Greetings, Lion fans, and after the major disappointment last week, it’s Homecoming this week, and the Mustangs of Western New Mexico come to Commerce. We’ll take a look at them more closely in a bit, but first……..
When I make a mistake here, I expect that it will be noticed and mentioned. And, rest assured, I will speak to it and correct the issue. In the “How Did We Get Here?” column published Monday, I had mentioned that any playoff hopes for the Lions were gone, and there was nothing but pride left to play for. I was incorrect. My sources tell me, and in checking myself, there are still scenarios in which the Lions could make the Super Region 4 bracket of the Division 2 playoffs. Two of our losses, West Florida and Saginaw Valley, are both out of region. As of this writing, we still have only one conference loss to Midwestern State. If the Lions win out, and get some help (i.e., Midwestern State loses a conference game) , then there is still a chance to extend the consecutive playoff streak. WE DO NOT CONTROL OUR OWN DESTINY, BUT THERE IS STILL A CHANCE. I stand corrected on this issue.
We’re not going to dissect the events of last week. That was addressed in the Monday column, so let’s take a look at the 1-5 Mustangs:
BY THE NUMBERS:
Rush- 158.8 ypg
Pass- 147.1 ypg
Total- 306.0 ypg
Turnovers- 10 (+1)
Points: 39.4 ppg
Rush- 182.2 ypg
Pass- 245.2 ypg
Total- 407.4 ypg
Lion Offensive Line: 6’4″ 308 lbs.
Mustang Front Seven: 6’2″ 251 lbs.
The Mustangs are led in tackles by junior linebacker Kaleb Guiterrez (6’0″ 185 lbs.) who has 40 tackles (24 solo), and is followed by fellow linebacker Gerald McKnight (6’3″ 210 lbs., Fr.), who has 29 tackles (21 solo). Freshman defensive lineman Tylen Coleman (6’0″ 235 lbs.) has 20 tackles (12 solo) along with 6 1/2 quarterback sacks.
The front seven of the Mustangs is relatively small, but quick, and has some ability to put pressure on the passer. They are also very, very young (7 true freshmen starters in the first 22). If the Lion offensive line can keep their wits about them, they should dominate this matchup.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS/THE BACK LINE:
Lion Movers and Shakers: 6’1″ 212 lbs.
Mustangs Back Line: 5’11” 193 lbs.
The Mustang secondary is a relatively inexperienced group that consist of two sophomores and two freshmen. Again, much like the “Up Front” matchup, if the Lions can work out the kinks in the running game, and limit their mistakes, they should have a very good afternoon. Miklo Smalls has had all week to work out the kinks and get more in tune with the receiving corps.
VERY SPECIAL, INDEED: I will say this again: God Bless Jake Viquez. The senior from Rockwall has been everything we thought he would be so far in 2021. Strong leg, consistent, and dead solid accurate, we’ve also been treated to the fact that he is as cool as a cucumber under pressure. His 27 yarder as time expired last Saturday tied the game, and gave the Lions one last shot at a win.
Redshirt freshman Mitchell McGarry was extremely impressive last week, and has upped his average to 37.9 yards per punt, despite dealing with a very strong south wind for two quarters. He was able to flip field position more than once in the Lions favor.
Junior wide receiver David Telles (5’8″ 165 lbs.) leads the Mustangs in both phases of the return game, averaging 7 yards on 3 punt returns, with a long of 18, and 11 kickoff returns for a 23.7 yard average, with a long of 87 yards. He is definitely is able to break the big return.
THE LIONS WIN THIS MATCHUP IF:
THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES: To borrow a phrase from the Clint Eastwood classic western:
“Now remember, when things look bad, and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then ya gotta get mean. I mean plumb mad dog mean. Because if you lose your head and give up, then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.” Clint Eastwood
Well, things do look bad. On the surface. And it does look like the Lions may not make it. This is no time to give up. It is a time to dig in, and give it everything they have. As long as there’s a game to play, then there’s a chance.
There’s a reason the Western New Mexico Mustangs are 1-5 in 2021. First year head coach Phillip Vigil is trying to rebuild the culture in Silver City, and it will take time. Of the 22 starters, 12 are true freshmen and sophomores. They do have some explosiveness, and can throw the ball well, so this is not a team to overlook. Right now, the Lions have no room for error.
They do have room to fight, however. And win.
See You At the Hawk.