Sunday, September 02, 2007

Montana St. Postgame Comments

It's Sunday night and I'm finally feeling rehydrated so I'll get some thoughts about the game on paper before they flit out of my head. I haven't come across any video from the game, so everything here is based on my observations from the game. Without video I find it nearly impossible to evaluate offensive line play and the run defense. Like I said, I'm working from memory, so if I get something wrong please feel free to correct me in the comment section.

A win here is win. You don't get style points for beating I-AA teams no matter how you go about doing it, so better to play conservatively and move on. In the end, I felt like this was a workmanlike, grinding win. Nothing that A&M did was flashy. Some areas of concern were apparent, but I see also plenty of reason for optimism (especially in the passing game). So, while I would probably rate the Aggie's overall performance as solidly "meh", its a "meh" that I found myself very satisfied with.

Offense
-Stephen McGee seemed to struggle early in the passing game (his rushing ability was good all game long). Somewhere in the middle of the 3rd quarter though, he seemed to settle in and his throws became noticeably more accurate. This wasn't really reflected in the stats though because...

-The wide receivers couldn't catch a cold. On several occasions passed hit receivers in the hands and were dropped. EJ Shankle may be lightning quick, but until he can reliably catch the football I don't think he'll see the field much. Three completions to WR's on the game isn't going to get it done. This needs to improve. (Although, like I said, McGee got better as the game went along. I'm think the pass game will improve and I'm excited to see how much better they are next week.)

-Mike Goodson was probably A&M's best all-around player. I was very happy to see him used in the pass game. He is going to be very, very effective this season.

-Martellus Bennett was pretty quiet, although he did have the best pass break up of the game. Too bad the pass was about to be caught by Chris Alexander in the back corner of the endzone.

-Micheal Corey played a lot at WR. He was surprisingly effective in the spring game and I hope he continues to play. Corey seems like an enthusiastic blocker and his height makes him a potential threat in the red zone, something that A&M needs.

-Chris Alexander quietly had a great game. Jorvorskie Lane was Jorvorskie Lane.

-Jerrod Johnson flashed the raw athleticism that gets everybody so excited in the fourth quarter. He is one heck of a runner. Watching his TD pass live, I really thought it was a poor throw with a great catch. On replay though, Johnson put the ball the only place he could. Good work by Terrance McCoy to recognize this and make a nice low catch for the score.

Defense
-Micheal Bennett was very, very good when rushing the quarterback. He batted down two passes and by getting up the air, rushed a third throw that ended up being a functional throwaway. I'm not really sold on him against the run, but it will be nice to have pressure coming from both sides this season.

-I didn't really see much from the rest of line. (And that isn't necessarily a bad thing, just nothing stands out in my memory.) Chris Harrington and Cyril Obiozor both had nice numbers. Lucas Patterson looked competent and I find that encouraging.

-At linebacker, Mark Dodge and Misi Tupe looked like A&M's best options. Matt Featherstone and Anthony Lewis played extensively, both are great athletes, but neither exhibited the instincts that Dodge and Tupe possess. Lewis had a nice blitz or two and I didn't see a play out of either that made me groan. The future seems bright at this position.

-In the secondary, both Jordan Peterson and Arkeith Brown had textbook pass break ups. Marquis Carpenter had a nice game (including an interception) and looked like he was having a lot of fun. Montana State's biggest pass play of the game came right before the half. Live it looked like Peterson got burned, but on replay I think that perhaps Devin Gregg was supposed to have the deep spot in the double coverage. Gregg was outrun deep, something that will have to be fixed as the season goes along.

Special Teams
-The kickoff and kick return teams were excellent. Both of these units should be a plus for A&M this season.

-The punt unit looked good but not spectacular. They should be fine.

-I was all set to praise Jordan Peterson here for making some good decisions and not trying to do to much in the punt return game. Then he goes out and badly muffs a punt catch and now I'm not sure what to think about this area. Peterson isn't dynamic enough to justify his continued use here if he doesn't have great hands. If Shankle's hands improve, I could see him being good here.

-Like I said, comments are welcome and encouraged.

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