Thoughts From the Baylor Game

I didn’t write any thoughts from the OU game mainly because I didn’t feel there was anything to write about.  We got our butts whooped plain and simple.  Outside of Cyrus Gray’s efforts there wasn’t that much positive in what OU did to us.  I didn’t want to waste any effort writing about it.  I feel much the same way after yesterday’s game but think it might be cathartic to write about it so here goes.

 

My wife and I made the journey down I-35 yesterday to the game.  We’re 60-90 minutes further from Aggieland in Fort Worth than Houston but we’re about 75 minutes from Waco.  I guess that’s a positive.  It makes that drive after a Baylor loss a little more bearable.  Notice I said little.

 

For this write up I’m going to get to do my usual style of Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.  I’m adding a special section on Coaching and Where I’d Go From Here.

 

Offense:

 

·        Normally I write about Mike Goodson here and quite honestly I’ll do it again because he had the greatest play by an Aggie offensive player when he made an amazing catch on a 51 yard pass that took him to the 1 yard line.  Not sure why he’s not getting more touches but he’s not.  Mike had some very solid swing passes where he’d gain anywhere from 4-12 yards.  The kid is special.  One more game folks and he’s gone.  I don’t know why he’d come back at this point.  Someone will take the kid.

·        Second post always goes to JJ.  We had 5 turnovers yesterday and 3 of those he’s responsible for.  The other 2 were due mainly due to tipped passes.  He’s had less and less time in the pocket since the second half of the Tech game.  I will say his biggest mistake yesterday was not recognizing the pressure and dumping the ball sooner.  He spent way too much time looking downfield trying to gain more yardage and he’s just not getting the time he needs to do so.  He has to learn to dump the ball sooner.  He’s definitely played better games but he’s getting less and less time in the pocket every game.

·        The offensive line.  I don’t even want to go there but I feel I have to.  I think the best illustration of what’s going on here is the time Baylor brought 8 guys on a flat out blitz and the offensive linemen whiffed on 6 of them.  I kid you not.  There 5-6 Bears in the offensive backfield and we had 3 of our lineman just standing around.  Some of that’s talent but some of that is coaching in not learning how to pick up blitzes.  At least make contact with someone.  The other thing I noticed was the offensive linemen pulling into space and not picking anyone up.  There’s no attempt to chop block or really make contact as they just kind of cruise out there like my dogs at the dog park just kind of running free with no real purpose.

·        Surprisingly we have a really good core group of receivers.  Fuller, Tannehill, and T. McCoy are really looking good.  Jamie McCoy had his usual solid catches but he also had a couple of drops.  All in all the receivers looked decent when we could get them the ball.  This group without a doubt has progressed the most of any group through 11 games.  Credit to Cromwell for that.

·        Other than that, not much here as this staff is just not giving this group a chance to win games which I’ll touch on later.

 

Special Teams:

 

  • Let me give HUGE credit to E.J. Shankle here.  I’ve bagged on this guy not having good hands but this kid has been nails on punt coverage as a gunner.  He simply blows by the defender as the gunner and is consistently near the punt returner when he gets the ball.  In addition, he’s not afraid to make some contact.  Love to see a kid embracing his role on the team and Shankle deserves HUGE credit here.
  • We got a punt block.  Not to take anything away from that but I do have to say we looked really confused on what to do with the ball bouncing around.  No one really knew if they should fall on it or run with it.
  • Probably the most disheartening part of the game for me was the fact that Baylor got to kick off so many times.  To make matters worse Gray and Stephens looked REALLY confused on who should be getting the ball.  In my mind that’s all coaching as there were at least 3 times when the ball either hit the ground or they really had no clue who should be catching it.  Now to their defense it was pretty windy and the ball wasn’t going to the same spot every time but when you’ve to two guys back there they need to figure out quickly who’s getting the ball.
  • We were offsides on our only onside kick attempt.  Folks, that’s coaching in my book.  I think what’s worse is that we only did one onside kick.  Our second TD was in complete garbage time and we had nothing to lose but we kick off instead of the onside.  If anything to just practice onside kicks in a game.  It’s not like we were saving face.  We weren’t covering the spread and we weren’t winning so let’s work on some things you don’t normally get the chance to.
  • Justin Brantley is solid.  I can’t wait to see 2 of the 32 NFL teams anchored by Aggie punters.  We’ve got that going for us.

