While sitting in the Orange Bowl being heckled by the local hip-hop generation of Miami and Little Havana down 31-0 mid-way through the second half, I tried painfully to remember a worse road game that I had personally attended. After all, I did not make the infamous 77-0 in Norman. I'd have to go all the way back to 1988 and the 27-0 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge that was played in a downpour to find a more depressing set of circumstances in one night.
Yes, being in the Orange Bowl Thursday night was just as bad. It was a thorough beating from the opening 80-yard Miami touchdown drive to the illegal formation on the last onside kick, it was three-plus hours of struggles on national television. It also begs the question, where do we go from here? Well, what better tonic than a home game against Baylor. Then again, if A&M comes into that game still absorbed in the fog of Thursday's 34-17 beat down, Saturday's game won't be a cakewalk.
As far as Thursday's game, what can I say that hasn't already been said? How many times do I have to say that the offense must be less predictable and stretch the field? How many times can I say that completing three passes to ONE wide receiver in a game is grossly inadequate? How many times can we hope the team can make adjustments in four days of game week practice that wasn't done in the 20-30 workouts in August?
At some point you simply say it is what it is. This is what the A&M offense has been designed to do, which is play mistake free football and try to grind out yards and clock. Unfortunately, it doesn't work too well when the opposition marches down the field and takes a 7-0 lead before the offense can even stretch their legs. Also, a grind it out offense doesn't work when the opposing defensive ends pinch-in and take away the biggest grind-it-out force in the offense—Jorvorskie Lane—who generated all of two yards on two carries.
Bottom line, with the game on the line the offense generated 108 yards through nearly three quarters. It wasn't until the team was down 31-0 with the Hurricanes celebrating on the sidelines before A&M actually put together three straight scoring drives of 39, 39, and 54 yards. The last touchdown drive came from backup quarterback Jerrod Johnson who did throw the ball downfield.
In this era of college football, the forward pass is a must. With this offensive philosophy and the way Stephen McGee has been taught to think about not making mistakes before looking downfield, the forward pass has again become a huge challenge for this program. This offense has a similar feel to what Aggie fans endured in the years prior to Reggie McNeal and Mark Farris when a completed forward pass was cause for celebration and a sigh of relief.
The last touchdown drive by Jerrod Johnson showed some promise for the future. Of course, Aggie fans are wondering if that future should be sooner rather than later.
OK, you are a running team. I get it. Football programs can win with a grinding, physical running game. So when your running backs combine for 63 yards, you know it's a bad night. When once again your quarterback is the team's leading rusher, it's a bad night. When your 280+ pound meat grinder gets two yards on two carries, it's definitely a bad night.
Three receptions for 29 yards, all by one receiver. That was the night's tally. Certainly, the receivers themselves aren't to blame necessarily, but a team can't expect to be successful at this level of competition with virtually no production from the wide receivers.
Once again,if there was a somewhat productive position, it was the Legion of Doom. Martellus Bennett and Joey Thomas combined for four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Still, it wasn't enough and Thomas' false start penalty near the goal line in the third quarter forced A&M to settle for a field goal.
We know these guys were built more for power in the running game than for pass protection, so you would have expected the line to physically open up some opportunities up the middle, which in turn would then open up the option and plays to the outside. Given that McGee never gave Lane the ball inside on the zone read should tell you the holes just weren't there Thursday and that's the responsibility of the juniors and seniors up-front.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: D-
Hop's report card - Offense
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