I have to admit that I had a good feeling going into the Tech game. I knew Tech was beatable because their defense is still not that great and Joe Kines knows how to scheme against them. I put the chances at about 20% but I got a serious high on Saturday morning. There’s a little Italian joint caddy corner from our house. Best Italian place in Fort Worth. It’s not big at all but they put tables and chairs on the sidewalk for folks to eat and it’s BYOB so folks bring bottles of wine and pop them open out on the sidewalk. Shealynn collects corks so we often look for corks when walking the hounds. On Saturday morning as I was walking the hounds the first cork I saw was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk with a #12 staring me right in the face. I saw it as a sign and even took it to the game for good luck. At the end of the day, I was just some idiot sitting in the stands with a cork in my pocket for no apparent reason. Oh well.
I was highly disappointed by the results but I was greatly encouraged by the effort. So much so that I was ready to whip Mike Leach’s ass in the last minute. I know Leach is Leach but that was a prick move and I was pissed because our kids put up such a great effort to have Tech basically poop on it for no good reason. Leach did explain after the game that the reason he went for the score was to get Shannon Woods a touchdown. Harrell made the decision to keep the ball which makes me hate that prick even more. I’m just disappointed no one on the Aggie defense leveled him in the endzone. Not a cheap or dirty hit but just a good clean shot that put him on the ground. I think that bothers me the most is that no one on the defense stepped and popped the kid when Harrell was prancing in their endzone at home. Lay him out. I apologize to anyone that was in my section when I was hollering at Leach. There where no kids around but I told Mike Leach and the rest of the Tech team what I thought of them. I was pissed to say the least. I was ready to just deck a Tech fan for looking at me wrong after the game. I hate those aholes.
Onto my thoughts:
- I know I’ve been critical of the man up until now but I don’t think there was anything else he could have done that game. His plan was as good as it could get in my mind. He had his team emotionally ready and most importantly they believed it. He knew his team’s strength and weaknesses and Tech’s strengths and weaknesses and planned perfectly. His plan was to keep it close and hope that home field pulled him out in the end. Not a thing wrong with that.
- He also deserves credit for adjusting to his personnel on offense. The offense you see is not the offense Sherm wants to be running. Ideally he’d want to be under center with a fullback, tailback, and tight end all disguising run and pass. He knows he doesn’t have the players to do that so he’s giving his offense the best chance to win. He’s not putting square pegs in round holes and he’s making the adjustment as a staff instead of to his players. Kudos to him. Especially at the goal line.
- I also agree with both of his questionable decisions on the day. His team believed they could beat Tech and not getting it on 4th and 1 from the 1 would have been devastating to the team. He doesn’t have the offensive line to guarantee a 4th and 1 conversion. Not by drive blocking, not by play action, and not by rolling out. He did realize later on in the game that Mike Goodson is his best short yardage option mainly because it forces the defense to respect the edge. Without him, the defense is going to crash from the edge not worrying about losing containment. That decision didn’t cost us the game as we went into half time up by 3. I don’t think you can question any decision prior to that.
- I also agree with the punt on 4th and 15 with almost 6 minutes left. The difference in the game came when Tech learned JJ loves to be blitzed and that you can get pressure with a 4 man front against our offensive line. JJ had been sacked 3 times in the second half and the play before that was the amazing JJ running for his life and getting the penalty because his line was downfield. Had JJ run there and gained 5-7 yards I bet Sherm goes for it. We had 18 plays and 32 yards in the second half. We weren’t converting that 4th and 15. Our defense had done decently so there was a chance for muffed punt return or even our defense holding. We weren’t getting that conversion. You don’t make it and the game is over with 5+ minutes. At that point in a game you need a prayer for success. If you punt, you give yourself a chance for more prayers. It wasn’t the time and place for one prayer. It wasn’t going to be answered even with my lucky cork. I’ll post a separate entry on this a little later so I don’t bog this down. I’m sure many of you will disagree but Sherm just had zero faith in his offensive line and so did I.
- Randy Bullock looked good but that was a bright spot outside of a streaking Arkeith Brown.
- The worst part was the kickoffs after scoring on both sides early in the game. One involved Crabtree getting a strong return and then when our appointed 12th Man makes a great play, it gets brought back because someone was off sides. The only defense I can say is that I believe it was Bullock’s first kick off duty in a game so their timing could have been off a bit.
- The other issues involved the return where we had a hold to bring it back half the distance to the goal line. Just have to get that cleaned up. We can’t have that stuff against Tech.
