Month: October 2011

Thoughts From the Baylor Game

This week’s edition is going to be much shorter than normal.  A couple reasons for that.  First, the 11:00 a.m. game didn’t work in my favor.  I stayed up drinking until 4:00 a.m. and was woken at 8:00 a.m. by dog’s banging tail to go out.  Not enough sleep to work that night off.  Just so you know, part of the evening included a trip to the Dry Bean.  You do the math.  I drank 100 oz. of water during the game to help alleviate the headache and hydrate enough to tailgate the rest of the day.  Secondly, there’s just not a lot to gripe about this game.  This was by far the most complete game A&M has played all season and you just hope we can keep it up.

Going bullets this week due to the challenges I faced during the game.

Overall/Coaching:

  • First off, this was the most animated I’ve seen Mike Sherman ever in a game.  By animated I mean celebrating great plays.  Usually he’s face deep in his play sheet but for some reason he was displaying a ton of excitement and emotion all throughout the game.  I think a coach being emotional is a little overrated but it was interesting to see Sherm so fired up.  I wonder if he was concerned about the last 11:00 a.m. game at Kyle Field when we got dog stomped by Missouri and decided that he was going to set the tone for emotion.  We’ll see if he does the same against Mizzou in two weeks as we have another 11:00 a.m. kick at Kyle.  No, I don’t plan on drinking until 4:00 a.m. the night before.
  • I was mildly surprised Sherman decided to pass so much.  I know we’ve railed on him for not running enough but he passed a lot more than I thought he would.  I thought he would play ball control offense to keep his defense and the Baylor offense off the field as much as possible.  Coming into the game people talked about how bad our defense was but the reality is that Baylor’s defense is much worse than ours.  They’re really lacking in talent on that side of the ball.  I wonder if Sherm saw in film he could exploit the Baylor secondary or if he just wanted to keep the pedal to the metal to show Art Briles that if Briles wanted a track meet his Aggie offense was certainly up to the challenge and then some.  Don’t forget the TCU offense carved up this defense in the first game.  Whatever it was it was a great game plan.
  • I got real worried when our 3rd or 4th play on offense had a no back set but it worked out just fine.  Good job, Sherm.  Your offense fired in all facets.
  • Think about this – in 11 possessions we didn’t punt once.  We scored 9 times in those 11 possessions.  The last possession was due to us just running out the clock for the last 4:00 of the clock.  The only hiccup was a bad shovel pass on our first drive after we drove 58 yards in 9 plays on our first drive but we were driving the field with no problems.  Simply put, our offense was about as dominating as it could get and that’s great to see.

Offense:

  • The stats bear it out but Tannehill had a game like he had against Tech in his first start.  He missed a few throws here and there but by and large he was making passes left and right.  He also had some really solid runs.
  • LOVED the reverses.  LOVED THEM.  I don’t know if Sherm was sandbagging them but he broke them out at the perfect time to keep the backside contain honest and at home.  What’s kind of ironic is I was watching Green Bay and Atlanta on Sunday Night Football last week and Atlanta ran a reverse out of the same bunch formation we use to Julio Jones.  When I saw the play that night I was hoping Sherm was watching and took notes.  He probably wasn’t watching but I was wondering if we were going to see it on Saturday and I’ll be damned if we did.
  • Welcome back, Ryan Swope; welcome to the receiver rotation, Malcome Kennedy; keep it up, EZ.
  • Jeff Fuller didn’t have a bad day at all making some good possession receptions but I think I saw him drop at least 2-3 balls that he should have caught.  Some weren’t the best passes but Fuller should have caught them regardless.  Let’s hope he picks it up in the second half as he’s really the linchpin to this offense really clicking I believe.
  • Offensive line cut holes all day long and gave Tanny all the time he needed.  There’s just not much to say about this line as they dominated from start to finish.  Not every run resulted in a huge run but most had positive yards and our Oline just wore them down through the game.  That Baylor defense was GASSED about halfway through the third quarter and our boys just leaned on them and kept them at bay.  You know the defense was gassed when Tannehill juked them all out of their jocks on a 20 something yard zone read in the 4th quarter.
  • CMike got the brunt of the carries.  He showed decent patience at times but he also showed that he can still be impatient sometimes waiting on the hole to develop running into the back of the line where no hole existed.  He’s just an amazing physical runner.  Was really kind of surprised he didn’t bust one off but he looked like a beast.  I think he fed off his line as in the second half he was loading up and pounding the Baylor defenders as they started to show they were physically whipped.
  • Cyrus looked like Cyrus and that’s not a negative.   He averaged 3.5 yards a carry and just waited on holes to develop.  Sometimes those holes didn’t develop because Baylor was selling out to the run which hurts Cyrus because he’s not a really physical runner and he was getting stopped at the line of scrimmage.
  • Just as solid of an effort as you’ll ever see.

