Month: September 2018

My Confusion with Roberto Osuna

Roberto Osuna Trial

As the Astros clinched their second AL West there’s a lot of celebrating going on.  Rightfully so because it’s a great time to be an Astros fan.  I’m 43 years old and have been an Astros fan my whole life.  In the 80’s I carried around a portable radio listening to Milo Hamilton.  Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS was the first gut punch loss I’ve ever felt.  In the summer of 1987 I got a replica Astros jersey and didn’t take it off for a week.  I was at the last 3 Astros games at the Astrodome and the first 4 Astros games at then Enron Field.  I’ve been to a dozen home openers for the Astros.  I traveled to Los Angeles for Game 6 of the 2017 World Series hoping to see the Astros clinch.  I didn’t just recently hop on this bandwagon.

Cheering for the 2018 team is now confusing thanks to the acquisition of Roberto Osuna.  I’ll get to the facts of what we know about Osuna in a bit but I want to be perfectly clear on one thing – the Houston Astros did not have to acquire Roberto Osuna.  There’s no doubt he makes the Houston Astros a better team because he’s a great reliever which is an area the Astros are severely lacking.  Without a good bullpen you don’t win the World Series.  Roberto Osuna makes the Astros more likely to win the World Series than without him.

The Astros acquired Osuna with a cloud around him.  He was serving a 75-game suspension for violating MLB’s personal conduct policy.  He had a pending court case in Canada for domestic assault.  The Astros traded pennies on the dollar to get Osuna because countless other teams were hesitant to acquire Osuna due to the cloud surrounding him.  Straight baseball wise this trade was a steal.  It was a steal because of a potential domestic assault issue.  An organization that had a “Zero Tolerance” policy threw caution to the wind.  “Zero Tolerance” only sounded good.  Winning a World Series sounds better.  They didn’t have to acquire Osuna.  The Astros acquired a guy with a cloud of domestic assault other teams passed on because it helps the Astros win the World Series.  Toronto just wanted to get rid of the guy.

I’ve read quite a bit on the Osuna case.  I don’t have all the facts related to the specific incident as they seem to be short to come by.  Here’s what I do know:

  • Roberto Osuna was arrested and charged with domestic assault. In Canada this can range from verbal to physical assault.
  • Roberto Osuna was suspended 75 games by MLB for a violation of the domestic violence policy. Osuna chose not to appeal the suspension.  You can potentially triangulate the severity of this suspension by looking at other suspensions for suspected domestic issues.  This is the second longest suspension ever handed down in this policy.
  • Jeff Luhnow indicated they did a thorough due diligence and are comfortable with the facts of the case. There has been no discussion of the facts for the case by the Astros.
  • Osuna indicated he’s innocent.
  • Astros players interviewed after the acquisition indicate not knowing any details and are taking a wait and see attitude.
  • The domestic assault charge was withdrawn in Canadian court after a Crown prosecutor said available evidence yielded “no reasonable prospect of conviction.” Part of this is because the alleged victim indicated she would not testify if the case went to trial.  She also indicated she did not fear for her safety.
  • The Astros and Osuna both issued vague statements about the incident after the charge was withdrawn.

Based on those facts I have NO CLUE what to think.  There is no clarity on if he did something or didn’t.  There’s enough of a cloud that he did something thanks to the 75-game suspension by MLB with no appeal.  Why was he suspended for 75 games with no appeal?  If you’re innocent why wouldn’t you appeal that lengthy suspension?  This is the cloud I can’t quite move on from.  Why was he suspended for that length of time with no appeal?

If he was suspended because something did in fact occur then say it.  If Osuna is truly sorry and remorseful then he needs to say it.  He has that opportunity now.  If nothing happened then explain why he was suspended for 75 games with no appeal.  “Moving on” and “offering support” is a bunch of bullshit concocted by a legal team or a press team thinking generic terms will allow time to pass and concern to fade.  Maybe they are right.  It does make the move right if so.  It’s a bullshit play towards the fans hoping time will pass and everyone will forget.

Roberto Osuna is a member of the Astros and therefore a part of the team.  You can’t distinguish the two apart.  A team is a team.  I want to fully cheer for the Astros and Roberto Osuna but it’s difficult with that suspension cloud.  Well, that is if you’re against domestic assault.  If you have no issue with domestic assault then cheer away.  If winning matters more than doing the right thing with domestic assault then cheer way.  If that’s the case then own it.  I don’t care, but be honest winning matters more than doing right with domestic assault.

Domestic assault has received more awareness as it pertains to athletes in the last few years.  That’s a good thing but it’s still apparently a lot of lip service.  If an athlete or coach is good enough it really doesn’t matter.  Fans look beyond it because winning is more important or fun.  The list of people associated with domestic assault in sports is long and getting longer.  Time and time again fans of a team move beyond a player or coach with a cloud of domestic assault because winning is more important.  It’s cool to say you’re against domestic assault but it’s cooler to cheer for a winner.  Let’s be honest about that.

Astros fans don’t deserve to know the intimate facts.  Astros fans do to deserve to know if we’re supposed to cheer for a guy that never did something or a guy that deserves a second chance because he’s remorseful for what he did.  I’m fine with either but I just want to know what player I’m cheering for.

What Astros fans don’t deserve is to cheer for a player who participated in domestic assault and has no remorse.  What Astros fans don’t deserve is to cheer for an organization that pays lip service to domestic assault because winning games is more important.  Astros fans deserve more than the information provided to them by Osuna, the Astros, and MLB.

Robert Osuna is a player on the Astros.  He’s part of the team.  Astros fans deserve to know which one of the three things they could be cheering for in the playoffs:

  1. A guy who is completely innocent and this is all just a big mis-understanding.
  2. A guy who made a mistake and is remorseful. He served his 75-game suspension and deserves a second chance.
  3. A guy who did something wrong and doesn’t care about the issue. He and the organization care more about winning than doing what’s right.

I think most Astros fans would agree they’d simply like to know which of the three scenarios Osuna falls under.  If it’s #1 everyone can cheer for the Astros.  If it’s #2 then I’d think most everyone could cheer for the Astros believing in second chances.  If it’s #3 then I think most Astros fans would take pause on who they’re cheering for.

Clarification for which one of those three won’t ever happen.  It would be easy to do by Osuna or the Astros.  They say they can’t but the reality is they won’t.  There’s a difference between those two words.  They absolutely can if they want.  It would certainly be better than the vague and generic statements that are coming out now.

As we head into the playoffs there’s still a cloud surrounding Roberto Osuna.  That’s a shame.  Astros fans who have poured time, heart, soul, and money into this team over the last two years deserve more.  There’s a player on a team sport with a cloud.  Some clarity of if it’s a cloud of innocence or second chance is owed to the fans.  It really is.  It shouldn’t be this hard.  Maybe learning about and from domestic assault is too complicated because winning may matter more.

If so, that’s a shame.  Go Stros…

Thoughts on the Alabama Game

Mond Alabama Getting tackled

Where I saw the Clemson game as validation of something different in our coaching staff this Alabama game was certainly a moral victory.  Moral victories aren’t good but they’re better than a straight beatdown where there’s no positives.  We held Bama below 50 points, scored more than 20 points, and covered the 27 point spread.  I don’t like moral victories but that was a moral victory.  For a lot of fans that haven’t seen Bama play this year they didn’t realize the Alabama offense is a different beast with Tua Tagovailoa as quarterback.  My comparison is Saban has had a nice V6 Honda Accord at quarterback since he got to Bama and got a Ferrari this season.  This Bama offense is different than anything he’s had before.  There’s a reason Vegas put a 27-point spread on this game.  They weren’t far off.

I don’t know that A&M beats a Jalen Hurts quarterbacked offense but there’s no doubt in my mind A&M would lose that game by less than 2 touchdowns and likely single digits.  Tua is that much of a difference maker for the Bama offense.  It’s likely Bama loses a game this season but in my mind this is the best Bama team Nick Saban has coached.  When you see that 45-23 score just know this is a different Bama offense than you’ve ever seen.

Overall I like what I saw in this game from a relative talent standpoint.  Bama is loaded with talent and the Aggies have holes.  Bama exposed those holes in a major way but the Aggie players and coaching staff never quit.  This could have been a similar game to 59-0 but the players and coaching staff weren’t going to let that happen.  A lot of teams would have quit after giving up an interception on their first offensive possession and then giving up a touchdown on the first play by the opposing offense.  When you’re on the road in Tuscaloosa and Bama gets an interception and then scores on their first play to go up 7-0 in less than a minute that can be REALLY demoralizing.  This Aggie team didn’t quit though.  Credit the Aggie players and coaches for that.  If an Aggie fan tells you they didn’t have thoughts of 59-0 dancing through their head check to see if their nose is growing.  Luckily this is a different Aggie team than in the past.

