Back on the winning side-We needed this win. Not just for the rankings, not just for the record’s sake, but for a team and fanbase that was not used to losing two games in a row, especially at the beginning at the season. This was a big win against a rival, in a trophy game, on the road and TAMUK is not some chump team. They moved the ball pretty effectively and if a team has trouble stopping the run, the Hoggies are going to probably beat them. They are 2-2 for a reason, if they were a bad team, they would be 0-4. It felt great to win again, and all 3 sides of the ball did their jobs and played the way they were supposed to. Were mistakes made? Sure, it’s football. You have 11 guys on any given side of the ball from ages 18-23 doing something very fast and very violent, usually in some kind of discomfort or pain. Someone is not going to do something quite right from time to time. I have no idea if this will get us back into the polls regarding AFCA, but it is a step in the right direction for sure.
Jaiave Magalei played a SUPERIOR game. Not a good one, not a great one, a SUPERIOR game. He was 18-20, for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns, all 3 perfect passes. The guy that I saw on film when I looked to see that he was going to transfer showed up, and My gosh was he something. It was not just his numbers, he took control of the offense. He ran the unit and made routine plays and played with a confidence I had not seen this year. He bought time in the pocket, stepped up and made tough throws, and took what the defense gave him. To me, he should win conference offensive player of the week. The running attack also had a fantastic night and I think you see very few teams these days running with a full backfield with shifting tight ends and a quarterback under center running traps, counters, and isolations. Offensive line just dominated and opened holes and nine different receivers caught passes. You can’t ask for better and if this team plays like that against anyone, they will be tough to beat.
The defense employed a bend but don’t break approach. The Hogs would drive the field and get into the red zone and then the Lions would send delayed pressure or do a stunt or just send the entire front line and drive the Hogs back 3-4 yards. Holding any team to 270 yards of total offense is pretty impressive, but holding a team to 1 touchdown and blocking two field goal attempts is even more impressive. As I said, TAMUK has a pretty decent ball club, and they had just dropped 36 on an Eastern New Mexico squad on the road. Suffice it to say, the defense did their jobs tonight, and that is all we needed.
Special teams made some great plays. Two blocked field goals, Jake Viquez did his thing, the punting was quite a bit better than previous games, and the coverage units were superior. Dominique Ramsey was back to form getting some good returns up the middle and really making you hold his breath the way he has been doing for the past 3 seasons. Again, all 3 sides of the ball did their jobs last night and it showed.
This was the best performance all year. This team was ready and it showed. The teams that we saw play at the end of 2019 getting us to the national quarterfinals, this was a team similar to that. Efficient offense, opportunistic defense, and solid special teams. A win against a rival on the road is something that will give this team a shot the rest of the season. I also realize I had been kind of hard on Magalei at Quarterback but if this is the guy for the rest of the season that showed up tonight, we are going to be just fine. I have no idea when Miklo Smalls comes back, but I know that we do have a guy that can get it done in his absence and based on the tremendous strides we made last night, that makes me feel pretty good about the rest of the season.