Overall-This was the biggest win of the season. Not just because it was a game we HAD TO win or because it was a cross state rival. It was because we needed to go on the road, play a radically imperfect game, and still win by 2 scores against a team that has a winning record and is regionally ranked. That is probably the best thing I can say. This was a quality win. The offense, defense, and special teams all scored touchdowns. That made a statement, which is that this Texas A&M-Commerce team can beat you in many ways. Those scores were the difference in the ball game tonight, a game that we had to win.
Offense-Miklo Smalls is really flying under the radar as a guy to watch in national conversation for the Harlon Hill Trophy. He is no doubt the best Quarterback in the Lone Star Conference. He gets better with every single game he plays and has total command of this offense. The best thing? He is careful with the Football and does not make costly mistakes. Kelan Smith has emerged in the last few games as the Kelan Smith that we saw take over Buck Wilson’s position as a Freshman back in 2017. Now that I think about it, despite all of the injuries, when you still have Smith, Chance Cooper, Matt Childers, Ryan Stokes, Tyler Guice, Drake Flores, and Eric Hebert, that is a lot of talent to get the ball to. The one thing that keeps me believing in this offense is the offensive line. Those guys have been tremendous all season long and have given Smalls time to throw and opened up lanes for the running game. Speaking of the running game, major props to Jemal Williams for stepping in after Antonio Lealiiee took that shot in the second quarter. Lealiiee……..cannot say enough about how well he has undertaken the role after being 4 deep on the depth chart because he is running like a first string guy.
Defense-Honestly, at times this year this defense has been hard to watch, but there are 3 variables that are making it worse than it really is. First, new scheme, second new coaching staff, and third, injuries, and a ton of them. I will discuss those later, because I cannot detract from the adjustments the defense made that helped win this game. First, they rattled WT’s Nick Gerber by picking him off 3 times, and essentially gave the WT offensive staff a scare by putting pressure on him and the receivers. It was not until you saw 3-4 guys playing press man coverage and 7-8 guys loading the box to stuff the run did you see WT’s offense go catatonic, and that gave the Lion offense enough time to get their act together and score twice to put this game away. Felipe Chambers was all over the field tonight and he beautifully read his interception that turned into 6 for the good guys. Defense is all about adjustments when are playing against a team with a diverse plan of attack, and that is what DC Adibi and his crew did.
Special Teams-Andrew Gomez continued to punt well and he saved a return for a touchdown by being in the right place at the right time. Jake Viquez had a kick blocked but that one was not on him. When Viquez gets good snaps and holds, he is money, but no kicker can be money unless they get those critical good snaps and solid holds. Preston Wheeler does his job very well as the holder and last year really got thrown into the fire when he had a lot of high snaps and low snaps come his way. We have seemed to struggle with snaps the past year and that needs to be corrected because when tougher games come, extra points can cost you games. However, the punt and kick coverage was great as usual and the blocked punt was a total momentum saver. WT’s fans have expressed frustration in their kicking games and I can see why, but props to this group for taking advantage of it.
Going forward-Hard to believe this season is in the final two weeks of the regular season. Lions return home for Senior Day and also Military Appreciation week. (Which as a supporter of the Military and having a Dad who is a Vet, I always appreciate). The Lions host UT-Permian Basin and it could be the last home game of the year unless the seeding of the playoffs gets us a home playoff game should we win out. Last season, UTPB almost beat us down in Odessa. I know the guys who remain from that team want to wipe out any bad taste they might still have from last year’s near disaster. Make a statement win and say goodbye to The Hawk in style and then get ready for Angelo State. However, like I have said, the business first is to take care of UTPB. If we can deliver a big win and have some of the guys back from injuries for Angelo State, this team can make a serious run to play it’s final game in McKinney.