I still believe while not as talented as teams in the past few years this is a better Aggie football team than the last few years.  I like what I see on the field even if I don’t like what I see on the scoreboard and stat sheet.  I’ve said since Jimbo got here that 2020 would be the season where the Aggies finally push through to the elite teams of college football.  There’s no doubt Jimbo is trying to win today but there’s holes he can’t plug until his recruiting classes get on campus and get some experience.  This could have been a blowout but it didn’t happen.  Don’t discount what could have been when you see that 45-23 score.


Offensive Line:

I’m starting with the worst part of the offense for the game.  I’ve consistently said this is the weakest part of the offense by far.  Saturday that showed up.  Mond was sacked 7 times as the offensive line continually whiffed at slowing down Bama defenders.  It was partially due to talent deficiencies but it was also due to blown assignments.  Those talent deficiencies might have lead to the mental issues but either way the offensive line was exposed for needing serious help from a talent standpoint.  We just don’t have the talent we need at offensive line to compete as an elite team.  They do have their moments where they can create plays thanks to the play design but for the most part this line struggles against more athletic defensive lines.

Tray Williams is not a bruiser running back but there was nothing between the tackles at all.  They weren’t getting blown back on running plays but they weren’t getting any push or creating holes to run through.  I suppose creating a stalemate on running plays against the Bama defense is a positive thing but that’s got to get better.  The offensive line has got to get backwards movement if they’re not going to create holes.

From a pass blocking standpoint they were pretty bad continually blowing assignments when Bama blitzed.  I’m afraid Bama just gave teams a blueprint on how to slow down our offense with blitzes.  I don’t recall Clemson blitzing like Bama did.  Bama had great success running blitzes against our offensive line so I expect to see more of that from defensive opponents going forward.  Our offensive line must get that cleaned up or Mond is not going to have a lot of time to throw.  Sure, Bama has superior talent but there were plays where our offensive line couldn’t read the blitz at all.  That is really disappointing.

If we need to shuffle our offensive line personnel to get experience for the future I’m fine with it.  I’m not saying this line is a steaming pile of junk as they do execute some plays well but this offensive line has issues.  A&M won’t be dominant until their offensive line is dominant.  Like getting a truckload of Coors from Texarkana to Atlanta we’ve got a long ways to get there.

Skill Positions:

We knew it was going to be tough sledding for Tray Williams coming into this game and it was.  He carried the ball 8 times for 32 yards.  He had two nice runs outside but other than those two runs there wasn’t anything there for him.  That’s not his fault as he’s not designed to run behind our offensive line against that Bama defense.  Just a total mis-match.  At least we didn’t continually run between the tackles and just tested it from time to time.

At receiver no one dominated at all.  The unit had some nice catches but were wildly inconsistent getting open and catching balls.  Kendrick Rogers is looking like Mond’s safety blanket but they failed to connect on a couple passes where the ball should have been thrown better or Rogers should have caught it.  This unit isn’t wildly talented but they seem to be a little more disciplined than receiving corps of the past.

Against teams not named Alabama I think there’s enough weapons here to move the ball through the air with more work.  Getting 263 yards through the air using 9 receivers against Alabama is a decent sign even with their mistakes.  I’m happy with the development I’m seeing here.  It’s shorter on talent than we’ve had the past few years but they seem to have some promise as a complete unit.  We’ll see if they keep developing as there’s definitely work to do but they seem up to the task.  At least they did make a few plays rather than be completely afraid of a team like Bama.  I think a lot of that has to do with the next part of our offense.

Kellen Mond:

I can’t say enough about Kellen Mond on Saturday.  He’s the reason this team didn’t quit.  He threw 2 interceptions and had some missed passes but it wasn’t from lack of effort.  The dude was under pressure all day long and never backed down from the best team in the country.  He used his head, arm, and legs all game long.

I can’t believe this is the same Kellen Mond from last season.  It’s completely night and day.  The dude keeps developing every game and it bodes well for Aggie Football over the next few years.  In 2020 Kellen Mond will be a senior and I think he’ll be the key reason A&M breaks through to the elite level of college football.  He’s not as talented as a Tua but he’s young and pretty complete right now on decision making.  He just needs more experience executing plays so it becomes second nature.  I don’t see any reason why he won’t continue to get better.  I’m pleasantly shocked at what I’ve seen from Kellen Mond through 4 games this season.  Maybe one day we’ll send Kevin Sumlin a flower bouquet for recruiting Mond over Jarret Stidham.  We’ll just need to make sure we get his address correct because there’s no telling where Sumlin will be at the end of 2020.  Yes, Kevin Sumlin ineptitude jokes are still fun.  He cost us millions so I’m going to keep making them.

Play Design/Calling:

My favorite part of the game was the play design and execution at times.  Any good offensive coach will have 5-10 plays a game that give the defense a different look either before snap or post snap.  Sometimes both.  This is the result of watching film and designing plays that look to exploit a matchup or counter reads a defense tends to make.  We haven’t seen that in the past because we’ve had offenses that keep the same design and try to react to the opposing defense.  Defenses tend to figure those out over time.

We did it some against Clemson and continued it against Bama.  My favorite play from a design, call, and execution standpoint was the pitch out to Tray Williams on 3rd down in the middle of the second quarter.  It was 3rd and 3 on the Bama 34.  We gave Bama a look we hadn’t shown before with our receivers stacked on the right side.  Tray was to the left of Mond.  On the snap Mond did a quick pitch to Tray.  Tray had a linebacker on him who he was able to avoid (barely) and got outside for a 16 yard gain to the Bama 18.  Everything about that play was beautiful.  I mean just beautiful from a design, timing, and execution standpoint.  That is not something you would have seen with Aggie offensive coordinators since 2013.

There were some other plays but that was the best example where it’s clear we have an offensive staff that is adjusting and scheming to each week’s opponent.  The best thing you can do as an offense is have the defense worried about plays they’ve never seen.  When a defensive staff has to worry about plays they’ve never seen you have a strong advantage.  I absolutely love the fact it appears Jimbo and the offensive staff really study film and design plays each week that look to take advantage of the defense.  When you become predictable as an offense you get beat.  Through 4 games Jimbo is showing his offense will adapt each week.  It’s so refreshing to see.


Despite the issues with our offensive line and lack of a power back I like what I see from this offense.  It’s certainly not as powerful as I would like it to be but I feel the staff is getting the most out of what they can from the talent at their disposal.  This is an offense that appears to be able to put up at least 20 points in every game from here on out.  It’s also designed to chew up time of possession which is a big key for our defense.  We once again won time of possession on Saturday which is a bigger factor than most people think.


Front Seven:

I can’t say enough about the defensive line and linebackers.  They weren’t dominant by any stretch but they held their own against a powerful Alabama offense.  Alabama’s running backs got 106 yards on 21 carries.  That’s about 5 yards a carry.  Half of those yards were on 2 carries.  Take away those two runs and that’s a respectable 2.7 yards a carry for the other 19 carries by Bama running backs.  Not many teams in the country can do what the Aggie Front 7 did.  Alabama is going to run the ball and they’re going to rip off long runs against you unless you’re Georgia.  Even with Tua at quarterback Alabama is still going to attempt to establish the run to wear down defenses.  The Aggie defense did all they could against one of the best running teams in the country.  You might not have thought it was a dominant effort by our Front 7 against the run, but it was as good as it gets for a team not named Georgia.

The Front 7 didn’t get any sacks but this defense isn’t really equipped to get sacks.  Especially against Tua.  We have no edge rushers and that’s what you need against a guy like Tua.  What we did was collapse the pocket as much as possible causing Tua to throw before he wanted for the most part.  Tua torched us through the air but it wasn’t because our front 7 wasn’t completely getting to him.  In my mind our Front 7 did everything they could.  Alabama tried to establish the run and really couldn’t but did carve us up where we’re weak.  Kudos to the Aggie Front 7 for holding their own against a powerful Alabama offense.

The Secondary:

The Aggie secondary was terrible on Saturday.  There is NOTHING positive to take from it in my book.  We couldn’t cover and we couldn’t tackle.  Coming into the season I thought our safeties would be serviceable but our corners would really struggle.  So far this season the entire secondary has struggled.

I thought Derrick Tucker and Donavan Wilson would be decent but the reality is they’re not the same player when they’re not playing next to Armani Watts and Justin Evans.  Watts and Evans really helped covered up Tucker and Wilson’s issues.  For you Aggie fans that can remember back to 2011 this is basically like Garrick Williams at linebacker when he lost Cody Hodges.  Williams had all the talent in the world to play linebacker but he was lost without the direction of Hodges.

Time and time again on Saturday the secondary was struggling in coverage and tackling.  While the Front 7 was looking like a legit SEC defense the secondary was looking like a Pop Warner team.  They seemed confused by routes and didn’t like wrapping up on tackles.  They’re not disciplined at all.  They’re short on talent other than Tucker for the most part.

