Saturday was frustrating for most Aggie fans. First, a struggling young offense seemed to find its way and move the ball in its first Big 12 game on the road. In the end, the unit gained a respectable 402 yards with a good mix of run (184) and pass (218). However, the five first half turnovers were costly and put the team in a deep hole early. At least two of those turnovers stopped promising drives in OSU territory. As a fan, one can look at Saturday's offensive in one of two ways. Either it was a huge failure due to the five turnovers that resulted directly in two defensive touchdowns, or that the fact those five turnovers were committed by three freshmen, one sophomore, and a junior and the bottom line is that the youthful offense moved the ball against OSU most of the day.
Jerrod Johnson made his first Big 12 start with mixed reviews. He threw for 218 yards and another two scoring strikes while completing 55% of his passes. Add in another 42 yards on the ground, and 260 yards of offense is a pretty good day for the sophomore. However, Johnson is still making costly mistakes as well. According to game observers, the swing pass to Jamie McCoy that was intercepted and returned for a score was a little high but catchable. Yes, it should have been caught, but the pass should have been thrown more accurately with more touch. The pass that hit Bradley Stephens and was also returned for a touchdown appears to have been a pretty good pass that Stephens is expected to handle. Regardless, Johnson is putting up some nice numbers, but those numbers mean very little if he is also making the type of mistakes he's made the first four games of the season. If he can clean it up, the future is bright for Johnson.
Running Back C
Michael Goodson's 80-yard touchdown run was critical in stopping the early Cowboy momentum. Already down 21-0 due to turnovers and special teams gaffes, the score stabilized the game and allowed the defense to stiffen up the remainder of the half. This game could have easily gotten out of hand early. I'm talking a 2003 OU game or one of those Tech games in Lubbock. The game had that ominous feel to it until Goodson's big run. But that was really the only explosive play of the night from the running backs. Take that 80-yarder out of the equation, and the backs had just 62 yards the rest of the game. Also, the offense must get more production from the running back screens. Goodson and Cyrus Gray had five catches, but for only 25 yards. That won't cut it in this west coast offense.
Wide Receiver B-
The good news is that Johnson has found his two favorite targets in Jeff Fuller and Ryan Tannehill. Of course, with Stephen McGee out and Tannehill now the backup QB as well, that puts this staff in a dilemma. Do you continue to play him at receiver where he's one of the two best you have at the position and risk injury, or do you preserve him on the sidelines as your only veteran backup remaining? Well, the answer so far is to play him, and it paid off with seven receptions for 49 yards and two touchdowns. Fuller added five grabs for 67 yards, but he started the turnover barrage on the unit's first drive when he coughed up the ball fighting for extra yardage inside OSU territory. Fuller has fumbled the ball a couple of times this season, and he needs to realize that in some situations, it's not worth fighting for the extra yard when it means exposing the ball. Terrence McCoy is also cementing his role as the number three option catching two passes for 21 yards.
Tight End D
Jamie McCoy had a nice 24 yard reception and finished with three catches for 35 yards. However, it was his batted pass from Johnson that led to the first interception and first touchdown for OSU. Yeah, I'm a little harder on McCoy than Fuller and Gray because Jamie is a fourth year junior and should know the importance of execution and protecting the ball. A&M was moving out from its own goal line after an inspirational goal line stand. At that point, the Aggies were feeling good about themselves and dictating the action. Who knows what happens if McCoy makes that catch?
Offensive Line C+
I've heard from observers that the offensive line had its best game of the season. While Johnson was sacked twice and hurried occasionally, he did have more time to throw than in previous games and the line in general held its own on the line of scrimmage. I'm curious to see the game tape and take a closer look at their performance.
Offensive Coaching C
It's hard to plan for five turnovers in the first half, but I give the coaching staff credit for hanging in there and keeping the players motivated and playing hard. The Aggies had every reason and every excuse to fold up like a cheap tent in Stillwater down 21-0 in the first quarter and 28-7 at the half. However, the offense made it somewhat interesting in the second half scoring touchdowns on three of their first four drives in the frame, and driving to the OSU 17 yard line as time expired. In the half, the offense managed drives of 79, 70, and 63 yards.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE C-
Hop's Offensive Grades - OSU
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