Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prayers of a Desperate Football Fan

There was once a time where God's people, the Israelites, strayed so far that God relegated them to walk the desert for 40 years. I will have to check up on my old testament, because today I would find no shock in learning that the idols taken were not golden cows, but golden Cowboys, and the Israelites had taken part in midnight yell the night before the beginning of their fateful trek. It seems that as this football season progresses, so does the misfortune of the football teams that I hold so dear.

Therefore, I ask you football gods, to take mercy upon a poor soul like myself. I now see the vastness of your wrath can bring down even the mightiest of quarterbacks by their little pinky. Much like the giants swarms of Locusts that descended on Egypt, on Saturday dirty sand fleas will fall upon Kyle Field, enveloping Aggieland in black and red masses of top 10 rankings, swash-buckling coaches, and tier 3 educations. Many say Tech could very well drop 100 points on A&M Saturday. I have seen Texas A&M football, and this is a team that has been cast from your light, o football gods. I turn to see the Dallas Cowboys, a team chock full of more talent than most could ever hope for. A team destined for glory in August, here we stand watching as this great entity crumbles and breaks upon itself, the future shaky and unknown. Men dropping like flies, Pac-Mans dropping like it's hot... well, OK, I could see where he had it coming. I beseech you o great 8 lb 6 oz. baby Tom Landry, help save my football teams from walking in nothingness for 40 years.

I have always followed the great game with utmost dedication. My faith has never wavered, even in the middle of purgatory..err, baseball season. I check my stats every day, I can name every Super Bowl winner in order from front to back. I have forgotten more about football than most will ever know. Despite the disturbing product that has graced Kyle Field this year, I have still been there every day 12th Man towel in hand, yelling at the top of my lungs surrounded by others who lost faith long ago. For the love of Vince Lombardi, I was there for every game Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Chad Henson, Clint Stoerner, and Methusela...I mean Vinny Testaverde played in! Grant me relief football Gods!

I haven't forgotten glorious days that have come before. I still remember the rush of seeing A&M beat #1 Oklahoma in 2002. I remember the electricity of Kyle Field. 90,000 Aggies yelling with such intensity that I would swear to you that the sound transcended people yelling in unison; I would more liken it to the shrill boom that occurs when one's eardrums have been pushed to the limit of their own integrity, as if they are literally just moments away from bursting. I remember that day vividly, the day a single bright ray of sunshine burst through the clouds of an otherwise stormy season.

My youth was spent basking in the victorious ways of America's team. Perhaps I was spoiled by Emmitt, Troy, and Michael. Maybe it was youthful naivete that led me to believe the Cowboys were indestructable. As the 90's progressed into the 00's, I watched as the Cowboys toiled in mediocrity. I stuck by them, as I always will. This is supposed to be our year, yet the next thing I know Tony Romo is hurt. And Felix Jones. And Mat McBriar. And Terence Newman. And Anthony Spencer. And Sam Hurd. Need I go on? The Cowboys are supposed to win the Super Bowl, and everything is supposed to be right in the U.S.A. I am convinced the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl would likely end any recession talk, place a chicken in every pot, and America could once again return to its rightful place of unending prosperity. It's really simple logic. Please, o football gods, think of the children!

O, football gods, I ask forgiveness for my sins. I have felt your wrath this year, it is apparent we Aggie and Cowboy fans have been forsaken. I ask you to bring us back into your good graces. The dark clouds of strife have hung over Kyle Field for too many years now. I ask you to open them once more, and allow good Aggies to do what they do best; be the 12th Man on that fightin' Aggie Team! We will make you proud. In the names of Bear Bryant, Tom Landry, and the galloping ghost Red Grange. Amen!

BTHO Texas Tech!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gerber Gang Rocked Again...

The first relatively "fall" feeling Saturday of the football season. Campus rich with the smell of autumn and 2005 grills cooking up delicious hot dogs, burgers, and briskets. There is always an electric feeling to this game, and with the way Aggie football has gone thus far, perhaps many Ags were going all in with what little hope they had left for this year. I mean after all, Kansas State, a fellow Big 12 dissapointment, at Kyle Field probably represented one of A&M's few remaining chances at a win this year. Ags headed in droves for their seats as we all looked forward to what many felt would be a great game. Four hours later, Ags once again left Kyle Field with their heads hung. Kansas State not only beat A&M Saturday, they also washed away what little hope most Ags had for a salvagable season.

Over the past few games, I have tried to maintain a positive attitude towards the growth of this team. I have not lost faith in the fact that this team could very well end up very good over the next few years. That said, one must be realistic about the situation. Here A&M stands, stuck plum middle in what will likely end up being one of the worst years of A&M football since Bear Bryant took A&M football out to Junction, TX and cleaned out the dead weight. Meanwhile, let's take a look at the rest of the Big 12 South.

texas: Very impressive win on Saturday against what most thought was far and away the best team in college football in OU. Now the number 1 ranked team in the entire nation, and once again right in the thick of the national championship hunt.