 

Defense:

 

  • First off, let me say that this team takes WAY too much heat for the overall trouble of the team.  The offense is not helping these guys out one bit.  They actually played pretty decent in the first half as Baylor got two big plays when they converted a long third down that ultimately led to a Baylor TD and then when Kendall Wright made a pretty amazing TD catch right before half.  In the second half Jonathan Batson completely misplayed a deep ball he could have deflected or even picked off.  Once that TD happened the gates were open and the route was on.  I have to think Trent Hunter makes that play.  Either way we weren’t winning that game.
  • I have to give credit to Danny Gorrer as I have bagged on him in the past for poorly supporting the run and shying away from contact.  Something’s changed in him as he made some decent tackles yesterday so I want to give him a shout out since I normally bag on him.
  • Speaking of tackling, this team is just horrible at it.  Not only can they not arm tackle but they don’t know how to take anyone’s legs out.  Blame the last staff all you want but we’re 11 games into the season and the fundamentals still aren’t there.
  • In addition to tackling, we’re HORRIBLE at shedding blocks.  It seems like we’re so worried about losing site of the ball that we can’t anticipate where it’s going in order to fight off the blocker and make the play.  It’s horrible how tentative we are because it looks like we’re afraid we won’t see the ball if we try to shed the defender.  Once again, 11 games into the season and we’re lacking in fundamentals.
  • Other than that, not much else to speak of except that Matt Featherston had his named called quite a bit.  I guess that’s good.

 

Coaching:

 

  • At 11 games into the season we can’t keep blaming the players.  We just got destroyed by a Baylor program that is also in its first year with a head coach.  Plain and simple our coaching staff got out coached by a Baylor staff.  Can we really say they have more talent than us?  That game truly exposed the ineptitude of our coaching staff.
  • Here’s where I think the main issue is and it starts with the man at the top and the staff he’s assembled.  First off, he’s a pro coach that hasn’t coached college in 10+ seasons.  Because of that he has no idea how 7 on 7 has influenced the spread attack that is now prominent in Texas which is what stocks most Big XII schools.  He’s trying to run a system he’s familiar with but that his players have no idea about.  There’s a reason why fullback prospects don’t exist anymore in the entire state.  That position doesn’t exist anymore and TE is on its way out as well.  As it stands those are two of the most crucial positions in what Sherm is trying to do.
  • In addition to his unfamiliarity with the college game he went and hired an OC that has ZERO college experience and ZERO coordinating experience at any level.  I think Cromwell would have probably been a decent enough OC at the pro level but he’s never going to cut it at the college ranks.  I just don’t think he’ll ever get the talent in the state of Texas he’ll need to make their pro style system work.  I’m going to mention Kevin Sumlin later but guess who he went and hired to be his OC at UH this season?  The guy who was the OC at Tech for the last three seasons and spent a total of 8 seasons in Lubbock where he coached Wes Welker as inside receivers coach and then Graham Harrell the last three seasons as OC and QB coach.  Obviously Leach is the OC in Lubbock but I’m sure this guy has picked up a ton of knowledge along the way.  How Sumlin convinced him to leave Leach whom this guy actually played college ball for is beyond me but Sumlin got it done.  Sherm hired his buddy.
  • Defensively I’m actually okay with Kines.  I know he catches a ton of heat but if the Aggie offense was any better I swear the defense would probably average 100 yards less a game.
  • Outside of the staff there are a couple of things I just can’t get over.  The first is how our best offensive showing was the first half of the Tech game and since then we’ve gone away from it where Sherm keeps forcing the I formation which he obviously doesn’t have the personnel for.  Sure we beat two teams but that was a pitiful ISU team and if we don’t have the offensive outburst in the third quarter against CU we likely lose that game as well.  The I formation is going to be the same as Fran’s option.  It doesn’t scare anyone and its not working but yet we keep forcing ourselves to do it thinking it will break through at some point.  I wish I had the time to go back and see the average yards when we’re in the I formation.  I bet it’s not more than 2.5 yards.  I understand you have to establish the run to establish the pass but when everyone in the world knows what’s coming it’s not going to work.  The other thing that’s not working in the I formation is that JJ is dangerously staring down his target as he drops back.  That’s going to get jumped in the Texas game so get ready for it. 
  • The other thing that gets me about this staff is their decision to use certain people in situations.  I think my main concern is the concerted effort to use Keondra Smith so much.  I’m not bagging on the kid but when you have a Mike Goodson, Mike needs to be getting the ball in key situations.  The best example I can give is yesterday when we had a third and three and Keondra is in there.  We got a sweep to the right which I actually LOVED as a play call but we only got about a yard and a half and had to punt.  It was actually executed really well but Keondra just doesn’t have the burst or moves to get outside.  He’s a between the tackles runner.  I don’t understand the play call with the package on the field.  Maybe Goodson doesn’t practice well but there’s times you have to put that aside and know your best option for converting a third down.  I just see a lot of the same issues as I saw with Fran when it comes to utilizing personnel as well as they should.
  • Let’s face it too that Sherm was never great at the pro level.  I think he’s a very solid fundamental coach but I just don’t think he has that great factor about him.  I know everyone wants to point to Pete Carroll but the list of pro coaches that didn’t make it is longer and I see Sherm ending up like Charlie Weiss or Al Groh.  Sure he needs time but I just don’t see “Great” coming from Sherman.
  • I won’t even go into Sherm’s inability to go up against the Big Boys and get the top recruits.  He’ll recruit decent enough and do a better job of identifying talent than Fran but he’s never going to be a lights out recruiter because of the hole he dug this season.  We have a chance to close out with Christine Michael and Craig Loston and I bet we get neither of the guys even though they were both committed to us at one point.

