Football

Thoughts From the UCLA Game

myles-on-rosen

First off, despite the Aggies blowing a 15 point fourth quarter lead, that was a damn solid win.  As we saw on Saturday a lot of good teams lost games they probably shouldn’t have.  You hate the minor collapse but you have to love the fact a win was had.  That’s a really good UCLA team and probably the best team A&M has opened against since Florida in 2012.  Lots of areas to work on but a win is a win.  Take it and move on down the road.

Offense:

I like a LOT of what I saw on the offense on Saturday except for two things – the QB play and play calling.  I’ll get to those two negativess in a bit as I want to hit on the positives first.  I thought the offensive line played pretty solid.  Not great but they looked better than last year as a unit.  The interior of the line looked MUCH better than last year.  It’s only one game but I think this line can be serviceable.  This line appears much better than last year.  We lost our starting left tackle but Koda Martin actually looked pretty decent in Gennesy’s place.  He wasn’t dominant by any stretch but he did a decent job of engaging and staying with their defensive end much of the time he was in there.  I was worried when Gennesy went out but Martin did okay and held his own.  With Turner as their coach I have faith this unit gets better and better along with having some depth.

I LOVED our running back tandem of Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams.  I don’t want to diss Tra Carson as that dude was all heart last year but this tandem is a BIG step up.  Those two guys have a burst and run angry not shying away from contact.  They’re not the top RBs in the country by any stretch but they’re very serviceable and better than what we had last year.  I’ll take that.

Our receivers are exactly the same as last year and that’s not a bad thing.  Josh Reynolds is probably the most underrated receiver in the country.  I’m not kidding.  He might be the best receiver on this squad including Kirk.  RSJ still has issues with his hands at times.  Kirk didn’t see the ball enough in my book but we know how good he can be.  He’ll get his at some point.  Speedy comes back next week and can’t wait to see if he’s progressed like has been said.  No issues here at all but would like to see these guys utilized a lot more.

Now for the negatives – I know everybody loves Trevor Knight because he looks and talks the part but in this game he reminded me of another Aggie quarterback in Stephen McGee.  I know everyone loves McGee because he looks and talks like Aggieland Central Casting would want in a quarterback but McGee really wasn’t all that productive if you watched him objectively.  McGee had horrible pocket awareness and I saw a LOT of that from Knight on Saturday.  There were at least 5 times where a pocket was forming for Knight to step up into but instead he kept going backwards.  I’ve always felt pocket presence is something that’s either there or not and can’t really be coached.  For a 5th year senior in college I’m not sure if Knight is going to develop it at this point.  It’s really important he have faith in his pocket, step up, and find an open receiver quickly.  He’s athletic but he’s not athletic enough to be a great scramble QB when the pocket breaks down.  He needs to step up with his eyes down field and find the open man and hit him or run for whatever gain he can get.  Going backwards is never a good thing.

In the end Knight was very serviceable on Saturday and helped us get the win but if his play had been a little more stellar we would have won walking away.  Some of that is on Mazzone as I’ll get to in a bit.  I still contend Trevor Knight is not going to win us any ball games.  The best he can do is not let us lose any games.  He’s got to be careful with the ball and most importantly aware of his limitations as a pocket passer.  He wasn’t terrible at all but he was the Trevor Knight that got beat out by Baker Mayfield last season.  I hope he can improve but once again he’s a 5th year senior so you really wonder how much improvement is there.  Even just a little bit would likely mean another win on the season.

As for the play calling, 2 quarters I loved and 2 quarters I didn’t.  The first four series seemed to basically focus on pass, run, pass, run.  We did nothing on any of those series and I was wondering if Mazzone was just trying to figure out what he had as on the fifth series he started combining pass and run and we moved the ball down the field.  In the second and third quarter we moved the ball up and down the field and then in the 4th quarter we just went stagnant with conservative and predictable play calling.  The proverbial taking the foot off the gas if you will.  I don’t know if that was an order by Sumlin or he was just trying to protect Knight from making a mistake.  At least it’s better than Spav as I hated his play calling for all 4 quarters.  Hopefully after watching the film and realizing what he has from an actual game he’ll make some adjustments.  I loved the up tempo stuff so hopefully we keep developing that.

The two stats I HATED from an offensive standpoint were we only converted 4 or 5 third downs in 15 attempts.  That’s pathetic.  Absolutely pathetic.  The other is UCLA won time of possession by a pretty wide margin.  With our defense that shouldn’t happen.  Our defense has shown they can get off the field so our offense has to do a better job of staying on the field via third down conversions.  We improve third down conversion and our time of possession goes up and we limit the other offense’s opportunities which results in more wins.  It’s really as simple as that.

Defense:

For 3.5 quarters and an overtime period our defense was flat out nails.  That’s a great UCLA offense and we held them in check for 3.5 quarters.  We did so with our offense turning the ball over twice and not being able to sustain drives to stay on the field.  Our defense was on the field more than our offense and that always put your defense in a bind.  Had our offense done more in the first and fourth quarter our defense likely doesn’t let UCLA score 15 points to tie the game in the final half of the 4th quarter.  We all want perfection and the Wrecking Crew but in the current college game that was a solid defensive effort due to our offense not being able to stay on the field and score more points.

The defensive line and specifically Mr. Myles Garret brought pressure all game long.  Garret’s stats might not have been as gaudy as we want but if you watched him all game that was Garret’s best game by far.  For the entire game he brought pressure from where lined up.  He played pass and run extremely well and his technique was outstanding.  He mixed up edge rushing, bull rushing, and interior spin moves which I don’t recall him doing an entire game last season.  Let’s cherish it because I think he’s about to have a Von Miller type final season in Aggieland where it’ll be a while before we have someone like him again.  That was also a pretty good left tackle he was going up against.