- A great job by the kicking defense. They blocked two extra points and even returned one for a two point conversion. Arkeith looked great cruising that ball down the sideline. That’s the kind of stuff that can turn a game around but unfortunately our offense just couldn’t respond. Most importantly that play wound up being the difference between covering the spread and just having a push. Sure, with this team a push is some kind of victory but we COVERED the spread against Tech. Thank you and your fleet feet, Arkeith Brown.
- I worry about Cyrus Gray returning kicks. He just doesn’t have that explosiveness you want in a kick returner and his fumble didn’t help. I do think it’s pretty amazing that Bradley Stephens never gets the ball. Don’t know if people are kicking off to Cyrus on purpose or if that’s just how it’s working out.
- I also worry about Jordan Pugh on punts as you know. In a surprise move, Leach actually punted the ball once and Pugh didn’t look real comfortable pulling in the ball on a fair catch. I know I’m being critical but a muffed punt is going to manifest itself at a really bad time this season.
- Nice work, Randy Bullock.
- Mike Goodson was one chop block away from taking it to the house on a sweep. Other than that he wasn’t too productive since we had no offensive line. Five more games. I should probably quit typing that as it’s just sad. I still don’t think we’re using him enough.
- JJ looked great in the first half but Tech actually discovered his weakness. He doesn’t have an offensive line so he really wants you to blitz. He knows if six guys are coming at him then that means he’s got man coverage all over the field. At that point, he’s going to find someone and hit them. In the second half Tech realized that they could get enough pressure with a four man rush and poor JJ couldn’t find open guys coupled with a pass rush. I just worry other teams are going to start doing the same. I did love it when he stared down the Tech defensive lineman. Kid is fearless but I don’t think he can stare down too many other defensive lineman. Texas is going to rip our heads off with their four man rush that’s destroyed OU and now Mizzou. Just getting us ready for the inevitable. In addition to suffering from a porous offensive line, JJ didn’t get the benefit of his receivers as they dropped some sure passes. I believe the stat was five drops with each of them being for a first down had they been completed. For the most part, JJ was putting the ball on the mark when he had time. I love this kid. I won’t even mention the pass to Fuller that got called back. I don’t blame the game on that one play as the defense got the ball back and we wound up scoring to go up at halftime. It just really hurt his stats.
- Sherm did the right thing with his offensive line. He had guys that were banged up and they needed rest. Unfortunately, it just meant he had a bunch of inexperienced guys playing in the position. He had to do it and the guys did a pretty solid job until they were just beat in the second half. I’m not going to bag on any of them but to be fair it was their lack of stopping the four man Tech rush that ultimately lead to us being on the wrong side of the scoreboard. I don’t blame the loss on them as they did all they could. It’s just the reality of why we lost. Let’s hope they just keep getting better. If you want to blame the loss on anyone, blame it on that money stealing joke of a coach that came before Sherman that didn’t feel offensive line was an important position to recruit to.
- I personally think what Sherm is going to have to do from now on is leave Jorvorskie in as the lone back. We’re obviously not going under center anytime soon and we need the Train in there to help protect his back side. Plus, because he can catch the ball he can handle that new little shovel pass we incorporated on Saturday. The reason it stopped being effective was because Tech started twisting their DTs which spread our offensive line instead of giving them the ability to create a lane. Jorvorskie is the perfect guy for this situation because of his hands and feet. He can catch the ball in space and has the feet and balance to get 3-4 yards after the catch even with defensive linemen bearing down on him. He can also chip the DE and then release so that JJ can hit him in the flat. Seriously, this needs to happen as teams are just going to stop blitzing us and slow us down with a four man front. He can also motion in Goodson with Lane in the backfield and run a semi-traditional two back set just for a different look. I still think Goodson is most dangerous on sweeps but I just don’t think Sherman trusts his line. I’m not talking about a toss as I’m talking about a sweep where you have a tackle pulling. This is actually Shumard’s greatest strength so use it more.
- Not sure there’s anything else to write about. Lots of positive with two obvious negatives in spotty offensive line play and dropped passes. I don’t think most people realized that we had 18 plays and 37 yards in the second half. We lost 27 yards on sacks in the second half. We had 16 plays and 25 yards if you don’t count that last drive after Tech’s cheap TD. JJ just looks more stylish so you don’t realize the lack of stats. Once again, we’re still waiting for 2 halves of football from the offense. We haven’t seen it all year.
- I know most of you want to skewer the defense but Joe Kines did what he could and did it admirably in my mind for about 55 minutes. He came back from that KSU debacle and pitched to contact like he should be doing. He did everything he could to win that game and just got little offensive support. He didn’t give up any big plays and actually held Tech for the most part. That’s all you can ask for. The only negative I can put on Joe Kines was that his blitzes weren’t called at the right time. He called a couple that we flat out got burned on. It’s not really a big knock because blitzes are so risky but you still have to call them to keep the offense honest.