If you’re an offensive coordinator that has watched the Aggie defense through 4 games there’s no doubt you’re going to look to light it up through the air.  There’s no point in trying to establish the run against A&M if Bama and Clemson struggled.  The Aggies should be ready for offenses that want to exploit their secondary.  A somewhat competent head coach and offensive coordinator should realize the Aggies can be passed on.

How to fix it other than to repeatedly work on tackling drills I’m not really sure.  Outside of Leon O’Neal I don’t think you have the talent in the younger guys from a coverage standpoint.  I do think it’s okay to get O’Neal more playing time now.  Sure, he struggled against Bama but he’s a true freshman being thrown to the wolves.  Hopefully his struggles on Saturday drive him to be a contributor in year one.  I don’t think he could do much worse than Tucker and Wilson at this point.  I know Carper (safety) and Chattman (corner) are supposed to be coming back but I don’t think they’re the answers either.  Maybe they can improve on what’s out there now but until the 2019 signing class gets on campus and seasoned our secondary is going to be vulnerable without much hope for improving.

Michael Clemons coming back might help some as he and Durham can team up to provide more pressure in passing situations.  It’s just without true pass rushing pressure from the edge this secondary is going to be prone to big plays.  We simply have a talent issue in the secondary and no Von Miller or Myles Garrett to mask it.


It’s amazing how different the Front 7 and secondary can be.  The Front 7 I’d put up against any team in the country.  We’ve now slowed down the running games of Bama and Clemson.  Other than LSU we won’t see a team on the schedule the rest of the way that has a true power running attack like Bama.  The defensive staff has their work cut out for them in trying to improve this secondary so we’ll see how good this staff is.  Even if they started just wrapping up that would be a major improvement as you could basically play bend but don’t break football.  Getting to red zone situations would help as you’ve got less area to cover and your Front 7 has shown they can hold their own against anyone in the country.  We’ve got Arkansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina coming up to find out if we can have some improvement.

Special Teams:

A lot of Aggies were worried about losing Jeff Banks.  As you saw on Saturday unless your name is Frank Beamer the quality of the players matter way more than the special teams coach.  The Aggie special teams were better than Bama’s.  We’re fine without Jeff Banks.  Braden Mann is an absolute weapon.  I mean absolute WEAPON.  He had 5 punts and averaged 60.8 yards.  That is insane.  He’s a junior so he’s been on the roster for two years.  Why he hasn’t been punting until this year I have no idea.  I know Shane Tripucka was pretty good the last two years but what Mann is doing this year is unbelievable.  He’s flipping the field and that’s a huge weapon to have.

Seth Small filled in for the injured Daniel LaCamera and was remarkable going 3 for 3 on field goals.  He hit on a 52 yarder along with a 32 and 25 yarder.  He’s a true freshman so to be perfect in your first game in Tuscaloosa with a 52 yarder being your first attempt bodes well.  I suppose you give LaCamera his job back when he’s healthy but he better be on a short leash if you have a guy that can boot 50+ yards with no fear against Alabama.  Having him as your backup is a serious luxury to have.

There was one minor issue on special teams and it was the return early in the game by Jaylen Waddle.  Whoever was running down didn’t flare out to keep contain on Waddle.  Waddle is a guy we recruited and has absolute jets.  As a special teamer on punt coverage you have to keep contain if you’re alone.  You let a guy like that get around you and he’ll burn you like he did.  We got bailed out by a block in the back but that was a big mistake not keeping contain on a guy with Waddle’s speed.  With Mann booming punts, getting downfield and keeping contain is going to be crucial to limit return yards.


Looking Forward:

I think Jimbo can mask our offensive line issues enough to get us to 8 wins.  He’s scored 20 plus points against two great defenses so it seems we’ll be able to move the ball and score points the rest of the way.  I don’t think we’ll have any games where our offense completely goes in the tank like we’ve had in the past.  We have two more really good defenses on the schedule in Auburn and LSU.  They’ll test our offense.  Auburn struggles to run the ball and LSU struggles to pass the ball although LSU has looked better throwing than in years past.  I like to think we can get one win of Auburn and LSU to get us to 9 wins.  I’m not sure which is more likely at this point though.

The key is we’ve got some tough games on the schedule that don’t look like tough games.  Jimbo has to win those.  Kentucky has an all-world running back so it’ll be interesting to see if we can slow him down with our Front 7.  South Carolina hasn’t looked as good as I expected but that’s a road game so it could be a challenge.  Mississippi State was shut down by Kentucky so why can’t the Aggies do the same?  However, if that’s an 11:00 a.m. game in StarkVegas then all bets are off.  The Aggies haven’t won in StarkVegas when we kicked at 11:00 a.m.  Let’s hope for a night game there.

Right now I have to think Arkansas, Ole Miss, and UAB are sure wins.  We’ll find out this weekend when we head to JerryWorld.  That’s been a back and forth contest in the past but I think with our respective new coaching staffs that’s finally a game the Aggies control from start to finish.  I’m hoping for a 35-10 type showing.

It’s entirely possible this team wins out but we’ve got a LOT of work to do to get there.  If we can get through Arkansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina in convincing fashion from start to finish then I’ll feel like we have a real chance.  I’m ready to make some maroon Kool-Aid and start serving it around.  I’ve got the water and jug ready.  I just need Jimbo to give me the powder over the next three weeks so I can start mixing.



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Thoughts on U.L.M. and Alabama

Alabama Texas A&M NCAA Football

I chose not to go to the game last weekend as I had a customer event at noon on Sunday.  Don’t worry, Good Ags sat in my seats.  Had it been a Power 5 school I would have made it in a heartbeat but I took Saturday easy so Sunday was easy as well.  I did watch the game on TV along with a lot of other games.

I won’t do my normal breakdown of offensive and defensive positions because it was ULM and there’s more important things to talk about.  Mainly Bama and some other things about the SEC.

Louisiana Monroe:


I’ll start with the negatives here.  Obviously we got off to a slow start in this game.  That’s kind of to be expected being the third game sandwiched between Clemson and Bama.  Doesn’t make it right but it’s reality.  Kind of seems like we thought we could show up and have our way with ULM but that wasn’t the case.  At least not in the first half.  The team was mostly uninspired and not executing well.

Coming into the season I said our biggest weakness on defense was the secondary.  It really showed in the first half on Saturday night.  In the second quarter they gave up passes of 44, 34, and 36 yards.  This was against ULM.  That’s not good.  The 34 and 36 yarders were back to back which allowed ULM to get a touchdown.  Wilson and Tucker at safety are our most talented and experienced guys but they’re not playing good football.  Our corners struggle to cover for an extended period so if a team can buy time their receivers can likely get open against our cornerbacks.  I’ve said we need to be prepared to give up big pass plays but I didn’t expect that repeatedly against ULM.  It sure happened though.

Our other weakness coming into this season is our offensive line.  They didn’t look good at all in the first half.  Just like Northwestern St. it was pretty clear we wanted to establish the run.  Trayveon had a couple nice runs around 20 yards each but we never got him sprung for anything really long or consistently long.  Seems like he was always running in some kind of traffic.  You would hope our offensive line could blow up some big holes against ULM for him to use his speed and wiggle for some consistent long runs.  Pass blocking was suspect too as Kellen seemed to be a little rushed and took off a few times when I think he would have rather passed.  We also gave up a sack in the first half as well.  It wasn’t a terrible effort by our offensive line but it wasn’t even close to dominating which is what you would have like to have seen.

We had five holding penalties against ULM.  That’s pathetic.  As an offensive line you can control holding penalties.  One or two is allowable but five against ULM is inexcusable.  That’s just lack of focus and preparation.  If it’s pure talent related we’re in bigger trouble than I thought.  We’re not in that big of trouble so I’m just exaggerating but five holding penalties against ULM is damn embarrassing for this offensive line.  Yes, the tight end is an offensive lineman as they go through the same blocking drills the offensive lineman do.  Tight ends know better than to hold.

We still went in with a 24-10 lead at half time but you hope for better considering the opponent.


The most positive thing about that game was the effort in the second half.  It was clear the team and staff weren’t happy with a 24-10 lead against a much inferior opponent.  They seemed to come out more focused and executed better in the second half.  The offense stalled on the first possession of the second half but then a quick 3 and out by the defense.  The offense then took the ball 54 yards for a touchdown.  They followed that up with a field goal and then a touchdown before completely giving away to the second stringers for the most part.  A holding penalty caused the offense to likely trade a touchdown for that field goal but most of that drive was impressive with 9 plays covering 61 yards and eating 3:36 of clock.  Penalties will cost you.

