Thursday, September 29, 2011

Booth Review: Let It Be

ACU 31 Angelo State 17
ACU beat Angelo last week as a fan base yawned.

There are 10-year-old supporters of our Dear Christian College's football team who know nothing other than double-digit victories over our nearest neighbors in the Lone Star Conference. They don't realize there was a time not long ago in a galaxy not far away when any win over the Rams - for that matter, any win over anyone - was cherished. ACU went entire presidential administrations (America's, not the university's) without beating ASU.

This is what happens when teams make winning habitual. Fans aren't satisfied with merely defeating an opponent. They begin awarding style points, as if they were all a bunch of Dick Buttons.

Some in ACU Nation were pushing Dick's cousin, "Panic," after a six-point, non-conference, out-of-region loss to North Alabama, one that - while frustrating and unimpressive - had nonetheless zero impact on where the Wildcats want to be at season's end, namely the Division II playoffs.

The Angelo win, though by two touchdowns, still didn't do it for some. Maybe you. But let's not minimize what ACU accomplished in its home opener, to wit:

1. Handed ASU its first loss.
2. Held the Rams to their fewest points of the season.
3. Again allowed fewer points than in the previous game (24 vs. Tarleton; 23 vs. UNA; 17 vs. ASU).
4. Held an opponent to 10 or fewer points in the second half for the third time this year (10 vs. TSU; 7 vs. UNA; 7 vs. ASU).
5. Had its highest point total of the year offensively.
6. Rushed 33 times for 184 yards.
7. Despite being outgained in total yards 503-418, actually outgained ASU in yards per play (6.4 on 65 plays to 5.7 for 88 plays).
8. Reduced its penalties from 14 in each of the first two games to only six for 55 yards.
9. Improved to 19-0 in the Chris Thomsen Era (since 2005) when committing no turnovers.
10. Defeated ASU for the sixth straight year.

Pretty good top ten list. Even better when you consider the 'Cats are 2-0 in the LSC and tied for first place with two future opponents: West Texas A&M (Oct. 15) and Midwestern State (Oct. 22).

Was the Angelo win a little herky jerky? Yes. Were Ram receivers open in the first half? More than an interstate truck stop. Is it of some concern that Mitchell Gale continues to struggle with the deep ball? Absolutely. Will I finish this column by phrasing every sentence in the form of a question? No.

But whatever this team is right now and evolves into later, it's a victim of the success produced by previous incarnations. If you want to lament the fact that this bunch won't look exactly like the ones in the glory years of Billy Don, Bernie, J. Knox and Clyde, that's up to you. Just remember, it also won't resemble those teams from a little further back that never beat Angelo.

I propose we let this team be what it's going to be. Hopefully, it's enough to extend the season past Thanksgiving. In the meantime, let's be thankful for what it is now: unbeaten in the conference, playing at home this weekend on what should be a beautiful night for football and a team littered with really good players and even better young men who are being trained by a coaching staff committed to making sure they're where they need to be - on the field and off.

Enjoy this team and enjoy the ride. And remember, this isn't figure skating. Leave the judge's pencil at home. Don't be a Dick Button.

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