Oklahoma: Loses to Texas on Saturday, yet still one of the top 5 teams in the country. More than likely headed to yeat another BCS game in January, something A&M has't seen in what is now 10 years.

Texas Tech: A team that came into the season very hyped has not dissappointed to this point. Narrowly beat an improving Nebraska team, but they have maintained top 10 status for a few weeks now.

Oklahoma State: Top 25 team goes into Columbia to face top 5 Mizzou and gets a convincing win. It's beginning to look like Boone Pickens' is starting to get a lot more moving than just another wind turbine out in West Texas.

Baylor: Yes, even Baylor has shown marked improvement this year. This team seems to really get behind new coach Art Briles' system, and you have to credit Briles' play-calling for setting this team up to make a move at every opportunity. This Baylor team will not go quietly into the night like those of the past.

Which leads us to Texas A&M. Suffers another loss at home to what was thought to be an "inferior" team at the beginning of the year. The offense, while showing marked improvement from the beginning of the year, can't seem to get things going until the opposition is well out in front. Which leads us to the A&M defense. This team's inability to win this year will end up being tied completely to the ineptitude of this defense. The upperclassmen on this team have shown zero desire to improve themselves. They have taken the quitting attitude that we saw too many times during the Franchione era. It has gotten to the point where true freshman are not only playing, they are starting. Kids who were in prom suits and high school graduation caps just five months ago are being asked to suit up and start against grown men who are five months away from taking part in the NFL draft. These guys are getting valuable experience, and they will undoubtedly be much, much better for it next year. The question is at a time when every other Big 12 South program seems to be at levels rarely seen before by their respectable schools, where will this leave a Texas A&M program that is just having to learn to walk again?

I feel like it is unfair to lay the blame of this situation right now on the entire football team, or for that matter the coaching staff, although some decisions have been questionable. Instead, I would like to direct my venom at the upperclassmen of this football team, especially the defense. You know the ones who are supposed to be the "leaders" of this team? Instead, a large swath of the upperclassmen only infest Texas A&M with the lackluster effort and quitting attitude of the past five years. This week provided a great example. Michael Bennett, the one A&M defender expected to get some looks by the NFL and one of the alleged "leaders" of this teams, was suspended for the KSU game for deciding to no-show on a mandatory defensive meeting. Mike Goodson, another Ag expected to get some hard looks by the NFL, was also suspended for the beginning of the game due to his decision to stop attending classes this week. Goodson, who is surely a lock to bolt for the NFL after this year, seems to have already cashed in on his education at Texas A&M. Don't forget other upperclassmen such as Jordan Peterson and Danny Gorrer, who have shown such little ability to pick up Joe Kines' defense that they have been replaced in the starting lineup by true freshman Trent Hunter and Terrence Fredrick. On offense, senior WRs Howard Morrow and Pierre Brown have been so dissappointing that A&M starts two freshman at Wide Receiver as well. It is to the point that I would challenge you to findany upperclassmen who seem to truly care about the welfare of Texas A&M football. Arkeith Brown, Travis Schneider, Stephen McGee, and Jordan Pugh. That is about it by my count. Thanks Fran.

Despite the fact that the majority of A&M's defense was apparently replaced this week by the Navasota Gnats of the Brazos Valley PeeWee Football league, A&M's young guys once again showed improvement and had some very impressive numbers. Jerrod Johnson had a great day, throwing for 2 TD's, 0 interceptions, and a new Texas A&M school record for passing yards in a single game. Over 200 of those yards went to freshman Ryan Tannehill who is looking more and more like Johnson's go to guy every day. The offensive line, while still showing a complete lack of being able to open up a hole in the running game, provided decent blocking for Johnson when A&M ran their 5 WR spread formations. On the defensive side of the ball, Trent Hunter and Terence Fredrick finished among the top 5 A&M tacklers. Linebacker Von Miller also had a good game getting after KSU QB Josh Freeman, including 1.5 sacks. Sophomore Billy Chavis, who many expected to redshirt this year after moving from Linebacker to Tight End to Defensive End and back to Tight End, saw his first action of the year at, you guessed it, Linebacker. Here is to hoping we see the big fast Chavis playing with his hand on the ground next week against Tech in an effort to slow down the explosive offense of the Red Raiders