The other positive thing was Kellen Mond.  The dude showed this is his team.  He may be in his third game of his second season but he knows he’s a leader.  This is a great sign as everyone will rally behind a quarterback that wants to lead them.  That’s just how football works.  When your quarterback is willing to lead and can back it up with results on the field a team is always better off.  Mond still has some development to do but this guy is completely different from the Mond of last year.  Jimbo has done wonders with this kid.  We all scratched our heads a little when Mond was named the starter prior to the season but three games in it’s clear Jimbo knew what he was doing.


I would have certainly liked to have seen a stronger showing to start the game but the effort in the second half makes me feel good.  I have a feeling teams in the past wouldn’t have put their foot down in the second half and let more of the same continue over from the first half.  It would have been easy to blame a Clemson hangover or Alabama look ahead but the coaching staff and players didn’t let it happen.  That’s a good sign overall.


The Aggies are a 27-point underdog to Alabama.  That sounds like a lot of points but if you’ve watched both teams play this season it sounds about right.  This Alabama offense is unlike any Alabama offense you’ve seen under Nick Saban.  The Alabama defense is, well, the Alabama defense.  I have a feeling Alabama is going to exploit our two weaknesses which are our secondary and offensive line.  If we cover 27 points in Tuscaloosa that will be a serious moral victory.  This game could get out of hand in Bama’s favor.  I don’t expect a 59-0 beat down but a 35 to 40 point difference wouldn’t shock me.  If we can’t move the ball and Tua lights up our secondary it won’t take much to see that kind of point differential.  Ask Louisville and Ole Miss.

I do think the Aggies can keep the game close but they’re going to have to go against conventional wisdom.  For whatever reason teams like to play Alabama conservative trying to establish the run and not bringing pressure defensively.  I think the whole mindset of that game plan is to run as much clock as possible on offense and keep the Alabama offense in front of you from a defensive standpoint.  The problem with this is unless you’re LSU you can’t establish the run on offense.  It’s not possible.  On defense if you don’t bring pressure then Alabama will pick you apart on methodical drives with the occasional big play of 40 yards or so.  Next thing you know you look up and you’re down by 21 headed into half.

In order to beat Alabama you have to do two things:

  1. Bring pressure defensively to slow down the run and force them to pass before they want to.
  2. Offensively you have to get the ball to receivers in space with plays they haven’t seen before. You can’t run the ball against them and if you think your read and react Run Pass Options will work against Bama think again.  They can defend the run and RPOs in their sleep.

For number one above this seems scary as hell because if you don’t get to the Bama quarterback he can burn you.  Here’s the deal – you’re not getting to Tua or Hurts with normal pressure.  Their offensive line will handle whatever defense you throw at them.  Tua or Hurts will sit back and wait for a play to develop.  Tua will either burn you with his arm and legs or Hurts will burn you with his legs.  In order to slow down Bama’s offense you better have a big package of blitzes that you’ve never shown before.  Go look at Wade Phillips’ designed blitzes and employ as many of those as you can.  Even if you do it’s likely a long shot as you probably don’t have the athletes to execute them.  You might as well try though.  You need an edge rushing linebacker like Von Miller you can line up all over the line of scrimmage and bring pressure from the outside.  Even a Myles Garrett isn’t a huge help against Bama if you’re going to line him up on a tackle.  I don’t know if the Aggies have a guy that can bring pressure from the outside linebacker position but if do they better be ready to turn him loose.

That must be done to force Bama to throw before they want to.  If not, they’ll eat you alive waiting for something to develop.  The other thing you obviously must do is slow down the run and keep containment with their quarterbacks.  Both Tua and Hurts can run and if they get into space they’ll burn you.  The Aggie defense needs to bring pressure but it has to be containing those guys from getting outside.  It’s a tall order but it’s the only way.  Pressure and contain.  You sit back defensively and you’ll get run over.

Offensively we don’ have the offensive line and running back to establish any kind of running game against Bama.  I love Tray Williams as a running back but he’s not designed to run between the tackles against Bama.  He’s fine being in the game but I would keep him split out and never behind or near Mond.  For Williams to have any kind of effect on the game he’s going to have to get the ball in some kind of space or on well timed screens.  I’m fine giving him the ball between the tackles a few times early on or even later to see what happens but if we run the ball between the tackles with Tray Williams more than 5 times we’ll lose.

My ideal offensive set would be two tight ends and two receivers split evenly about 50% of the time.  Give Bama the same look but have multiple variations of plays where Bama can’t really read who’s likely getting the ball.  Have Tray lined up in multiple spots so he’s the wildcard on what’s going on.  With this set you can run Mond and most importantly get your tight ends involved between blocking and running routes.  It’s amazing what can happen with a good tight end and quarterback that can read how aggressive a defense is playing.  A good chip block and release is an amazing tool that doesn’t get used a lot anymore.  It seems boring but it’s usually effective.  I think the Aggies have a couple tight ends that can execute this.

On occasion you can run bunch formations with the wide receivers and tight ends that can hopefully spring one guy free.  The key is have a few different looks but don’t become predictable based on what you’re doing before you ever snap the ball.  The Bama defense is way too talented and smart.  They know the play you’re running if you’ve run it before.  You must show them something they’ve never seen the entire game.  Trying to run between the tackles or running the same systematic offense will just make Nick Saban smile.  His defense can defend those things in their sleep.

I put the Aggies wining at about 15%.  Mond will have to have the game of his life which is entirely possible but the defense will have to step up which is my major question.  We don’t have the secondary or guys that can apply a lot of pressure so I think Bama keeps rolling.  If we keep them under 50 and score more than 20 that’s going to be a major win for Jimbo.  This team just isn’t ready to compete with Alabama just yet.  Believe it or not losing by less than 27 points will be an encouraging showing.

Rest of the Season/Other Games:

Season Prediction Update:

After watching LSU and Auburn on Saturday I’m leaving my prediction at 8-4.  I think it’s possible we beat one of those teams but they’re both damn good football teams.  They’re still more talented than A&M as a whole team.  I can see us winning one of LSU and Auburn but losing to South Carolina or Mississippi State.  8-4 just still feels right based on what I’ve seen.  Hell, it’s entirely possible we go 6-6 this season due to our issues on the offensive line and secondary.  I don’t think that will happen though.  I think Jimbo will get us to 8-4 which will be solid considering our issues and this schedule.

Speaking of schedules how about that 2019 Aggie Football schedule?  I’ve said all along 2020 would be the Aggies year and seeing that schedule for next season confirms it even more.  Welcome to the SEC West and big boy football.

Auburn/LSU – This was exactly the game these teams have had the last 2 years.  Close game for four quarters and the team that makes the play at the end wins.  Why people expected this game to be different surprised me.  Everybody wants to write these two programs off for some reason.  They both have tremendous talent on defense with sporadic offenses.  When you have a stout defense you’re going to win more than you lose.

A lot of people don’t think highly of Coach O and Malzahn but I think they’re really good coaches.  They’re not elite level coaches but at their current program they’re easily in the Top 25% of coaches in college football if not in the Top 10%.  Outside of Malzahn’s first season where he caught lightening in a bottle with fluke wins over Georgia and Bama along with a questionable win over A&M he’s exactly who he is.  He’s going to win 8-10 games a year and pull off some upsets.  He’s not Nick Saban but who is?  Worst thing he ever did was play for the national title in his first season as head coach and win a national championship as the offensive coordinator.  That’s not really who he is but it doesn’t mean he’s an overrated coach.  Auburn could do much worse than Gus Malzahn.

As for Eddie O he seems to have grown as a head coach since Ole Miss.  He was pretty solid in his interim gig at USC and hasn’t been bad at LSU at all.  Take away the Troy loss last season and he’s been REALLY respectable in his tenure at LSU.  He’s not Nick Saban either but he’s like Les Miles which ain’t bad.  I swear critics blow up one or two losses writing someone off rather than looking at their full body of work.  The full body of work by Malzahn and Eddie O at their current school is not bad at all.  I don’t see that changing anytime soon so expect Top 15 programs that can beat anyone as long as they’re head coach.  They may not win a national title but that list of coaches is short.

OU/ISU – Speaking of underrated coaches, one day Matt Campbell at ISU is going to get a gig at a big-time program.  Every program that has hired a head coach not named Jimbo Fisher since December of 2017 will wonder why they didn’t hire him.  He took a back up quarterback and moved the ball on OU never giving up.  OU has another juggernaut at offense but ISU exposed their passing defense.  ISU might go 7-5 this season but Matt Campbell is a stud head coach.  The dude just knows how to coach football.  As for OU they’ll probably run the table this season.  Odds say they’ll lose a game somewhere but I think they’re a lock for the CFP at this point.  They’re not being talked about from a playoff standpoint right now but their path to the CFP is the easiest of anyone in college football.

Michigan/Notre Dame – Both of these teams won their games but I expected bigger margins based on their opponents and playing at home.  Maybe their game on Week 1 wasn’t the marquee matchup some people thought it was.  I thought Notre Dame was better than how they played Vandy in South Bend.