The rest of the defensive line was solid as well.  Hall was bringing pressure from the other side and the interior was bringing pressure all day as well.  Most impressive was the stunting and twisting we were doing along the front with the other the DLinemen thanks to Garret commanding so much attention.  Our DTs weren’t just firing straight up the field but attacking the UCLA line with multiple looks so they never knew exactly what was going to happen.  Lots of athleticism along that defensive line which should prove to be really big as the season wears on.

The linebackers looked solid as well.  What was most impressive to me was the amount of playing time they all got and how effective they were for the most part.  Alaka, George, Washington, and Dodson all got plenty of PT and to be honest they all looked the same.  That’s not a bad thing as we need depth at linebacker more than anything so no one is too burdened.   I wouldn’t say anyone truly stood out but they worked well with the defensive line and safeties to bring pressure from all over and maintain their assignments.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this crew against a run first team like Auburn in a couple of weeks because we were more about pinning our ears back to apply pressure.  That’s my only concern of this crew for now.

The secondary outside of a couple of botched plays late in the 4th looked really good.  Watts and Evans brought it all game long along with Wilson when he was in there.  The corners looked really serviceable but they’re not lock down corners at this point.  If our pressure doesn’t get to the QB they can’t hold all that long.  It’s just part of how this defense is built though.  I’ll take what I saw as if last year is any indication this crew gets better with each game.

The defensive unit as a whole basically picked up where they left off last season.  I’m not kidding in that if I was the Athletic Director I’d go guarantee John Chavis two more years of his salary no matter what Kevin Sumlin thinks.  Chief is one of if not the best defensive coordinators in the country and I don’t want him going anywhere.

Special Teams:

Nothing special here other than our punter looked solid.  Placekicking is in question.  I didn’t really like Evans returning kicks as I want someone with some wiggle.  Maybe with Speedy back that changes.

 

Looking forward I don’t want to get too high or too low after one game.  It’s the best opening game win we’ve ever had with Sumlin but lots of work to go.  I’m still just really uncertain on Knight.  Heart and leadership are not in question but he really was the weakest link of our offense in my mind.  What happens when he gets pressured or we can’t establish a running game?  I really would like to see the pocket moved with him more or him being more confident in the pocket and looking downfield.  His drop back pocket awareness just scares me based on this game and his time at OU.

Mazzone did say in his press conference it’s like a first date where they have to get to know each other.  Hopefully that’s true and they both adapt and grow together.  If that’s the case then I really like this team.

To be clear this is not a playoff team.  At best this is a 10-2 and maybe 11-1 team.  I just don’t see us getting past Alabama.  I’m not sure Bama goes undefeated in the SEC but after Week 1 it’s very possible they do.  They looked that good and the rest of the SEC showed major holes.  Bama will likely lose to someone but we’ll lose to Bama and then someone else in a best case scenario.  I’m totally okay with 10-2 though.  Totally okay with 10 wins.

Auburn looked MUCH better than I ever expected.  I’m not as confident about that game anymore.  Their defense and their penchant to run the ball will prove to be a major test for us.  Tennessee, Ole Miss, and LSU all look like much more winnable games after Week 1 but there’s lots of football to be played.  Let’s wait and see what happens between now and when we play them before moving the needle to a win on those game.  For now I’m sticking with 8-4 but I see us trending to more wins than less right now which means we’ll keep Sumlin another year as if he wins nine he’s fine.

Thoughts From the Games

Thoughts from the Games
Florida, SMU, and SC State

I’ve been holding off writing this again because the new gig has been taking up a lot of time but mainly I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at with this Aggie team. An amazing first half against Florida followed by an offensive turd in the second half. The turd continued through the first quarter against SMU before getting flushed. Then we struggle in the first couple of series against SC State before really opening it up. Through it all I feel like I started seeing what’s going with this team.

The La. Tech Game:

I’m still torn on if the lack of the La. Tech game has hurt us or helped us. As we get further along I think it’s actually helped us. They’re a good team and there’s a good chance we would have gotten beat as our offense would have struggled being on the road for the first time. Make no mistake we came out against Florida on emotion and surprise due to our first game in the SEC. I honestly can’t think of a time when campus and Kyle was fired up for a 2:30 game like that. There were a couple of the OU games in the early 2000s that had a 2:30 start and Kyle was rocking but they’re few and far between. I can’t help but think that carried over to the team and that’s part of the reason we jumped out to a great start.

Plus, with the element of surprise Florida had no idea what to look for offensively. Had they had film of us against La. Tech I think you might have seen our offense struggle the entire game as we’ll get to in a bit. I really do think we might have lost to both La. Tech and Florida had we played that game. As it stands I think we can now go into Shreveport and win that game and the result of the Florida game would have been the same and maybe even actually worse. We lost that Florida game but we all walked out of there thinking we could in fact compete against SEC teams. Let’s not underestimate the result of that. So, I think we dodged a bullet not playing La. Tech as this season is shaping up.

Offense:

I think we’ve all figured out what happened in the second half of the Florida game. I remember noticing it in the game and the quotes after confirmed it. Florida stopped sending their backers and just relied on their front four to apply pressure. That eliminated the open lanes due to over pursuit that our running backs and Manziel were able to exploit in the first half. Since that change our running game has been non-existent. Sadly, I think it’s going to continue that way until we start hitting passes down the middle of the field to pull linebackers from attacking the line of scrimmage or implement a true tight end or fullback.

What happened on Saturday night confirms what I believe as we couldn’t establish a rushing attack against a much inferior front 7. If we can’t establish a running game against this crew even without CMike we’re not going to do it against anyone. Much like Florida, SC State implemented the same scheme against the run. The used their front four to engage our offensive line and then the backers would simply scrape and fill holes. Not aggressively but basically seeing the same thing that the running back on the other side is seeing. The end result is their backers and our running backs are meeting at the LOS. I watched the SMU game on TV so it’s hard to tell but I’m guessing we did the same because we didn’t start moving the ball until Manziel made plays when the defense broke down on the ground and he was able to exploit it through the air in addition to his running. Other than Manziel we really didn’t have a running game against SMU either. Not good.

