Texas, Our Texas
I'm a big believer in the theory that football teams need to learn to win, that programs are built one win at a time. It's no coincidence that a young Ohio State team swung a huge upset in Ann Arbor in 2001 then went on win the MNC the following year. Or that Auburn pulled out a tight win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl in 2003 to set up their own undefeated season. Even more immediately, Texas came from behind to conquer Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl, setting the stage for the glory to follow.
It's certainly not my intent to predict a national championship for Texas A&M, but I find it hard to feel this week that the Aggie football program is headed anywhere but up. After all the heartache and pain that was Texas Tech, Nebraska and Oklahoma, Coach Fran finally has the win that will forever define the 2006 version of the Aggies. With a single interception by Japhus Brown (where has he been all season?) all the disappointment of three losses by a combined six points lifted and the future looks bright indeed.
My thoughts on the game itself:
-Much has been said already about the OPI call on Sweed in the endzone. The stillframe certainly shows that Gorrer took a full blow in the face, but watching the game live I thought that it was a weak call at best. The Aggies were victimized by a push-off against Nebraska on the game-winning touchdown and they were probably due for a break. This is, of course, no solace to Longhorn fans.
-The other controversy seems to be surrounding Kellen Heard's late hit on Colt McCoy. I've seen a number of Aggie fans on TexAgs.com that question whether there even should have been a penalty, but I think that the officials handled the situation correctly. I've finally found a camera view that shows the entire sequence and the hit was clearly late. Even if the play had still been going, Heard deserved a similar penalty for blocking from behind. I do however stop short of calling for a suspension for Heard or any other of the other overreactions I have seen online. I'm confident that the Aggies will handle punishment in-house properly. In the future refs and fans are sure to watch Heard very closely and if cheap shots develop into a pattern I will be forced to change my mind. (And yes, I'm aware that Heard has taken a number of personal fouls this season, but I'm hoping that the ejection will serve as proof of a need for a turnaround. Here's hoping he takes the hint.)
Heroes of the Game
-On offense, I'll go with the offense line who gave the running game just enough room to pound the best rushing defense in the Big XII into oblivion when it counted.
-On defense, Mark Dodge not only had the big interception, he also made the tackle that killed the Longhorn's opening drive. I'm looking forward to him as a full-time starter next season.
-Justin Brantly had another nice game punting the ball to lead the special teams.