texas-Permian Basin-40, Northern Michigan-24
Angelo State-68, Simon Fraser-7