Thoughts from the Ok. St. Game

I drove home from the game on Saturday scratching my head.  Some of it was due to the head lice that I can’t seem to shake but most of it was from not really understanding what I saw.  I saw a team that made a great effort and seemed to come up with plays when they were needed but in the end just fell short.  I know the reality is that we’re supposedly in for a rebuilding process that will take a few seasons but deep down inside I was secretly hoping for a 2004 season where Fran in his second year took Kyle Field back with wins over Clemson, KSU, Colorado, and Tech.  I was secretly hoping Sherm could go 6-1 at Kyle Field with the only loss coming against the Longhorns.  I firmly believe in order to get A&M back you have to learn to defend Kyle before everything else happens.  This was a great year to do it and we missed.  Fran also had a statement win against OSU on the road in 2004.  Man, what a great season that was except for BU and the Cotton.

In the end what I think I saw was what I saw in 2006 when we lost to Tech at Kyle Field.  I really feel that was a game that Fran put the players in a position to win but we just fell short due to execution on the players’ behalf.  Same thing here as I think Sherm and Co. coached well enough to win but just missed some execution.  Now, I don’t think Sherm was immune in this game as Bill Young had his number often in the first half.  Still, I don’t want to fault Sherm as he had the nads to go for it on some 4th downs where he could have played it safe and did get enough offense to score 31 points on a decent defense.  We all got on Fran throughout his time here for kicking field goals and even on Sherm last year when he punted late in the game against Tech.  Kudos to Sherm for coaching to win against a ranked opponent where even without Dez Bryant we were outmatched from a personnel standpoint when it comes to the starters.  At least Sherm went for it and acted like he wanted to win the game instead of just getting a moral victory.

Defense:

I want to start with the defense as they did such a GREAT job in the first half but ultimately faded in the second half like they’ve done all season.  Say what you want but that defense played one helluva first half.  It’s what they’ve done all season.  They have consistently forced three and outs on the first few series but for whatever reason our offense can’t really just jump out in front to help the defense out as our defense just doesn’t have the experience to keep it up for 60 minutes of football.

Let’s get to some bullets:

  • That goal-line stand in the 1st quarter was one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see.  I absolutely loved it.  Without the defense’s efforts in the 1st half then we get our asses blown out.  I don’t want to discount anything the defense did as they did plenty to get us our win but we just couldn’t put two complete halves together to win in the end.  I agree with Sherman’s decision to kick off instead of onside late in the game as the odds for getting an onside are so low and there was almost 4 minutes left and we had all of our timeouts.  You have to give your defense a chance to redeem themselves at that point in the game.  They just didn’t have it but Kyle Field was ready for it.
  • Youth reared its ugly head on Saturday.  I can’t count the number of guys I saw not wanting to hit someone in the second half.  They were just worn out and it makes sense as most of them were playing high school football last year.  It’s evident they did great against lesser opponents but now that they’re playing BCS conference talent they just can’t last for 60 minutes.  I don’t think it’s going to get any better as this season is going to drag on and they’re not going to get any stronger.  Get ready for more great football in the first half and declining play in the first half.  Our offense is going to have to come out and drop the hammer from the get go if we’re going to win 7 games.
  • We still have problems stopping the run.  On the crucial last series where we needed to stop OSU we had no answer for a simple cut back run to the left side.  This happened repeatedly throughout the game where OSU would just simply hand off to the left side waiting for the cut back lane to show and it always did with nothing filling it.   If there’s one problem I have with Joe Kines is that he can’t scheme to stop the run when it’s obvious it’s coming.  This could come back to bite us in the butt against teams like KSU and CU when we desperately need a win against those teams on the road.  Not saying we lose but if we do it’s going to be because they pounded the ball on us on the road.
  • Our MLB play is not very good.  I had high hopes for Kyle Mangan but now that we’re playing better competition he’s just not getting it done against the run.  He’s fine on pass protection (and in fact he’s pretty damn good there) but he just can’t fill to support the run.  With our DTs that’s needed in a bad way.  Not to take anything away from our DTs as I love what Eddie Brown and TJE bring to the table in effort but they’re not your prototypical run stoppers.  Because of that we desperately need a ball busting MLB and we don’t have it.  It showed late in the game when he was able to hit the OSU RB right at the line of scrimmage on 3rd and goal from the one but couldn’t drive him back like a big ball busting MLB does so they got the score which pretty much iced the game for them as they would go up by 11 instead of 7 as I think Gundy would have had to kick there if they didn’t get in on 3rd down.  I think that was Mangan on that play..
  • We missed Jordan Pugh in a big way on Saturday.
  • Poor Dustin Harris got picked on Saturday and it’s to be expected considering he’s a true fish and T-Fred is a decent sophomore corner.  Dustin actually had decent position much of the game but just ran into a QB that you have to have perfect position against because he’s pretty damn good.  I’m sure Dustin is going to be having nightmares about that pick that went through his hands and into the end zone for 6.  Still, you don’t make that play unless you have position and he had it.  I think he’s going to be pretty good in the long run but let’s remember he was in high school this time last year playing quarterback for his team.
  • I like what I see on the defensive side of the ball in the first half but we just don’t have the depth or experience to play great football for 4 quarters.  I don’t necessarily blame the players as its just reality.  I hope like hell they prove me wrong but we’re going to need some flying to the ball in the second half as it’s just not happening now.
  • Kudos to Matt Moss for stepping up and picking off that ball when we DESPERATELY needed it the most.  You’re talking about a point in the game where OSU was about to swing the momentum in their favor and potentially blow that thing open but he came up with an amazing play.

