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Ok, I admit it – I gave up.
Much like I’m sure a lot of Cougar nation. Thank god Akey and more importantly, that defense NEVER gave up. 1:15 to go, only 1 timeout, first down for the Mildcats?? Take a knee, force the Cougs to use their last t.o., and kick the ball back to them with about 25 seconds to play, probably about 75-80 yards away from paydirt and no timeouts. Like Fouts said, Stoops and his staff wanted to have the game come down to their defense, but Swoggs found a way.
Levy said it best in the post-game, that everyone expects so much of Swogger but this was only his 4th start! As bad as Swoggs can look in stretches, the most important thing we saw was 1) the big-time 80-yard drive in the first half, and of course, 2) TWICE in the 4th quarter throwing huge TD passes to lead the Cougs back. 282 yards, 2 TD’s and almost 2 others (the TD that was called back for holding to Harrison, and the Cody Boyd fumble at the 2). His oompletion percentage is down, that Colorado game really took it’s toll and we had more drops yesterday (I thought I heard 6 drops?), but have you noticed that the kid now has 9 TD passes and only 2 picks? No picks yesterday?? It’s strange, and I was one who thought he’d be a turnover machine early this year as he would force the action, as young QB’s often do in this offense, but I’m damn impressed by how he has taken care of the football. He’s a strong mother, too, on that completion to Bumpus he had a guy grabbing him at the waist. Maybe best of all, he’s not afraid to stick his mug in the face of a pass rush and deliver a laser beam down the field. Sean Salisbury talks all the time on ESPN about a QB’s eye level, and what they are really looking at it. He talks about how Kurt Warner changed from a few years ago, where all he ever did was look down the field and deliver the ball on the money, to the QB he turned into last year, where all he would do is take his 5-7 step drop, see that option #1 was covered, then his eye level would change from down the field to the oncoming pass rush. If you watch Swogger, he NEVER takes his eyes away from down the field, even when he’s going down! IMPRESSIVE.
Random thoughts – My hat is off to the o-line. Only 1 sack allowed, and they really pass-blocked their butts off. The running game was spotty, of course, and the stats are skewed from the 25-yard loss on the shotgun snap that never was, but overall I think we’ve improved up front by a large margin since week 1! I’m also very happy with the play of Johnson and Howard at DT. You know they were worn out, but there were several plays Johnson was in the backfield. Even on the lucky TD from Heavner to Steptoe over Paymah, Johnson nearly had the sack and just manhandled their guard to get pressure. That ball should have been picked off or batted down, and 99 times out of 100 that would not have been a TD. As great as Paymah has been, he’s going to get beat occasionally. Even Trufant gave up a TD here and there. dire as the New Mexico game looked, this one looked hopeless, yet they found a way! As Bud Withers wrote today, these Cougs aren’t that good…..but don’t tell them that!
Jason Hill was sick too. Had no idea, but still, he’s our Go-2-Guy, 100%. 6 TD catches, man what a player. Makes you wonder what kind of team we’re going to have next year when all these young kids are a year older, a year better. Swogger, Hill, Bienemann, Bumpus, Jordan, etc. WOW.
FINALLY, Jim Walden said it after the New Mexico game, and he said it again last night – the hardest thing to do as a coach is to teach kids how to WIN football games. So many teams out there can play with anyone for 55 or 58 minutes, but they just can’t close the deal. Arizona and WSU are the perfect examples, young teams still searching for their identity. Arizona has found ways NOT to win this year, while the Cougs have found ways to pull it out. It’s tough to do that, period, but to have such a young team with 36 of the 44 man 2-deep underclassmen, it’s just such a testament to how great this coaching staff really is!
ENJOY 3-1 and a bye week before the hated Quack-Attack brings their annoying fans to Martin!