Bye Week Analysis - Offensive Unit

The Texas Aggie football team had a much needed bye last weekend after suffering several injuries against Arkansas. Nearing the halfway point of the season, Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the positives and negatives with the offensive unit as they prepare for a return trip to Oxford to battle the Ole Miss Rebels.

The Texas Aggie football team had a much needed bye last weekend after suffering several injuries against Arkansas. Nearing the halfway point of the season, Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the positives and negatives with the offensive unit through the first five games. Who has stepped up, and where has the offense not developed as expected? Let's take a look.

Positives

1) Johnny is being Johnny

Every national pundit in the offseason said defensive coordinators would figure out how to defend Johnny Football. Then, the national pundits said Manziel's off-field issues (I'm still not sure what those issues actually were) would lead to his problem in the 2013 season. Well, the demise of the Heisman Trophy winner hasn't occurred…thank you very much. From a statistical standpoint, Manziel is right about where he was at this same point last year. He's relied more on his passing this season, throwing for 1489 yards and 14 TD passes, completing 71.4% of his passes, and an overall QB passing efficiency rating of 188.05. In 2012, Manziel threw for 1452 yards and 11 TD's, completed 67% of his passes with a QB efficiency rating of 151.82.


2) Evans has become an All-American WR

Mike Evans had a very good 2012 campaign. He was mentioned on some all-SEC teams and was a big reason for the huge turnaround and successful run in Texas A&M's inaugural SEC season. But he battled nagging injuries throughout the year and did most of his damage on short-to-medium routes. Through five games, he caught 32 passes for 412 yards and one touchdown. In 2013, Evans has become a weapon all over the field and he's a deep threat as was seen on his 97-yard TD catch against Alabama. Ironically, he has fewer catches in 2013 (28) but far more yards (691) and five TD's. Defenses must now account for Mike Evans on every play and every spot on the field. He's on pace for nearly 1800 yards receiving.


3) Offensive Line hasn't skipped a beat

Once again, the national pundits in the offseason felt the offensive line play would suffer with the loss of Luke Joeckel to the NFL. That hasn't been the case with Cedric Ogbuehi going back to his natural tackle position, and the return of projected Top 10 pick Jake Matthews at left tackle. Mike Matthews had a few hiccups along the way, but by and large the newcomers (Matthews and guard Germain Ifedi) have performed above expectations. Bottom line, Johnny Manziel still has plenty of time in the pocket, and the running game has been productive as well. The offense is as explosive as last year's unit, and the offensive line has done its part to date.


Concerns

1) Where is the second outside receiver?

Derel Walker has had his moments on the field. He caught five straight passes in the Arkansas game and makes plays occasionally. However, with 262 yards receiving so far, he's not considered a threat and a presence that attracts extra attention from the opposing defensive coordinator. Jaquay Williams was supposed to be a freshman talented enough to take on that outside role that takes pressure off of Evans, but he's seen only limited time due to his struggles in learning his routes. Ed Pope has earned minimal playing time as well. For some of Walker's consistency issues, nobody has pushed him through the first five games.


2) No freshman WR has stepped up

Continuing with the receiver theme, the Aggies signed a large and talented receiver class in 2013. Expectations were high that a couple of freshmen would work themselves into the primary rotation and fill the void left by the graduation of Ryan Swope, EZ Nwachukwu, and Kenric McNeal. Ricky Seals-Jones looked ready to assume his position in the rotation after a long touchdown catch and run in the opener against Rice, but he hurt his knee on the play and is out for the remainder of the season. Jaquay Williams made a couple of circus catches in week two against Sam Houston, but he quit on a fade pass in the end zone against Alabama that resulted in a critical interception. His playing time has been greatly reduced since that game. Quiv Gonzalez has had a minimal impact along with Jeremy Tabuyo in the slot. It appears Kyrion Parker and Sebastian LaRue will redshirt. Overall, the freshmen just haven't had the impact that was expected…and that is a bit of a surprise given their overall talent.


3) Little impact from tight ends

This offense isn't known to utilize a tight end a lot. However, when the Texas A&M staff used a valuable scholarship on highly-touted JUCO TE Cameron Clear, we were told he would bring more options to Manziel and the offense with the versatility to throw out of a two tight end set. To date, Clear has caught one pass for one yard and a touchdown. Overall, tight ends have accounted for two catches and five yards. So much for utilizing the tight ends in the passing game, although I still believe the offensive staff will play that card later in the season.

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