Thoughts From the KSU Game

I’m not going to come up with any cute nicknames for this game because it pretty much sucked for the most part. Sure our offense put up passing like we’ve never seen before but much of it was either too little, too late or not converted into real points when we needed them most. Don’t fool yourself in that this is not a very good K-State team. We’ll get to the specifics of the game here in a bit, but there was NO reason for A&M to lose this game. In fact, I’d put about 70% of this game on the coaches and the other 30% on the players.

I will say that I think it’s apparent that Mike Sherman is committed to getting his youngsters some OJT. At this point in the season if there’s any meaningful experience to be had then he’s going to burn the shirt. Considering the heat he might be feeling from the fans, I say good for him. We need wins as soon as possible and if playing someone 6 games this season means 1-2 wins next season then we really have no choice. If he can’t recruit to replace these guys in year 5 then it’s just going to show in years 3-5 and it won’t really matter.

I just hope he does it at QB. Like I said all along it’s nothing personal against McGee and has everything to do with JJ making plays out of nothing and simply being our future. If JJ goes down at any point then I’d actually be okay with Tommy Dorman’s shirt being burned. I don’t think Tannehill should ever go back under center and should work WR exclusively from now on. Right now we’re playing for years 2 and 3 in the Sherm Era as they’re going to be the most crucial. If he’s not Top 25 by the middle of Year 3 then years 4 and 5 won’t matter because he won’t be getting it done on the field and all likelihood in recruiting. There is no reason for him to not be in the Top 25 come year 3. A great coach would have his team there.

On to the game analysis

Coaching:

  • We’re going to start with coaching this game because that’s what cost us the game. We’re sitting at 2-4 and have been all but blown out in all but one of them. I posted something on rcwouldhavegonefor2.wordpress.com looking at the coaches in their second year and in the current AP Top 25. The three coaches are Nick Saban, Butch Davis, and Mike Dantonio at Mich. St.. All three coaches blew out their first opponent at home and with the exception of Butch Davis losing to two pretty good teams on the road never got beat by more than 7 points last season. Check out the blog or ask me for a copy of the post and I’ll shoot it to you. It’s a small sample set but I think it’s pretty telling the consistency in the first year of those coaches. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, great coaches don’t get blown out. We’re now at blowout #3 coupled with losing to a lesser opponent at home to open up the Sherman Era. Based on this small sample size, things ain’t looking good.
  • The part about this game that got me more than anything was we lined up incorrectly 2 times on key plays, had a WR jump offsides, and had to call a timeout after a K-State timeout because we didn’t know what the hell was going on. That’s all on coaching right there. Blame the players all you want but lining up incorrectly and receivers jumping offsides are all on the coaching staff. Linemen should never lineup incorrectly and receivers should never move until the ball is snapped. They should never focus on anything else but the ball and its movement. Not sound, not offensive motion, and definitely not defensive motion.
  • We all love Jorvorskie, but the stubbornness to run him again in the EXACT SAME FORMATION AND PLAY on 4th and 2 after not getting credit for any yards was idiotic at best. Jorvorskie is a hell of a short yardage back only when the defense has to respect the pass. When the defense doesn’t have to respect the pass they’ll load up and stop the Train. The Train can displace linebackers all day long but he can’t run through a brick wall of defensive and offensive linemen. He’s not a violent runner and what makes him work best is his ability to adjust to a developing seam and then just load up and punish whoever might be coming through that seam to stop him. I hope Sherman learned his lesson as it was a pretty valuable one. We probably still lose that game, but it would have given us a puncher’s chance if we get in from 3rd and goal on the 2. I’m sorry, but I think great coaches get that score. At least Sherm admitted to it after the game.
  • Special teams is still having issues which I’ll get to in a bit but that’s all on coaching so I want to at least put that here.
  • This was just a poorly prepared team on Saturday. Based on practice reports I sometimes wonder if Sherm and his staff are worried too much about teaching technique and not worried about the mental and non-technical physical aspect of the game. They play more aggressive than Fran but they’re still making mental errors and definitely not whipping anyone’s ass.

