Hop's OSU Grades: Offense

Mistakes and the inability to finish big plays was again the downfall for this young Texas A&M team. As for the offense, the unit had its lowest output of the season gaining 382 yards. Websider's David Sandhop breaks down and grades the Aggie offense against the Cowboys.

Hop's Offensive Grades – OSU Game Mistakes and the inability to finish big plays was again the downfall for this young Texas A&M team. As for the offense, the unit had its lowest output of the season gaining 382 yards. The Aggies tried to establish the rushing game, but the team managed just 109 yards and a meager 2.7 yards per carry average. That's not to say the offense didn't have its moments against the nationally ranked Cowboys. Freshman Uzoma Nwachukwu has established himself as the go-to receiver in Jeff Fuller's absence, and he's also making big plays. Howard Morrow is also coming on in his role grabbing four passes for 47 yards and a very difficult catch over the middle when he held on after the safety came over to deliver a big hit. Jamie McCoy's expanded role in the backfield paid dividends and should give opposing defenses something to think about in the future.

But overall, the offense had a sporadic performance, and did not make the big plays when they were needed – most notably not being able to punch it in from inside the five yard line at the end of the first half. A score there gives A&M not only an eight point lead, but also the momentum going into halftime and who knows what would have happened when A&M received the second half kickoff. For a team to win consistently in the Big 12 Conference, players have to finish plays and teams must take advantage of the opportunities presented on the field. For a second straight week, the freshman-laiden Aggies did not do that. It's a hard lesson to absorb now for Aggie fans, but rest assured that these lessons learned will pay dividends in the next three years.

Quarterback B

Jerod Johnson again put up respectable numbers under less than ideal circumstances in regard to the consistent pass rush applied by the Cowboy front seven. In the end, Johnson finished completing 22-of-42 passes (52%) for 273 yards and three touchdowns. I know he was forced to throw away several passes due to the pressure, but he also missed some open receivers on screens and short routes that would have helped his percentage. He needs to get that percentage up close to 60%. Twenty incompletions for no gain is simply too many wasted plays in the Big 12. Also, I don't care how much pressure is coming; Johnson must secure the ball and not leave it out with his arms fully extended while defensive ends are running by him. That's a recipe for disaster. Even on some of his completions when he had time, he waited too long to deliver the ball. Yes, he hit Nwachukwu on a 30 yard strike down the west sideline, but had he released the ball a second sooner when Nwachukwu first gained separation, it was an easy six points. But you can't argue with the precision on some of his throws, especially the two to Jamie McCoy in the endzone. That first one that was caught was placed perfectly and I'm not sure there's another QB in the league that could have made that throw under the circumstances. He did the same thing on the ball that was dropped. Johnson is a reflection of this team. He is a good quarterback who makes some great plays, but he's 2-3 mistakes per game from being a great signal caller with some impressive signature wins.

Running Back C-

Granted, the running backs didn't have a lot of room early in the game. However, for all the speed and talent of Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael, the longest run from scrimmage was a mere eight yards? The duo combined for just 79 yards on 25 carries. That's not going to cut, regardless of the offensive line. In the second half, there were opportunities to break off a few runs but the backs always seem a shoestring away from getting loose. This offense desperately needs some big plays from the ground game. With a struggling line in pass protection, the Aggies must do damage on the ground. I'm not talking about 5,6, or even 8 yard runs. They need a couple of 25-30 yard runs and the occasional 50-60 yarder that goes the distance. Until that happens, the running back position is underachieving.

Wide Receiver B-

Yes, Nwachukwu stepped up with 141 yards on six catches, and Morrow is progressing. However, this unit needs to step up bigger, especially on plays when the protection breaks down and Johnson buys time outside the pocket. It happened in the Arkansas game and the OSU game. The receivers stand around and don't improvise once the play breaks down. These are plays when receivers need to come back to the ball and find open space and give Johnson a chance to make a play downfield. These situations are golden opportunities to make huge plays and do real damage but Johnson typically throws the ball away. Yeah, some of it is on him for not finding someone open, but on the flip side the receivers need to do their part and stop standing around, come back to the ball, find an open space, and make a play.

Tight End B

It's a shame that Jamie McCoy missed that touchdown pass at the end of the half, because for the other 59:50 minutes of the game he played inspired ball. Unfortunately, games are typically decided on a handful of plays and your veteran senior tight end has to make that play. I did like his footwork and his low center of gravity on those quick hitters up the middle. That play has a chance to open up some other opportunities in the offense. McCoy is developing into a go-to guy in this offense and he can be a playmaker. However, he has to be consistent and make the big play EVERY time.

Offensive Line D-

What can I say that hasn't been said already? We all know it's a problem. The coaches know it's a problem, but unfortunately offensive line is one position on the field where there are no quick, easy answers. True freshmen can step in with relatively little development at RB, WR, and DB. However, with the offensive line, a freshman typically needs a year in the weight room replacing poor weight with good weight. Secondly, it's one of the most complex positions to learn mentally and freshmen have a hard time learning all the blocking schemes properly. This is the tragedy of the last regime. Not only did they leave the program when five seniors graduated, but they also left the pipeline virtually empty with a large incoming freshman class that was largely unheralded and not highly recruited. In essence, this program's OL pipeline was three years behind where it should have been – and we're in year two of rebuilding.


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