No easy wins left for A&M
Published: Monday, September 20, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07
There's nothing to sugarcoat; nothing to palliate; nothing to celebrate.
Just over two years after Arkansas State, another Sun Belt team waltzed into Kyle Field and nearly supplied Texas A&M with a crippling, program-altering loss. Just over two years after one of the more embarrassing losses in the history of A&M football, another Sun Belt squad offered up a harsh dose of reality.
And after a 27-20 escape, here's hoping the entire A&M offense — starting at the top with Head Coach Mike Sherman — expresses sincere and abundant gratitude towards Tim DeRuyter and his newly-improved defensive unit.
Because if not for the aggressive, attacking, inspired play on that side of the football, this Aggie season, and Sherman's job security for that matter, go down the drain in week three.
"The defense carried us today," Sherman said after the game in the understatement of the year.
With iffy play calling — the Aggies started the game by dropping back to pass seven times in a row — careless and unfocused football from the signal caller and enigmatic play from the offensive line, the A&M offensive unit put the other side of the ball in bind after bind after bind.
Yet, time and again, the Aggie defense rose to the challenge and seemingly kept the team in the game.
They pounded the line of scrimmage with outstanding play, penetration and disruption from their defensive line, starting with senior defensive end Lucas Patterson. The linebackers, led by junior Garrick Williams, flew to the ball and made plays from sideline to sideline. The secondary was aggressive and harassing as they shut down the Golden Panthers' dangerous passing attack.
And senior "joker" Von Miller made his triumphant return to an opponents' backfield in one of the most impressive performances of his career — with a gimpy ankle, to boot. Though he only totaled one sack, his pressure off the edge and leadership on the sideline throughout the fourth quarter was the overriding reason for this defense's success.
"I looked everybody in the eye, though I'm not really a talker, and let them know that I was here for them and I was going to give my best, and I expected the same out of them," Miller said. "I told them this is the fourth quarter, it's time, let's go and take it. I really think it was the Aggie Spirit that kept us alive out there."
Regardless, the story for the next week and a half is this struggling offense and its quarterback. Instead of fine-tuning this supposedly-vaunted, potent unit, the Aggies nearly threw away a game against a team whose record since moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision is now 9-41.
Senior quarterback Jerrod Johnson, the conference's preseason offensive player of the year, is not right and has not been right since his offseason shoulder surgery. Coupled with a mechanics overhaul, his throws lack any sort of zip and consistently flutter out of his hand.
But more disconcerting than anything is that Johnson reverted back to his sophomore self. He made poor reads at the line of scrimmage and worse decisions at the snap of the ball. He was careless and imprudent with the football, and it should have cost his team a game against an inferior, cupcake opponent. Simple as that.
Yes, A&M is 3-0. For that, they can thank a boisterous Twelfth Man and a fast-improving defense.
But with Oklahoma State, a team that has outscored its first three opponents 171-83, looming next on the docket, the harsh dose of reality served up Saturday at Kyle Field is bound to get harsher.