Graham Harrell had a fantastic outing. Harrell is a Sophomore, who threw for nearly 400 yards with a 71% completion rate, four TDs, zero interceptions, and led a game-winning drive at one of the loudest environments in the nation against a motivated and talented team when their coaching staff perhaps needed to win the game to save their jobs. I realize that was a horribly wordy and preposition-filled excuse for a sentence, but it illustrates the extent of what Harrell accomplished. How there are people who still don't believe in Graham is beyond me.
Shannon Woods continues to be a huge part of the Red Raiders' success. While today's effort was not that phenomenal statistically, Shannon made a drastic difference in the ball game, particularly with his blocking and catching out of the backfield. Woods has been more of a factor than many people will notice, as he keeps defenses honest. Shannon is also only a Sophomore, which should scare our competition for the next few years. We have reloaded in life after Taurean, and we have Woods to thank.
The receiving corps is officially back. It appears that Jarrett Hicks was the missing cog after all, because he alters coverages and allows the other wideouts to dominate. The receivers were running free in the Aggie secondary, especially Robert Johnson and Joel Filani. RoJo was a touchdown machine, while Filani piled up the yards. Additionally, there were crucial catches made by Eric Morris and Hicks. Something tells me that the supposedly improved A&M secondary isn't going to be getting much credit for a while.
For a unit riddled with injuries, the offensive line played well. The big story here was Brandon Carter, who came in for an injury-plagued left side of the line. Collectively, the unit managed to keep Harrell from getting sacked, which was arguably the reason that he was able to pick the secondary apart. The run blocking was very good, and the upperclassmen stepped up their game. Also, the snaps looked improved, which helped out quite a bit.
The poor play in the second half in defending the option was offset by the great effort of Keyunta Dawson. Keyunta played like the Senior leader that we expect him to be, and was a huge part of shutting A&M down in the first half. However, Jorvorskie Lane busted through the line far too well, which is a scary precedent when the defense has to play Henry Melton and the Texas running attack later in the year. Still, they managed to step it up and force an A&M field goal on their last scoring drive, so they deserve credit.
The linebackers needed be more of a factor in defending the option. To handle the option, you need two people in the area. One person has to handle the quarterback, and one defender must take the pitch man. There were several plays where the help on the outsides was not there, and that was the fault of the linebackers. Still, their pass coverage was very good, and forced the A&M defense to become predictable. That being said, their play needs to improve if we plan on shutting down rushing teams.
Joe Garcia and Chris Parker had quite an impact on the outcome of the game. Garcia was in on all kinds of tackles as he provided some much-needed run support. Chris Parker had an early interception that was pivotal for momentum. Also, there was one play in which Parker was left all alone on an option, and defended it perfectly. He faked like he was going after the McGee, which froze the QB. Then, he correctly went after the pitch man, who had an open path down the sideline and forced the play back inside for a shorter gain.
The kickoff coverage was obviously lacking, as the Aggies first TD came on a 99-yard kickoff return. Also, the final kickoff going out of bounds and giving them good field position in the waning moments of the game was a bit scary. However, Trlica played very well, and did everything asked of him. The punt coverage was very good, and L.A. Reed deserves special commendation for downing a punt on the 1-yard line. He just needs to watch where his feet were next time, as we got away with one there. The refs threw a makeup call in the form of pass interference to compensate, though.
This was a good effort by the team as a whole. It is always impressive to win in a tough environment on the road over a motivated team. The defense struggled a bit in the second half, as did the offense. However, in the crunch, the players stepped up and got the win. Yet another Aggie team gets defeated in demoralizing fashion, and TTU solidifies its place as the superior program. Leach and company have done it again, and deserve credit for it.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org