Time to get a good look at these Aggies we're playing on Friday. No better way to do that than to look at what they've done this year. After looking them over, Texas A&M really had 2 separate seasons, with a clear turn at the midway point. If you are looking for more detail than I've provided, the Complete Coverage links on each box score will bring you to the SB Nation page for each game, which include full summaries, stats, and links to relevant content from I Am The 12th Man and other SB Nation blogs.
|Final - 9.4.2010||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks||0||7||0||0||7|
|Texas A&M Aggies||7||13||21||7||48|
For brevity's sake, let's go through the rent-a-wins quickly. The opener against SFA featured a stifling defensive effort that gave up less than 50 yds on the ground and got a pick-6 TD, while Jerrod Johnson was 28-40 through the air for 322 yds with 2 passing and 1 rushing TD on the night. A&M got another 200+ yds on the ground, most of it from Christine Michael who had 2 TDs himself.
Against the boys from Ruston, The Aggie D was a little less dominant, but still held La Tech to just over 300 yds, most of it through the air. Thanks to a La Tech gameplan focused on the ground game, Johnson was even better, going 25-38 for 349 and 4 TDs. It would have been a more impressive performance if not for 2 costly fumbles: 1 on the La Tech 9 that killed a long early drive and a muffed punt on their own 1 yd line that setup a Bulldog score after 3 goal-line stands.
|Final - 9.18.2010||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Fla. International Golden Panthers||3||3||14||0||20|
|Texas A&M Aggies||0||6||0||21||27|
The head scratcher of the early games is this scare against eventual Sun Belt Champs FIU. Thanks to a bad night for the A&M O-line, Johnson was continuously harassed into making bad decisions. He took 6 sacks on the day, and was just 11-34 for 194 yds with 4 INT, including a 54yd pick six and another one that setup short field for FIU's only TD drive. On the ground Michael and Cyrus Gray led the 4th quarter comeback with a TD each. Down 7 with about 4:30 to go, FIU put together their only sustained drive of the night, marching 60 yds all the way down to the Aggie 4, were they were stopped on downs. It was the centerpiece of the best Aggie defensive performance to that point, which held the Panthers to 232 yds.
In a Thursday Night B12 conference opener, the Aggies were looking to come out swinging in a B12 south that thanks to two early Texas losses was suddenly anyone's for the taking. A&M came out swinging and blasted OSU through the air to take a 21-7 lead at the half. Johnson ended up going 40-62 on the night for over 400 yds and 5 passing TDs. But OSU was able to contain the Aggie run, keeping all of their backs down to just 165 yds. So A&M just kept passing and it caught up with them. After scoring on their first two drives of the second half, OSU picked off Johnson in the end of the 3rd which led to a go ahead TD drive. On the ensuing A&M drive, Johnson fumbled on the OSU 37 and the Cowboys took it to the house for a 35-21 lead. A&M fought back with 2 80 yd TD drives to tie the game. After forcing another OSU 3 and out, A&M was driving for the winning score in the final minute when Johnson threw his 4th INT of the night. The Cowboys hit a field goal as time expired to seal the win.
You'd expect a high scoring affair based on the QBs, but it was really a low-key game for both squads. With both ground games held to well under 200yds (the Aggies to just 112 yds, mostly from Michael who had 1 score) the passing games were the bulk of the output. Ryan Mallet went 27-38 for 310 yds, 3 scores, and a pick. Johnson was 15-40 for 212 and 1 TD, but he was nowhere near as turnover prone as the previous week, but the lack of accuracy was killing drives. Down 7, the Aggies drove down to try and score in the final minute, converting a 4th and 13 on the way to a final play on the Arkansas 39. With 6 seconds, Johnson heaved it up and was picked off in the end zone as time expired.
Back at home, A&M faced a Mizzou squad that was on a tear leading up to it's upset of Oklahoma the next week. The Aggie D held them on the ground to an impressive 56 yds and one score, but Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert tore them up through the air, going 31-47 for 361 yds, 3 TDs, and no picks. The A&M offense was horrendous. With no help from a ground game that only gained 56 yds and no scores, it was all up to Johnson. Though he managed to go 27-48 for 322 yds, he only managed 1 TD and was sacked 7 times. A&M went 6 of 19 on 3rd down and only made 1 of 4 4th down attempts.
After starting 0-2 in conference and losing again in the Jerry Dome, it was clear something needed to be done to turn the tide before the season got out of hand. But what can you do? Surely you can't bench a QB who the previous year became the All-Time Single Season Aggie leader in passing yards, completions, passing TDs, 300-yard passing games, and total offense who was within a game's production of the All-Time Career Aggie records for passing and offensive yards. Especially not for a converted WR.
That is exactly what A&M did.
Keep an eye out for part 2, which will, time permitting, drop early on Wednesday.