My favorite yell leader is....Tyler! He has Ol Army Fight!
I generally try to write these previews from a critical and sympathetic perspective as I'm more interested in the reader appreciating what challenges an opponent presents for us rather than mindless homerism. That written, this will read like mindless homerism because A&M is that bad. This is a terrible football team roughly comparable to Arkansas or UTEP in overall quality. The fact that they've managed 4-7 is a testament to a favorable non-conference slate and a friendly Big 12 North draw. There are some bright spots to be found in their freshman class, but this is a function of desperation rather than the audacity of their young talent.
And yet they've beaten us two years in a row...reflect on that, please.
Texas A&M can't run the ball (110th of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision) and can't protect the passer (allowing 32 sacks, 102nd in the FBS). Each failing reinforces the other. The deadly combination of can't run, can't protect is roughly comparable to treating a fer-de-lance bite by drinking cyanide. Their OL encourages opposing DL through gaps like a midwife and the resulting miscarriage is a panicky Jerrod Johnson chunking a ball to a surprised linebacker in the flat or a Kurt Warneresque fumble. I actually like Jarrod Johnson as a QB - he reminds me of a young Josh Freeman on an Atkins diet - but the dude needs help, an ice pack, boundaries, and a clean pocket. Time will tell whether his miscues are a function of intrinsic chokeosity or if he is just the product of a terrible environment. Will we see Stephen McGee, the vaunted Longhorn slayer? Maybe. I wouldn't put it past Sherman to antagonize his future at QB by benching JJ for a sentimental favorite, but there's no magic in McGee. We don't let Duane Akina near the laminated playsheets anymore.
The silver lining in the Aggie thunderhead are freshman WRs Jeff Fuller and Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is A&M's answer to Kerry Meier and he has tremendous ball skills - to the point of actually being a deep threat despite mediocre speed. I mocked his move to WR early in the year, but he has proven to be a player. Jeff Fuller is a talented Aggie legacy true frosh - the surest avenue for A&M to secure any 4 star recruit. The other legitimate receiving threat is smallish TE Jamie McCoy, who is another converted QB. When Johnson is throwing the ball with composure, A&M can offer the appearance of a real and legitimate offense. Then the sacks and pressures mount and Jerrod Johnson begins a slow spiraling descent onto the tarmac of reality with no wheels down. Attempts to run the ball to relieve the pressure are usually met with 2nd and 11.
The primary Aggie RBs are fast, I'll give them that. Goodson has added receiving skills to his repertoire, but his basic runner's tool kit hasn't progressed since his freshman year. Give him a large hole and the guy is gone. Ask him to pick up a tough 3 and you'll be disappointed. Jorvorskie Lane continues to fill Gatorade squeezables with fondue and he's still a parfait shy of 300. Three years from now, Lufkin taxpayers will be footing the bill to pull drywall out of his trailer and lift him from his gravy-spattered bed with a crane. Cyrus Gray is another freshman who shows some raw talent, but he's Goodson lite.
Mike Sherman's vision for Texas A&M football is a power running game paired with play action passing. In other words, a NFL offense. Since no one outside of USC runs that paradigm with any effectiveness - and theirs is debatable when they don't have NFL draft picks at all 11 positions - I wish him luck. As an overall unit, they're ranked 69th in the nation at around 350 yards per game and 26.4 ppg. In a league where 435 ypg and 35 ppg is the minimum cover charge needed to enter the club of .500, the Aggies are left standing in the street hoping to convince a drunk girl heading home that they're worth a chat. Like that poor club-excluded unfortunate, their offense is the schematic embodiment of blue balls. Lots of activity, no payoff.
If A&M scores more than 14, Will Muschamp needs to run a lap.
The Welsh cricket team is confident heading into their test match with Pakistan
It gets worse. Let's talk defense.
A&M makes up for their inability to run by not stopping the run. Their rushing defense is 115th in the country - in a league where everyone throws the ball. It's a little like having a passing defense in the bottom 2% of the country in the SEC. I almost admire that sort of willful contrarianism. They are a full-on bizarro world version of their offense: it turns out that the A&M defense can't pressure the QB either, amassing 13 sacks over the entire year. I'd give anything to see one of their practice scrimmages. Who wins? Does everyone just simultaneously pull their hamstring?
The A&M DL doesn't apply physical pressure to your QB so much as inflict moderate mental duress: lots of catcalls, quips, and cajoling while skewered on your OL's block like a pig on a spit. If your QB can shake off the shock of their mental abuse, he'll have the opportunity to count five Mississippi, briefly picnic, court a girl, and then power nap before hitting a receiver standing with his hands on hips in the middle of the Aggie zone. To add insult to infamy, A&M's best DT run stopper Lucas Patterson is out for the rest of the year. So A&M will play the following DT rotation on Thursday night:
Kellen Heard 6-6 350
Eddie Brown 6-0 265
Tony Jerrod-Eddie 6-5 256
Meredith Baxter Birney 5-8 122
Heard is famous for hitting Colt McCoy late and pizza buffets early. This corpulent man-hippo has a motor that makes Jorvorskie Lane look like Lance Armstrong on Ritalin. He can give you three good plays before hyperventilating. Eddie Brown is an undersized true freshman whose game day shirt should be red, not maroon. Tony Jerrod-Eddie is another undersized true freshman who flaunts his feminist independence by refusing to give up his maiden name. Meredith Baxter Birney isn't actually on the Aggie DL, but I did see her on a Lifetime movie while flipping channels and I wanted to give her a shout out. Family Ties, holla.
The Aggie DEs are experienced veterans, sort of like the British Army after Dunkirk. Michael Bennett is their best player on the DL and the fact that I wrote that without a hint of irony should make you intake your breath sharply and wince. Aside from Von Miller, who has a clear and discernible upside, the A&M LBing corps misses 1988. The Aggie DBs aren't as bad as their numbers indicate, but they are weak. True freshman Trent Hunter is a really nice young player who plays with a passion and effort often missing from his senior and junior cohorts.
Giving up 36.4 ppg and 450+ yards per contest isn't easy. It takes bad players, questionable effort, poor teaching, and defensive signals called by a lovable rustic. Less than 45 points would be disappointing.
The Robot makes it to Aggieland. Next craze: The Running Man!
A&M has a good punter! That's the bright spot. Their return game and return coverage is subpar.
This A&M team is a hapless 18th century explorer drinking his own urine, walking in concentric circles, and wearing wool in the middle of the desert. If our war party can't summon the killer instinct to drive a spear through the heart of this hallucinating gabbering buffoon, we deserve all of the pestilence and smallpox that the BCS can summon.