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1. We knew that the Texas A&M Aggies would play the Florida Gators closer than most thought. When we broke both teams down in Friday’s Daily Six Shooter, it was clear that this was going to be a tight game the whole way and that whichever line held up better would win the game. What we didn’t expect was for the Aggies to lead most of the way and then blow the game in the 4th quarter losing 20-17, just like what happened so often to this Aggie team in 2011.
You have to give the A&M defense credit though, especially for the yeoman’s job they did in the 2nd half when the Aggie offense totaled just 49 yards of offense compared to the nearly 300 they gained in the first half. They dug in and played sort of a bend-but-don’t-break type of half as Florida tried to wear them down. The Gators asserted their dominance running the ball, establishing the run to set up big plays in the passing game.
Also give credit to Johnny Manziel. The Aggies had trouble running the ball all game as Christine Michael just couldn’t establish himself. His longest run of the game was just seven yards and he averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. Manziel, however, accounted for 233 yards on the day. And remember, this was Manziel’s first career game as an Aggie quarterback. As great as the SEC claims to be, A&M won’t play teams as good as Florida every week. I like the Aggies to make some noise this season and play better than everyone expected, maybe even pull an upset at home.
They’ll get a couple of chances. While Arkansas dropped from #8 to completely out of the rankings following a loss to Louisiana-Monroe, they’ll likely be ranked by the time they play at Kyle Field on September 29. And then there’s the big one: #3 LSU on October 20. A&M will have time to improve before then, but right now they need to worry about the running game because if they had run better on Saturday, we might be talking about an Aggie upset instead the Aggies once again just being a big upset.
Photo courtesy Cooper Neill/Getty Images
2. It was a much easier and more satisfying victory for the Texas Longhorns this week when they beat the New Mexico Lobos 45-0 rather than last week when they allowed big plays and struggled to put away the Wyoming Cowboys.
But the final score wasn’t quite indicative of how well New Mexico played in the first half. The Lobos gave the Longhorns defense trouble with that triple option. We said on Friday that the Lobos would present a challenge and they did. The Texas defensive line wasn’t getting penetration on every play and that allowed UNM to play disciplined on their blocks and get a lot of first downs, dominating time of possession in the first half.
The Lobos offense might have closed out the first half better and played better in the 2nd half though if their starting quarterback BR Holbrook hadn’t been knocked out of the game early in the 2nd quarter. After that play, New Mexico just wasn’t as solid on offense and Texas started to assert it’s dominance.
Speaking of the offense, David Ash looked a little better throwing the ball and made some nice plays with his feet, including a 49-yard touchdown run, but I’d still like to see him pull the trigger on more long throws and show that he can make those plays.
The other interesting development was Joe Bergeron’s dominance when it came to carries early in the game. Bergeron had 11 attempts for 49 yards and a touchdown. Malcolm Brown had just two carries all game. Now this was a blowout, and Texas got a lot of their running backs down the depth chart work, but it was interesting to see the lack of Brown’s presence on the field. We’ll see if this is a continuing trend as the season goes on.
3. Texas State was riding high after taking down the Houston Cougars last week, but Texas Tech was determined to bring them back down to Earth and they did so early and often in their 58-10 win. On the Cougars first offensive possession, the Red Raiders returned an interception for a touchdown. Then Texas Tech recovered an onside kick and proceeded to score again. It was 28-0 before Texas State finally put points on the board, but Tech was just too good and too fast for them in San Marcos on Saturday.
We don’t know how the game would have been different if Texas State running back Marcus Curry hadn’t been sidelined with a strained quadricep. Maybe the Bobcats could have made this a better game, but considering how the offensive line looked against a Big 12 foe, it’s unlikely. Meanwhile, both Red Raiders quarterbacks (Seth Doege was pulled late in the blowout) averaged over nine yards per attempt and, with limited rushes, Tech averaged more than eight yards per carry.
On Friday, we said to watch out for Kenny Williams and he didn’t disappoint even though he got less than 10 touches. Williams ran for 62 yards on just five carries including a touchdown. When Tech has to play a tougher opponent and wants to run the ball, we expect they’ll put it in his hands when they need to make something happen on the ground.