Defense:

  • First off, let’s all admit Robert Griffin is a fantastic quarterback.  Hate Baylor all you want but Griffin has turned into a tremendous passer and runs Briles offense really well.  He makes really smart decisions and made some outstanding passes through 3 quarters.  Just a tremendous quarterback and I’ll be the first to admit I’m shocked how consistent he’s been this season.  I think that win over TCU woke him up and instilled some confidence that’s been lacking.
  • We were finally able to get to Griffin in the 4th quarter because they were playing so far from behind that we knew he was looking for bigger plays.  That gave us more time to get blitzes through and play deeper zone coverage to confuse Griffin a little more.
  • I thought we played the zone read as well as we could with someone of Griffin’s talent.  We stayed home on the backside and Griffin mainly let the running back keep the ball.  There were 2-3 times that I thought Griffin should have kept the ball as he could have got to the outside on our guys but he didn’t.  Griffin has shown he doesn’t like getting hit so I wonder if Briles told him not to run unless it’s wide open or if Griffin is the one preferring not to run.  Either way we did a nice job of keeping Griffin and the run game contained.  Baylor is actually a much better running team than most people think.
  • I thought our defensive line did really well.  They got solid push all day long against a decent Baylor offensive line.  We rotated out a ton of guys as always so it’s always hard following who is doing what other than TJE because he stays in most of the game.  It was a good effort no doubt.
  • We might have some ILBs we can rely on in Jonathan Stewart and Steven Jenkins.  Don’t know what was going on but Stewart was making calls left and right and lining folks up.  I hadn’t seen him take on that role until this Saturday.  Stewart and Jenkins both looked better than they have all season.  Not saying they’re going to start dominating but it’s the best any two ILBs have looked together all season.  JStew had a really good couple of blitzes.  DeRuyter may have finally figured out who works best in the middle for us.  Don’t want to bag on Garrick Williams as he did okay but he just still looks timid and confused at times.
  • The OLB rotation was really interesting because it was mainly a mix of Moore, Russell, Porter and not many others that I remember.  DMoore finally played his best game of the year as he was in the backfield most of the game harassing the running back or Griffin.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that Moore needs to go forward and never backwards.  He’s questionable in coverage but he’s the most disruptive guy we have to get into the backfield on a regular basis.
  • Sean Porter got his sack and had his normal good game.  He and TJE are our most consistent and disruptive defensive players by far.
  • Caleb Russell finally got him a sack but it’s the only thing I saw out of him.  My favorite was when he didn’t see or didn’t know to cover the slot receiver who was completely uncovered but luckily Steven Campbell got him straightened out before the snap.  I’m sure he’s a great Aggie but man he just looks lost out there most of the time.  He’s not horrible as he’s not getting destroyed but he’s certainly not disrupting anything.
  • Looked like Judie got pulled after Baylor’s 77 yard touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter.  Judie got toasted and that’s just not like him.  He struggled covering most of the time he was in the game and I’m guessing he’s not 100% which was kind of confirmed in Sherman’s presser today.  Sounds like he’s on the shelf for this week which is probably for the best.
  • The rest of the secondary looked just okay.  No one really stood out.  We finally got an interception but that was due way more to pressure on Griffin than anything we did.  Griffin threw up a prayer into double coverage and we simply can down with it.  Howard Matthews looks like a real player and I think he just needs to get more time.
  • Overall this was about as good of a performance as you could expect out of this defense against this opponent.  I fully expected Baylor to score 35 points and we held them to one less score.  We did get some solid stops when we needed them so kudos to the defense for holding them at key moments.  Luckily our offense never sputtered so that was HUGE assistance to our defense because I think it allowed them to relax and play a little more aggressively.

 

I’d like to see a similar type performance against ISU this weekend with a little less scoring on their end obviously.  I’d like to think DeRuyter is working his second half magic again where he’s getting enough opponent film to coach tendencies while just having the defensive guys be more comfortable in his systems and calls.

It’s just frustrating to think that had this offense not sputtered in the second half of two games we’d be looking at a Top 5 ranking and a showdown in Norman for a shot at the National Championship.  Oh well, welcome to Aggie football.  Let’s just hope this Baylor win is a launching pad for a nice run down the stretch.  What we saw on Saturday is what we expected all year.

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