Hop's Final OSU Report Card

It was a tale of two halves as the Texas Aggie football team wilted under the pressure of Mike Gundy's hurry-up offense and squandered a 17-point halftime lead to drop a heartbreaker 30-29. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes one final look and grades the team's efforts by position.

It was a disappointing game, obviously. A top 10 ten team at home with a 17-point lead at halftime has no business giving up 27 unanswered points and losing. But this is week three of a 12-game regular season and this one game will not define the season, or must I say the team can't allow it to define their season.

Arkansas is a huge game next weekend. It is a statement game, and with the Aggies going to the SEC the team needs to show it can beat teams in the conference. If the Aggies can win the next three games, the team will erase a lot of the bad feelings from this one. But, that's easy to say at this moment fresh off the home loss.

Here are my five positives and five concerns from the game in my flash review.

Five Things I Liked

1. Randy Bullock has become a very good collegiate kicker, and someone that can be trusted to nail a crucial field goal. He calmly knocked down a 43-yarder and a 35-yarder, and he looked confident in the process. His kickoffs have been high and long for the most part.

2. Junior Brandal Jackson has always been on the fringe of being in the regular rotation, but he made three critical catches. One was a fingertip grab on a huge 3rd down pass to extend a drive. He pulled in another third down conversion. He may have played himself into the regular rotation and a trusted target for Tannehill.

3. While most of the linebacker positions have been a disappointment so far, junior Sean Porter has emerged as the playmaker of the group, and he was sick all week. I also think he's the best outside pass rusher on the team, and the staff may have to consider lining him up at the joker position.

4. Ryan Epperson has quietly improved, and while he's not a strong-legged boomer, he is getting off very solid punts. He knocked two attempts inside the 15-yard line and had Steven Terrell paid attention to the goal line, he could have had a third one inside the 5-yard line. When he wasn't trying to pin the Cowboys deep in their territory, he had a 50 yarder.

5. I thought Christine Michael had his best game of the season, and his aggressive running style garnered some 10+ yard runs and energized the whole offensive unit when he was in the game.


Five Things That Concern Me

1. The Aggies don't have a suitable joker. Caleb Russell just doesn't seem to have the explosiveness off the edge. Damontre Moore made some big plays, but he also made some bone-headed plays including an offsides and a personal foul.

2. I thought Tim DeRuyter over-thought the game plan this week. In his determination to get the exact personnel and the right play called, he did not have the defense called in time and left the team still staring at the sidelines when the ball was snapped. He also added to the fatigue constantly running players on and off the field every change of down and distance. Also, when OSU started chipping away at the A&M defense with the numerous screen passes, DeRuyter continued to play a loose zone with the cornerack set-up 6-7 yards off the line and using a linebacker 5-6 yards off the ball to pick up the slot receiver. The quick screen allows the slot to seal off the linebacker and that leaves the corner and receiver with the ball on a one-on-one situation 3-4 yards upfield. Worst scenario, the receiver gains 3-4 yards. With a slipped tackle, the receiver was getting12-15 yards a pop. OSU ran this play successfully throughout the game.

3. This is related to #1, but the Aggies could not establish any pressure on the QB pocket in the second half. It wasn't that Weeden was dumping off the ball quickly (other than those screens). He had all day to find his targets mainly on intermediate drag routes and crossing patterns.

4. Jeff Fuller has to be a bigger factor. Yeah, he had the first half touchdown, but he didn't dominate the competition. In fact, the competition slowed him down. Word is he still has a slight hamstring strain, but a big-time playmaker works through these nagging injuries. It appeared that Fuller was favoring the comeback pass toward the sideline, and after running it several times, the OSU corners were jumping the routes. He had six catches, but managed only 54 yards. He has to be a deep ball threat. Toward the end of the game, OSU's secondary was shrinking the field with its coverage, not scared about A&M receivers getting behind the coverage.

5. The turnovers were a killer. The last two were a result of having to pass in the second half with some difficult down and distance situations, but the Kenric McNeal fumble was the turning point in the game. Instead of finishing out.the drive with putting points on the board to regain the momentum and making the score 27-17 and in the process keeping a tired defense off the field, the Cowboys shortly took the lead and never looked back. The most important stat in football is turnover margin. The Aggies failed miserably in that category, and it's a big reason why the Cowboys were able to overcome a 17-point deficit and win a big road game.


Here are the final grades by position:

QB C-

A couple of Tannehill's interceptions were not his fault, but he did make some inaccurate throws. Also, he has not been accurate on long passes and he's not stretching the field at all in 2011.


RB B-

Patience and hitting the hole has been considered a strength of Cyrus Gray, but in the past two weeks I think he's been too patient and not hitting his holes and allowing the play to get strung out. Christine Michael ran hard and hit the holes quickly during his brief stint in the second quarter. I expect to see him get more of the load against Arkansas…if he can secure the ball.


WR C-

Ryan Swope is the engine to this offense and he's very, very good in his role as a slot receiver. I was very pleased with the big plays by Brandal Jackson. But the elephant in the room – where is Jeff Fuller?


TE C-

Tight ends weren't a factor in the passing game. Nehemiah Hicks missed his blitz man and forced Tannehill to scramble on a critical play. The others were quiet.


OL B

The unit was solid for the most part, but there were a couple of breakdowns and the chop block by Luke Joeckel forced a passing situation and an eventual interception.


DL B-

The defensive line had a solid game and held the point of attack. OSU struggled to establish a consistent rushing attack all day.


LB C-

Sean Porter was a gamer in the first half before his illness caused him to fade in the fateful second half. Trying to figure out the last time an inside linebacker blitz has worked with this defense. Ags must get more explosive play from the joker position. Moore did some good things in that area, but his mental lapses are unacceptable.


DB C-

The secondary did a pretty good job on passes down the field. It was the quick screens that killed the defense. I'm not sure you put that on the secondary. It was more of an alignment, strategic issue than a player deficiency.


Special Teams A-

Randy Bullock has become money on field goals, and Ryan Epperson is actually performing more consistently and has been doing an excellent job pinning the opponents inside the 20 yard-line.


Game Management F

It's no secret. The defensive staff had problems communicating the plays in a timely manner and the defense was caught off-guard and out of position at the snap several times. Even when the players were in place, there seemed to be confusion. I also don't understand why the staff didn't go to a base man coverage to force OSU to do something differently than the 11 screens they successfully executed.


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