Once again, the offense played one good half of football, but couldn't put together a complete 60 minutes which is frustrating. The A&M offense took the opening kickoff and did some great things on offense to keep Texas Tech off-balance. The shuffle pass to Michael Goodson had early success, and it also kept the Tech defensive linemen from pinning their ears back and rushing Jerrod Johnson. The first drive stalled and resulted in a field goal. The second drive was more of the same and showed that Johnson and the staff could and would use everybody on the field. During the 86-yard drive, two quarterbacks completed passes to five wide receivers. Ironically, the drive had all three A&M quarterbacks take at least one snap, and Stephen McGee came in to throw a touchdown to the other signal caller, Ryan Tannehill.
On A&M's third drive, they again marched 80 yards in 12 plays but had to settle for the field goal. Three drives, three scores, and 13 points – the offense was rolling. The key to the offense was the passing of Johnson who bought time stepping up in the pocket while Tech's outside pressure came from the outside and overpursued. As the Aggies scored on its fourth of five drives in the first half to take the lead 23-20, it looked like A&M was on the path to a major Top 10 upset at Kyle Field.
However, that all changed in the second half. The Aggies could not get on track. How bad was it? Texas A&M's longest drive of the second half was 15 yards, and that was the last drive of the game as time expired. No drive extended past six plays. The Ags finished with just three first downs, and the third one came on the game's final play. So what happened? Well, Tech changed up its rush technique at halftime and instead of applying pressure from the outside and allowing the A&M OL to form a pocket, the defensive ends rolled inside and the Red Raiders came straight up the middle. Johnson and the Aggies had no answer for this. He struggled when forced to scramble east-and-west as opposed to north-and-south. It's disappointing that the A&M offense couldn't come up with a solution to Tech's new rush schemes later in the second half.
What was also disappointing was the ineptitude of the running game. The running backs managed all of 27 yards and under a 2.0/carry average. A&M has become a one dimensional offense through the air. At this point was a rag-tag collection of injured and out-of-position linemen barely holding on for dear life, improvement in the running game seems unlikely. Still, the offense did do some good things early in the game. Johnson is finding his receivers when he can step up in the pocket, and guys like Jamie McCoyand Ryan Tannehill are becoming reliable targets although Tannehill uncharacteristically dropped a couple of balls on Saturday.
Johnson does well when he has the ability to step up in the pocket and find his receivers. When he's flushed out, his decision-making is so-so. He's made some big plays when out of the pocket, and he's made some very poor decisions as well. If Johnson can fine tune his decisions when out of the pocket, he will evolve into an elite Big 12 quarterback. Oh, a good offensive line in the future will make a huge difference as well.
Running Back C-
To his credit, Michael Goodson is running hard and makes the most of what his line gives him. Unfortunately, they aren't giving him much right now. The staff has completely abandoned any attempts between the tackles, and the defense is prepared for the Goodson runs to the outside. They miss an inside run presence, but with the state of the offensive line, there's not much room between the tackles. Where's Bradley Stephens?
Wide Receiver C
Ryan Tannehill had his second straight 100 yard receiving day and has established himself as the go-to target for Johnson. Unfortunately, Tannehill dropped two critical passes. The first one halted a promising drive that looked to be headed for the end zone. Jeff Fuller has slowed his production in recent weeks, and he too had a critical third down drop that would have gone for a first down in Raider territory. Last week, Howard Morrow and some other receivers got involved. That wasn't the case this week as Tannehill, Fuller, and McCoy were the only receivers registering catches. Actually, Goodson led the team with nine receptions for 62 yards.
Tight End C
Jamie McCoy had another solid game catching the ball, grabbing four balls for 45 yards. His blocking is still an area of weakness on the offensive line. K.J. Williams saw his first collegiate snap at tight end, but he saw limited action on offense. He played mainly on special teams. Look for his playing time to slowly increase.
Offensive Line D
What can you say? You hate to be tough on these guys with both Travis Schneider and Robbie Frost out. Lee Grimes again moved over from his guard spot to right tackle while Shumard is still playing through severe pain and also playing out of position. We knew from day one of August camp that offensive line depth was a huge exposure for this team, and it has come back to bite this offense. Certainly, Sherman had his hands tied in regard to personnel. Recruiting mistakes and an empty pipeline just can't be removed in one season at offensive line. You can do it at running back, and the staff has shown they can do it at wide receiver, but there are no short cuts with the offensive line. The guys fight hard and play with as much effort as humanly possible, and that's what gives me hope for the future because the talent and depth will get better next year…and it will get better even more the year after that.
Offensive Coaching C+
I thought the staff had a great game plan coming in with the quick shuffle passes to Goodson to slow down the outside pass rush, and then stepping up Johnson in the pocket while allowing the defensive ends to bringing pursuit from the outside. Tech made the necessary adjustments at halftime, and twisted their ends inside to apply the pressure up the middle to take away the pocket. It worked. The disappointing aspect from a coaching standpoint is that they never made adjustments after Tech changed it up. Also, they must find a way to run the ball between the tackles, even with nominal success.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE C
Hop's Offensive Grades
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