The reason this is happening this year and not last year is because we don’t have a true TE or fullback. What’s essentially happening is that our 5 offensive linemen are engaging the defensive front four leaving the 3 linebackers to fill the hole that’s created. In addition, because there’s no TE the outside linebackers are playing back off the line of scrimmage and just outside the tackles shoulder looking inside to fill those holes between the tackles. Normally they’d be lined up further outside on a TE and much closer to the line of scrimmage trying to avoid being sealed inside on a block. Without the concern of being sealed inside they can play both the inside and outside assuming they read the offense correctly.

Certainly our offense line has struggled early on with assignments but on Saturday night against SC State I watched our offensive lineman handle the front four of the defense only to have the LB fill the hole and meet out RB at the line of scrimmage. It’s not the line’s fault as much as it is the scheme’s fault. With a fullback they block the linebacker filling the gap and clear them out or at least engage them so the running back has a chance. It’s simple numbers working against us and no matter how well you execute you can’t block 7 guys with five guys. And they’re obviously going to leave their 7th guy home since we essentially have 2 RBs in the backfield with Manziel. So it’s basic 7 on 7 inside the box and I don’t see it changing if SC State can stymie our running game.

The other reason we’re struggling to establish a running game is we’re asking our lineman to run block without a hand on the ground. Without a hand on the ground it’s harder to keep lower leverage as well as fire out off the ball. Think of why track sprinters launch with their hands on the ground instead of on two feet. It’s much harder for our linemen to displace the defensive line so the best they can do is engage the defender and try and move them a little bit.

With all that I just don’t see us establishing a running game in this offense. At least between the tackles like we’ve seen in the past. What’s really lacking that I think we should be able to do is being able to establish an outside run. I would love to see us do overload sets to one side to see if we could seal an edge. Run some sweeps, screens, and zone reads to see if we can get those OLBs to focus outside more or exploit them if they’re hell bent on helping inside. I’d like to see Christine Michael get involved more in the running game so let’s hope he’s got his head clear and realized he’s costing himself money by doing whatever he’s doing to limit his playing time. He can actually take on a linebacker in the hole and get yards after contact. We’ll find out this weekend hopefully.

At receiver it’s hard to figure out what we have. We all know Swope and EZ but it seems like the staff is trying to figure out what they have in the others. It’s quite clear they’re trying to establish Mike Evans as the outside guy if you leave one on one he’s going to make you regret it. It seems we’ve tried to establish that without success and that’s why we can’t exploit the middle of the field with seam routes that Swope is perfect for. Manziel is also missing a bunch of open guys across the middle. Maybe he’s focused too much on the pocket pressure and not looking down field soon enough for fear he misses the pressure. However, it does seem Manziel is getting more familiar with his receivers as he’s been spreading the ball around the last two games. The receiver rotation has also been a little inconsistent so I’m not sure what all is going on and what we’re trying to accomplish with who. We’ll call the receiving corps a work in progress. There’s certainly talent there but it seems everyone including this coaching staff is still trying to figure who’s who and what’s what.

Alright, let’s get to Johnny Football. The kid is electric no doubt. There’s also little doubt he won’t be able to do what he’s done against SMU and SC State on the ground against our conference opponents. I think we’re going to find out that we played the weakest two teams we have on our schedule so it only gets tougher for Johnny Football from here. He has gotten much better about trying to stay in the pocket and when he scrambles keeping his eyes down the field and throw the ball rather than run. Still, there’s times when space is there and the kid should in fact take off and run. He did it against Florida until they took it away from him and he’ll learn over time as he gets more experience when it’s there and when it’s not. He’s just a work in progress.

Don’t forget ultimate success in college football happens because of one of two things or both. Those things are a suffocating defense and/or an electric player on the offensive side of the ball. You know the defenses of Alabama and LSU and even Florida’s first championship under Meyer but the times those teams haven’t won it you know the names of Vince Young, Tim Tebow, and Cam Newton. Now, I’m not saying Manziel is on the level of those guys but it’s pretty clear to me if you want to win it all you need someone that can transcend the offensive side of the ball if you don’t have a strong defense. Looking back there’s never been a “system” offense to win a National Championship. Oregon tried against a fairly average Auburn defense and couldn’t do it. Even Mike Leach’s vaunted offense often stalled against better defenses which is why he rarely beat Texas or OU and struggled in both Cotton Bowls he made it to with what might have been the SEC’s third or fourth best team.

I say all that in hopes that our offense is evolving from game to game as the coaches and players learn one another. I’d rather see that happen than the coaching staff stand headstrong and try to install their “system.” I’d really like to see Kingsbury evolve beyond what appears to be his “Air Raid” roots at Tech and UH. Nothing against Kingsbury but I’m beginning to see his roots won’t do well week in and week out against the SEC defenses.

As for what happens from here it’s not ideal but I think we can have a run of 3 games against Arkansas, Ole Miss, and La. Tech where can have some learning curves and still win. Now, I’m not saying we can win those games with major hiccups because we can’t but I think we can have some growing pains in those games and still win. Mainly because I think our offensive line is getting more comfortable in this system and receivers are learning what to do when the play breaks down and Manziel is able to extend the play with his legs.

So, in summary we’re not going to establish a running game between the tackles. Because of that let’s hope that Manziel and this coaching staff can learn from each other and craft the offense to the strengths of the talent we have on that side of the ball. It’s our only hope Luke.

