Game Observations

The running scheme, a match-up of Bulldogs, Sweed's push-off and more. Inside Texas' Ross Lucksinger gives his observations from the Longhorns' loss to the Aggies.

-This was exactly the style of game that Texas A&M was hoping for. It was a grind it out, low scoring game where the Aggies could spend the majority of the contest controlling the clock. Something else that greatly contributed to this was the wind. Kicks with the wind carried out of the back of the endzone and passing into the sharp wind Texas faced during two quarters was a challenge. All three touchdowns scored in the game were scored with the wind (north endzone). Mack Brown acknowledged the impact of the wind after the game.

"It was a factor today," said Brown. "That's why their running attack was better than our passing attack the two quarters we were against the wind."

-I was right in my prediction that A&M was going to be able to move the ball, but not in the way that I thought they were going to do it. Although the Aggies run more than they pass, they have a very efficient passing game. Stephen McGee has thrown for over 2,000 yards, yet only has two interceptions on the season. They don't get a lot of big plays from the passing game, but they utilize it when necessary and my prediction was that, just as Texas A&M surprised Texas with the option last year, they would surprise Texas by coming out in the spread this year. At least that's what I would have done having watched this Texas defense all season.

I was wrong. Texas A&M ran the ball and ran it hard. They were not afraid to go straight at statistically the toughest run D in the country, but that's the nature of a rivalry game. This is what is truly meant by "throw out the records." Any team that is unfamiliar with the Longhorns and their personnel would likely shape their offense, if flexible enough, around attacking the weakest perceived point of the defense. But the Aggies were not afraid to go right at Texas.

-The Longhorns, on the other hand, did not go straight at Texas A&M. The Texas running game is predicated on moving the line laterally down the field while the running back looks for a seam. If the seam never develops, then the play tends to get strung out all the way to the sideline. Effective if your line is creating holes, but that wasn't happening against A&M.

This running scheme has received a lot of criticism from fans, but Texas running back Selvin Young, perhaps frustrated by the loss, let his thoughts on the play calling finally be known.

After the game, Young was asked if he'd prefer to see more under-center, downhill running from the offense and he responded: "Of course. Faster you're going downhill, the more chance you have of breaking long runs. You can see the excitement in the offense when we're going downhill."

This isn't necessarily an indictment of the coaching staff. Young was simply stating his preference in the style of a running game, but the players are trained by Texas to always remain positive when talking to various media and it's really as close as a player has gotten in a long time to criticizing play calling.

It certainly would be a welcome change, especially if the Longhorns' bowl opponent has linebackers like A&M that can get to the outside. The Aggies were able to stop the Texas running game by stringing the play out and a team with a solid middle linebacker, like A&M's Justin Warren, can easily stop the side to side run by getting outside and hitting the lead blocker before he's able to open a seam for the running back.

This style of running is only effective if you have a true running threat at quarterback. A dangerous runner freezes the linebackers for only a split second because they have to respect the zone read. That split second is all the offense needs, because it allows the lead blocker, such as a pulling guard, to hit the linebacker a yard further upfield. By this point, the running back has already made his cut and is off to the races. Colt McCoy, especially an injured Colt McCoy, is not that running threat.

-It was a big day for the town of Burnet, Texas. Longhorn Wide receiver Jordan Shipley and Aggie quarterback McGee were teammates at Burnet high school and there was a great deal of publicity before the game about their first match-up.

This day McGee got the better of Shipley, in both the win and the stat column. McGee was 7-of-13 passing for 58 yards and rushed 18 times for 95 yards and a touchdown. Shipley only had a single catch in the game for 16 yards.

Another match-up of Burnet players may be in the works. A possible bowl game opponent for Texas is Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, which would mark the third time this season players from Burnet's state-finalist teams will face each other, as Arkansas tight end Mason Templeton was also a teammate of Shipley's (the first was when McGee and A&M took on Army and outside linebacker Luke Pell).

-One of the most important plays of the game was the Texas touchdown that was called back on an offensive pass interference call on WR Limas Sweed. While there was contact on the play, my reaction was "that's the one you call him on?!"

Sweed pushed off on almost every single touchdown reception of the season, sometimes slightly, sometimes more so, but was never flagged. Ironically, it was probably Sweed's least serious infraction of the entire season, but only now did the flag come out.

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