Colorado Mesa University’s football team came away with a huge victory on Saturday against the Colorado School of Mines. The victory cemented the Mavericks as the lone undefeated squad in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
While coming away with the victory is all well and good, throughout that game there were huge holes that became abundantly visible with this Maverick football team.
Let’s be clear, the Mavericks should’ve won that game by at least two touchdowns. The fact that it took Peter Anderson breaking free in the middle of the field (due to the CSM players having no grasp of the situation they were in) to win this ball game was ridiculous.
CMU was clearly the better team throughout the game and led by 11 points with just over seven minutes to go. But how did CSM take control of the game? Here is the simplest answer: the Mavericks made stupid, and inexcusable, mistakes.
Let’s look back at the third quarter. CMU was sitting with a 21-10 lead at this time. The Maverick defense came up with a huge stop inside their own red zone and forced the Orediggers to have to kick a field goal. Even better for the Mavericks was that CSM missed the field goal. So everything is looking good right? Wrong. A penalty on the Mavericks allowed Mines to have a 4th and 1 opportunity.
So then the Maverick defense came up big again and stopped the Oredigger running back behind the line of scrimmage. More cause for celebration. Nope. Another penalty by the Maverick defense gave CSM a first down, which they used to finally plow into the endzone to cut the lead to 21-10.
Those were seven crucial points to give up in what turned into a two-point game. Stupid and unnecessary penalties allowed Mines to get back into the game. Instead of CMU possibly marching down the field and making it a 28-10 game towards the end of the third quarter, the Mavericks gave the Orediggers life by cutting the lead to four.
CMU finished the game with 12 penalties for 125 yards. You cannot give that many opportunities to good teams and expect to win football games.
Later in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks made another mistake. They botched a snap on a field goal attempt that would’ve tied the game at 24. Instead, the Mavericks turned the ball over on the CSM 18 yard line and were still down by three.
Next on the list of things that the team should look at during their film work, was the possible game-winning drive for CSM. On the final drive, the Mavericks got them into 4th and long situations TWICE. And both times they allowed the one absolute no-no in that situation: they allowed receivers to get behind the defensive backs. This allowed Ben Bottlinger to scramble and found them wide open for huge gains.
Those are they types of scenarios that you plan for in practice. But, as a defender, how do you allow the one wide receiver get behind you? That is an inexcusable mistake at the time in the game where the best teams don’t make mistakes. And that mistake should’ve cost them the game.
So here is the bottom line. The Mavericks won the game. The Mavericks are undefeated. The Mavericks are a top 25 team in the nation. But if this team wants to be able to compete with the big boys at the top of that list, they cannot do what they did on Saturday.
The really good teams are going to make you pay for those mistakes. And they are going to make you pay in a way where you won’t have an opportunity to win on a last-second field goal. They are going to put up points so fast you won’t have a chance to catch yourself.
Luckily for CMU, it is still early in the season for things to change. But until they knock it off with the mental lapses and unnecessary penalties, this team will not be competing for a National Championship.