Defense:

“The one constant through this season so far, Ray, has been defense. Aggie Football has rolled by like an army of steamrollers remaining competitive because of defense. The Wrecking Crew had been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again by men that go by the names of Fran and Sherm. But defense has marked the time and Aggie fans have waited for its return. Kyle Field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” I adjusted the quote from Field of Dreams to reflect somewhat of how our defense has really carried this team so far. It feels good to have a defense that looks like it knows what its doing and can respond when needed.

Without our defense we get blown out by Florida and probably even play SMU close. Make no mistake this is no Wrecking Crew. Not even close outside of Demontre Moore. Dude is a one man Wrecking Crew so he definitely can be called that but there’s no one else. What this defense is doing is playing assignment football REALLY well. People are executing their assignment which allows all 11 defenders to cover the entire field and line of scrimmage. I think as we get more comfortable with the base defense and continue to execute it in our sleep we’ll see it get more aggressive. Until then I hope Snyder doesn’t change a thing as it’s absolutely marvelous to watch even if it’s not the old Wrecking Crew we know and love.

It’s also not on the level of Bama or LSU simply because we don’t have the athletes but it reminds me a lot of TCU’s defense. Now, don’t get me wrong in that we haven’t played an offensive juggernaut as Florida was very basic on offense, Garrett Gilbert couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat, and SC State missed a lot of open receivers or dropped balls that hit them in the hands. However, rarely is a receiver running wide screaming open like we saw with the litany of DCs that came before Snyder. Our LBs seem to understand their gap assignments and not overrun the ball carrier and the DLine understands engaging the OLine to free up others to make plays. Then there’s DeMonster who just wrecks shop all over the field. What’s impressed me the most is not what he’s done in the backfield but his pursuit all over the field. Time and time again he’s making tackles on the sideline simply because he’s pursuing the ball carrier the entire time. He must realize he can get paid like Von one day.

We are weak in a couple of areas and those include screen recognition and runs to the outside. Our defensive line will get sucked in by a screen and our LBs will either be slow to react or get up in the blocking or trash. Florida and SC State both ran some plays to the outside and gained positive yards. I think the weakness on these two things is our focus of not getting gutted up the middle and focusing our attention inside. I hold out faith that as our defense gets more comfortable with base assignments they’ll recognize screens and outside runs quicker and be quicker to react.

Despite how bad they’re playing as a team right now a Tyler Wilson lead offense can move the ball so we’ll find out where this defense really is on Saturday. Let’s hope we’re still proud.

Special Teams:

I have no clue what we have on special teams. No clue at all. We seem to be getting better each week but I’m still not sure as a whole. Our kicker hasn’t seen a tough field goal and he’s 1 of 2 making a 27 yarder and missing a 23 yarder. Doesn’t exactly instill much confidence does it? Epperson punts either like an old man playing golf that hits a shot 120 yards in the air but gets no trajectory so it rolls another 60 yards for a somewhat respectable drive or he punts like those rugby guys that rely on a roll except Epperson isn’t running before kicking. Whatever he’s doing it’s working for the most part so we’ll take it.

As for returns Dustin Harris has looked pretty decent returning punts but let’s be real in that he’s not an explosive returner. He’s got decent straight away speed but he’s no Dante Hall unless he’s jumping the curb and parking on the grass next to Kleberg that we don’t know about. Kick return wise our blocking was TERRIBLE against Florida and we haven’t seen many kicks in the other games thanks to our defense. However, with the new rules we shouldn’t be returning kicks on anything 2 yards or deeper in the end zone. Just take a knee and take it out to the 25 and be done with it. You get caught at the 15 yard line and then stall on a three and out all of sudden you’re behind on field position and that stuff matters.

There are just still a lot of unanswered questions about everything to be honest. Looking forward to Arkansas I’m DEATHLY afraid of this game. Tyler Wilson can still move the ball so they’re going to have the best day of any team against our defense so far. If our offense stalls a few times like it did against Florida we could be looking at being on the short of a shootout. I’d like to think we could win 35-21 but I can also see us losing 28-24 which would result in John L. Smith streaking on Kyle Field. Nobody wants that. Nobody.

If we can in semi-convincing fashion and our offense doesn’t stumble for the most part and our defense can hold Wilson and their offense mostly in check than I think we can go 8-4 with conference wins over Ole Miss, Auburn, and Mizzou in addition to our non-conference games. Arkansas reminds me of A&M last year. In total disarray as a team but there’s still enough talent that if it all clicks then they can beat a lot of people.

I’m somewhere between 8-4 and 6-6 with this team with all the clarity coming over the next three games.  When we get to the mid-point of the schedule we’ll have a good idea of what we have despite still having LSU and Bama on the schedule.

Thoughts from SMU

Before I get into what I saw on Sunday between SMU and A&M, a quick note on how I do this for the first timers.  I’m no expert but I watch enough football to know the general feel of the game along with strength and weaknesses.  I don’t take notes during the game and I dont watch DVRd or replays of the game. I might see highlights but that’s about it. I go completely from memory so that’s why I say I’m not an expert by any stretch. Also, my BAC fluctuates between games and affects my memory so some games I remember more and some games I remember less. It all depends on the pre-game tailgate!

Overall, the further I get away from the game, I feel MUCH better. During the game I kept trying to figure out how good SMU was. They looked like a La. Tech or SFA during the game but they’re MUCH better than that. This is a very good C-USA team and a C-USA in Houston beat UCLA on Saturday.  Maybe SMU misses a bowl game this year but there’s a strong chance they make one and maybe even win the C-USA so this is a very good team.  SMU’s offensive line has the most starts of any OLine in the country and their John Riggins look alike ran for over 1,000 yards last year. He’s actually a really good college RB because he’s strong and has really agile and quick feet.