Bama/Ole Miss – Ole Miss scored on their first offensive possession and then didn’t score again.  Bama then scored 49 points in the first half.  Ole Miss doesn’t have a defense but I’m telling you this Bama offense is unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.  Get ready for Saturday, Ags.

USC/Texas – This game was U.G.L.Y.  It’s amazing USC won the Rose Bowl two years ago and won the Pac 12 last season.  This isn’t even close to the same team.  I know they lost Darnold but that was just one guy.  Make no mistake this is a great win for Texas but I don’t think it’s a measuring stick at all.  There’s a good chance Texas reels off 8 or 9 wins this season but they still have some major talent and coaching issues.  They can certainly improve from here but that game against USC shows there’s still more questions than answers.

OhSU/TCU – TCU is one of the best coached teams in the country but this game shows they don’t have the elite talent to be a consistent major player in college football.  I love Gary Patterson as a coach but until he starts getting 4 and 5 star talent on campus TCU will be a second tier program at best.  Without some major luck I don’t see Gary Patterson ever playing for or winning a national championship.  He’ll beat a lot of teams in his time at TCU but I don’t think TCU is a nationally elite program.  At some point you have to have the big horses.

As for OhSU they’re now in the same boat as OU.  Their path to the CFP seems clear as well.  Based on the way the B10 looks all they must do is get by Penn State and they’ll roll into the CFP.  They’ll trip up a game but they’ll be 12-1 with a Big 10 Conference Championship I have a feeling.  They’re a good football team in a down conference.  Now they get their memory challenged head coach back which made me throw up in my mouth.

If I had to predict the CFP based on what games I’ve seen and paths to get there I’m predicting Bama, Clemson, OU, and OhSU all with 12-1 records and conference titles.  The CFP will have an easy choice as that Auburn win over Washington in Week 1 will keep them out of the playoff discussion.

I’ll even go so far as to pick each team’s one loss:

Clemson – South Carolina
Alabama – LSU
Oklahoma – West Virginia (which they’ll then turn around and beat them in the title game to win the conference)
OhSU – Maryland

Same old teams as always which is boring but it’s all about coaching in college football.  You either have a great coach or you don’t.



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Thoughts From The Clemson Game

NCAAF 2018 Texas A&M vs Clemson Sept 8

It’s kind of hard to define what happened at Kyle Field on Saturday night.  It certainly wasn’t a win on the scoreboard and it really didn’t feel like a moral victory either.  Sure, the Aggies never quit but the fact of the matter is they ran out of time 2 points shy of Clemson.  It was a loss.  For me, the definition of what happened was validation.  Validation this era of Aggie football is going to be different.  Validation the Aggies finally got the right coach and staff.  Validation we have a team that will learn how to win big.  Validation that Kyle Field is one of the best venues for college football anywhere in the world.  Validation we’re on our way to Make Aggie Football Great Again.

Coming into this season I wasn’t too worried about wins and losses.  If Jimbo gets us to at least 8 wins the long-term plan would be on track.  I don’t want the fool’s gold of 2012 where we had an amazing season but that was just it.  One season.  Nothing more.  I want Jimbo’s first year to be about a different look for Aggie football.  What we saw on Saturday sure makes it look like things will be different this time.  I saw a team that never quit but most importantly I saw a coaching staff that schemed to have a chance to beat a more talented team.  That Clemson team on Saturday night was more talented than A&M which is the difference for why Clemson won.  Coaching and execution had the Aggie team looking for a two-point conversion at the end of the game to send it overtime.  The Aggies fell short but there’s a LOT of positives to take away from this game.

For the first time since Alabama in 2013 something happened at Kyle Field.  The stadium fed off the team.  No doubt there were plenty of moments where the team fed off the fans, but this Aggie team didn’t quit.  If they didn’t believe in themselves Kyle Field would have been deflated.  The 64-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-3 had a lot of Aggie fans wondering if it was more of the same from the last 4 years.  Even worse was when the Aggies went down 21-6 late in the third quarter.  You could feel the excitement escaping from Kyle Field like we’d felt so many times in recent memory.  The excitement didn’t escape though.  The Aggie team fought back and Kyle Field roared back to life.  Man did it roar back to life.  For the final quarter of football the team and the stadium were willing each other to a win.  The 12th Man had been waiting on this moment.  The team was leading the way back and the 12th Man was ready to follow.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.  I don’t see any reason why it’s not.  That was a team that learned to fight and most importantly learned it can compete with the best college football has to offer.  Maybe it’s a blip but this feels different.  This was coaching and playing.  This was a staff devising plays against a great team and players executing believing they’d come back.  No quit.  Just a clock that ran out of time.

Before I get to the breakdowns of units and players I can’t say enough about what Jimbo and the staff did on Saturday night.  They took a less talented team and went to the final second against the #2 team in the country.  Maybe Clemson isn’t the second-best team in the country but there’s no doubt they’re a Top 5 team.  That’s the best college football has to offer.  Defensively we held our own for most of the game other than a few big plays.  Offensively the play design and execution was something I hadn’t seen since 2012.  Our offensive staff had a very good idea of what Clemson was capable of and schemed against them.  What happened in the second half wasn’t luck.  It was awareness and preparation.  It was confidence too.  Coaches leading players and players following because they believed.  It sure feels like validation Aggie Football finally got it right when it came to hiring a coach.


Kellen Mond:

This was no doubt a team effort but Kellen Mond deserves MAJOR props for what he did on Saturday night.  At the end of last year I wondered if Mond would ever see another snap at Texas A&M.  He seemed destined to transfer like some other Aggie quarterbacks that lost their job.  Turns out we all forgot Kellen was a highly recruited 4 star quarterback and coaching really matters.  If you don’t believe me ask Kahlil Tate in Arizona how his Heisman chances are looking after his first two games.  Ask Deondre Francois at Florida State if he misses Jimbo.

I never expected Mond to have the game he did.  Statistically he was 23/40 for 430 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.  That’s a damn fine game considering he’s a true sophomore still getting his feel in a new system.  What impressed me most was not anything that shows up in the statistics.  What impressed me most was his awareness and confidence.  I’ll get to the receivers and line in a little bit as they deserve major props as well but Kellen Mond made some damn big throws in that game.  Anyone that says his receivers bailed him out didn’t really watch that game.  Mond let the ball fly and gave his receivers a chance to make big plays.  Don’t underestimate Mond’s willingness to let the ball go and throw passes in a game like that.

Mond has the ability to run but unlike some quarterbacks with the ability to run Mond did it as a last resort.  He used his legs to avoid pressure and buy time but he kept his eyes down the field looking to make a pass.  A lot of young guys would have tucked the ball and ran for what they could get against that Clemson defense.  Not Mond.  He hung behind the line of scrimmage for as long as he could hoping something would develop downfield and when he saw it he let the ball go.

The most impressive play of the game and defines what I’m talking about was the pass to Quartney Davis to make it a 28-20 game.  Clemson brought a linebacker blitz from the outside.  Kellen IMMEDIATELY notices it and prepares for it.  He times his spin out to the left perfectly to avoid the pressure but is still running for his life.  They key here is he never drops his hands below his waist and is looking to get his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage.  He’s running for his life but he’s still looking to make a throw.  He had a lot of green in front of him.  The easy play would have been to get the 5-15 yards by tucking the ball.  He was looking to make a play with his arm rather than his legs though.  He doesn’t have the speed of Johnny or Kyler Murray but he did have the athleticism and most importantly the awareness to make a BIG play.

Here’s the play.  Watch this thing over and over if you want.  Start and stop it during the play to process everything.  He picks up the blitz right away.  He waits to bail.  He spins at the right depth away from the defender.  He’s looking downfield.  His hands never drop below his waist and always has both hands on the ball.  He’s squaring his shoulders.  He sees Davis going back to an open spot.  He releases the ball right when he’s getting hit.  As Dave South once eloquently said, “He got a touchdown.”  That was a well-coached and confident quarterback that knew his limitations.  That wasn’t all luck.  I guarantee you Jimbo ran that play back and forth 10 times on Sunday in film telling Kellen what a great play it was.  And it was great.

I couldn’t get the video to embed at the right spot but fast forward to about the 2:02 mark and watch the play.  You can also click the link below it which will take you right to the play.  Sorry my Internetting is lacking where I can’t get the YouTubes and WordPress to sync up right.  You get what you pay for.

It was a total team effort but Kellen deserves major props.  This is his team and he owned it on Saturday night.  I’m sure there will be some hiccups along the way but this isn’t last year’s Kellen Mond at all.  This is a well-coached quarterback with some great natural talent.  If you want to know why Kellen Mond won the quarterback battle go back and watch that play again.  The perfect combination of awareness, poise, and athleticism.

