|ACU QB Mitchell Gale|
He disagreed, noting North Texas transfer Darien Williams' second quarter, momentum-changing interception deep in ACU territory and Kevin Washington's slobber-knocking sack and forced fumble. Coach T called it a great team victory.
Which, of course, it was. As all victories ultimately are. Special teams pitched in, too, most notably Darrell Cantu-Harkless and his blocking brigade on kickoff returns, who repeatedly put ACU in plus field position all night.
Still, with all due respect to Thomsen's diplomacy, no defense can get gashed for four touchdowns and 442 total yards - even against a good offense like Washburn's - and believe that's good enough to win many games, especially on the road against a top ten team.
But what ACU did when it possessed the ball may have made some new believers Saturday night. Despite being outgained in total yards by an even hundy, the Wildcats' offense impressed equally in what it did and didn't do.
What it did produce?
- 4 touchdowns and a pair of shortish Morgan Lineberry field goals
- 342 total yards
- A 50% 3rd down conversion rate (8-16)
- Clock-munching drives of 7, 8, 9, 11 and 13 plays that helped ACU lead in time of possession by 7 minutes
- A bona fide passing attack, thanks chiefly to sophomore QB Mitchell Gale and senior WR Clyde Gates: the former completed a ridiculous 80% of his passes - most of which were long, hard throws into small spaces - for 247 yards and 3 TD; the latter snagged 5 balls for 138 yards, 92 of which came on a pair of deep scoring catches
- Turnovers: in its last 11 games, ACU is 4-0 when it doesn't give the ball away; 3-4 when it does
- Drops: Gale only threw 6 incompletions, 5 of which were either broken up by the Washburn defense or intentionally thrown away; only an attempted dump-off pass to Cantu-Harkless was mishandled
You may have heard Coach Thomsen and me on the postgame show recalling our offseason conversation in which he said he felt considerably better about where Gale was after his freshman year than he did about Billy Malone at the same point. The context, if not the crunched numbers, backs Thomsen up.
Compare the freshman season stats of each:
- Malone - 126-230 (54%) for 1749 yards, 14 TD, 11 INT, 4 fumbles, 4-4 as starter
- Gale - 151-250 (60%) for 1709 yards, 10 TD, 7 INT, 4 fumbles, 4-4 as starter
But the degree of difficulty each experienced gives the edge to Gale. It's like judging one guy's cannonball against another attempting this.
Each guy emerged as the starter going into his sophomore season because he worked hard in the spring, summer and August camp.
Now compare Malone's first game of his second season with Gale's Saturday night:
- Malone - 21-32 for 220 yards and a TD
- Gale - 24-30 for 247 yards and 3 TD
I'm not suggesting Gale is the second coming of the great Billy Don, who only went on to become the most decorated passer in Lone Star Conference history. The good news is Gale doesn't have to be. What he was Saturday night in beating a top ten team on the Ichabods' home turf was more than enough to make Wildcat fans wonder if another legend is in the making.
Mitchie the Kid rides again Saturday night.