Defensively they’re not as strong as their offense but they’re not terrible.  We’ll definitely be tested more on defense but this was a decent test.  They had some decent size on their line so it wasn’t like we just had a raw size advantage up front and just mauled them with no technique or ability.  They also did a decent job of tackling and flowing to the ball so they put in a solid defensive effort in my mind.  Overall this was a very good win and very good effort by the Aggies. I was concerned this was going to be a trap game because June Jones is a good coach and SMU has some talent and wouldn’t roll over like a typical road patsy.  46-14 is a great showing in your first game against a decent opponent.  This could be a very good Aggie football team.  It already is but they have to actually continue to do it on the field.  That’s the only thing that really matters.

 

 

OFFENSE – The offense was the hardest thing for me to analyze.  The reason I say that is because we were about as perfect as you get for a college offense.  No, we didn’t put up 60 points and break big play after big play but this offense is not built that way.  What we saw on Sunday night is EXACTLY how this is offense is built.  No huge runs or passes but plays that chew up positive yards on every down and sustain drives.  Looking at it during the game it’s kind of ho hum but looking back it was DAMN devastating.  Now, SMU is not a dominate defense by any stretch but they’re a decent test in the first game and the Aggie offense scored a 98 out of 100 in my mind.

QB – Ryan Tannehill didn’t pitch a perfect game but he did throw at minimum a complete game shutout if not a no hitter.  I’d have to watch film to see if it was a no hitter.  He ran the offense to perfection.  He made all the right decisions and trusted his receivers and OLine.  He wasn’t perfect passing but at the same time he made some pretty damn good passes and was almost perfect. No QB ever is perfect.  He threw Swope a couple balls across the middle that only Swope could catch.  His TD pass to Priloeau was one of the prettiest balls you can make it.  He hit Priloeau in stride while having to clear a couple underneath defenders while dropping it perfectly into Priloeau’s hands.  Just a perfect pass.  He looked great rolling out and finding the open guys as well.  I still contend in college there’s nothing more dangerous than a roll out QB that can make solid throws.  Tanny looks great doing this.

The two things that stood out to me most were his decision making.  He either made a quick decision or showed some patience waiting for guys to get open.  The thing that impressed me the most was his trust of the pocket.  He stood in there fearlessly and showed very good awareness of when it was breaking down to get rid of the ball.  He didn’t tuck too early or hold the ball too long.  Most of that is on the OLine for giving him time but it’s awesome to see Tanny has a solid pocket presence.  The reason Tanny didn’t pitch a perfect game is because he missed EZ on a quick post route where he was wide screaming open for a sure TD but Tanny went outside and short to Swope who was also open.  That’s just Tanny though.  He’s gonna lay up for the sure thing rather than go for broke.  Good news is he’ll let it fly rather than tuck and run which is important for a QB because unless you’re Vince Young, tucking and running isn’t the best option.

RB – From a running back standpoint all I can say is enjoy it while we can. If we don’t have the best 1-2 punch of RBs in the country I’d like to see that team.  Outside of Gray’s fumble that Fuller caught and Michael’s substitution error you couldn’t ask for much more. The other mistake was on the goal line in the 3rd quarter when Cyrus waited on the D lineman rather than go out to chop him and the Dlineman batted the ball down on 3rd down so we had to settle for a field goal.  That’s nit picky though as that’s tough on a RB to go out and meet a guy he’s giving up 100 pounds to.

While the RBs didn’t bust off any long TD runs what they did is get positive yards on virtually every carry.   What you notice about our RBs is patience on the hole and every step they take is forward once it develops.  There were only a couple of runs where they were forced to go down the line but even then stayed parallel to the line and always looking to cut up field rather than try and burn the corner which is tough to do.  Cyrus picked up right where he left off and most importantly Christine looked to have learned from Cyrus’ playing time when he got hurt.  Christine appeared more patient looking for the hole.  At times in the past he’s looked like a dog that just got let off the leash running into the back of the line as fast as possible.  Sunday night he looked like a guy that fully understands how to run behind our zone blocking scheme.  The other thing that looked different in Christine is that he used fewer spin moves and when he did he was spinning forward and not to the side.  Once again, always looking for positive yards with every step.  Let’s just hope I get to write a ho hum report of our backs every game because these guys are that good.

WR – Not many big pass plays other than the TD pass to Priloeau.  LOTS of possession routes and most importantly lots of catches.  It was really only Swope and Fuller that got any action.  Saw Fuller go down the field maybe twice and Swope worked outside and underneath all night.  Fuller ran a lot of stop routes in the 6-12 yard range along with catching a couple of quick outside passes.  We averaged 11 yards per reception with the longest being 32 yards on the Priloeau catch.  Not a lot to say about these guys as they weren’t necessarily game breakers but they appeared to be on the same page with Tanny all night long.  Its clear Swope and Fuller are the main targets which is just fine.  Don’t expect big yards out of these guys all season as that’s not how Sherm rolls with Tanny at QB but we should continue to see more possession routes and catches to sustain drives.  Fuller and Swope look perfect for what Sherman wants to do.

OL – In my pre-season piece I talked about the quality of the offensive line and these guys did not disappoint.  I’m sure there was once or twice when someone got through to apply pressure too soon but there were ZERO sacks and that’s all you can ask for from an offensive line.  Sure, some is on Tanny but the OLine worked well with their QB all night so that’s solid.  Most importantly I only remember one holding call on Pat Lewis I believe.  I don’t remember any false starts on the OLine either which is VERY impressive in the first game.  I think there was one false start on one of the receivers but not the line.  That’s pretty damn good for their first game.  Let’s hope it holds.  From a blocking standpoint they created seams for the RBs to squeeze through all night long and created solid pockets for Tanny to throw out of all night long.  Easier said than done but they did it well.

