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They are who we thought they were…

October 3rd, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

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The narrative from some corners of the Mustang Nation is that we put a scare into #10 Midwestern State University on Saturday. Maybe but I don’t think so; first and probably foremost, that team has come from behind all season and for something like 13 games in the last 2 season including 3 of 4 this season. It should have been all 4, but… They don’t panic and they know how to win. Did they have to take us seriously? Sure, we have the ability to put up some points but MSU did what they do, make some big plays and let their opponents make some mistakes.

Those of you that listened to the broadcast on Saturday know I was critical of the coaching staff and their play calling. After a couple of days, I am no less critical. This loss is on the coaching staff. First of all, the decision to go for it on 4th down on the first drive of the game rather than kick a field goal. Vargas is a good kicker and that’s a relative chip shot. In my opinion put some points on the board. Based on our conversations last week and before the game, I believe Coach Clark wanted to get up big and early to try and distance themselves from MSU, putting some pressure on them. Um, did I say MSU doesn’t panic under their 17 year head coach?

First it sent the wrong message to our team; that we weren’t going to be able to move the ball like we did on the first drive or in the last two games for the rest of Saturday’s game. It was a lack of confidence message & maybe also that our defense probably couldn’t stop MSU so we’d have to score a ton of points to have a chance to win. Put some points on the board, get some momentum and show faith in your team.

As it turned out our defense did what we knew they could do early, stop MSU on 2 consecutive possessions. Again, the offense had a chance to put points on the board but the coaching staff decided to go for it on 4th down again and got stopped cold. Now it’s clearly set in the minds of our players and coaches that Clark and his staff don’t think we can win unless it’s a shootout and FG’s aren’t going to cut it.

The other thing that was clear early was that Javia was not 100%. His wheels were not functioning at a high level. He made a couple of runs early that showed he was not feeling good about running, going down quickly; at least once it cost us a key third down conversion. Javia just didn’t have the explosiveness that he normally does, otherwise a couple of those runs are not only first downs but 20+ yards. The other team saw that too and were willing to let him run because they knew he was not going to break a big run and they could stop him quickly.

So why did WNMU decide to try and have Javia go for a QB sneak so many times when we had it on the 1 yard line? Javia clearly couldn’t jump over the pile and reach to break the plane with the ball. It was also obvious that our offensive line wasn’t going to overpower a goal line defensive set; nothing in the last 2-3 years has given anyone confidence that they could do so. Let Deandre take the hand off and jump over the pile or give it to someone like Henry Norman, a tall tight end who can jump high, they have a better chance of breaking the plane.

Taking the points and getting that TD rather than getting stopped makes it a much different game and maybe the D doesn’t feel such pressure to hold MSU back. But true to form, Clark’s defense gave up some big plays that were either scores or led to scores. The 71 yard run on the first play after a Vargas punt pinned MSU deep in their own territory is all to often a regularity for WNMU’s defense. Clark has said it a million times in 6 years, “kids are doing things we aren’t coaching” leading to big plays. Well, then you either are recruiting smart kids or you’re not clear about what you want them to do because it’s happened every season. For so many years we’ve had an offense that was among the best in the nation and could score, but WNMU defenses can’t stop anyone consistently.

No we did not put a scare into the #10 team in the nation. We did exactly what they probably expected us to do and they did what they have done for over a season. If you truly believe that we had a legitimate shot, not a puncher’s chance, to win this game, then call the game like that; play the game like that; show your team that you believe in them. Hold people accountable as well but that’s another story for another time…

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