Reaction to the La Tech Game
Having had 24 hours to reflect a bit on last night's game, its getting just about time to put some thoughts down on paper (or what passes for paper these days). This was my third game at Kyle Field and was, without a doubt, both the oddest and the most inspiring.
I first heard about the threat of bad weather Friday night and through the day Saturday the news only got worse and worse. By noon it looked distinctly possible that we were going to be in the midst of a severe thunderstorm right about the time that I was riding my bike home. As the day progressed, it became obvious that the rough stuff would be here sooner than expected.
I hopped on the bicycle about a quarter after five and was in my seat by 5:40 with some pretty nasty clouds looming to the north. About 10 minutes before the kick off the powers-that-be decided it would be better to delay the start of the game than stop it mid way through the first quarter for the impending lightning. The announcer urged everyone to seek shelter, but we were under the overhang in the last row of the first deck and so we just stayed put.
Before long College Station was in the middle of a torrential downpour, with lightning off to the north showcasing intensity to match the rain. After quite a drenching the rain slackened but the lightning remained, continuing to delay the game. It was about this time that some alert students went down the first row and started an improptu yell practice. The spirit of the student section made me proud to be able to call myself an Aggie. Even better was the number of fans that showed up when the game was finally allowed to start at 8, two hours after the originally scheduled kickoff.
Having been part of a lengthy lightning delay as a player in high school, I'm of the opinion that it is very difficult to come back out and play with a normal level of focus and intensity. Its also not easy to predict which team will react better to the interruption. Last night that team was La Tech who came out and moved the ball on their opening possession, before the Ags defense tightened up and forced a punt. The Aggie offense spent the first drive in the shadow of their own goal, failing to gain a first down. After trading the ball for the majority of the 1st quarter, La Tech capitalized with a long touchdown run following an A&M fumble to take the early lead. Unfortunately for La Tech, this would be the high point of their game as Texas A&M rolled off 38 straight points to take control of the game for good.
The defense in particular deserves commendation as for the second straight game they made a huge goalline stand. By stopping the Bulldogs on the first three tries from inside the five, the Aggie defense extended the opportunity for a La Tech mistake, one that came in the form of a botched snap with Devin Gregg recovered on the 1 yard line. A mere six plays later, the A&M offense converted on the second touchdown pass of the day to Chris Alexander to take a 35-7 lead and seal the outcome.
Before the game I had complained about Coach Fran's playcalling being too predictable, especially on the Jorvorskie smash (my name, not his). On this particular play, A&M lines up in power I with a flanker as the second fullback who is then sent in motion to his regular position. Prior to halftime last night every time this formation had been used it led to a Lane run between the tackles. On the last play of the 99 yard drive A&M lined up this way again and with everybody in the stadium looking for the Jorvorskie smash (La Tech included) McGee faked the handoff and made the easy throw to Alexander in the front corner of the endzone. A beautiful setup and hopefully one that can be used again before the season is over.
Following this game, I've decided that A&M belongs in my top 25, a decision that I had postponed following last week's debacle in the Alamodome. I'm willing to write off the first quarter as the result of a weather induced funk and say that A&M is a much improved team. Here is hoping that they don't make me look silly next week when Texas Tech comes to town.
I'll close with some heroes of the game:
-Stephen McGee who had arguably the best game of his career going 17/28 for 316 yards and 3 TDs. Your guess is as good as mine as to why A&M only threw the ball 11 times last week. Particularly impressive were the number of smart throwaways that McGee made after eluding pressure. The fact that, as a sophomore, he isn't forcing things is a very good sign for the future.
-Arkeith Brown who was matched up against the superb Johnathon Holland for most of the night and held Holland to 3 catches for 27 yards.
-Justin Brantly whose punts bring new meaning to the term "rainmaker." This kid has a leg that is just unbelievable. La Tech learned in the first quarter that it isn't good to try and trade field position with A&M.