Now, I’m not sure how good the SMU defense is but I think their defense is pretty decent but not great so it was a really good effort.  The other thing that impressed me is the athleticism of our tackles.  A couple of times we ran Joeckel and Matthews on the same side and these guys move REALLY well for their size.  Simply amazing what two likely NFL first rounders will do for an offense.  Pat Lewis looks perfect at center and Shep Klinke is a big ol’ boy.  This is a real beefy line with some real athleticism so it’s going to be fun to watch this crew.  I can’t help but think this offensive line is just going to get better all season and we’re in for a real treat.  It all starts with the big uglies in the trenches and we look like we have some solid guys for us.

 

 

DEFENSE – Point wise we did tremendous.  This is a pretty damn good offense and we gave up 14 points through mainly 4 quarters of football.  We got one gifted interception and another off a tip on a great play by TFred.  Remember, their OLine has more starts than any other OLine in the country.  Sure, they might not be the most talented but they’ve got some talent and have worked together for a long time.  That’s usually the sign of a decent OLine.  Their running back is also pretty sneaky good.  He’s not nearly as plodding as he looks as he adjusts really well to a hole and didn’t just run straight ahead.  Oh, let’s compare him to another big white running back with the recent Toby Gerhardt.  Very similar as his feet were just outstanding.

Something I noticed that our best defensive plays were from our base defense.  DeRuyter channeled his inner Carl Torbush and got exotic from time to time.  That long run for SMU in the first quarter that almost resulted in a TD (turned over by replay) was done against a two man front.  It was 3rd and 8 but we ran a two man front.  When I saw the front I immediately turned to the guy next to me and said we’ve only got a two man front.  I’m assuming SMU noticed it to and likely audibled into that running play that was easy to execute because they pulled a couple OLineman and just clobbered our LBs and DBs.  I don’t recall seeing that front again the rest of the game.  We had some zone breakdowns but SMU ran a lot of crossing routes which are designed to confuse zones or lose man coverage because people get picked and confused.  I would put some of that on our defense but give some credit to SMU because they executed those crossing routes REALLY well at times.  At times though we were able to keep coverage which is what you want in your first game.  There are a couple areas of weakness on this defense which I’ll get to in a bit but they did their job in only giving up 14 points.  I’ll take that.

D LINE – I thought these guys did a tremendous job all night long.  They tied up a decent offensive line all night long and applied pressure at key points in the game.  Out of 8 sacks the DLine got credit for 6.5.  That’s impressive for a 3 man front but not necessarily good for our defense which I’ll get to in a bit.  TJE was about as dominant as we’ve seen from a 3-4 lineman in quite some time.  Dude was just a destructive force all night long.  I have no reason to think it won’t last all season.  Jonathan Mathis didn’t do much but he looked to be getting double teamed most of the night.  Eddie Brown got decent push and even the subs on the DLine looked really solid.  In a 3 man front you don’t expect a lot of domination but based on Sunday night this group looks really solid with a real playmaker in TJE.

LINEBACKER – All off season we questioned what the loss of Von Miller and Mike Hodges would do to the linebacking corps.  Well, if Sunday night is any indicator the initial prognosis is not good at all.  We were without Domantrae Moore so I’m hoping his return greatly helps us.  I’m also wondering if it’s time to break in more of these freshmen to immediate playing time.  I just didn’t see anything great out of the LB crew on Sunday night but they ran pretty much everyone out there.  I’m guessing to get film so maybe they settle on a couple guys on the inside after this game and get them experience and more coaching.

I really don’t like calling individuals out but I’ll do it if it’s warranted.  Cayleb Russell had a less than stellar game based on all the off season reports.  Dude might be one of the best athletes on the defense but if you’re lost assignment wise or have no technique it does you no good.  This guy seemed lost all night long.  He was handled single handedly all night long on the edge.  He has two moves of getting around the edge or power rush.  Problem is he doesn’t have Von’s explosiveness or his ability to cut back inside to fool the blocker.  He also doesn’t have Moore’s football strength and technique to overpower a blocker.  Plus, there were a couple of times where he was running free on the backside and just missed the RB because he didn’t know how to close.  I watched him quite a bit because the off season reports had him as a suitable replacement for Von.  You don’t expect anyone to be Von but even 70% wouldn’t be bad.  I hate calling him out but what I saw on Sunday night wasn’t even maybe 50%.  He’s still learning to play defense I know but it’s his senior year and if he’s going to start he needs to learn some things quickly.  I honestly think Moore comes back with a clear head and assumes that spot very quickly.  I think Sherm was just trying to teach Moore a lesson and give Russell a chance.  Lessons learned so let’s move on.

Sean Porter is probably our best linebacker right now and while he’s very solid he’s not spectacular.  His problem is we got spoiled by Von on the outside last year so everyone has to measure up to Von.  It’s not fair but if we’re going to be great these guys have to get near Von level.  I do like the combo of TJE and Porter on the same side as it’s clear it’ll be the most disruptive side of the line.  That will be a huge boost to DeRuyter to know that side of the line can handle more and offenses might run away from it.

I have no idea what to think on the inside.  No one stood out at all.  They ran guys out there all night so maybe no one got comfortable with calls and keys but no one separated themselves in the middle.  I think it’s clear Garrick is one of the best two so he might as well start getting reps and find out quickly who is going to stand next to him manning the middle.  ILB is clear to me the weakest part of the defense and it’s going to allow teams to gash runs much like what SMU did on Sunday night.  Good news is that we’re in a pass happy league but if someone will commit to running up the middle on us they can find success.  Someone needs to tell Dalton Santos we’re going to the SEC and show him this film as he might be able to start as a true freshman next year if he’ll change his commitment from Tennessee to the Aggies.  Let’s just hope Dat and DeRuyter find their Michael Hodges quickly.  I know I just bagged on him but I wouldn’t be hesitant to move Russell inside if he can follow ILB assignments that are willing to attack the line and free Williams to make tackles based on reads.  It wouldn’t hurt based on what I saw our ILBs do on Sunday night.  Russell is athletic but there’s a lot more read and reacting on the outside than just being a down field ILB taking on OLineman all night long and it might suit Russell better.

