Well, just like we all predicted before the season: Started from the bottom now we find ourselves slightly west of downtown Atlanta on December 31st playing the fighting Blue Devils and wait we lost four games what the hell, this is ridiculous, now we here!
Before we make our way back to the W (Midtown, not Buckhead – this is, after all, a business trip), let us pour a tall glass of Pappy’s 15, order an extra round of strips and Polynesian sauce, and summon the ghost of Dick Clark to see if our spirit-leader of New Year's will grant us a wish or three.
SpavRaid. Do your thing.
A few of us around the GBH offices expressed some frustration with the offense at times this fall, others of us taught our friends new and exciting ways to combine obscenities as the Clarence McKinney Random Play Generator got warmed up. Rather than harp on lost opportunities, let's focus on the brilliant future playcalling of Jake Spavital that is to come.
Since he has literally no track record at this level, let us project nothing but our most positive thoughts upon the young man, and hope his boss' charge to “be aggressive and be multiple” will be heeded. I’ll settle for a few more touches for Trey Williams and Tra Carson.
Freshmen. Lots of Freshmen.
Personnel-wise, it remains baffling as to how some of the new guys didn’t get more snaps as the year went on, especially as it became clear the returning starters were either still injured, actively regressing, high, or perhaps all three.
Against Duke, I want lots of Daeshon Hall, plenty of Jay Arnold, large doses of Shaan Washington, many touches for Quiv Gonzales, snaps for Noel Ellis and I suppose, since our defensive coordinator is infatuated with him, a solid game out of Jordan Mastrogiovannipizza.
Isaiah Golden, you’re basically a junior in my book at this point. Keep improving large sir.
Defend a wheel route.
Haha, just kidding! There’s no way in hell Duke won’t score at least one touchdown on this. Maybe two.
A Johnny Football show.
Who would have ever thought an A&M quarterback would be a Heisman finalist in the midst of a somewhat disappointing year? Our little Johnny certainly grew as a downfield passer this year, but spent a decidedly odd amount of time ignoring checkdowns, repeatedly forcing throws in the red zone, and generally behaving like a guy who would prefer throwing nothing but 9 routes to Mike Evans in lieu of taking what the defense was giving him. Then again, he threw for 3,700 yards, 33 touchdowns, and completed almost 70% of his passes while sporting a bum ankle, thumb and shoulder, so perhaps the Most Entertaining Player in College Football has my expectations a bit out of whack.
As a celebration of his being healthy and as a farewell to amateur athletics, how about 350 passing, 150 rushing, 4 touchdowns and one blatantly egregious personal foul penalty that sends Mark May into a sputtering rage at halftime? That would probably work for me.
Blow them the hell out.
Bottom line: this A&M team was an odd duck, one that stumbled out of the gate, pulled it together for Alabama, then stumbled around for a few weeks before finally losing a gut punch game to Auburn which seemed to leave everybody with a hangover. This Duke team, while fundamentally solid and well-coached under David Cutcliffe, is simply not that great. A focused, purposeful A&M team that shows up ready to play and protects the ball should simply run away with this thing in the 2nd half, especially if the defense can avoid letting Duke wideout Jamison Crowder go nuts.
I want the defense flying to the ball. I want Mike Evans being all velociraptor-y after making first downs. I want Sonny Parker to feel active shame that his son wears the colors of a small liberal arts school back east with rather homely sideline support.
Most of all, I want a resounding A&M victory as a springboard to 2014. May your Chick-Fil-A Bowl be grand, and remember: should the game go sideways, in South Africa it's considered tradition to throw appliances out the window as a celebration of the New Year. Feel free to join!