I'll be honest with you. I didn't watch much of Texas A&M this year. I never really had a ton of interest in them when they were in the Big 12, after they left they became even more irrelevant in my world. ESPN's love affair with Johnny Manziel only further guaranteed my lack of caring.
However, now we have to care. Which is obviously the purpose behind a post like this and ones like it to follow. The plan is to do this for multiple Texas A&M games to get a better feel for what we might see on January 4th.
As I said, I haven't watched much of the Aggies this year. That said, I wouldn't necessarily say I'm going in blind either. These are admittedly generic, but here is what I think I know about Texas A&M before we get started.
Manziel's biggest asset is his ability to make something out of nothing. Wide receiver Mike Evans is a beast. Ryan Swope has been in College Station for 27 years. They have two NFL offensive tackles. Ben Malena and Christine Michael are a good, but not great running back duo. Damontre Moore is really good.
Okay, so this will be a little bit different than what we do for OU games. I'm just going to go through the game and summarize some of my takeaway, rather than referencing specific plays (for obvious reasons). I'll obviously be watching things from an Oklahoma perspective and how they might match-up in similar situations. And that's where things may get tricky. I say that because the A&M games I'm planning on watching (UF, LSU, & Bama) feature defenses, specifically front sevens, that OU cannot come close to. To be fair, none of those teams have an offense on par with Oklahoma either so it's obviously a bit of a give and take. So long as we all keep that in mind, I still believe this can be a worth while venture.
If you go back and look at the box score, it's pretty obvious this was the Aggies first game on the season. They were held to just 334 yards of total offense and while some of that credit certainly belongs with what we know now was a very good Florida defense, the A&M offense was clearly still working through things as every team does this early in the season.
* One thing to keep in mind here early is this was actually Texas A&M's first game of the season. Their season opener against Louisiana Tech was postponed, so their SEC opener was also their season opener. Not an easy task to say the least.
* Want to know what nobody missed? Fake wannabe "soldiers" and male cheerleaders.
* Scary similarity just minutes into this game as Florida goes with a three man defensive line on third and long, Manziel recognizes this and calls his own number, easily running for a long first down.
* Like what I'm seeing from Florida's Matt Elam early in this game, mainly because he and Tony Jefferson are very similar players. Elam is all over the field and I suspect Jefferson will have to do the same.
* Perfect example of Manziel's abilities as he scrambles away from a would be sack, drawing multiple defenders to him, leaving a wide open receiver in the end zone. Manziel almost throws a hook shot type pass for what would have been a touchdown, but he was a yard past the line of scrimmage. The touchdown is called back, but that's the kind of plays he can make.
* The hardest part of this is easily going to be having to watch four quarters of the Florida offense.
* If A&M plays as far off the OU wide receivers as they are Florida's in this game, Landry Jones could have a field day.
* It's pretty clear they are taking no chances with Manziel throwing the ball in this first half. Again, it's their first game of the season with a redshirt freshman starting quarterback but every throw so far has been within 5-7 yards of the line of scrimmage.
* There really isn't a lot different from Sumlin's version of the 'Air Raid' offense than Mike Leach's with the obvious (and significant) exception being the threat of Manziel making plays with his legs. If, and that's obviously a big if, you can keep him in the pocket, the odds of him beating you drop drastically.
* There will definitely be opportunities for this Oklahoma secondary to get some interceptions. Manziel takes a lot of chances just throwing balls up for grabs. I understand he only has eight INTs on the season, but there have been a couple instances already in this first half where Florida could have picked him off but didn't.
* A&M is moving the ball up and down the field, but much like Oklahoma once they get the ball inside the twenty the problems start. Will be interesting to see if that continues in the later games we'll breakdown.
* I'm quite confident if I were an A&M fan I'd love it, but this Manziel kid celebrates everything like he just won the national championship.
* Kevin Sumlin is having fun on the sidelines and it shows. When is the last time you saw Bob Stoops have fun? Like it or not, kids respond to guys like Sumlin. I'll just throw something out there. Is Stoops' business-like approach to everything ultimately bad for this program?
* A&M doing quite a bit of stunting with Moore to try and confuse the UF offensive line and allow Moore clean shots on Driskel.
* Oklahoma has two really, really good corners, but Mike Evans is going to be a problem.
* I'd put Justin Brown on former OU commit Devante Harris and throw at him all night long. Brown will have a significant size advantage and should be able to easily body Harris off for catch after catch.
* A&M has six sacks in the game midway through the third quarter, but only one of them has been the product of any kind of substantial pass rush. The other five have all been 100% coverage sacks.
* This Texas A&M defense can definitely be run on, but is this Oklahoma team capable of capitalizing on that? They've struggled to run it consistently all year, but keeping the ball out of Manziel's hands would be their best defense. Guys like Damien Williams and Trey Millard should, I stress should (with Heupel), have big games.
* The Aggies have done A TON of stunting in this game with their defensive line.
* I wouldn't necessarily say Florida is having a ton of success running the ball against this Aggie defense, but the yards they are getting are definitely up the middle. You know Heupel has got to love seeing that.
* I much as I would love, and I mean absolutely love, for some lucky OU defender to land the kill shot on Manziel I just don't see how it happens. He's so shifty when he runs, even when he gets hit rarely is it a clean shot.
* Really boring second half.
Okay, so Texas A&M winds up blowing a seven point halftime lead and putting up less than a 100 yards of offense in the second half. I'll definitely reserve judgment on their offense for all the reasons mentioned above, namely that is was their first game of the season. Even with that, you could tell that Manziel is a player. Of course there was no way to predict what kind of numbers he'd put up this season, but his ability to extend plays was/is certainly very impressive.
As for their defense, I think the best way to describe what I saw in this game is "meh." A lot of that has to do with this horrible Florida offense, but A&M didn't really do anything that stood out either. As I mentioned above, a lot of stunting with their defensive line to try and create confusion and manufacture pressure on the quarterback. Their secondary, in a game with very little threat at from the opponent's wide receivers, played a very soft coverage throughout. One can only hope that will be the case in the bowl game.
We'll learn more of course as we watch another game or two, but some good initial insight to this Texas A&M team.
Get at me in the comments if you found this to be at all helpful and/or worth the read. Also, let me know if there is anything I didn't spend enough time on that you'd like me to focus on next time.