We are five games into a ten game schedule for the ACU Wildcat football team, and right now, the ‘Cats are where they want to be.
Coach Chris Thomsen has his guys at 4-1 overall and, more importantly, 3-0 in the Lone Star Conference.
Sure, there have been some plays the Wildcats would like to have back. Quarterback Mitchell Gale’s four interceptions in the first five quarters of the season were a surprise, as was a lack of offense in the Â Cowboy Stadium game against North Alabama. All in all though, the ‘Cats record is still spotless where it counts – conference play.
The Wildcats have taken care of some of the weaker teams in conference this year, and this week’s game against a very, very good West Texas A&M team will be a nice test to see where ACU actually sits in the LSC. Since we are an academic university, let’s give the ‘Cats some mid-season grades.
Offense: B – Two weeks ago this grade might have been quite a bit lower, but the offense has turned a corner in the past two games. We are finally seeing the offense fans got used to seeing last season. Gale has found his rhythm and is starting to develop a chemistry with his new starting receivers, Taylor Gabriel and Darian Hogg. Since the no-show against North Alabama, the ‘Cats have scored 31, 51 and 36 in the past three weeks and haven’t turned the ball over once in those games. There is still room to improve, but the ‘Cats are moving in the right direction.
Defense: A- Like the offense, the defense came into the season with some questions. While the D has been bent, they have rarely broken, and have been critical in some of the Wildcat’s victories this season. Without the defense, ACU would have lost to Tarleton to begin the season, and would have been massacred against UNA. Aston Whiteside and the pass rush has been outstanding in flustering opposing quarterbacks, and although the secondary has some holes to fill, they have limited the big play.
Special Teams: A The Wildcats have always been a threat on kick and punt returns, and this year is no different. Gabriel is an explosive player fielding punts and already has a return TD this season. If not for a penalty, he would have two. He constantly is getting the ‘Cats prime field position. The one onside kick we have seen from the Wildcats was executed to perfection and should have been recovered. This unit has been a huge asset for ACU and will continue to be the rest of this year.
This Wildcat team might not have the flash they have had in past years, but this is a very solid football team. There are still plenty of leaders in the locker room to guide this team to the playoffs, and I expect this squad to get there. They are ranked No. 10 in the nation for a reason. Hopefully they can show that to fans this Saturday at Shotwell.