Thursday night was anything but pretty, but a win is a win. Not only a win, but a win against the team ranked second in the nation. Yet, fans left the game with an uneasy feeling. It was not what everyone expected. It was not what they were used to.
The truth is, this season is going to be different. The offensive terrific trio from last year has moved on. Scott is playing for the Bengals and doing well. Knox is with the Bears and already returning kicks for them. Malone has picked up a clipboard and is helping out coaching the Wildcats. This left the Wildcat offense to start over.
This year’s offense has a lot of young talent, starting with the quarterback. Stewart and Harrell shared snaps Thursday. They both lost a fumble, but still looked good against a tough Northwest Missouri State defense. Stewart was 10-14 passing, and Harrell had a great touchdown pass to Ben Gibbs that made the difference in the game.
The Wildcats have a strong running game led by three running backs, Daryl Richardson, Justin Johnson and Reggie Brown. Brown was the leading rusher, with 17 carries for 59 yards. The best thing about the offense is that no one is graduating this year; Johnson, Stewart and Richardson are sophomores, and Harrell, Brown and Gates are juniors.
The problem is fans have been spoiled watching the ACU offense the past few years.Â They can’t expect this year’s offense to score 52 points per game. This year’s team is different.
It will be up to the defense to step up, force turnovers and keep teams off the board. Week One was probably ACU’s biggest test, and the defense passed with flying colors. The defense scored on a fumble return and only gave up one touchdown.
If ACU wins a game this season, it will look like it did Thursday. No more high-scoring shootouts or ridiculous scores, such as 93-68. Those days are over. ACU is going to have to grind out its games and be OK with ugly wins.
Fans need to realize this year’s team is still good. They have a chance for a great season, maybe even another perfect season. It is just going to look different from last season. That is the hard sports truth.