DBs – While there were a few brain farts in zone coverage due to crossing routes I thought this unit did a pretty decent job as a whole.  Coryell Judie is by far our best cover corner.  SMU didn’t allow it very much because they didn’t run many routes straight up the field but when they did Judie stuck with them very well.  He should come in handy against some of the better WRs in the B12.  Terrance Frederick also had a solid game basically as the slot corner.  He did blitz a lot and did decent but SMU was also really responsive to his blitz hitting the quick outside passes because our safeties and LBs were late to cover his man.  I would have to look at the film but it seemed like a lot of their big pass plays came off a TFred blitz so that might be a big factor as to why they got yards due to our LBs and safeties being slow/confused on who to cover.  If so, let’s hope DeRuyter can get that cleaned up.  Dustin Harris looked solid at corner but they didn’t really test him deep that much and kept everything short for the most part.  Each of our safeties got an interception with one being a gift and the other being a tipped ball but you’ll take them because at least they were paying attention to the ball.  I thought both safeties did pretty well but not spectacular.  I still worry about Trent Hunter as a cover guy but Campbell is a physical beast that if he can stay healthy will help Hunter out.  Hunter is just so heady that we probably don’t have a better safety than him right now so I’m fine with him being out there.

Overall, looking back this was about the effort we can expect week to week.  Great DLine play although there’s only three of them, solid DB play, and questionable LB play.  I would say along the DLine we’re much better than last season and DB wise a little better.  If Moore can be 60% of Von and DeRuyter can find someone to be 80% of Hodges then this could be a really solid defense.  Not a lights out Wrecking Crew defense but easily Top 40 and maybe even Top 30.  Finding Hodges replacement worries me more than any other position on the field and it’s going to be our Achilles heel for good teams if we don’t find it.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS – This is really hard to judge as we had two extra points blocked due to terrible blocking.  I heard recently that guy has blocked 16 kicks in his career so he sounds like he’s got some good technique but a good special teams coach identifies that strength and prepares for it.  We obviously weren’t.  You hope that can get cleaned up and it should.  Bullock did make his two field goal attempts which is good to see and looked fine kicking off.  I think we had two punts which looked better than last year so you’ll take that.  Kick return was decent but we only had three chances which is what you like to see.  There was nothing impressive on punt return other than a muffed fair catch that we luckily were able to jump on.  Punt return for this team just makes me nervous as hell.  I don’t know if our guys get nervous but put someone back there that will catch the ball above everything else.

 

SUMMARY  – Very good first game by the Aggies.  They have a few things they need to clean up coverage wise and need to find someone to play opposite Garrick Williams inside but we’ve had much worse opening games.  As evident by some team’s first game against a “lesser” opponent, a win is not always a given but we took it to SMU.  Defensively as fans we have to pay attention to the score and not plays given up or yards amassed against us.  The other thing about our defense that I didn’t mention is we seemed to adjust in the second half.  That’s just a sign of good coaching and DeRuyter has proven he can distill the first half pretty quickly and make second half adjustments.  Offensively you can’t ask for much better but we’ll definitely play better defenses.  Based on this game there’s a lot of good things to look forward to for the 2011Fightin’ Texas Aggie football season.   Let’s just hope this is not a blip and a solid indicator.

As for the next game against the Vandals of Idaho I fully expect a bigger pounding with Cyrus and Christine busting off some long runs along with Fuller getting him a long TD.  I’m going to call 56-10.

And Baylor and their lawsuit threat can pound sand for all I care.

Thoughts From KSU

If you didn’t see the game, consider yourself lucky.  Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreal lucky.  Let’s get to my normal analysis.

Coaching:

  • Sucked

Offense:

  • Sucked

Defense:

  • Sucked

Special Teams:

  • Sucked, but our punter did have an amusing play where he went flying by Brandon Banks and took him down with his face mask.  I’m glad Banks is okay but it pretty much summed up our day where our punter makes the biggest play thanks to grabbing a face mask.

Game Analogy:

Since I can’t really critique the game because it was just so horrible and I like analogies I’m going to try and compare this to something.  I really thought about critiquing the game but I honestly don’t know where to start.  Honestly.  It was bad.

The word that comes to my mind when thinking about this game is “Desecration.”  Emasculated is also a good word but I don’t have a good analogy for emasculated other than when Jackie Sherrill cut the nuts off a calf before Miss. St. played tu one year.  We’ve all heard that story.

The worst desecration I’ve ever seen in my life was when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old.  It was New Year’s night and the family was watching the Orange Bowl.  Earlier that evening we had Popeye’s for dinner (we were poor, okay?) and for reasons I can’t explain today we decided to give our cat, Frosty, some of that glorious fried chicken.  We would pay for that move later so let the story play out.

Like all good Christians we still had our Christmas Tree up not because we were waiting on The Epiphany but because we were lazy.  As part of that tree was a tree skirt that my Mom had made herself that I thought was always pretty neat.  During half time of the Orange Bowl Frosty crawled up under the tree and started making these strange sounds.  She was groaning and making some other strange sounds but we didn’t think much of it as we were all tuned into the laser lights and amazing sounds of the Orange Bowl halftime show.  This is the early, early 80s so it was pretty much all we had at that time besides Ronald Reagan as our President.  Frosty making strange sounds under the Christmas Tree wasn’t going to distract us from our once a year enjoyment of the Orange Bowl halftime show.

