Stop me if we have heard this story before -- big-time match-up coming into Kyle Field. Eyes of the nation on College Station. Texas A&M opens up with a double-digit lead. Game ends with the Texas A&M faithful hanging their heads as they walk out. What went wrong, yet again?
Let's get to it. You should hear the snap of the rubber gloves your doctor is putting on here. It will be painful.
NO OFFENSIVE CREATIVITY AFTER 12-0 -- Actually, Kliff Kingsbury's playcalling went out the window after the throwback pass to Ben Malena was called back for cut blocking on an LSU defender in space. After that, we had no direction to what we were doing. LSU came into the game with four down lineman and one linebacker playing spy on Manziel. To counter, we went to the edge and it worked, letting us jump out to a 9-0 lead. But then the LSU coaching staff adjusted just like a good coaching staff does. They went to three down lineman, leaving more linebackers up to run sideline to sideline. Once that adjustment was made, we had no answer. Nothing to the inside to counter (or at least that often to make a difference). No power run game. No motions or misdirections to keep the defense off balance and slow them down. No draws. One or two screens. Instead, Kingsbury elected to put the game on the arm and legs of Johnny Manziel. That worked against Arkansas and Louisiana Tech. It didn't work against the speed of LSU. Surprise.
I really thought we would see an expanded playbook today. I found out we really don't have that much of a playbook at all. We have the scramble by Johnny. The short 5 yard pass. The inside run. The throw to the edge for a yard. The "just throw the ball deep and hope something happens". And the "OH GAWD JOHNNY NO, NO, NO....YES YES YES!". That's about it. Disappointing because with 7 games played, we should be doing so much more with the talent we have on offense.
LET'S JUST GIVE THE BALL TO YOU -- Turnovers. Four of them. Let's count:
1) Miscommunication by Manziel and Thomas Johnson on a pass pattern
2) Ben Malena fumble in the two minute drill that gave LSU the lead for good before halftime
3) Mike Evans looking at the open field in front of him instead of making sure he caught the ball leading to a tip and interception.
4) Johnny being Brett Favre on a scramble
I can understand the miscommunication by two freshman. That happens. Ben Malena fumbling and the Evans tip are just inexcusable against a team like LSU at home. Those are the type of bone-headed plays that have cost us. And Johnny will be Johnny at times, especially under pressure to make a play. That's really all there is to say.
We still have to grow up and move out of the diapers. Can't quit shitting ourselves in these contests.
MISSED MOMENTUM -- Yeah, this is where I bring up the missed field goal in the 4th quarter. Being down 17-12 late, Trey Williams' runback inside the twenty gave A&M life it dearly needed. With a dime look, A&M elected to run a QB sneak. It was there; Johnny just decided to run into one of his lineman. A botched snap and a poor pass later, you are faced kicking a chip-shot field goal and missing, sucking all the momentum out of Kyle.
I'm not going to place the blame on Bertolet like some will. In fact, I will put 20-25% on him. Fact is, we should have scored a touchdown with that field position. Have to. But with no substance to the offense, you couldn't covert when you needed it most. That's on the playcalling and execution by the offense.
And the kicking game.....let's get this straight. Bertolet has been reportedly fighting a bum ankle for about a month. If your kicker is in fact hurt, you do have other kickers on your roster, especially for a home game. In fact, if you look at the A&M roster, you see 5 placekickers listed. Davis Plowman was the kicker who competed with Bertolet throughout all of fall camp. Give the young man a chance. Don't be stubborn about it like the previous coaching staff was. That is why they aren't in Aggieland anymore. I can understand not taking another kicker on the road when you have a travel squad of 75 players per NCAA rules and want to use the roster spot for someone else. But at home when everyone suits up? College kickers don't always make 50 yard field goals. But they better make extra points and 30-yarders. I won't say special teams cost us the game and no one should; but it didn't help. And this is disappointing when Brian Polian is, what I consider to be, one of (if not) the top college special teams coaches in the country.
JOHNNY CAN'T ALWAYS BE GOOD -- Offense sputtered against Florida in the second half after adjustments by the defense. This time, it only took the second quarter. Yes, this offense will break SEC records against the Louisiana Techs of the world, but can they beat a good defense like LSU? They had LSU on their heels until the weight of the offense was put squarely on Johnny's shoulders. Some problems manifested once again for Johnny -- there were open receivers in the game against man coverage in the middle of the field once again and he took his eyes off the downfield routes just a tad too quick. But, you can't have your whole offense be Johnny Manziel. You gotta give some of the load to Christine Michael and Ben Malena, especially against a favorable defensive front. Receivers have to step up and get open. And did we use a tight end at all during this game? I realize Kingsbury wanted to spread out the LSU defense, but I would have liked to see more power runs with big sets that were working early (like on the first drive before we trashed them for some reason). More action with motions and fakes in the backfield to slow the LSU rush and linebackers. But we saw none of that! Instead, it was the scramble drill for most of the game or the "throw it deep and hope something happens." That worked at Houston when your receivers could beat Conference USA defenders with straight speed. It won't work in the SEC. Sumlin and Kingsbury better get more people involved or upcoming games against Mississippi State and Alabama will be just as bad.
DEFENSIVE DEPTH SHOWS ITS UGLY ASS FACE -- I won't say anything bad about the defense and Mark Snyder's gameplan. Just like against Florida, they played their asses off. They only were beaten when LSU was given favorable field position thanks to turnovers. However, in the 4th quarter, the LSU attack finally broke them down. But that is what happens when the roster has depth issues at defensive line and linebacker, and only plays 17 players on defense throughout the game. With more talent coming in, hopefully we can go toe-to-toe in upcoming years. But they were great today.
SOAK UP YOUR WOES ON THE ROAD -- Many will point to next Saturday's contest against Auburn as an automatic W. But heed my warning -- it's hard to win on the road in the SEC with a young team in a night contest versus a team that was just beat down in a clobberfest. Auburn lost to Vanderbilt? Who cares. They get to redeem themselves at home next weekend. IT'S A TRAP.