Thoughts from the tu Game

I had planned on writing up my thoughts from the game like I normally do but I just can’t do it. I think everyone saw the game and knows what’s going on. I still stand by my statement that Sherman deserves another year unless we can get Mike Leach. I know that’s not possible so I’ll fully support Sherman for another year while being critical. I want him to prove me wrong but I’m not seeing it.

As for Leach, I was driving back to Fort Worth on Saturday and listened to the game on the radio. Mike Leach deserves all kinds of credit for pulling that game off. It was a classic let down game against a team that was getting better each game (more on that later) while Tech was being decimated by injuries. Tech was down by 14 points at one point and lost probably the best player in the Big XII in Crabtree. They got a couple of lucky breaks thanks to penalties by Baylor that negated turnovers but Leach and his DC hung in there and pulled it out. That was not a cheap win by any stretch.

To the A&M/tu game:

  • Back on Turkey Night. I know some people don’t like this but I can’t tell you how great it was seeing the game featured on SportsCenter on Wed, Thur, and Friday. Sure, it wasn’t good for us but those of you that remember 1984 and 1985 will understand how great it will be when Aggie Football is back. There’s no better stage for us. My wife wasn’t completely excited about it as she wanted to spend more time with family but she’ll adjust. I think.
  • The I-Formation. I think this is the part that frustrates me the most about Sherman. He ran the I most of the game but there were three times that got me. It was the formation for the first play in each half as well as a 3rd and 11 in the 3rd quarter. All three times it went absolutely nowhere. What the hell was he thinking believing he could convert a third and 11 from the I formation? Sherman had a week and a half to prepare for this game and this is what he came up with. What did he do for those 10 days? Surely he could have been creative for those three moments. At least set the defense up to think you schemed differently for 10 days. That’s like Fran going option to the short side on 3rd and 3.
  • I saw Mike Shumard cut out the legs of the DE on the first drive of the game. I kid you not. He sawed the DE right down and I got giddy. 12 games into the season and Sherm’s vaunted OLine finally chopped someone down. Shumard actually played fairly decently for most of the game. Most of the offensive line struggles came up the middle. We just can’t establish the running game or a pocket but Sherman doesn’t seem to realize this.
  • I think the OLine play is the part that bothers me the most about Sherman. He’s supposed to be an OLine guru but this line has not developed AT ALL. I understand there have been plenty of injuries but in 12 games this line has NOT DEVELOPED. I also understand that Fran left Sherman in a bad way with numbers but this line has NOT DEVELOPED. In addition, they get flagged for false starts 12 games into the season. I played OLine in high school and my coach had two cardinal rules – 1) Hit someone. Even if you missed your assignment you better be blocking someone. You’d still get yelled at if you blew your assignment but if you were at least hitting someone you wouldn’t get yelled at as loud. To this OLine’s credit they do a better job of that than they did last year. 2) No penalties. This included false starts and holding calls. Our rule was that the line was one unit and we got two penalties a game with no repercussions. After that we had to do these awful drills called “Back, backs” where we had to drive the blocking sleds backwards. We had 4 penalties in our second game and we did “Back, backs” for 15 minutes. Needless to say, we didn’t do anymore “Back, backs” for the rest of the season. Sherman’s OLine is not disciplined and you can blame the players all you want but I see this on the coaching staff. They have to instill confidence and discipline. It’s not there.
  • I’m glad I was there for Mike’s last game as an Aggie. I’m glad he almost broke a 90 yard reception for one last memory. Unfortunately, Earl Thomas had an angle and happens to be fast as well so Mike couldn’t outrun it. Until that moment the offense hadn’t done jack. Say what you want about Stephen McGee but Mike Goodson is the reason we beat the sips in 2006. Not only did he get that first TD but he had two long 3rd down runs on “The Drive” that would not have happened without Mike coming along. I’ll never forget standing in the end zone of DKRMS watching those two runs and realizing how special he was. I’m gonna miss the kid despite all the criticism of injury and not being an every down back. If you don’t think he’s gone then you’re fooling yourself as I don’t think he’s been going to class which explains why Keondra has played so much and there’s really nothing for him to come back to.
  • Bag on Joe Kines all you want, but that man did everything he could for as long as he could. For 20 minutes of football the sips had only scored 7 points, 14 points for 25 minutes of football, and 21 points for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the offense of the team he coached went three and out on its first three possessions and then settled for a field goal on a 4th and short on their fourth and final drive of the half. (Won’t even get into that decision) If the offense does anything then it’s likely that game goes to half tied or down by 7 at the worst. I told my wife at halftime that the final score would be 56-17 as our defensive dam was about to burst and our offense would still be inept. I was ~7 points off on each side.
  • We have no idea how lucky we are to have Trent Hunter for three more seasons. If Sherman does anything defensively it’s going to because this kid is leading the secondary. Kudos to Sherman for landing the kid and realizing he needed to be on the field.
  • Von Miller had a hellacious knock on Colt McCoy. I don’t know what it takes but you find a way to spring this kid. In two seasons he’s put licks on Harrell and McCoy that have caused them to get up gingerly. I’m not advocating late hits by any stretch or injuring anyone but you have to find a way to spring this kid. Don’t worry about him covering people. Line him up and let him be the focal point of the offense’s pass blocking scheme. If they screw up they’ll know their QB is going to pay. If they’re going to turn just let Von contain and have the LBs fill. Oh wait, we need LBs. Either way, turn the kid into a pass rushing machine.
  • This is going to sound stupid but I knew we were done when the sips ran on the field. For those of you that haven’t been to a game at DKRMS the teams come on the field from opposite sides. The sips come out from the South end zone and the visiting team comes out from the Northwest corner. A&M was huddled up in the NW corner ready to release as the sips came on the field. The sips ran to the North end zone and lined up across ¾ of the goal line taking a knee blocking A&M’s path to their sideline. It was clear what the sips were doing and I don’t blame them one bit. I know they were praying but it was an act of intimidation and confrontation by the sips. Make no mistake they knew what they were doing. Our team stood idly by while it happened and finally showed some fight at the end which is what you saw on TV. It took way too long for that confrontation to happen. A coach with nuts would have released his team to get in the face of the sips way sooner. This team had no fight from the beginning and that has to change. Same thing goes for Harrel’s late TD and McCoy’s last running TD where Batson could have lit the guy up but just kind of gingerly tackled him while McCoy was going into the end zone. Once again, I’m not advocating late or dirty hits but it is a painful game and you better be ready to make your opponent pay when the opportunity is presented. The great Aggie teams had swagger and confidence and it’s clearly missing here. Somewhere along the way the sips got some of it and intimated us before the game ever started.
  • One knock I do have on our defense is the DEs biting on the ball fake in the zone read. I don’t know if that’s by design but they’re HORRIBLE at containing on the zone read. It’s just like defending the option. Stay home as grabbing them from behind ain’t really going to slow them down. If your interior holds then you can still get there in time if you’re certain the RB has the ball but don’t go down until you know the QB has released the ball.
  • As much as I’ve railed on McGee this season I was glad to see him getting some PT in his final game. I don’t agree with his getting in the face of the tu player that sacked him as it was a clean hit and he wasn’t celebrating anywhere near him. I didn’t even see what was going on until I heard the crowd as McGee and the celebration was so far apart that McGee went and found him. It’s his final game against a team he’s had his greatest moments so I can’t completely blame him. You’re a good Ag, #7 and I’m sorry that Fran ruined you.
  • JJ to Jeff Fuller. I don’t care if it was garbage time as those two are going to be very important to Aggie Football’s future.
  • Speaking of WR, that group deserves credit for being the most improved unit for the season. If the rest of the team showed the improvement that WR corp showed then we might be bowling. Fuller, Tannehill, and the two McCoys really stepped up and developed over the course of the season.
  • It was kind of sad seeing McGee, Lane, and Goodson on the field for one last time. It’s amazing to think what we could have been had Fran been a better head coach with those guys as the foundation for 2008.

