First, I hope everyone had a great homecoming. I got to see a lot of great people that I had not seen in a while. Truth be told I was probably the least engaged with this game than just about any other. My Dad and Uncle came with me and tailgated at about 5 different places so I made my rounds and saw friends I had not seen in years. However, with what I did see and the box scores I read and of course the notes that Russell wrote down and his thoughts as he told me afterwards plugged in the holes for an analysis. So here we go.
- Overall-When you score 62 points and hold the top passing team in the conference to under their average yards passing you have to give props to that. All 3 sides of the ball did their jobs, but with some better than others. There were some sloppy plays that were there and that is never good, however you do not have much to complain about when you beat a team by 40 points. Western came to play and they landed a solid counterpunch after we scored first to tie it up. Western as a program is headed in the right direction and getting big wins against teams that are improving are important, and really all wins are.
- Offense-Miklo Smalls did not play his best game today with 2 interceptions, but his passing continues to show he is by far the best quarterback in the conference. The Line gave him all day and opened up the running game. There were some great catches and Ryan Stokes had his best game since coming to Commerce. Stokes has evolved from a dangerous threat to an elite receiver and has really hit a point where he is going to be the go to guy on the outside. Overall not much you can complain about, especially when you score 55 points and do it both running and throwing the football.
- Defense-I really liked the aggressive play calling by Xavier Adibi, especially the blitzes that killed a lot of Western drives and also caused them to lose yards and get behind the sticks. That being said, Western scored way too easily on two of their scoring plays. Now I know the injury bug has bitten us on defense, but when you let a guy just run right by you and score with 10 yards of separation, there has to be some kind of breakdown in the coverage that happened. The 4-2-5 is a tough defense to play against and also to play for. A lot has to be adjusted to get the right people in the right places. That being said, it is getting better.
- Special Teams-Dominique Ramsey scored a kick return for a touchdown right after Western tied it up. Then, the route was on. However, Jake Viquez missed an uncharacteristic extra point and field goal, and Andrew Gomez fumbled a punt snap. So it was not perfect but I think some of that just had to do with the ebb and flow of the game. Both Viquez and Gomez are fantastic at what they do, and nobody is perfect. If anything it will probably push them to perfect their craft. Having Ramsey returning kicks puts you on the edge of your seat every time. Overall, not bad.
- Going forward-1 game down, 3 to go. The Lions head West to take on a much improved West Texas A&M team at their brand new stadium with ESPN on the call. WIth all that has happened around the Region, this one is simple. Win out and go to the playoffs and perhaps get another shot at CSU-Pueblo and/or Tarleton. However, you cannot overlook WT. Hunter Hughes has the Buffs back to being a competitive team and with all that rides on this game (and every game from here on out), this team is playing in a must win situation. In order to get back to the National Championship game, so this team must ask themselves the question Gary Gaines asked his 1988 Permian Panther squad; “Can You be perfect?” We will see for the next few weeks.