Special Teams:

  • Outside of Randy Bullock’s 50 yard field goal our special teams were awful.  Just awful.
  • Our punting sucks.
  • Our deep snapping is questionable.
  • Our kickoffs are short and not covered the best.
  • Our punt returner likes to go sideways instead of up-field.
  • Our kick returners appear to lack burst.
  • I have no idea why we didn’t load up when we had OSU pinned in their end zone a couple of times and tell Harris just to fair catch it.  I don’t get it at all.  Especially with they have those wide spreads.  Someone needs to send Kirk Doll the video of the 2005 t.u. game where Texas loaded those splits with big fast linebackers and overcame that “wall” and blocked one of our punts early in the 3rd quarter which ultimately changed the momentum of that game.  Oh wait, I said big, fast linebackers.  Maybe I answered my own question.
  • If Frank Beamer offers a special teams clinic this summer then we should  send some of our staff.  Keep your eyes peeled for some brochure and send them to Sherm and Doll.
  • We talk about the offense and defense but honestly, if our special teams had been better we probably win this game.

Offense:

  • I think besides the head lice the offense is what had me scratching my head the most on the way back.  There were some great plays but some plays when we just couldn’t do anything.  It was just a very confusing offensive performance.
  • Stephen Barrera and Patrick Lewis started but got pulled in the 2nd quarter for reasons I can’t figure out.  The only thing I can think is that Sherm wanted guys that can pull and block and those two just don’t have experience doing it.  Barrera didn’t look bad at all in the limited time he was in there.  Wasn’t dominating but he didn’t look bad.  For whatever reason Danny Baker came in at LT and Evan Eike came in at LG to move Matt Allen back to RG.
  • Danny Baker didn’t do so well as there were multiple times where he’d be looking to the outside where no one existed only to have a LB go flying by him on a delayed blitz.  Maybe that was by design for a RB to pick up but he could have at least put a hand on the guy to slow him down since no one was coming from the outside.  I’m no OL expert but it appears to me that Barrera is our best option at LT despite his youth.  Kid is the most talented of the lot and seems to be pretty heady but just needs experience.  Don’t know what Sherm is going to do but I’d keep playing the kid considering we have KSU, TTU, ISU, and CU next on the schedule before hitting OU, BU, and tu.  Play the kid.
  • All in all I thought the offensive line did a decent job on Saturday.  By decent I mean getting a 72 in remedial math when you’ve been scoring 50s and 60s all year.  Sherm finally schemed to help slow down the aggressiveness and move the pocket around to a certain degree.  We definitely did more in the second half than in the first half and a lot of that was scheme so kudos to Sherm.  As much kudos as you give him considering he’s supposed to be an Oline guru.