Honestly, there’s not much else to talk about as it’s just disheartening knowing what’s coming and seeing it happen. I think the oddest thing was that in 15 years of attending this game both home and away I’ve never seen the sips sympathetic when we lost. The only thing I can equate it to is after the 2005 game where they tight as a drum in McGee’s starting debut. They know they earned a win that day to keep their MNC hopes alive.

This game was similar but different in that I had a bunch of Texas fans ask me after the game what had happened to A&M football. They were genuinely concerned for Aggie Football because it felt strange whipping a hopeless team. We went out on Sixth Street after the game and didn’t have anyone talk trash to us at all. Even before the game we hit a bar and just had a couple folks ask us if we were going to the game, from College Station, or wanted to change shirts before going in a joking manner. I’m used to people genuinely hating me when I wear maroon in Austin the day of the game. Most people were good natured ribbing us and asking what happened to Aggie Football. It’s like we’re terminal or got hit by a car. I even had a couple of shots bought for me because they felt Aggie fans needed it. I wasn’t even crying. Very surreal and I don’t like it one bit. I want to return to the day where we genuinely hate each other because there’s something on the line.

I still stand by my statement that I won’t feel good about Sherman until he wins a bowl game next season and finishes in the Top 25 in his third season. He dug himself a HUGE hole and he needs to see some immediate success to turn around recruiting. He can’t just skate by going 6-6 and 8-4 over the next two seasons. He needs some late season success because as you’ll see the great coaches get better as the season wears on regardless of the schedule. I firmly believe Sherm walked into the situation not knowing what college football had become both on the field and in recruiting. He’s now been head coach for 12 months which is plenty of time for him start turning this thing around.

As for his coordinators, I think Joe Kines actually deserves to stay. The last thing this team needs is turnover at the DC spot. If Kines is committed for another 3-4 years then by all means let him stay. The only coach I can see potentially moving on is Buddy Wyatt which pains me to say as he’s from my hometown and really likes A&M. However, if there’s one unit on the field that truly underperformed then it’s the DLine.

Offensively, I personally hope Cromwell moves on and Sherm hires either the OC at UH that was the OC under Leach or the OC from Tulsa just so Sherm can get some serious spread input into his scheme. I still don’t feel he’ll ever be successful with a true I formation just like Fran wasn’t successful with the option. He needs to learn the spread as that’s what most of the high schools in Texas are running and most Big XII teams which is why you see the Big XII QBs getting all the press except for A&M. If Sherm is going to be stubborn like Fran then he’ll see the door like Fran and never get another get a head coaching gig again or have any kind of legacy anywhere. I also think Sherm needs to get a truly awesome special teams coach. Go find the craziest high school head coach you can find that’s had some measure of success and get him on your staff to focus on special teams. It’ll also help with recruiting. I’m not kidding.

I’m definitely not shutting the door on Sherm being successful but he’s going to have to make adjustments and hire some folks he’s not comfortable with but are damn good coaches. It’s what Mack’s done twice in his most successful seasons. He simply went out and got the best DC he could hire at the time and obviously had no prior relationship with. Not saying he should do it with his DC but he should do it with his OC. It’s not a knock on Cromwell at all as his work with the WR corp has been absolutely amazing but I just don’t think he understands the college game right now and we don’t have the time to allow him to learn. It’s time for Sherm as an old dog to learn new tricks from an offensive standpoint.

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