- I don’t know how anyone can pound on this defense that got three turnovers against Tech. Two of them were about as big as you can get to boost the offense. The second one came after Fuller’s TD was called back. Harrell lays out a bad pass and we wound up covering the fumble. Harrell was out of synch for much of the game on vertical passes and you have the defense to thank for that. I would have to go back and look at the film but I bet his total passing yards reflect only about 25% of his actual doing. The other 75% came from runs after catches by his receivers which is more a credit to the system he plays in and Tech’s receivers. He didn’t look good at all when he had to pass beyond 15 yards in the air. Credit the defense for that.
- The third turnover was in a serious do or die situation after Cyrus Gray fumbled the kick return. Tech was ready to throw the dagger and the defense made a great play knocking the ball out of Crabtree’s hand and Bennett picking it off. HUGE play. Tech scores there and we get our butts handed to us and no one is questioning any of Sherm’s decisions and just call it a butt whipping.
- The first turnover was all on the defense too. The two DTs actually made that happen. Lucas Patterson and Kellen Heard were lined up just outside the center on both sides. Patterson stunted to his left taking the center with him and Heard jumped the gap that Patterson created. Heard had Harrell in a flat out run backwards. Heard had his hands up and Harrell wound up overthrowing his guy in Hunter’s hands. All defense.
- As a unit this defense did some great things. The linemen did a really nice job of keeping their heads and hands up. It didn’t wind up being that effective but Harrell was much slower to throw the ball because hands kept popping up in his throwing lanes. The lineman also did a nice job of pulling off and looking for the underneath stuff when they knew they were getting to Harrell. Our old defense would have kept pressuring for no apparent reason and never even attempting to trail the play.
- I was surprised to see Tech tighten up their splits. I had read that Joe Kines wanted to run some faster guys on the defensive line and attack those splits. Tech never really let that happen which hurt our use of Von Miller to shoot those things.
- The safeties did a nice job of playing the receiver and not the ball. There were some serious sticks out there so nice job of the safeties to pound on the receiver. You have to do that against Tech. Crabtree actually spent about 5 minutes out of the game in the 4th quarter because he got popped once.
- Not much on the linebackers because we really ran a 4-1-6 for the most part which is why you saw Harrell hold on to the ball for so long with no pressure. That’s fine as it slowed them down. Harrell was not completely ready for what he saw. Had our offense showed up in the second half then the defense looks MUCH better statistically.
- I love what I’m seeing out of Hunter and Frederick. A lot of those kids credit goes to their high school coach. Coach Joseph at Katy is a great defensive coach and these two kids show it. It’s nice to know we have two guys sitting back there that can contribute for a while. They both appear to be hard workers that understand the game and most importantly know how to win as they won a state championship last season at Katy. That can’t be understated since very few folks on this team really know how to win. Feel good about these two.
- Don’t look at the stats when you look at this defense from that game. They played their hearts out and did everything they could to win. They should be proud outside of not knocking Harrell on his ass and getting in a little scrum to show some fight at the end of the game.
I’m sure Sherman is flat out depressed after this game. For about 45 minutes of football his team really stood a chance against Tech. He had his team believing and it was working for the most part. Unfortunately, his offensive line just couldn’t hold. I don’t want to call those guys out but their lack or protection is ultimately what did A&M in. They did an admirable job in the first half but just weren’t ready for Tech’s adjustments in the second half. Sherman had no choice but to play those guys though. I’m sure it was devastating for Sherm to call for that punt because he knew his pride and joy couldn’t hold. Like I said earlier, put this entire loss on Fran due to his lack of offensive line recruiting. That bird has come home to roost and to me that will always be his biggest sin.
All chances of bowling went out the window on Saturday. At this point, Sherman DESPERATELY needs to get to 4-8 with two wins over ISU, CU, and Baylor. If there’s only two wins in there I’d prefer CU and Baylor. I don’t think the ISU win is nearly as important as people make it out to be. Sherman appears to have these guys playing week to week so I don’t know that an ISU loss makes us spiral out of control. It would be a nice win but in my mind there’s no difference between 2-10 or 3-9 if that extra win is over ISU. I do think we beat ISU so it’s kind of a moot point.
If Sherm were to come back and go 5-7 and keeps OU and tu within 14 points then that’s all you can ask for. After Saturday’s game I do believe it’s entirely possible and if he’s a good coach he’ll get it done. There’s lots to build from this game and he needs to take it into the ISU game and then into the CU game. 4-5 would be damn nice going into OU.