Aggies Looking For Answers

The Aggie football team felt that coming home for the first time in almost a month would be the remedy for the two-game skid. However, the Aggies laid an egg that now has the team reeling under the weight of a three-game skid. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a closer look at Saturday's game and what it means for the future of Mike Sherman and Texas A&M football

The Aggies were focused on ending the avalanche of turnovers in recent weeks that led to consecutive losses against Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Despite facing their third straight ranked opponent, many observers felt that Texas A&M was set for a breakout performance at home in the conference home opener as long as they could avoid the turnover bug. Well, quarterback Jerrod Johnson eliminated the interceptions and the miscues, but somewhere along the way the Aggie offense lost sight of the ultimate goal - moving the ball and scoring points. Texas A&M managed only 98 yards in the first half and was held scoreless while the Tigers on offense were able to handle the changing zone coverages applied by Aggie defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter in route to a convincing 30-9 win.

At 3-3 and 0-2 in the Big 12, the Aggies are reeling. While the losses to Oklahoma State and Arkansas hurt, the team competed and in some cases outplayed their opponents on the road. The issue was about turnovers, and turnovers can be eliminated from week to week. The 30-9 loss to Missouri at home is more worrisome. How do you remedy a thoroughly convincing defeat in every aspect of the game? How do you remedy the struggles of a veteran quarterback that appears to have a physical problem with his shoulder? How do you remedy a team that has now lost three games in a row and is seeing its season goals beginning to evaporate in mid-October with the teeth of their schedule still ahead?

As for the game itself, the running game was held in-check with only 57 yards on 33 carries. Jerrod Johnson continues to struggle in the passing game completing 7 of-21 pass attempts for 83 yards when the game was on the line. Don't let his final numbers fool you. Johnson padded his stats in the fourth quarter with the Tigers protecting a 30-3 lead. The highly-touted receiver corps dropped several key third down passes and aside from Jeff Fuller has largely disappeared over the past three weeks. With veteran offensive guard Evan Eike going down with a severe ankle sprain, the offensive line employed two true freshmen on the line and the unit gave up seven sacks. Overall, the offense had a complete breakdown.

But it wasn't just the offense that laid an egg in front of the home crowd. The Aggie defense that pleasantly surprised Aggie fans over the first five weeks of the season with its inspired play against powerful Top 10 offenses (Oklahoma State, Arkansas) suddenly looked vulnerable as Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert picked apart the myriad of zone coverages that DeRuyter threw at him. In the first half alone, the Tigers gained 266 yards and put 16 points on the board. That total was more than enough against the deflated Texas A&M offense.

Texas A&M came into the season with high hopes of a break-through campaign and a move up the Big 12 standings. Now, with three consecutive losses and at the bottom of the Big 12 at 0-2, Aggie fans are left scratching their collective heads and wondering what is going on at the Bright Complex, Texas A&M's state-of-the-art athletic facility for students and coaches. Throughout the past decade, the university and her donors have poured millions of dollars into updating the athletic department's infrastructure. Kyle Field was expanded with the inclusion of the north end zone facility. The aforementioned Bright Complex gives student athletes the Cadillac of training, locker room, and academic support services. The outdoor practice fields were enhanced and redesigned while the university's supporters built the team a state of the art indoor practice facility. Yet, Aggie donors have failed to see a return on their investment and they aren't in a very good mood after seeing the football team lay a big egg at home against a Big 12 north opponent not named Nebraska.

While many A&M fans are howling after Saturday's debacle, it does not appear that the decision makers that matter are ready to pull the plug on Sherman's three year tenure in College Station. But, the 3-3 record and bad home loss certainly didn't help. His coaching seat isn't hot just yet, but it is getting a little warm. A hiccup at a struggling Kansas team next Saturday could change that quickly.

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