Shellshocked

Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner look like he had seen a ghost after the Texas A&M Aggies had rallied from a later 10-point deficit to defeat Ole Miss, 30-27, on a chilly and ominous night in Vaught-Hemingway.

The disbelief in what had just happened was written all over his pale face.

"That was a tough one," Werner said in the understatement of the decade.

His group had just put up a respectable 27 points, 464 yards, converted 9-19 third downs attempts and controlled the clock for a full six minutes longer than the Aggies. . .

. . . and had lost.

The first question out of the box was a zinger. What about the two interceptions QB Bo Wallace threw? To refresh your memory, just before half with a 17-10 lead, Wallace went back to pass and the ball slipped out of his hand. Aggie Steven Jenkins alertly plucked it out of the air and raced 37 yards for a mind-numbing tying score at intermission. The second one came with the Rebels driving into Aggie territory late in the game for, at the very least, a shot at a game-tying field goal to put the contest into overtime.

"The first one, the ball just slipped out of his hand. He was going to check down, which was the right decision, and it just slipped out. It was kind of a fluke," Werner noted. "The last one, I will have to see on film. The defender obviously jumped in front of it so I guess he shouldn't have thrown it.

"He played a heckuva game though. He had to fight all week for the job and then he goes out there and puts us in a position to win. I am very proud of him. We were very close to being elated right now instead of heartbroken."

Then, Dan was asked about the call on fourth-and-an-inch late in the game to eat the clock and move the chains. The run by Jeff Scott failed and the ball went over on the Rebel 41 and the rest is history.

"It was a play we had run a few times and had been successful with. We had schemed it up for what they were doing defensively and it had worked. This time, they had an extra guy in there who came over late and he made a good, solid tackle," noted Werner. "You decide on a play and you run it. We talked about a QB sneak, but had confidence in what we called at the time."

Werner had no issues with the effort his group gave.

"Just one or two things differently and we would be celebrating. I was very proud of my guys, we just didn't find a way to finish it," he lamented. "If I would have known we were going to move the ball the way we did, I would have thought we would come out as winners tonight. One more play and we probably would have.

"This one is brutal, but as coaches, we have to bounce back. If we expect our players to put this behind them, we have to as well, and we will."

Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack was pleased with his crew getting five turnovers (the sixth Aggie TO came on a fumbled punt), but he marveled at A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel.

"He's amazing. We had spies on him at times, and that worked sometimes, but he is an amazing player who made plays when he needed them the most," said Wommack. "He's grown every week. He's better than when he played against Florida. We had to put someone on him, cover their guys man-to-man and stop the run. You end up running out of people, to be honest."

The crushing blow came with the Aggies lodged on their own ½ yard line facing a third-and-19, a dire situation for any offense, even one averaging 48.2 points a game, which the Aggies were coming into the contest.

"You mean the drive right after the safety?" Dave asked facetiously. "We put a spy on him and were playing man free and their wideout just went over the top of our DB and made a play. Then, they caught us with a spy and gashed us on a run and then we didn't have a spy and he ran it in from 29 yards out.

"The explanation on why it wasn't a safety was that his body was in the end zone but the ball was not. Yes, that's what they said."

You'd think by creating a total of six turnovers, a win was on the way.

"For sure," Wommack shook his head. "You also figure with a 10-point lead with six minutes to go you'd win. Our kids will learn from it and grow from it. I believe in them and love them. I know they will work hard and get better and better."

Wommack said he was hurting, not for himself, but for all involved.

"I feel so bad for our program because these kids have worked hard. I think you can see a difference in our program and a difference in these kids and it's so disappointing when one gets away like this," Dave explained. "I give A&M credit, they made some big plays when they had to have them, but it's very difficult to swallow.

"It's just like life. We have to figure out a way to overcome adversity, come back to work and find a way to beat Auburn. We can't mope or look back now."

Dave feels there's also a matter of learning how to win.

"I know this is crushing for them because they felt they were going to win the game. There was no doubt in anyone's mind we would win. At halftime, our kids were great and I was worried heading in there after their late TD going into the half," he closed. "In the end, we have to learn to win when the opportunity is there.

"There is going to come a time when we are going to get over this hump and find a way to win these close ones. In the meantime, I'm proud of the kids."


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