Offensive Player(s) of the Game: Offensive Line
The big guys up front deserve a lot more credit than most people tend to give them. This game versus the Red Raiders is a testament to the things that can be accomplished when an offensive line plays in harmony and trusts everyone around them. Everything that the offense accomplishes starts up front with the offensive linemen.
Running the ball has been a point of emphasis for the last couple of weeks, which became evident in the first quarter, when the Wildcats didn’t attempt a pass. This made it clear to the line that they had to step up.
“That was one of our struggles in the past couple weeks when we tried to run the ball, that was a point that we stressed all week, to try to run the ball and give Jake and Daniel the time they need to pass the ball too,” said senior offensive lineman Cody Whitehair after the game. “I thought overall that we did well.”
The offensive line is the reason plays like senior running back John Hubert’s 63-yard touchdown run for the Wildcats’ first score of the game were possible.
“Everybody executed, the offensive line had the holes open,” Hubert’s said. “They did a great, great job of blocking.”
The offensive line has been beginning to gel together, which has allowed the backfield players to get into a comfortable rhythm.
“They’re getting comfortable with each other and getting better,” said junior quarterback Jake Waters. “Me, Daniel, and all the running backs are getting better at reading the type of blocks they’re going to do.”
Be prepared to see the offensive line better take control of the line of scrimmage.
“As an offensive lineman that’s what we like to do,” said Whitehair. “We like to pound the ball down the opponents throat.
Defensive Player of the Game: Ty Zimmerman
The relationship between Coach Bill Snyder and his safety senior Ty Zimmerman can be summed up by the words Snyder recalled telling Zimmerman- who leads the team in career starts with 44- after his interception return for a touchdown:
“Good things happen when you don’t drop the balls.”
Zimmerman’s performance late in the game was clutch for the Wildcats. Early in the first quarter Zimmerman went down with an injury, and returned to the game with a heavy brace on his shoulder.
With him in the game, the Wildcats were able to stop the Red Raiders from making any attempt to build momentum. It looked as if nothing could go wrong for the defense in the first half.
Then, in the first drive after halftime, Zimmerman reinjured his arm breaking up a pass attempt, and the Red Raiders scored on the next two drives.
With Zimmerman on the field, the Wildcats play with pride and passion. Zimmerman brings out the best of the defensive players.
“What [Zimmerman] did today, everyone knew he was hurting, for him to do that displayed the amount leadership and character he has,” said Waters about his defensive counterpart. “I have all the respect in the world for him, he is our heart and soul of this team right now.”
The moment of the game for Zimmerman came in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats started pulling away. In a play after junior defensive end Ryan Mueller sacked Red Raider quarterback Baker Mayfield, Zimmerman picked off an errant Mayfield throw, and weaved 43-yards into the end zone.
This was Zimmerman’s 13th interception in his four-year career.
Honorable mention: John Hubert
His 63-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter set him up for a big game. Hubert began running the ball with the sort of confidence we haven’t seen from him in a while. He began hitting the holes with a sort of power that he hasn’t since 2011 when the Wildcats traveled to Miami to take on the Hurricanes. On that night, Hubert ran for 166 yards.
Hubert ran for 157 yards on the night on 23 attempts. He has 549 yards this season, and while that might be well off the 1,000 yards he forecasted for himself, he is doing his job to keep his team competitive.
“John is doing well right now,” said Whitehair. “He is playing with confidence.”
This confidence is spreading throughout the team, who all seem to be at peak performance heading into the final leg of the season. It is their confidence that will help push the Wildcats into bowl-contention.