 

Where Do We Go From Here:

 

  • I hate saying that I’m off the Shermwagon in his first year but I am.  What I’ve seen these past two games is simply pathetic.  I didn’t expect Sherm to light the world on fire but I fully expected us to be competitive.  Let’s look at who we’ve lost to.  Arky State at Kyle.  They’re currently 4-5 in the mighty Sun Belt Conference.  Their other three wins you ask?  Texas Southern, Middle Tennessee State, and Louisiana-Monroe.  That’s some select company for us.  Let’s not forget about that loss to KSU at KYLE by 14 who is 4-7 and their only Big XII win so far.  Baylor who is 4-7 and their other Big XII win is over ISU.  Other losses include Miami, OSU, Tech, and OU with the closest margin being 18 points in both Miami and Tech.  I fully expect to get clobbered in Austin as they make atones for the past two years.
  • Next season I see us going anywhere from 5-7 to 8-4.  I still say we have to win a bowl game next season and then for us to be in the Top 25 at the end of Sherm’s third season.  I say if we’re not bowl eligible at the end of next season then Sherm needs to be gone no questions asked.
  • I do say there’s one scenario where Sherm should be let go this season and I’m not advocating for it all but I would strongly consider it if I was Bill Byrne.  There’s a good chance Mike Leach is leaving Lubbock this season.  I know Tech is probably going to make a serious run at keeping him but if I’m Bill Byrne I keep in tune with what’s going on with Leach’s situation.  If I know for certain we can get Leach then I move on from Sherm this season.  It’s outlandish but desperate times call for desperate measures.  I would even go so far as to tell Sherm so he knows he’s operating with some serious heat under him.  It would cost us a ton of money but my guess is keeping Sherm is going to cost us more.
  • Outside of that I let Sherm come back next season with the understanding he needs to win a bowl game next season to get comfortable and if he doesn’t go to a bowl game then he’s gone.  I keep an eye on what’s going with Kevin Sumlin at UH.  That’s the guy we should have hired and I’m firmly convinced of that now.  Go look at the guy’s staff of who he’s assembled.  I’d dare say it’s much more impressive than Sherm’s staff.  Couple that with the fact that he throttled the #25 team in the country and it’s hard to see why we should have hired him.  I still get really pissed thinking that Bill Byrne didn’t even give the guy or anyone else an interview outside of Sherm.
  • I always advocated that we should have interviewed Sumlin, Briles, and Muschamp once it became obvious we weren’t getting a big name such as Butch Davis or Tom Tubberville.  As it stands Sumlin is doing pretty good at UH, Briles just beat Sherman, and Muschamp is doing a yeoman’s job with a young secondary in Austin.  I don’t mean this personally towards Sherm but it feels like we got the run of the litter.

 

Now that I’m done with this I don’t feel any better at all.  In fact I feel sicker because we’re essentially stuck with Sherman for two more years at least all because Bill Byrne didn’t want to interview anyone else and was in such a hurry to hire Sherm when he clearly wasn’t in demand by any other program.  This is nothing personal against Sherm at all but it has everything to do with wanting A&M Football to be great again.  He’s not going to get us there.

 

I’ll be renewing my season tickets next year just like I will every season until I’m six feet in the ground but my wife and I talked about how much we spend and how it’s just not enjoyable anymore.  There’s no much I enjoy more than watching those maroon helmets with the big white aTm running around on a football field but I just feel like we made a huge mistake in hiring Sherman because he’s been gone from the college game so long and was never truly great in the first place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s