I have typically tried to preview the upcoming game in these recaps. To be real honest with you, I am finding it to be real tough to spin any positive opportunities against Texas Tech. Much like their plethora of air-borne sand, there is an ever-burning desire to hate everything A&M that wafts through the breeze in Lubbock . They are going to walk into Kyle Field Saturday knowing where A&M stands, and they are going to do their damndest to destroy the Aggies. Having seen a bit of Tech's offense and alot of A&M's defense, coach Mike Leach may be better off saving money on the plane ticket it would cost him to get their punter to College Station. I have a sick feeling he may never be needed. If A&M comes out of the gates against Tech the way they have against Miami, Army, and Kansas State, Tech will go to the locker rooms at halftime with 50 points on the board. I know alot of Ags like to say that Texas Tech is not a rival. We like to thumb our nose at their school, their football program, and their women(followed by an immediate visit to the doctor). The fact is however, that Tech has spent the last 10 years kicking A&M's ass, whether we like to admit it or not. They have grown their program the right way, by not always trying to buy success with facilities and a sense of "rightful" belonging. Instead, they have a program that develops young men into football players who fit their system and who give 100%. Whether we want to call them a rival or not, Texas Tech will look at this as on opportunity to come into Kyle Field and kick in the teeth of the A&M football program. Ags and Red Raiders can go on and on until we are all blue in the face on whether this is a rivalry. But if the Aggie football team is unable to not only match, but exceed the intensity level that Tech will bring Saturday, then we will see just another in what is becoming a long line of blowouts at the hands of the Red Raiders. I'm sure those folks out in Lubbutt could care less what the Ags think about the "rivalry", so long as we let them keep stomping us.

Nonetheless, I will be in the stands at Kyle Field, yelling for my Ags just as I have all year long. This weekend, I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of my good friend Art Waterman and his family. Art and his wife Megan are truly salt of the earth kind of people, and sitting amongst he and his family on a beautiful Saturday night in October was one of those moments in which life truly shows its beautiful side. Art is currently in the process of moving to Louisville, KY, where he will be taking part in the contruction of the University of Louisville's massive new basketball arena. It will be tough not having them only 4 hours south of us, but I have no doubt we will find times to get together. This coming weekend will be just as enjoyable, as my best friend Wes and his wife Kristen, along with Wes' Pa and friends, will be making the trip up to College Station for the game. I am really looking forward to seeing both of them. Wes' seats will actually be sandwiched between Tech's cheerleaders and their fans and band. As we all know, Tech students aren't exactly infamous for their classy behavior at home or away. I will not be half-surprised to see poor Wes body slamming that Yosemite Sam mascot of theirs before all is said and done. Hey, us Ags gotta enjoy this football season somehow!

Gig Em and God Bless!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Texas A&M-Oklahoma State Recap

*NOTE* First off, I would like to apologize for the lull in between posts here. Work has been crazy, and Laura and I have been without internet at the house for a couple weeks. All is back up and running now however, so Im hoping to get back into the groove. Thanks for reading!

Everybody told me Saturday would be an ugly loss. Having beared witness to every game prior, I had no reason not to believe them. This is not a very good A&M team at the moment, and in a year in which 4 of the 6 Big 12 South teams are ranked in the top 20, it's tough to see things turning around in the standings anytime soon. Saturday's game in Stillwater did however open some eyes towards what could be. Let's break it down.


I will say that I have always been a big believer in the philosophy that you can typically grade how deep a team is by the play of their Special Teams. Depth seperates truly "good" teams from mere flashes in the pan. Texas A&M has struggled all year in the special teams department. To me, this simply highlights the fact that beyond the starting 11 on each side of the ball, the talent at Texas A&M is either very young or sadly, not very good. Oklahoma State drove this point home by averaging an amazing 33.8 yards per punt return, including a 78 yard jaunt up the sidelines for sophomore Dez Bryant. Bryant appeared to be bottled up initially at his own 20, however he was able to somehow break away from three different A&M tackelers. Beyond the initial tackler, we saw very poor pursuit from the rest of the team, as Bryant was able to hit the sideline and race untouched to the endzone. Throughout the year thus far, A&M's kickoff and punt teams have looked slow and timid. In a facet of the game where only those of the most reckless nature tend to prosper, timidity is a death sentence. A&M must tie up these issues, as a young team can ill afford to consistently give up good field position to the opposing team, especially those who still lie ahead on the schedule.


Going in to Saturday's game, Oklahoma State brought with them a rushing attack averaging well over 300 yards a game, a running back in Kendall Hunter who has been drawing comparison to OSU alum Barry Sanders, and a quarterback in Zac Robinson who is just as acclaimed for his feet as he is his arm. Considering A&M had been gashed by lowly Army on the ground the week prior in a narrow 21-17 victory, many were expecting Oklahoma State to run roughshod over the Aggie defense. Surprisingly, A&M's defense held tight in the first half and only gave up one touchdown to one of the country's best offenses. Ok, granted special teams and the offense did give up THREE touchdowns themselves in the first half, but the defense held strong in the first half and showed glimpses of what could be. I feel we are starting to see linebackers who understand their critical role in this defense. On the defensive line, we are beginning to see the push from big guys like Kellen Heard that was expected this year, yet had been missing in action up until then. In the secondary, true freshmen Trent Hunter and Terence Frederick have begun making contributions. Hunter, the defending Big 12 player of the week following his 17 tackle performance against Army, played well against a much more daunting opponent. One of the highlights included a goal line stand in which A&M was able to hold OSU out of the endzone on a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line. To say that was unexpected would be an understatement. The defense has an opportunity to build on their effort this week against a more vanilla offense in Kansas State.


