WNMU football didn't get the win they had hoped for in the season opener. They did get a better idea of how expectations will meet reality and what the team needs to do to improve and put some 'W's' in the win column.
Going into the Saturday night tilt against Ottawa University AZ, Coach Frank Tristan believed the Mustangs were superior physically and that assessment was correct. However, it didn't translate into the advantage that the staff had anticipated.
Mental errors on both sides of the ball allowed the Spirit to stay in the game. Coach Tristan pointed to fumbles offensively that not only stopped Mustang drives but kept his team from building multi-score leads. Three third and long conversions allowed by the Stang defense turned into 2 touchdowns for the home team which kept them in the lead or tied.
For Tristan, it was the mental errors that were the difference. He points to mental fatigue as one possible factor. The passing of Eddie Chavez took a toll on the team, including the moment of silence before the game. A number of players were very emotional during that time.
On the plus side, the Mustang offense showed great improvement over last season. Quarterback CJ Fowler not only made good decisions in throwing the ball, but his ability to run kept drives alive. The offensive line showed improvement, allowing Deandre Williams to not only gain over 100 yards on the night, but the backs were effective running the ball between the tackles.
Defensively, the line was able to get pressure on the Spirit quarterback. McCullough threw 3 interceptions; he only threw 10 all of last season. James Lee was effective in getting up the field and putting pressure on McCullough.
Izell Price and Isaiah Edwards were very solid in the defensive backfield. Price especially locked down on receivers and didn't allow McCullough to target some of his favorite players. Edwards came up with a timely interception and pass defensed.
Overall, physically Coach Tristan believes the Mustangs are better and performed well on the night. Mentally, there is a lot of room for improvement. The fumbles, missed assignments, and other mistakes have to decrease for the Mustangs to get in the win column.
WNMU will return to action this Saturday as the travel to Flagstaff to take on D-1 Northern Arizona University.