The New Mexico Lobos were just what the doctor ordered as the Panthers improved to 1-1 this season with a 49-27 victory. Some thoughts:
Tyler Boyd? Umm, yeah. We all thought he could be a star but this is ridiculous that he's this good, this soon. Boyd had 6 catches for 134 yards and a TD, half of them in spectacular fashion, and also ran twice for 39 yards including a beautiful 34-yard TD run. He's a true star of a national caliber already and dare I say that only somebody named Larry Fitzgerald started out so impressively?
Boyd should continue to put up big numbers because it appears he has a very good quarterback throwing to him. Yes, Tom Savage had two interceptions, including one very bad decision on his first pass, but the other one was a fluke. Savage really only threw two bad passes all day and one of those was completed to Devin Street who was wide open for an easy TD but Savage under threw him. On the day Savage threw a beautiful ball, straight as an arrow with plenty of zip. He ended up completing 13 of 17 passes for 236 yards and 2 TDs.
Devin Street added 5 catches for 80 yards while Manasseh Garner added 2 catches for 26 yards, and Scott Orndoff added a 4-yard touchdown pass. All receivers and tight ends also blocked exceptionally well.
Maybe the best news of the day is how well the Panthers ran the ball. James Conner looks to be the real deal. Not only is he so strong that defenders simply bounce off him, but he has a sneaky burst that lets him turn the corner like a much smaller back. He carried only 12 times but ended up with 119 yards for a 9.9 avg. He also added 2 touchdowns.
Isaac Bennett was just as impressive and was lowering his head and knocking Lobos all over the field. He ended up with 14 carries for 101 yards, a 7.2 avg., and 2 more TDs.
The Panthers had 527 yards, 283 on the ground and 244 yards through the air.
Defensively the star of the show, not surprisingly was Aaron Donald who was a one man wrecking crew. Jason Hendricks and David Durham also stood out. But the defense still needs work, however, and they let up a lot of big plays on the ground. The Lobos ran for 213 yards.
Bottom line, New Mexico is bad, so it's hard to say what this means. At the very least this will give the Panthers a lot of confidence. And the future is very bright on offense with Boyd and Conner both looking like stars.