Beat Baylor…check. Say goodbye to Guy Morriss…check.
The Aggies beat up on the hapless Baylor Bears 34-10, and while that's a convincing point differential, it still doesn't do justice as to just how dominant this win was over a clearly outmanned Big 12 opponent. The Aggies ran 94 offensive plays compared to 52 for the Bears. Those numbers were reflected in the time of possession as Baylor held the ball for 16 minutes, or only 28 percent of the entire game.
The yardage numbers also reflected A&M's superiority in all facets of the game, as the Aggies gained a whopping 352 yards on the ground, and 200 yards through the air for a hefty total of 552 yards. In contrast, the vaunted Baylor spread offense managed total 254 yards. The Bears did the Aggie defense many favors on Saturday, dropping pass after pass after pass. I counted 10 drops.
Now, some credit goes to A&M, as they intimidated Baylor's receivers early in the game, punctuated by Msi Tupe's monster hit over the middle that created a dropped pass. However, the reality of the situation is that Baylor's spread offense is grossly inadequate and really didn't give A&M a quality dress rehearsal for the upcoming battles with offensive juggernauts Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
While this was one of the weakest Baylor teams in the soon-to-be defunct Guy Morriss era, credit does go to the Aggies for taking care of business on both sides of the ball. Big 12 teams should never have to apologize for a 24-point conference win, so kudos to the players and coaches. With that said, Saturday's results should be tempered given Baylor's ineptitude.
On offense, the big news was the re-emergence of the veteran offensive line. They dominated Baylor up-front, opening massive holes for Jorvorskie Lane and giving Stephen McGee plenty of time in the pocket to find his targets downfield. And yes, McGee did throw the ball downfield, highlighted by an over-the-top 48-yard strike to Kerry Franks that set-up a touchdown. Lane (123) and McGee (110) both rushed for over 100 yards.
If there was one downside on offense, it was the struggles with scoring in the red zone in the first half. A&M moved into Baylor territory five times, and came away with only 10 points which kept Baylor in the game throughout the second half despite A&M's complete dominance in time of possession and yardage. This game should have been over at halftime, and the younger back-ups lost out on some valuable playing time.
On defense, what can you say about a 254-yard effort? The Aggies were rarely threatened by Baylor's offense. Due to some drops and inconsistent passing by BU's quarterback, the Bears completed a paltry 33 percent of their 36 pass attempts. The Baylor rushing game was a non-factor netting 60 yards. The Aggies laid some big hits over the middle and intimidated the Bear receivers.
On the downside, A&M's secondary gave up a big 69 yard pass play that was actually well-defended by Jordan Pugh. But, the defensive backs are still having problems making a play on the ball in the air and lost track of the pass that was caught by BU's David Gettis. This has been a persistent problem over the past several years that need to be resolved.
Special teams definitely wasn't special for A&M, especially in the kicking game where previously consistent Matt Szymanski missed three point blank field goals that kept Baylor within striking distance into the third quarter.
Overall, it was a solid Big 12 win to open conference play at 1-0. The Aggies took care of business. However, that's where the positives begin and end. Frankly, Baylor didn't prove to be much of a test, and this was clearly Guy Morriss' worst team he's fielded in his five years in Waco.
I'm not sure Aggie fans learned much from this game, other than the team can beat the worst football program in the conference. The real questions surrounding this team coming out of the disappointing Miami contest will be answered in the next two weeks against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
200 yards passing and 110 yards rushing in a 24-point Big 12 victory. Need I say more?
Jorvorskie Lane was back in the game plan and doing what he does best which is move the line of scrimmage and physically punish the opposition. Michael Goodson had a couple of big runs in limited action, but it was a swing pass that he broke through several tackles that went the distance for a 58-yard touchdown and gave A&M a 10-3 lead in the first half.
If Cornell Tarrant can take care of the little things like blocking, he'll be a quality Big 12 back. He was very impressive late gaining 25 yards on four carries.
Kerry Franks was McGee's primary wide receiver target, grabbing three passes for 80 yards including the big 48 yarder. Franks did drop what would've been a successful 20 yard pass over the middle. You'd like to see more receivers get touches, but you have to walk before you run.
Had Martellus Bennett made a circus catch on a long pass in the back of the end zone, the crowd would have gone wild, and I would have given the Legion of Doom an A. Joey Thomas made a nice catch on a play where cGee looked good stepping up in the pocket and buying time to make the throw.
Anytime the offensive line pushes the point of attack forward on every play and helps generate 352 yards on the ground, and gives the quarterback time to throw in the pocket, they've accomplished their mission.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: A-
While the defensive line didn't register any sacks and pressure on the quarterback was sporadic, it was enough to force the BU quarterback to get rid of the ball on most plays. They also kept their lanes and didn't let the Baylor running backs to break off any major runs, giving up just 60 yards. Von Miller had a couple of nice plays, especially a nice tackle for loss.
Mark Dodge had a couple of pass break-ups, but it was Msi Tupe that got the crowd going with crunching blow that had Baylor receivers scared running over the middle the rest of the afternoon. Oh, did y'all notice Billy Chavis at linebacker late in the game?
The defensive backs were opportunistic, especially Marquis Carpenter who sniffed out a fake punt from his former JUCO quarterback and picked off his pass, and then reached up over the BU receiver and grabbed a deflected pass from his grasp and for his second interception of the game. On several occasions, the BU signal caller had time to throw but couldn't find an open receiver downfield, so give the secondary credit. They also benefited from 10 dropped passes, but in most cases they were very close and in position to make the play.
OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE: A-
Justin Brantly had an outstanding day with two punts, averaging 55 yards per punt, but three missed field goals by Matt Szymanski was the special teams unit's downfall.
OVERALL SPECIAL TEAMS GRADE: D+
Hop's report card
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