  • I’m not sure what kind of game Jerrod had.  I don’t know if the guy should be dumping the ball sooner or always looking downfield.  Dude has a knack for the big play and can shed defenders like no other but sometimes he’d be better served getting rid of it.  I guess it’s good as he made some passes that I still don’t know if it was skill or luck.  He put some balls in some mighty small windows but also missed some short stuff.  I know he is often running for his life but he can’t throw on the run at all.  He really needs to set his feet because at that point he becomes deadly accurate.  You just can’t do it on a dead sprint very well.  I know I said earlier in the year that I thought Tannehill might ultimately take his gig but there’s no way Tannehill could do better with this offensive line.  He doesn’t have JJ’s size or deep ball arm strength which is keeping drives alive.  JJ is putting up gaudy numbers with a HORRIBLE OLine so I don’t think there’s much more you can ask.
  • Sherm says CMike is 100% but I don’t think he is.  Maybe it’s just that like the fish on defense he’s not as dominant against better competition.  I’m now torn on if CMike or Gray should be playing more.  I know CMike is a bigger homerun threat but I don’t know if there’s a running homerun to be had with this offensive line.  Gray is the better cutter, receiver, and blocker.  We might just have to realize we’re not going to have a 100 yard rusher this year because the OLine is so bad.  Gray does a nice job of juking and jiving to 3-4 yards a carry and that might be honestly what we need right now.  Only thing with CMike is he’s definitely a better sweep runner than Gray.  I do wish we’d run a quick pitch to CMike to the wide side as all we’ve done so far is run power sweep to the short side.  It’s great for a short gain but it’s never going to get busted.  I’d love to see what CMike could do with a wide side and a head of steam.
  • As far as WRs go there’s little doubt that EZ is the best of the freshman bunch.  We hardly talk about it but it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when Fuller comes back.  It’s like we’ve almost forgotten about him and he is JJ’s go to guy.
  • We had an interesting mix of guys this past weekend with Morrow and the the elder McCoy getting one TD each.  Too bad Jamie didn’t get his second.  You really need guys like them to step up when the defense is beginning to focus on guys like EZ and ultimately Fuller along with Tannehill on 3rd downs.
  • All in all this was a pretty solid showing against a decent defense but then again, some guy named Sumlin took his team into Stillwater and beat this same team.

What Happens from Here:

I know it’s easy to get down on this team after a loss but I think it’s becoming more and more apparent what kind of team this is.  I used to think we were a 7-5 team with no questions but I think I have to move it to 6-6 based on the fact that Dan Hawkins finally pulled his head and realized nepotism is not worth getting fired over.  I think we beat KSU, ISU, and Baylor but that’s going to be about it.  I still question Baylor even without Griffin is Briles is kind of crazy and he’ll pull ALL the stops to try and beat us at home just to use it on the recruiting trail.

I was thinking there was an outside chance we could beat Tech with Potts as he’s just not built for that system but Mike Leach would be a fool to play Potts with the way Sheffield is playing for them.  Couple that with the fact that it’s a 6:00 p.m. game in Lubbock and I don’t think there’s a chance in hell we can win it considering it will be the first time for many of these coaches to visit the high plains.

If we’re lucky, Sherm is gonna get a new weedeater from Poulan at this year’s bowl game.

Prediction for the week – A&M 38, KSU 24

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