Wide Receivers:

Um, Kendrick Rogers, where have you been?  Right behind the effort of Kellen Mond is no doubt Kendrick Rogers.  I NEVER expected to see the production we saw out of that guy on Saturday night.  He caught 7 balls just outjumping Clemson defenders.  His two touchdown catches were beautiful with athleticism and concentration.  I had no idea he had that ability but I sure hope this is more than a one game deal from him.  He has the size and athleticism so there’s no reason to think there’s not more there from him.  7 catches for 120 yards and two pretty damn amazing touchdown catches sure doesn’t seem like a fluke.  Next to Mond he’s no doubt the offensive MVP.

Outside of Rogers the rest of the receiving corps was solid.  Buckley, Ausbon, Sternberger, Trayveon, and Davis all had key catches at time.  That was really the difference in the game as Clemson couldn’t shut down the whole receiving corps.  Mond made Clemson pay by finding and hitting the open guys.  The receivers did their job but catching the ball and getting yards after reception.

Through 2 games this receiving corps looks completely different than last year.  They seem more aware and ready for the ball looking to make a play.  Last week they were blocking really well in the ground game and this week they were going after balls.  This doesn’t seem like a receiving corps that’s waiting on the play or ball to find them like last season.  They want to go make the play.  This only helps Mond when he knows if he puts the ball up his guys are going to fight for it.  It’s only one game but this receiving corps looks MUCH deeper than I ever imagined.  And what’s crazy is we have some true freshman on the bench that likely won’t see the field based on what we saw Saturday night.  I’m totally okay with that.

Offensive Line:

I have to put them at third on this list but the offensive line was tremendous on Saturday night all things considered.  We really couldn’t establish the ground game for the most part.  We only gained 57 yards on the ground other than Mond’s runs.  I’m really surprised by this as I expected our ground attack to do better than our pass blocking.  That wasn’t the case but the offensive line did a fine job for what was there.

Kellen didn’t have a ton of time to throw but thanks to the offensive line he had enough time to throw all night for the most part.  Coaching also helped here as Jimbo and Dickey started moving Kellen around as well as started using Trayveon Williams out of the backfield.  The few times we ran screens they were well timed and well executed.  Mond was sacked three times but that was all in the first half I think.  They adjusted in the second half nicely giving Mond enough time to throw the ball.  Great job by the coaches and offensive line.

Probably the biggest compliment to pay this offensive line is you completely forgot they were playing the best defensive line in college football.  They still have some room to develop since we got stuffed on short yardage situations a couple of times.  I’m not complaining though as last year’s line would have been embarrassed.  This unit is still growing but they held their own against the best defensive line in college football for most of the night.

Running Game:

It seemed pretty clear Clemson’s goal coming into this game was to shut down the run.  That’s what they did with their defensive line.  Trayveon only averaged 1.8 yards per rush.  He’s not built for this type of defensive line because he needs to get to the second level to use his speed and wiggle.  This isn’t on Trayveon because the matchup never really favored us here.  Our offensive line couldn’t get him to the second level.  Great job by Jimbo and Staff recognizing it wasn’t there for the most part and adapting.  The Aggies never truly went away from the run so Clemson always had to think about it, but it was clear we weren’t running our way to yards and scores against that line.  They’re just too good.

Tray Williams is a great back but we did miss having someone like a Keith Ford or Tra Carson that could pound the ball a little more between the tackles.  It likely wouldn’t have made too much of a difference but we do miss that threat.  Just not much you can do against a defensive line where all four of their guys will be drafted in the first two rounds.  Just admit your deficiencies and try something else which Jimbo did and it worked for the most part.


Defensive Line:

I thought the defensive line played really well.  147 yards on the ground isn’t ideal but Clemson has a very mobile quarterback.  That makes it hard to key in on the running back.  We didn’t give up any long touchdown runs.  We kept Travis Etienne corralled for the most part other than one 28-yard scamper.  He’s a very underrated back as if he gets to the second level he can flat out burn you.  Elko did a good job moving people in and out.  Kingsley Keke had his usual good game along with Landis Durham.  It didn’t show up on the stat sheet but Daylon Mack had a couple plays where he was completely disruptive blowing the center and guard off their blocks.  I don’t know if it’s scheme or want but it’s amazing how Mack can be so dominating at times and then get blocked other times.  I’m sure it’s a little of both.  Justin Madubuike really showed up in this game bringing pressure all game long.  He spent a lot of time in the backfield getting a sack and a quarterback hurry.  He’s only a sophomore but he seems like he keeps developing better and better every game.  Our defensive line isn’t as good Clemson’s defensive line but there’s no doubt this is a solid unit.  They just show up every game and do their job.


Thanks to our defensive line Dodson and Alaka were freed up to make plays.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  Not sure what else what to write here as these guys did their job plain and simple.  Dodson is probably the most underrated linebacker in the SEC and maybe even the country.  He led the team in solo tackles and even had a nice pass break up on the wide receiver reverse pass to their quarterback.  Was hoping he would come down with it but it was pretty good awareness.  He knocked the ball away so there was no chance of a completion.  Saw Anthony Hines in there a couple of times late in the game but don’t recall him doing much.  We still need to add some depth here but Dodson and Alaka just show up every week and clean up what the defensive line doesn’t take care of.  I’m totally okay with that as that’s how the front 7 is supposed to work.

Seems Donovan Wilson is kind of our third linebacker as Elko technically runs a 4-2-5.  This makes the third linebacker and safety situational.  Wilson fits in with Dodson and Alaka.  He may not seem all that dominant, but Wilson is as dependable as they get.  Whatever comes their way Dodson, Alaka, and Wilson are going to handle.  We could be MUCH worse than these three guys manning the middle of the play.


Coming into the season the position that concerned me the most beyond the offensive line was our cornerbacks.  I don’t think we have amazing talent at corner.  Certainly not upper level college football talent.  That showed up on Saturday night as we gave up two long 64 yard passes with one being for a touchdown.  We also gave up another 50 yard pass which set up a touchdown.  That’s 178 yards through the air on three plays which is over half their passing offense.  That’s too much.  I get giving up a big play here and there but our cornerback coverage is definitely the weakest part of our defense by far.  Clemson knew it and attacked it on several occasions.

I feel good about our chances against the run but if we’re going up against an offense that has strong deep threats and a quarterback that can get it to them we’re going t be susceptible to the deep ball.  We just don’t have the talent at corner to compete with great deep threats.  Along with depth at linebacker we must get more talented corners on campus and get them up to speed.  This won’t be the last time you see an opponent get a long touchdown against us.  It’s our Achilles heel and it’ll continue to get tested until we prove we can slow it down.

Safety wise the guys not named Donavan Wilson did okay.  I like Derrick Tucker’s long-term potential but he still makes some goofs from time to time.  Deshawn Capers-Smith doesn’t have Tucker’s talent but he doesn’t make the mistakes Tucker does.  We’ve got a lot of young talent at the safety position so we’ll be fine long term, but this really feels like a transition year from having Evans, Watts, and Wilson roaming the secondary like we’ve had the last few years.



Clemson was 4 of 13 on third down conversions and failed on their only 4th down attempt.  They also held the ball for only 26 minutes.  Those two stats are all because of our front 7 doing what they do.  All in all this defense is starting to remind me of the 2012 unit but with a worse secondary.  It’s a really good unit with the front 7.  Much better than most people realize.  So far Elko looks to be an upgrade over Chavis as the front 7 is more fundamentally sound.  It doesn’t seem as prone to the goofs the Chavis defense would have at times and especially late in games.  We’re just going to give up big pass plays from time to time so get used to that.  At least against the teams that have fast receivers and quarterbacks with big enough arms.

Special Teams:

Obviously we know about LaCamera with his miss and block.  Obviously that makes Clemson feel like 2012 Florida and LSU.  Not sure it’ll come to that where we’re looking back at a missed field goal away from a potential national championship but I’m fine if so.  That will be a much better season than most expected.  He still hit two 40 yarders so he’s not terrible.  Kickers are going to miss so you’re better off being in a position where you don’t rely on them.  Even Alabama had a kicker a while back that routinely missed field goals which drove Saban wild.

No doubt the special teamer of the game was Braden Mann.  I can’t recall seeing a punter just driving a ball with no trajectory like he was.  He was knocking it low and deep all night.  I don’t know if he was doing it by design but it was working perfectly.  The way he was hitting it wouldn’t allow the return guy to set up underneath it so he was having to chase it like a center fielder on a deep line drive.  Clemson only had 9 yards of punt returns so whatever it was needs to keep happening.  Anytime you have a punter averaging 55 yards a punt and hits a 73 yarder with 9 return yards you’re doing something right.  Mann was tremendous.

