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!