Last year, A&M trotted out 26 and 25 year old Mark Dodge and Misi Tupe to head the linebacking corps known as "The Geritol Gang". Well, consider this year's offense the "Gerber Gang". Having been largely dissapointed in the inability of many upperclassmen to pick up the offensive system, Mike Sherman has not been hesitant to give the starting spots to anyone willing to step up, including true freshman. Sophomore quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who himself has replaced senior QB Stephen McGee, has found his favorite targets to be freshmen Jeff Fuller and Ryan Tannehill. Neither has dissapointed, as Fuller leads the team with 4 receiving touchdowns, while Tannehill led A&M Saturday with 7 receptions, including 2 TD catches. Freshmen Cyrus Gray and Bradley Stephens have also found many ways to contribute. Both tailbacks return kickoffs, while Gray has also played a little quarterback in the newly popular "wildcat" formation. Unfortunately with youth comes inexperience, and in the end this is what did in A&M's offense. A&M's offense gave up a beleaguering five turnovers in the first half, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns, as well as a fumble that left the A&M defense with little field to defend. At times, A&M's offense showed glimpses of the promise these young guys have, only to end with disastrous results. A great example was in the second quarter, with A&M down 21-7. The A&M defense, coming off the momentum of Mike Goodson's electric 80 yard touchdown run, stopped the OSU offense and forced them to punt. A&M partially blocked the punt, which left the offense only 45 yards away from making this a one touchdown game. The first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive for A&M resulted in a nice nine yard rush by Gray in which he left a couple OSU defenders eating grass. The very next play, Gray was able to cut outside for another 5 yards. Unfortunately, he failed to hold onto the ball, and the Cowboys recovered, sucking back all the momentum the Aggies had built. Plays like this will kill a team, and the sooner the young guys are able to understand this, the sooner A&M can be competitive. The top end of the talent is definitely there, and I could see this offense scaring a few teams so long as they can limit the mistakes youthfulness often brings.


Texas A&M went into a hostile environment against one of the hottest teams in the country and came out as many expected, in a 28 point loss. However, don't let the statistics fool you. A&M actually outgained the vaunted Okie State offense by a yard. In the end, A&M simply turned the ball over way too many times. Call it what you will, but Oklahoma State is not known for an opportunistic defense, which leads one to believe the mistakes lie more on A&M's poor decisions than the Cowboy's ball-hawking defense. If A&M wants to have a chance in any of their remaining Big 12 games, they will have to learn to mitigate the ways of youthful recklessness in an effort to move the ball. That said, I feel this team has shown improvement in every game this year, and despite the score, I feel they showed it again this week. Each week we are seeing flashes of what this team could be, and there could come a week before the end of the year where everything comes together long enough for A&M to put a scare into one of the bigger teams they face. That said, big mistakes like the turnovers of the first half this week could lead to a blowout to the likes of someone like Baylor. It will be interesting to see as the team continues to grow more confident in the new offensive and defensive systems, if these mistakes will start to fade away.


This week, the Kansas State Wildcats make their way to Kyle Field in a one of the few games remaining that A&M is believed to have a legitimate shot to win. K-State is coming off their own 58-28 thrashing at home to the likes of Texas Tech. Kansas State's defense may be among the worst in the nation, as the week before they surrendered 37 points to lowly Louisiana Lafayette. This one could get ugly going either way this week. Nonetheless, I will be there supporting our school through thick and thin. My good friend Art Waterman and family will be there, and I look forward to enjoying a beer on a beautiful fall Saturday with a brother of mine, and hopefully a good game as well. Let's face it Ags, this year can not be just about wins and losses, or you will be sorely dissappointed. Despite a couple pretty lopsided scores this year, this team has yet to show an ounce of quit in them, something that couldn't be said about the Fran-led teams of the past few years. They are fighting no matter what, and I will stand behind them, because that's what we as Aggies do. Why? There's a fight song sung when A&M falls short and there's a line that I feel encapsulates our current situation.

When we’re down, the goin’s rough and tough,
We just grin and yell: “We’ve got the stuff
To fight together for the Aggie dream.”
We’re the 12th Man on that FIGHTIN’ AGGIE TEAM!

Aggies never quit. Gig em and God Bless!