Special Teams:

  • Probably the key moment of the game was the blocked punt and return for a TD. Most folks know this but that was the perfect time to go for a blocked punt by KSU. You see it all the time when a team is backed up and the punt return team goes for a jailbreak. We should have known this was coming and been ready for it. You run max protect in that situation and don’t worry about coverage until the ball is gone. We were on our 15 yard line. I hope we weren’t running max protect because if we were there’s even more to worry about.
  • Outside of that, the special teams units just seem unsure of themselves. No one is real assertive and just appear to be going through the motions. Maybe they need to put Billy Pickard in charge.
  • One of our onside kicks was one of the goofiest things I’ve ever seen when everyone knows it’s coming. We had the team equally split on the hashes and then had had our kicker squib it 10 yards straight ahead where KState had a guy ready for it. It made no sense. That’s the kind you run where you’re trying to sneak it on someone and there’s no one there. I’m personally a fan of lining up 10 people opposite of the kicker and hoping for a scrum and you wind up with the ball. It would be interesting to see the most successful onside kicks.
  • Von Miller made a hell of tackle on a kickoff or punt. I forgot which one it was now, but he basically had the pedal to metal and came behind the returner and tripped him up for a short gain. Hell of a play by him.
  • Mike Goodson retuned one punt and looked decent doing it. You can’t really see this on TV but Goodson is without a doubt the most explosive player on the field at all times. He just chews up yardage faster than anyone and at the same time can adjust his direction. It’s unreal. At this point, I don’t want to see anyone back there but Mike. In case you’re wondering, the kid is gone after this year. Just like Martellus and DeAndre Jordan, he’s not coming back. The reason he didn’t play in the 1st quarter was because he wasn’t going to class. Supposedly he has an athletic department person verify he attends class. If that’s true then you’ve got a junior skipping class knowing he’s going to get busted. Mind’s on draft and not next year. It hurts for me to type this, but enjoy the last 6 games of Mike Goodson in maroon and white. We let a legit Heisman Trophy contender waste away. Thanks Fran and Sherm. Both of you talked about utilizing him but you never really did. Nice work.

Offense:

  • Although we never got to see it, Mike Goodson = Stud. Sherman suspended him for a legitimate reason but I think his not playing in the 1st quarter cost us the game. You had a defense just asking to get gashed on the ground and we didn’t have our main offensive weapon for some 20 minutes. By then we were playing from behind and couldn’t establish the run. Mike did have some pretty good runs on sweeps where he just showed his speed and cutting/cornering ability. We did run a few options his way and they now need to be stricken from the playbook. I think this is one of the areas where Sherman needs to understand the college game. These aren’t professionals that get hit in the pocket when they screw up. I’m sure Goodson was pissed standing on the sidelines in the 1st quarter but it probably didn’t phase him at the end of the day. What Sherm, Cromwell, and Jordan need to do is incent the kid to go to class so he understands what missing a quarter means. It’s a completely different mindset. Discipline is fine, but motivation is important with key guys. Don’t baby them but give them a little extra motivation. Goodson should have been salivating all week knowing he was going to bust 100+ yards and at least two TDs against KSU. That’s why he needed to go to class.
  • Jerrod Johnson became the first Aggie QB to exceed 400 yards in a game. The kid still has a long ways to go but there are moments that take your breath away. It’s what he does. The kid is exactly what this offense needs right now. He stands tall, steps up, and can buy time with his feet while still looking to pass. He’s getting much better about realizing when to run and when to keep buying time. In all honesty, he’s the only chance of Sherm being able to keep his job long term. I hope Sherm realizes this at this point. Look at practice all you want but this kid is a gamer. When the lights and pressure are on he’s ALWAYS looking to move the ball. ALWAYS. Not many people have that inherent talent but he does. Don’t get me wrong in that he missed a few passes (mainly one to Cyrus Gray) but he also completed a couple of passes that could have never been completed by anyone else. Let’s also not forget JJ is the likely reason we have two wins and not one due to that win over UNM.
  • LOOK EVERYONE!!!!! It’s Howard Morrow. Remember him!?!?!?!? He’s not only back but he has a sleeve on his left arm. He’s very fashion forward these days. He mad a hellacious catch on a ball that JJ laid out a bit too far but Morrow extended out parallel with the ground and hauled it in. Not many people can do that but Morrow can. Morrow actually got a lot more playing time as the game progressed and looked decent although JJ never really looked his way much. Morrow did have a nice block on Tannehill’s garbage time TD so it’s good to see him using that Fran training. Let’s hope he keeps developing as Fuller, Tannehill, Morrow, and J. McCoy could be solid next season. Yes, everything is about next season at this point.
  • Jeff Fuller is a beast and JJ loves him so. JJ has complete confidence in this kid and is not afraid to lay it out there when he’s in single coverage. I don’t blame him one bit. Fuller still needs to work on securing the ball upon catching it, but this kid is going to be outstanding. He and JJ are probably going to set all kinds of passing and receiving records by the time they’re gone. I’m okay with that.
  • I’m not sure what to think on the offensive line. The starters look like a MASH unit and I think their backups are actually playing better. Schneider, Grimes, and Shumard all came out at some points during the game. Poor Grimey was feeling it in the second quarter of the game and couldn’t even stand up during that extended KSU/A&M synchronized time out in the second quarter. Kudos to all of those guys playing hurt but when you can’t stand up in the second quarter and are still playing we’ve got issues. I really think at this point you give those guys two weeks off to get healthy and get these other youngsters some OJT and see what they can do. Right now the current starters are not really helping anyone due to their injuries. I know there’s no depth there but let them heal. Kevin Matthews may not be an NFL prospect but he’s got the best technique on the line and knows how to read a defense. Let’s hope the others can learn from him.
  • Our tackles get their own bullet point because they’re pretty damn bad. They get smoked something fierce and they need to learn just run the DEs or LBs and not even try to engage them. The actual best block occurred when one of our tackles was bull rushed and fell down taking the DE with him. Hey, whatever works. That might just be further proof we need to learn to chop block better. Maybe Howard Morrow and his sleeve can run some clinics this week.
  • We burned K.J. Williams shirt this weekend so we might as well get him some real OJT. Ja. McCoy won’t ever be a true TE so it’s time to find out if K.J. has any promise. Kind of wished we could have done it earlier but I guess Sherm held out some promise he could cobble together six wins and keep some people shirted. Now it’s all best are off and it’s time for shirts to be burned.

