When Mike Sherman took over as head coach of the Texas A&M football team, he didn't envision his first week of the year going this way. He didn't plan on losing to Arkansas State. He didn't plan on giving up 255 rushing yards in the home opener against a Sun Belt Conference opponent either—122 more yards than the Aggies gained on the ground.
But on Monday, he didn't run or hide, accepting the blame for the Aggies' struggles.
"I feel like we let people down in the stadium," Sherman said. "They wanted to see us win, expected to see us win and we didn't do that. That was very disappointing for me personally. It was just a tremendous atmosphere to play a game in. The fans were very supportive the entire ball game and I can't tell them how much I appreciate that and that's what the most disappointing thing is to me, we didn't give them a win. I feel a huge responsibility that they went home without a victory."
The Aggies' first three drives of the game racked up 69, 57 and 77 yards of offense, which was a good start for the unit, and Sherman felt comfortable going into halftime, even though the Aggies scored just 14 points in the first two quarters of play on those three possessions.
But he also felt that he had let points slip away, and again blamed himself specifically for not converting on fourth and one just before the half when he gave the ball to Mike Goodson on the outside instead of trying to run between the tackles.
"I still go back to that fourth and one," he said. "It was not a great call on my part. They played it well, and stretched it out. I probably should have gone up the middle to keep that drive alive and get some points on the board."
Sherman warned the players at halftime that the Red Wolves would continue to gain confidence in the second half if the Aggies did not put them away. He planned to strike quickly in the second half, but A&M quarterback Stephen McGee was sacked for a loss of 17 yards on the first play of the third quarter.
The offense seemed to have "big eyes" at that point according to Sherman, which surprised him more than anything else on Saturday night.
"That play put us in a very (bad) position and it seemed like it took the wind out of our sails," he said. "We needed a knockout punch, hit it right away. When it didn't happen we had that look in our eyes wasn't the type of look you need at that point of the game. So the tempo of the second half I thought was lacking. We just could never get anything in flow."
But it wasn't just a matter of the slow start. Several receivers ran the wrong routes at times, and combined with an offensive line in training, McGee spent most of the second half running for his life, or looking for receivers who weren't where they were supposed to be.
"We had some young guys make some mistakes and Steve was caught holding the ball and expecting one thing and it didn't happen," Sherman said. "But we just never could get into that rhythm. The turnovers and missed field goals didn't help. It was just a culmination of things."
But despite all of the things that went wrong for the Aggies on Saturday night, Sherman has not lost confidence in his abilities, or those of his players.
"I've been doing this long enough to know—and been in these situations before—that I have complete confidence in how we do things, what we're doing, the manner in which we do them," Sherman said. "I have no doubt we will win. When that is exactly, I can't pinpoint, but I know for a fact it will happen."
Sherman, Aggies licking wounds after debut
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