On returns we didn’t really have anything spectacular but I thought Roshauud Paul did a nice job of knowing when to fair catch and return.  He had two returns off 14 and 11 yards which isn’t that long but shows he appears to have pretty good awareness.  Last thing you want on a punt return is to try and make a return when nothing is there.  That’s how fumbles happen.  If you don’t feel there’s anything to be gained get your arm up and call for the fair catch.  Make the catch and move on down the road.  Fumbled punts can really turn the momentum.  I like Paul’s apparent awareness in fielding punts.


Going Forward:

It’s hard not to like what happened at Kyle Field on Saturday night even though the Aggies are now 1-1 on the season.  Alabama is in two weeks and that’s the biggest test of the season.  Based on what I’ve seen this season Alabama is a better football team than Clemson.  The Aggies have to get through Louisiana Monroe this weekend but I don’t see that being an issue.  At least I hope not.

Right now I’m leaving my season prediction at 8-4.  The SEC West is still looking strong with Mississippi State being better than I originally thought.  South Carolina might be a little worse but that Georgia game could be a wake up call for them.  Arkansas looks like an easier game and Ole Miss apparently has all offense and no defense.  LSU is still so far away it’s hard to predict that one.  Kentucky doesn’t look like the easy win either after they beat Florida in Gainesville.  Still a lot of football to be played only 2 games in.  I want to make sure that Clemson game wasn’t a blip before I chug all of my maroon Kool-Aid.  What I had on Saturday night sure tasted good though.

I will say after Saturday night this team might be closer to the 2012 team than I originally thought.  That team that played at Kyle Field can beat anybody left on their schedule not named Alabama.  I think there’s at least one more loss in there but I feel much better about Auburn and LSU right now than I did coming into the season.  Let’s see what we look like against Alabama and then we can figure out what could happen the rest of the way.  I said a realistic dream season was going 9-3 winning the bowl game finishing at 10-3.  That seems really possible right now.

If we play the rest of the season like we played Clemson there’s no doubt we’ll Make Aggie Football Great Again well ahead of schedule.



If you’re reading this blog for the first time and want to get notice when new blogs are posted, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook by using the following two links.  We post weekly thoughts from the games and other random stuff throughout the year.

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If you want a Make Aggie Football Great Again hat we have some coming in a week or two.  They’re $20 including shipping.  You’ll look great in one at Kyle Field or just around town!  You can email chewyredding at yahoo dot com for more information.  Payment can be made by PayPal or Venmo.

Thoughts From Opening Weekend

2018 Jimbo First Game

Coming into the game against Northwestern St (NWS) I was hoping/predicting a 55-10 victory.  59-7 is a slightly better margin so I’ll take it.  There’s not a whole lot to takeaway from this game which is not a bad thing.  A&M did what they needed to do and dominated a much inferior opponent.  This is likely the most inferior opponent on the Aggie schedule.  NWS is nowhere near the level of A&M but it’s nice to get a convincing victory rather than see any struggles.



I thought Kellen Mond looked fine.  He wasn’t dominant by any stretch but he did what he needed to do.  He was 17/25 for 184 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions.  That’s a 68% completion percentage.  Would have liked to have seen him at 80% against this opponent but not going to complain too much.  Overall his throws looked pretty good across the middle but his deep balls need some work.

It was clear A&M wanted to establish the run game early and often.  I think that was the right move and A&M did that well which I’ll touch on in a little bit.  When Jimbo named Mond the starter earlier in the week I had a feeling he wanted to do with Mond what he did with Deondre Francois at Florida State two years ago.  In 2016 Jimbo went with Francois to start the season and rode him to a 10-3 season.  This included a 22-point comeback in their opening game against Ole Miss and they almost beat Clemson that season as well.  Mond and Francois are similar quarterbacks in they’re athletic and decent passers.  Neither are exceptional passers or crazy mobile.

What Jimbo did with Francois is roll him out quite a bit rather than just stand in the pocket.  Jimbo did the same thing with Mond on Thursday night.  I didn’t count plays exactly but I believe Monday probably rolled out 30-40% of the time he was passing the ball.  I love designed roll outs if you have a quarterback that can execute it.  It keeps the defense honest and helps the offensive line as the defenses is watching the QB worried about containing rather than just pinning their ears back.  That’s a lot of what Lane Kiffin did with Jalen Hurts and made Hurts so effective despite a questionable arm.

With Mond I think Jimbo is going to do the same thing.  He’ll stand in the pocket most of the time but you’re going to see him roll out from time to time to give the defense something else to look at.  It’s playing to Mond’s strengths.  We’ll see if Mond continues to develop but what I saw on Thursday was a coach working to a player’s strengths and that player executing to the calls for the most part.

What I was most surprised by was the fact Starkel got no snaps in the first half.  I thought Mond would be given 2-4 series and then see Starkel.  We didn’t’ see Starkel until a couple of series into the second half.  It looks like Mond is the true number one quarterback and Jimbo is going to ride him until Mond gives him a reason not to.

Running Back:

Tray Williams had 20 rushes for 240 yards and 3 TDs.  I know it was NWS but that’s an impressive showing.  The offensive line did a good job of getting him to the second level and Tray did the rest.  No way he runs for 240 against an SEC team like that but that’s a good 80-120 yard effort against a normal SEC team.  If we can establish that each game in the SEC we’ll win the 8 games we need to win this year.

I’m a little concerned about depth behind Tray.  It’s a steep drop-off.  Etwi is decent but he’s nowhere near the caliber of talent Tray Williams is.  Corbin and Jackson looked good but by the time they got the ball NWS was worn down.  I like their talent long term but they’re still true freshman.

Behind the offensive line improving all season the health of Tray Williams will be the next most important thing for this team.

Wide Receiver:

I thought the unit looked good but not spectacular.  Clearly A&M wanted to establish the run but I was hoping for a long touchdown pass.  We went deep a few times but our receivers weren’t really getting separation deep which is a slight concern.  You don’t want to go deep all the time but having a legitimate deep threat keeps the safeties from always playing forward.  Not sure I see a true deep threat on this team right now.

Ausbon and Sternberger were the two best receivers on the field and that’s to be expected.  Buckley and Rogers had some decent catches but it’s clear Ausbon and Sternberger are going to be the key components to moving the ball downfield through the air.

All the receivers did a great job blocking which really helped the running game.  Much different look than last year.  I don’t think this receiving corps is as talented as the past 6 years but they seemed to be more disciplined as a whole which is nice to see.

Offensive Line:

It’s no secret the offensive line has been my biggest concern coming into this season.  I feel a little better after this game mainly because we were so dominant in the run game.  No matter the opponent when a team puts up over 500 yards rushing a lot of credit must go to the offensive line.  There’s no doubt Tray Williams deserves a lot of the credit as he had some great long runs but it was his offensive line that was getting him to the second level so he could do his thing.  Time and time again Tray Williams had a gaping hole to get him to the second level.

My only areas of concern for the offensive line in this game is they had a couple breakdowns on blitzes in the first half.  NWS had their linebacker come through untouched twice.  It looked like a delayed blitz but the first time the linebacker got to Mond and the next time Mond was rushed to throw the ball.  It’s a minor issue considering how well they did overall but that can’t happen against teams like Clemson and Alabama obviously.

This was a good first showing even against an inferior opponent.  It’s clear Jimbo wants to establish the run and it’s clear this line knows the assignments to do that.  The only question is can they execute them against the rest of the teams on the schedule?  Even if this line executes their assignments half as well as they did on Thursday night that’s still going to be better than what they did last season.  Long ways to go with this unit but they dominated an inferior opponent and that’s a good start.


Defensive Line:

NWS had 13 rushes for 21 yards.  That’s 1.6 yards per rush and their longest run was 6 yards.  That’s REALLY damn impressive.  I know the Aggie defensive line is much more talented than the NWS offensive line but it’s good to see a unit execute perfectly.  Not sure what else to say here as the DLine did exactly what they were supposed to do.  It’s the strength of this team with talent and depth.


Similar to the defensive line there wasn’t anything the linebackers didn’t do in this game.  They played great football against an inferior opponent.  We’ve got the talent at starting linebacker but we don’t have depth like at defensive line.  If our starters stay healthy it looks like we’ll be fine.


First off, that was the right call on Donavan Wilson.  It wasn’t helmet to helmet contact but Wilson did lower his head and hit the runner with the crown of his helmet.  If you’re a defender and your eyes are looking at the ground at contact there’s a good chance you’re getting ejected.  It’s for the safety of the players as you must tackle with your head up.  Too many people having severe neck injuries is not good for the game of football.

As for the rest of the secondary I though they did fine but weren’t exactly dominant.  There was one 71-yard touchdown catch that skewed the final stats but even without that play I never thought the secondary was truly dominant in pass defense.  They played really good but NWS doesn’t have near the talent we’ll face the rest of the season.  If there’s a weakness on this defense right now it’s pass coverage.  I think our safeties are fine but our corners are going to have to get better in a hurry or teams are going to get yards and points through the air.