Photo courtesy Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
4. Welcome to the NFL, Robert Griffin III. It doesn’t get much tougher than playing the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome in your first game as a rookie, but RG3 pulled it off nicely, bringing home a 40-32 win in his first official NFL game. After watching Griffin lead his team the way he did on Sunday, a lot of people are likely changing their minds about what the Redskins can accomplish this season with a rookie quarterback.
In watching Robert Griffin III play so well in New Orleans, the thing I was most impressed with was that he wasn’t overly reliant upon his athleticism as a runner. There were a lot of times where he had room to run and could have gained five yards or busted a big play if some things had gone his way, but instead RG3 was always looking downfield. Not only that, he was really good at hitting his receivers even when he was on the run. He finished the game 19-26 for 320 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest play was an 88 yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon. Griffin was hit as he threw to Garcon on the cross.
Even if you take away that play, RG3 still averaged more than nine yards per attempt which is an impressive number for a rookie. But of course, what makes him so dangerous is his speed and elusiveness when he can’t find anyone open. He picks his spots, but he can make you pay if he has some open field. His offensive line played well and Alfred Morris was a revelation as a solid running back to hand off to. The Redskins defense also held up well against such a high-powered offense like New Orleans.
It’s hard not to overreact to such a good game, but look at the schedule. The Redskins may be able to keep this up for a while. Their next three games are at St. Louis, home against Cincinnati, and then at Tampa Bay. A 4-0 start is not out of the realm of possibility after what Washington showed at the Superdome.
Photo courtesy Peter Aiken/Getty Images
5. There were a lot of big players who were making long-anticipated returns to the regular season after being injured for most of 2011. As good, or as bad, as someone may look in the preseason, the only time performances matter is the regular season. Jamaal Charles is one of those guys that we were watching.
Charles looked great in his return to action for the Kansas City Chiefs in their 40-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, running for 87 yards on just 16 carries. He still had that burst of speed and showed it on a first half run that went for 46 yards. He didn’t get into the endzone and didn’t make any catches, but I wouldn’t worry about Charles for the rest of the season. I expect him to get faster now that he’s back to seeing action on the field more often now.
For you fantasy football owners, Peyton Hillis was expected to be his backup an 3rd down back and the guy that would step in if Charles got hurt again. But Hillis didn’t look very good. In fact, it was Shaun Draughn that looked much better with the ball. He had a better average and nearly as many carries as Hillis, plus he scored a touchdown. Watch out to see if Draughn’s role is expanded as the season goes on.
6. Finally, it wasn’t a great weekend for the Texas Rangers as they lost a three game series in Tampa to the Rays. The first two games of the series required extra innings, but last night’s loss was a 6-0 beating that really couldn’t have gone worse.
The Rangers only managed two hits in last night’s shutout, bringing their run total for the series to a lowly five, but Roy Oswalt got hurt in his start. We’ve been advocating for Oswalt to take over that #5 spot in the rotation with Texas going on a bad string of losing just about every Scott Feldman start. Oswalt finally got his shot last night and only lasted two innings as he left the game with tightness in his elbow. He didn’t look great before that either, giving up four runs including to homers.
Martin Perez stepped in and pitched well in relief, only giving up two runs in five innings of work. Oswalt said that he’d be fine after a few days rest and would be ready to go back to work, but Perez stepped up and threw well so not only is Perez in line to take Oswalt’s spot as the Rangers long reliever, but I’d go so far as to give him a shot at the #5 spot in the rotation. He’s got some experience from earlier this year. In his three starts this season, he never gave up more than two earned runs and pitched six innings for a quality start in two of them.
Texas has to have a sense of urgency. The Oakland A’s are just three games back in the division and for the best record in the AL. This series loss, their first since losing to the New York Yankees nearly a month ago, hopefully serves as a wakeup call for the rest of the team that now is the time for everyone to step up. A couple of more series losses, especially with seven games left against the A’s, could mean losing the division.
Extra Shot: Well, there’s one more thing. The Houston Astros won their three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend. It’s their first series win in nearly a month since they took down the Milwaukee Brewers at home. It’s just their second series win in the 2nd half of the series as well. Most impressively, they did it on the road against one of the best teams in the National League. It’s the first road series win since early June.
Best moment of the weekend was the way they started. Friday night, with two men on, facing the heat of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, Matt Dominguez crushed a three-run home run in the 9th inning for the win.
Houston is well on their way to 110 losses (probably more) in a historically bad season, but at least they get moments like this one to celebrate.