Well, about five minutes later the most gawd awful smell we had ever smelt started filling the living room.  I mean this was a HORRIBLE smell.  HORRIBLE.  We all kind of looked at each other like who made that smell or where was it coming from?  Finally, someone snapped that it was coming from under the tree.  Someone boldly looked under the tree to see that Frosty had just DESECRATED Mom’s tree skirt with the help of Popeye’s Fried Chicken.  You know how horrible cat poop stinks anyway?  Popeye’s makes it smell at least 100 times worse.  I still shudder just thinking about it right now.  I took a peek to find that as bad as it smelled, it looked just as bad.  My memory is fuzzy on what happened next as I think my brother and I hauled ass out of there to let my parents deal with the ramifications of what that fried chicken did to Frosty’s intestines.  It was foul.  Real foul.

So why did I make you read that story?  Well, Saturday night reminded me of that incident.  We didn’t know it at the time but Bill Snyder was loading up on Popeye’s Fried Chicken before the game so he could come out and just DESECRATE Mike Sherman with the most foul smelling and looking results I’ve ever seen.  77-0 was one thing but that was Fran’s first year against a strong Oklahoma team.  We got DESECRATED by a half ass KSU team in Bill Snyder’s first year of his return to glory.  It was embarrassing.  Truly embarrassing.  That’s right, what happened to us is the same as a cat’s intestines loaded with the goodness of Popeye’s.  Frosty and Bill Snyder will always have indelible marks on my brain and I never want to experience either again.

Rest of the Season:

I honestly don’t know if we can get to a bowl game at this point.  I’ve been saying all along the minute that Dan Hawkins values his job over nepotism then the Colorado game becomes a very losable game.  Well, Colorado with their non-Hawkins QB just upset a ranked Kansas team in Boulder which we’re going to need to win to get our sixth win.  We have six games left needing three to get to a bowl and I don’t see us getting there.  I don’t see us getting a win over Tech, OU, or the sips.  I just don’t.  We’ll actually probably get blown out by 21 points or more.  That means we’ll need to beat BU and ISU at home which is VERY possible but I don’t see how we can march into Boulder and pull that one out after Saturday night.  I don’t even know if we can beat ISU at home the way they’ve played of late.  Thanks to Bob Griffin’s injury I think Baylor is beatable but don’t count out Art Briles and a Baylor team that thinks playing A&M is their Super Bowl.  Don’t be shocked by another 4-8 season or even 3-9.  I won’t be making ISU and don’t know about Baylor yet.  Saturday night took it all out of me.  If my seats weren’t so good then I would likely not renew next year but one day A&M will be good and I really like my seats so I’ll continue to renew but it’s not worth the almost 6 hours of driving back and forth for each game.

What to Do with Sherman:

If he doesn’t make a bowl game then I think it’s clear that he needs to be let go without a doubt.  I’ve done lots of research on college coaches and one of the most consistent things I’ve seen is they don’t get blown out.  They just don’t.  They sure as hell don’t get blown out.in a game they were favored to win where Bill Snyder doesn’t even have them stocked with JUCO talent yet.

This was a KState team coming off a 62-14 beat down in Lubbock.  They barely beat UMass by 4 points at home, lost to Louisiana Lafayette on the road, and barely beat Iowa St. by 1 at a neutral site.  Make no mistake that this is not a very good team.  It’s very likely they won’t win another game this season winding up at 4-8.  Unreal.

If Sherm does get to a bowl game then I don’t think you have any choice but to bring him back unfortunately.  It’s becoming clear Sherm is not a great coach.  Maybe he proves us wrong but Aggie fans are like someone that’s been abused as we’re ALWAYS going to flinch when Sherm leads us on the field.  He’s not a great recruiter (although he’s done well this year) and it’s likely only going to get worse if we don’t make a bowl game.

I know I was very pleased with the results from the OSU game but last night was an absolute pounding that I’m not sure we can overcome.  There’s time to cut bait and I think it’s now.  I know we’re tied into a 7 year deal with Sherman but I don’t think we can afford to keep him if we don’t go bowling.  Recruiting and ticket sales will take an absolute dive.

Don’t blame youth for this crap.  Sherm doesn’t know what he’s doing in the college game.  He was never a great NFL coach and he’s so confused on the college game right now.  He’s turned his offensive line until a revolving door when that’s supposed to be his specialty.  Its obvious Bill Snyder watched the film of us and was able to exploit every weakness against the team.  Sherm has no answer.  Remember, we were a team that actually got worse last season as opposing staffs identified and exploited our weaknesses.  Early results are that it’s happening again.  Maybe he can turn it around but he DESPERATELY needed a win over KSU to go bowling and I don’t think it’s there.  There’s no excuse for that.

Against Texas Tech:

I’m going to spend my Saturday cleaning out the garage.  Around 4:00 I’ll go take a shower.  After that, I’ll hang my flat screen on the back deck, fire up the pit, crack a beer, and get ready to put on the ribs followed by chicken wings for my barbeque wing and rib feast.  Around 6:00 I’ll turn on the confusing ramblings of Dave and Dave while I watch other good college football on the flat screen.  I figure around half time I’ll turn off the radio and focus on what’s on the screen.  If all goes well I’ll pass out on the deck to be awoken around 11:30 by the water sprinklers.

We don’t stand a chance in hell of beating Texas Tech.  This is the first time Sherm will travel to Lubbock as a head coach and his first trip in probably 15 years so he has NO idea of what Lubbock has become for us.  I kind of wish it were on TV so I could see Sherman’s reaction.  We opened at 24 point dogs and I don’t that’s enough.  I really don’t.

Nugget Stat of the Week:

Kevin Sumlin has 3 wins over BCS conference schools in 4 chances winning two of those on the road.  Mike Sherman has 2 wins over BCS conference schools in 12 chances.

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