Overall I thought the defense played as well as they could other than the long touchdown pass in the second half.  This defense looks good enough to keep us in most games.  We’ll obviously find out more against Clemson.

Special Teams:

Nothing of real note here other than Mann had a couple nice punts and then LaCamera drilled a 52 yarder.  Nice to know we have a guy that can nail field goals from that distance.


Looking Forward to Clemson:

Before this game I put the Aggies chance of beating Clemson at 20%.  After the game I’ll put it at 25%.  Clemson is still way too talented across the board for the Aggies to have a real chance of winning, but it was nice to see the Aggies execute almost perfectly against an inferior opponent.

The line for this game is anywhere from 11.5 to 13.5 depending on where you look.  That’s a lot bigger than I expected.  I was expecting around 10.  If the Aggies hold the game to a single digit loss that’s going to be a good look for the Aggies.  Ideally this game kind of looks like the Washington/Auburn game this past weekend if you saw it.  Yes, I’m looking for a moral victory if we don’t win outright.  Baby steps with Jimbo.

For the Aggies to win we’ll have to establish the run like we did against NWS.  Obviously we won’t have the gaudy stats but if Trayveon runs for at least 80 yards and a score against that Clemson defensive line that’s going to be a really strong effort.  I do think that’s possible based on what I saw on Thursday night.  If the Aggies achieve that while Ausbon and Sternberger account for around 150 yards and 2 scores the Aggies have a real chance of winning.  I know ~230 yards and 3 TDs for 3 people doesn’t seem like much but that’s a tall order against Clemson.  They’re #2 in the country for a reason.

Obviously if the offense does that the defense will have to be strong to hold Clemson to around 20 points.  That is a tall order as Clemson scored 24 points or more in 12 of their 14 games last season.  There has been an exception and that’s against an SEC defense.  They failed to score more than 14 points against Auburn and Alabama.  Against Auburn the last two seasons Clemson has only scored 19 and 14 points.  If the Aggies can do the same as the Auburn defense the last two year the Aggies likely win this game.  I just don’t know if the Aggie secondary is up to the task.

One other interesting stat is that Georgia Tech has been the most effective team in the ACC holding Clemson to 26 and 24 points the last two seasons.  I’m sure a component of that is the fact Georgia Tech likes to run the ball and the clock.  That likely kept Clemson’s offense off the field more than normal but hopefully Jimbo is paying attention.  No need to get in a shootout with Clemson.  A low scoring contest is the Aggies only chance to win in my mind.  Keep our defense rested and see if we can wear down that Clemson defensive line.


Other Thoughts from Opening Weekend:

Alabama – Holy hell does Tua Tagovailoa give Bama a completely different look.  Saban has had the equivalent of a V6 Honda Accord sedan under center since he’s been at Bama and now he’s got a damn Ferrari.  That’s not a stretch.  Tua’s athletic ability in both passing and mobility is off the charts compared to what Bama has seen in the past.  Someone may figure out how to defend Tua but right now it looks like Saban has a toy he’s never had in the past.  15-0 doesn’t seem like a stretch.

Auburn/Washington – I saw two really good teams but not great.  Auburn’s defense looked really good as did Jarrett Stidham throwing the ball but I wasn’t impressed with Auburn’s run game at all.  I don’t see Auburn beating Georgia and Bama again this season unless they find some blocking and running.  Jake Browning had some really great moments for Washington but it was clear to me Washington just doesn’t have the elite talent of other programs in the country.  Chris Petersen must get a lot more talent to that program if it expects to be a perennial elite program.

Big 12 Conference – OU and Tech picked up right where they left off last season.  OU scores a lot of points and Tech lets a lot of points be scored.  I was surprised Kiffin didn’t put up many points on OU.  The OU defense has shown suspect against good offenses but OU manhandled FAU the entire game.  Not a good look for Kiffin at all if he was hoping to jump from FAU to a big program.  OU looks like it’s set to run roughshod over the B12 yet again this season.

Do Tech fans realize Lincoln Riley played quarterback for them like Kingsbury?  It’s funny Tech fans became all enamored with Coach Cool thinking he was the savior.  Meanwhile, another former Tech football player got the reins at OU and is looking poised to own the Big 12 for at least the next 5 years.  Tech could double Riley’s salary and I don’t think he’d leave Norman for Lubbock.  You guessed wrong on your former players as head coach, Tech.  Lincoln belongs to Norman now.

As for Kingsbury at what point does this guy lose his job?  He’s damn good to look at if you’re a woman but he sucks as a head coach.  He’s in his 6th year at Tech and has made ZERO progress.  There is NOTHING redeemable about him as a head coach other than his looks.  Seriously.  This dude has turned his look into tens of millions of dollars.  Good on him and his agent but bad on Tech.  It’s crazy most people forget he’s the guy that let Baker Mayfield leave Tech.  Somehow OU got two former Tech walk on quarterbacks in Mayfield and Riley while everyone at Tech was wooed at the cool and charm of Kingsbury.  I’m sure he’s fun to chase women with but he must be maddening if you’re a Tech football fan that likes winning football games.  I know Kingsbury doesn’t have the talent of OU but his Tech teams look lost.  Reminds me of his former mentor Kevin Sumlin.

Texas is in fact, not back.  Herman still has time to turn it around but the dude is 7-7 in 14 games in Austin.  He lost to a Maryland team in complete dis-array.  There’s no defending that Maryland team.  That Longhorn squad looked clueless and I think that starts at the top with Herman.  Herman is in a spiral I think his cockiness will only make it worse.  He seems to get distracted by things that don’t really help win football games.

West Virginia looks legit with Will Greier under center.  Something tells me it’s going to be OU and WVU running away from the conference all season.  The Big 12 really needs OU to run away with the conference again.  I’m not sure WVU has the brand recognition to get in the College Football Playoff with more than one loss.  Even with one loss WVU could be on the outside looking in depending on the other teams with one loss.  The CFP selection committee can say what they want but brand matters in their Final 4.  It is about the money from audience numbers in the end.

Ole Miss:

Coming into this season I thought Ole Miss would take a step back and make the SEC West a little easier.  I know they played Tech who is a real suspect team but Ole Miss has some legit talent at QB, RB, and WR.  They’re coached by a former offensive line coach so I have a feeling they’re going to have a much better offense and team than anyone expected.  They won’t be the easy win I was expecting coming into the season.  With Ole Miss set up like they are the SEC West is once again the toughest division in college football by a wide margin.  There’s not a division in college football that has the talent and coaching the SEC West has based on the first weekend.  That could change but the SEC West was 7-0 with convincing wins.


Building on Ole Miss, LSU reminded everyone they’re not to be written off either.  Miami is not a Top 10 team but they’re still a pretty good football team and LSU dominated them.  LSU has done two things well for the last decade – play defense and run the ball.  Last night showed they’re still really good at those two things.  Why people were writing LSU off coming into the season I have no idea.  Last year they went 9-3 in the regular season losing early head scratchers to Miss St and Troy but then beat everyone else but Alabama.  LSU is still as talented as any football team in the country not named Alabama.  You put Jarret Stidham on that team and they’re a Top 5 team without a doubt.  The writing off of LSU coming into the season reminds me of 5-6 years ago when everyone wanted to write off Alabama after an early season loss each season.  Meanwhile Saban would just keep winning championships.  Meanwhile LSU is just going to play great defense and run the ball as well as anyone in the country.

The SEC West looks to be back on the rise when it looked like it might be trending down with the coaching changes since Les Miles left Death Valley.

Michigan/Notre Dame – Jim Harbaugh is not a terrible coach but he’s EXTREMELY overrated for what he’s done at Michigan.  For what he gets paid his lack of urgency at the end of that game was criminal.  He seemed utterly clueless or not interested in trying to get that game to overtime.  Michigan shouldn’t scare a decent opponent at all.  As for Notre Dame they’re a legit team.  I don’t think they’re on the level of Bama and Clemson when it comes to talent but I do think Notre Dame deserves mention with the next tier that includes Auburn, Washington, LSU, OU, OhSU, Penn St, and a couple others.  That’s a good Notre Dame team and MUCH better than what they had 2 seasons ago.  I thought Brian Kelly might be done but credit to him for getting that program turned around.


College football is back and we’ll find out on Saturday how close Jimbo is to Making Aggie Football Great Again.  I sure hope we’re all swilling Maroon Kool-Aid at tailgates after the game!


If you’re reading this blog for the first time and want to get notice when new blogs are posted, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook by using the following two links.  We post weekly thoughts from the games and other random stuff throughout the year.

Twitter –

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If you want a Make Aggie Football Great Again hat we have some coming in a week or two.  They’re $20 including shipping.  You’ll look great in one at Kyle Field or just around town!  You can email chewyredding at yahoo dot com for more information.  Payment can be made by PayPal or Venmo.