Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Post-Mortem: Texas A&M vs. Florida International

One of the many articles I read about last Saturday's Aggie game included the observation that "Aggie fans [are] seemingly in a perpetual state of angst about football." Now, while that sentence is a little rich from someone who covers life-or-death Cornhusker football, I'm not going to argue with it. I know I'm perpetually angsty about Aggie football. So about Saturday . . .

Glass Half Full (GHF): Hey, they won, right? 3-0, right on schedule.

Glass Half Empty (GHE): Why, WHY did Texas A&M ever get down 20-6 to a team that's only played Division 1 football for five years?!?

There's one easy answer to this, although there are two ways to put it. The nice way is "turnovers." The mean way is "Jerrod sucked."

Let's look at ESPN's handy scoring summary:

Now with my handy annotations:

I have not turned on Jerrod. However, it's impossible to put a positive spin on an 11-completion (out of 31 passes), six sack, 1 TD/4INT outing.

I forgive you, sweetie. I forgive you.

GHF: Jerrod just had a bad game. That happens to everybody sometimes, right? From the same article I quoted at top: '"I was trying to do too much,'' Johnson said. "I don't really know what I was doing."' He was just in a bad head space--nothing permanent.

GHE: That quote is followed by, "Wow! That's not what you want to hear from a fifth-year senior who is in his third year as a starter" and preceded by, "So much for the Heisman Trophy talk." Maybe Jerrod is not who we thought he was. Or maybe he's not who he actually was last year--it can't be a good sign that he threw half the number of interceptions he threw all of last year in one quarter last week. Maybe, despite what he says, his shoulder isn't fully recovered from surgery.

GHF: But despite Jerrod playing so badly, the Aggies still won. The defense was genuinely good--Robert Cessna gave them an A, for goodness' sake! Check it: "A&M bailed out the offense time after time. Because of turnovers, FIU had to go only 51 yards to score its 13 points on offense, but the Golden Panthers needed 16 plays to accomplish that against the improving Aggie defense." Nice, right? (Also, Cessna clearly has a mad man-crush on Tim DeRuyter, which I find encouraging.)

GHE: Yet last season's sack leader--of the country, not the team--Von Miller hasn't recorded a sack (depending who you ask--Richard Croome credits him with one). When is his sprained ankle going to get better?

GHF: It wasn't just the defense that came through; the run game also came up big. Jerrod is not the Ags' only offensive weapon. Thanks, Christine and Cyrus!

GHE: So why didn't they turn it on until the fourth quarter? Three quarters of nightmarishly awful play will not cut it in conference play, not even against Baylor.

GHF: Theoretically, they--the entire team--will learn from that fourth quarter. In David Ubben's opinion, "The Aggies seem to know what went wrong and managed to fix it in time to salvage an ugly win. They're willing to chalk it up to a bad day when a lot went wrong and they had too many 2nd and 3rd-and-longs. But until a Thursday night date with the Cowboys on Sept. 30, they won't be able to prove it." Aggie receiver Terrance McCoy thinks the team played so badly because they were overconfident. Those first three quarters have assuredly cured them of that.

And . . . believe it or not, I'm going to end on that glass-half-full note. I won't give you the gory details, but I was pretty distraught about the Aggies' performance while the game was going on. (All right, fine. I cried some. Look, it had been a long day and I thought my team's possible at-long-last-maybe-good-season was going down the toilet.) However, after the game and after doing this post-mortem, I am, to my surprise, feeling OK (not great, but OK) about the Ags going forward.

I'm looking at the FIU game like I looked at the K-State game last year--really, really, really horrible, but with much of the horribleness caused by one-off hideous performances and some plain old bad luck. As you may recall, the Ags came back from the jaw-droppingly bad K-State loss with their first win in Lubbock since the mid-90's. I believe they can--can--come back from the FIU near-loss with a win over Oke State next Thursday.

I've still got angst, though. I'm extremely worried that I'm not worried enough.


  1. Strangely enough, my GHF involves the two fumbles--in a row--dropped by FIU and recovered by FIU.

    At that point, listening to the game, one gets the feeling that this is Just Not the Aggies' Day. It's one thing to have tons of interceptions (and two weekends of fumbles in a row is disconcerting) and a lackluster offense; it is another thing entirely when the few possible lucky breaks literally bounce right out of your hands, for no apparent reason.

    The fact that the Aggies were able to keep their spirits up and force out 21 unanswered points after that speaks of the sort of confidence and discipline I simply haven't seen in the past few years. Whether that's good enough to make up for the continuing pattern of turnovers, and whether they can fix their offense...is another question entirely.

  2. Two good points (luck and grit), and I agree. I'm hoping that it was Jerrod's performance that was key (as opposed to the whole offense being bad), and I'm hoping even harder that he'll revert to form for the rest of the season.