Granted, the Aggies jumped out to a 7-0 lead and carried a 21-10 lead to the halftime break, but with the Buffalo offense struggling early and folding under the pressure of the Texas A&M pass rush, the offense could have easily put up another 10-14 points and there wouldn't have been the drama of the second half.
When Jerrod Johnson is making good decisions and playing under control, he's one of the best quarterbacks in the country. For several series in the first half, Johnson was not making good decisions and the result was two straight three-and-out scenarios. Typically, the overriding factor is time and Johnson struggles when he's pressured in the pocket. However, on Saturday he generally had sufficient time to check down on his reads, but he still made some questionable decisions on some long pass attempts downfield to receivers that were well-covered. This was strange at the time given the success in the first two drives with screens and a controlled short passing game.
Granted, the defense allowed the Buffaloes to get back into the game and pull out the win, but the offense was in a position to break this game open in the first half and make a second half comeback a moot point.
It's not that Jerrod Johnson had a bad day. After all, he finished with 242 yards through the air and a touchdown, but his performance was a notch below the past two weeks. He missed on several passes and completed just 55% of his attempts. It started off well, with the first drive executed flawlessly with short passes and runs until the last two QB sneaks, and then Johnson orchestrated a touchdown on the team's second drive. But then Johnson and the offense inexplicably went away from the ball control game plan and started taking shots downfield on first down. These were bad decisions by Jerrod as the receivers were well-covered and he should have checked down to a dump off pass. This put the offense off-schedule on down and distance, especially with a struggling run game. As a result, the offense sandwiched Cyrus Gray's kickoff TD return with two three-and-outs. This occurred during Colorado's struggles to move the ball early, so A&M missed a couple of opportunities to run away from the Buffs and salt the game away in the first half.
Running Back B-
Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray combined for 115 yards on the ground. That's a far cry from the 200+ yards the two racked up the previous week against ISU. Yeah, Michael rattled off a nice 29 yard jaunt and Gray ripped off a 15 yard run, but the backs had troubles gaining yardage between the tackles and that complicated the play calling. A lot of that falls to the line, but Christine Michael needs to learn that this isn't high school and he can't stop, cut, and reverse on every running play. Sometimes you have to take what the play gives you and hit the hole, even if that means a short gain or a short loss. I thought both backs tried to do too much at times.
Wide Receiver B-
Uzoma Nwachukwu had a subpar outing. It may have been the lingering effects of last week's mild concussion or just a freshman having an off day. Either way, it hurt the passing game. He had two receptions for 37 yards, but there were some other long passes where I thought he had a chance to elevate and fight for the ball which is what makes him a special receiver. However, he didn't seem to fight for the ball on Saturday, and he dropped a couple of passes looking back into the sun. Ryan Tannehill picked up some of the slack having his best day this season, grabbing 9 balls for 100 yards and several key third down conversions. Jeff Fuller had one big catch late, but he wasn't Johnson's primary target. Ryan Swope is starting to establish himself as a weapon. The future is bright for Ryan. Even Kenric McNeal had a nice layout catch of 19 yards in the first half.
Tight End C-
What has happened to Jamie McCoy as a primary weapon in the middle of the field? He had all of one catch for eight yards, and that has been the trend for the past month. In 2008, McCoy had several monster games and was Johnson's favorite target. Now, he's doing more with his feet at the fullback spot than he is as a pass catching tight end. McCoy is a senior veteran and a playmaker, and he contributed 10 yards of offense on Saturday. That's a problem.
Offensive Line C+
The offensive line did a pretty good job of protecting Johnson in the pocket. Jerod generally had plenty of time to survey the field and check down on his reads. He was sacked once for a one yard loss. The line did have troubles controlling the point of attack, and that resulted in an inconsistent rushing game. In the previous two games, the line moved the point of attack downfield and the running backs were running downhill all game. On Saturday, the running backs did have some big runs, but for every nice run there were several no gainers. The inability to establish a push hurt the Aggies, most noticeably on the opening drive when the offense tried sneaking into the end zone twice without success. Near the end of the game and A&M looking to make it a two score game with a touchdown, Texas A&M had a first and goal from the seven. Without the confidence of its running game, the Aggies tried to throw it to the end zone on first down and then Christine Michael was dropped for a four yard loss. The Aggies reached the three yard line on third down, but problems running the ball in the red zone forced Sherman to kick a field goal and set-up CU's game winning drive.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE B-