When Aggie fans woke up Sunday morning and looked at the new NCAA statistical rankings, the maroon and white were at the top of NCAA world in regard to total yardage. After a 600+ yard effort against New Mexico, the Texas A&M offense managed to rack up 573 yards on Saturday as well. It's hard to argue with those kind of numbers, except it came versus two pretty weak offenses. Also, the no huddle attack is giving the Aggies a lot of more snaps and thus more opportunities to add to the yardage total. Compare those numbers to the points scored (41, 38) and you have to wonder why A&M has managed only 79 points on nearly 1200 yards. Could it be turnovers? Turnovers certainly neutralizes offensive results. Well, the Aggies have done a remarkable job protecting the ball so far this season. In fact, they've been perfect. So that's not it. Has the team shot itself in the foot via the yellow flag? That's a big yes with an exclamation point. Digest these numbers. In the first two games of 2009, the A&M's opponents have been penalized 12 times for 107 yards. In contrast, the Aggies have been flagged a whopping 30 times for 270 yards. That's right…270 yards. Many of those 30 penalties came on the offensive side, with numerous false starts, holding calls, and even a couple of chop blocks to boot.
Sure we can dissect a few things regarding Jerrod Johnson and the other skill players that may not have been executed perfectly. Yeah, the offensive line may struggle at times to pass protect or open some running lanes. But clearly, the lack of scoring efficiency given the yards gained can be squarely placed on offensive penalties. Several series on Saturday found the offense in many first and 15 or first and 20 situations due to false starts, holds, and illegal blocks. With the meat of A&M's schedule just two weeks away, the team MUST clean up these silly mistakes if they want to compete with teams like Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech on the horizon.
Aside from the penalties that resulted in a low scoring efficiency, the two other observations from Saturday's 38-30 victory include the lack of big plays from the running backs and Jerrod Johnson's struggles in the short game. Still, it's hard to get too picky about an offense that is shredding opposing defenses to the tune of 600 yards a game. However, when the Aggies step up in competition, they won't generate 600 yards. They'll need to produce 30-40 points with 300-400 yards, not 600 yards.
Johnson always seems to put up big numbers. Saturday was no different as he threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns. Back in the Slocum era that would be a career day, but this offense gives Johnson so many opportunities and he seems to miss his fair share of those opportunities. First of all, Johnson threw 20 incomplete passes and barely hit the 50% completion mark. Some of those misses were pretty blatant as he underthrew several wide open receivers running intermediate routes. Howard Morrow did not have a defender within 15 yards of him and Johnson threw it at his feet. Others weren't so blatant. For example, on a bootleg Johnson had Jamie McCoy dragging across the field wide open. Johnson eventually hit McCoy, but he threw it too late. What could have been a potential 30-40 yard touchdown pass turned into a nice 12-15 yard catch. It was certainly a good play, but a quicker tempo and release could have turned a good play into a great scoring play. Jeff Fuller was wide open coming across the middle when Johnson threw the ball slightly behind A&M's No. 1 target. Yeah, Fuller caught it and converted a first down. That looks god on the stat page, but had he hit Fuller I stride that 12 yard pass could have been a 30+ yard gainer. And that seems to be the issue here. Johnson doesn't make bad decisions and he gets by making many plays. However, this offense is giving him more than what he's taking. It's hard to complain about that.
Running Back B
My review of the running backs is similar to what I said about Johnson. It's hard to argue with the run game when the Aggies rush for 250 yards. It's hard to argue with Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray when they combine for 143 yards and all 28 carries went for positive yardage. That's all good, but in all of this the longest run from scrimmage by the running backs was just 12 yards. That's fine when playing these lesser non-conference teams, but in conference play the Aggies will need some big hitters and take some big runs to the house. Again, that ties into scoring efficiency.
Wide Receiver A-
What can you say about freshman Uzoma Nwachukwu? He had four touchdowns in just his second collegiate game. That's impressive to say the least. Even more impressive were the acrobatic catches where he managed to get a foot down in-bounds. He already looks like a veteran, and the Aggies will need him performing like a veteran with the loss of Jeff Fuller. Ryan Tannehill continues to be Ryan Tannehill – making clutch third down catches that move the sticks. It's apparent Tannehill is gaining more playing time as a pass catcher and will see even more with Fuller out of action for the next six weeks. The other two freshmen, Brandal Jackson and Kenric McNeal, were surprisingly quiet on Saturday. That must change now with the injury.
Tight End A-
Jamie McCoy is quietly having a good senior season so far, and he'll need to step it up even more now. McCoy finished with three catches for 66 yards and the second-leading receiver by yards. His blocking has become adequate as well.
Offensive Line C+
We knew it was going to be an ongoing struggle, and the grade of C isn't because of any deficiencies regarding the ability to open running lanes or protect Jerrod Johnson. Simply, you can't have 147 yards in penalties. You can have 3-4 false starts. You can't have 2-3 holding calls, and you can't have a 15 yard clip. Now, I know the linemen were complaining about some of the calls, and I'll give them a break on the first two flags, but at some point you must adjust to the referees and calls they are making even if you don't agree with it.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE B
Hop's Offensive Grades
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