Defense:

  • Remember how I normally gush about Joe Kines pitching to contact? Well, he was throwing meat balls this entire game. That whole defensive debacle was on him. We were so afraid of Josh Freeman’s arm that I don’t think he ever once worried about the running game. Credit to Ron Prince and his staff for seeing our weakness on film which is getting gashed between the tackles. I didn’t track it every play but almost every time we were in a 3 man front they ran the ball between the tackle. Whenever we had a four man front they threw the ball. I’m sorry Joe but you can’t beat any team in America when you’re letting them gash you for 4-5 yards a carry.
  • KSU scored their first three TD on drives of 81, 93, and 47 yards. They totaled 27 plays in those three drives for an average per play of 8.2 yards and chewed up 15:14 of the first half just on those three drives.
  • Statistically, this was just a HORRIBLE game. They averaged 4.6 yards per carry on 47 carries and Josh Freeman was 21-26 through the air averaging 9.0 yards per attempt and 11.1 yards per completion. The longest run was 15 yards and the longest pass was for 32 yards so in reality they just chewed us up and spit us out.
  • Based on the stats, no one really stood out individually. Arkeith Brown had a nice pass defense, Tony Jerod-Eddie had a nice pressure, and Lucas Patterson had a nice play where slipped the linemen to fill a gap. We did have a few decent sacks but I don’t remember it being due to individual effort as much as it was for team effort.
  • We burned Billy Chavis’ shirt for this season so we have that going for us.
  • I’m not going to go on because it was just a horrible day defensively. Not sure why the offense and defense can’t synch up but just it’s not happening.

What I want to see for the Tech game is the exact same offense we saw on Saturday with a little more Goodson from the beginning to chew up some TOP and keep the defense off the field as much as possible. Joe Ganz of Nebraska was 36 of 44 against Tech on Saturday with one crucial pick in OT so you know they can be passed on. I would run a boat load of sweeps to stretch the field and then let JJ do his thing. If we don’t score 30 on Tech then I’ll consider this game a complete failure offensively.

Defensively, Boxcar Joe has to run a 4-2-5 in my mind. With Baron Batch, Mike Leach is committed to the run now more than ever. If we continue to run our 3-3-5 then we’ll get gashed just like KSU did to us. Featherston has to either fill the gap on a running play or look to cover crossing routes if it’s a pass. He just needs to play zone defense like a center in basketball. If someone comes in your area you make them pay. Von Miller has to be moved around and looking to shoot those wide splits. He can’t really cover in space so pin his ears back and let him go. Make your corners play closer because Von is going get there in a hurry. I also bring up Alton Dixon on occasion just for a different look.

From a defensive back standpoint the safeties have to play the receiver and not the ball. As soon as the ball is in the air, find the receiver and go look to punish them and don’t worry about making a play on the ball unless you absolutely know you can catch it or get in front. I think you have to have Arkeith Brown playing three yards off Crabtree with an inside shade to limit him coming inside and using the sideline as your friend. Mix up man and safety help so the Tech offense is never sure what’s coming. Easier said than done but beating this Tech offense is all about confusion since it’s such a read based offense.

Joe Kines has beat this offense before and I believe he can do it again. I do believe it’s entirely possible that we could beat Tech in a 35-28 shootout like Nebraska almost did. Nebraska is not a very good team and the Belini (sic) brothers found a way to slow them down at home. I watch that game a ton in addition to how OSU shut down Mizzou this past weekend to see what was done to slow down these spread offenses.

I’m not saying we do win as I’m actually guessing that our offense sputters early and Tech gets a couple quick scores and then the route is on. I’m actually thinking of a 45-21 beat down.

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