A familiar refrain has reared its ugly head for the second consecutive week in the wake of our first win of the season. It goes something like this.
"Well, we wouldn't have even won/stayed close if _______ hadn't given us the ball ____ times."
I said it last week, and I'll say it again: That's a bunch of malarkey, and if that's the way you feel, I'm sorry you've been cursed to live a pessimistic existence that forces you to look at the world with a glass half empty mentality.
I didn't watch the game or listen to it, so I can't speak with any kind of authority about the interceptions (and two of their subsequent returns for touchdowns) other than what I've read, but unless a team botches a center/quarterback exchange or a handoff in the backfield, the defense almost always has at least something to do with a turnover. We are often way, way too eager to call it a mistake by the offense.
I understand where the sentiment comes from. After all, the offense is in control of the ball, and if they had picked a different receiver, or thrown the ball away, or held onto it a little tighter, there would have been no turnover. True enough. But if a defensive back hadn't broke on the ball, or ripped at it aggressively, or -- don't overlook this one -- simply caught the ball (hello, Texas Longhorns!), there would be no turnover, either.
So, please, let's give credit where credit is due on this one. The Cougars are now sixth -- SIXTH! -- nationally in takeaways with nine in three games, after having just 13 in 13 games last year. They've recovered five of eight opponent fumbles after recovering just three of 17 last year.
The interceptions? To echo woolybugger's brief analysis on the game thread, I don't care if Bo Levi Mitchell stared right at a defender, pointed with is finger and mouthed the words, "I'm throwing it right to you," that guy still has to catch the ball, and still has to take it to the house all by his lonesome.
Oh, and there was this little matter of our heretofore completely inept offense driving 80 yards for the game-tying touchdown with less than 30 seconds to go.
I know it wasn't the prettiest win. And I know there are a lot of reasons to feel like we are going to have major problems competing moving forward. But for one Saturday, the Cougars were the ones making the plays that were the difference in the game.
That is something to be celebrated, not minimized and discarded.