Hop's Offensive Grades – Texas Tech

Wow. Learn to expect the unexpected in college football. Add in a rebuilding program like Texas A&M that utilizes as many as 18 true freshman, Aggie fans better hold on for a wild ride. Websider's David Sandhop grades the offense against Texas Tech

Wow. Learn to expect the unexpected in college football. Add in a rebuilding program like Texas A&M that utilizes as many as 18 true freshman and Aggie fans better hold on for a wild ride. Not that you didn't already know that after the 48-point embarrassment as a 5-point favorite last week and then this weekend's 22-point win in Lubbock as a 21-point underdog. Talk about your peaks and valleys.

It's been 16 years since the last Texas A&M victory in Lubbock, and there were some very good teams during that span. Yet, it was the 2009 team on a three game losing streak with so many freshmen in critical positions that ended the long streak against the nationally-ranked Red Raiders. This team was in shock after the Kansas State debacle, and it appeared the team was still in a funk when Texas Tech took the opening kick and promptly drove down for a touchdown in less than three minutes. Then, true freshman Uzoma Nwachukwu fumbled the ball back to the Red Raiders on the first play from scrimmage and the table was set for another late night 60-point beat down on the south plains. But the defense dug down and with the help of a couple of penalties, forced a punt from a short field.

From there, the offensive line and the Aggie running game took over and drove the length of the field to tie the game and shift the momentum. When it was all over, Texas A&M obliterated the Tech defensive front to the tune of 321 yards. The success on the ground not only led to pay dirt, but it kept the clock running and kept the Red Raider offense on the sideline.

From the midway point of the first quarter to the 13 minute mark of the third quarter, the A&M offense helped turn a Tech 7-0 lead into a 35-14 game controlled by the men of maroon. In that span of six drives, the Aggies scored five touchdowns and all five drives were greater than 70 yards (86, 78, 71, 73, 78). That's how you win football games, and that's how you get an A on your report card for the week.

Quarterback A

Jerrod Johnson made few mistakes and made many big plays. His passing numbers weren't extraordinary but that was because the running game was clicking and he only attempted 28 passes, completing 19 throws for 238 yards and a touchdown. However, Johnson did not make a mistake and executed the offense to perfection. He also made excellent decisions in the pocket and made several big runs for first downs. He finished with 82 yards on the ground (not counting the sack loss). It was a great game for the Aggie signal caller.

Running Back A+

This was the game I was looking for from the running backs. Both Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael broke the century mark. I liked that both players ran the ball hard and moved the pile forward, but it was the big play that the duo delivered that really stood out. Michael had a great cut at the line of scrimmage that sprung him for a 44 yard touchdown while Gray reeled off a nice 20 yard gain. The duo combined for five touchdowns. That's what you want to see from your running backs.

Wide Receiver A-

The wide receiver unit must be docked on its grade due to the early fumble by Uzoma Nwachukwu that threatened to knock the Aggies out of this game just four minutes into the first quarter. We'll never know what would've happened had Tech scored on the fumble deep in A&M territory. At 14-0, the A&M coaching staff may have quickly abandoned the dedication to the run game. By the way, Nwachukwu did redeem himself later in the quarter when he fought for a jump ball and made a 41-yard catch that set-up the tying touchdown at 14-14. He finished as the leading receiver with 79 yards on four grabs. The numbers weren't impressive on the surface (because the offense ran the ball so much), but the catches made were typically in a critical down and distance. When Tech had cut the lead down to two scores and A&M was staring at a third-and-four, Jeff Fuller made a huge 12 yard catch to extend the drive and seal the win. The passing game doesn't need to generate 300+ yards to be successful. When A&M needed the passing game, Johnson and the receivers delivered.

Tight End A

Jamie McCoy had a solid game with four catches for 39 yards, but his grade is rounded higher given a critical catch in traffic for a first down when he took a vicious hit and still held on to the ball. He also was part of the blocking performance up-front.

Offensive Line A+

This unit has been the punch line for every Aggie fan's joke this fall and they've gotten some of my lowest grades of the season – until now. Word surfaced that Coach Sherman invited the line over to his house for a little "man-to-man" talk and to watch the Rumble in the Jungle. Sherman's message – this game is more about them as men as it is about them as football players. And who said Sherman wasn't a good motivator? The much maligned offensive line proceeded to physically whip what was touted as a pretty strong Tech defensive front. They won the battle of the trenches easily. Amazingly, out of 47 carries by the Aggie running backs, there was only ONE carry for negative yardage and that was a one yard loss. For me, that is the stat of the game. The success upfront gave A&M favorable down-and-distance most of the night. That was reflected with a third down conversion rate over 60%. The line also gave Johnson time to throw and allowed only one sack on the night. I'll give them a well-deserved A+ this week.


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