Earlier in the week, I wrote this piece in which I detailed five major problems facing the Aggies. As I was trying to get that written as quickly as I could, I was not able to provide any pictures or video. Now with a a few days having passed, I want to show some examples of some of the things I talked about.
First, we'll look at the second play of the game. It was after this play- literally not 30 seconds of clock had passed- when I tweeted the following:
What made me tweet that? I mentioned in the article linked above the fact that we have this nasty habit of sitting back and waiting for the ball carrier to come to us rather than moving forward and attacking. That was the case on this play. Here's the pre-snap look. Note the 11 yard cushion, which is probably what triggered the quick pass to the wide receiver in the first place.
So they throw the ball to #9. As the ball reaches him, our cornerback has at least moved up and closed the gap while the ball was in the air. And then, a strange thing happens. Cooper bobbles the ball a couple times. And while he does that, rather than go knock the snot out of him, Deshazor Everett sits there and waits patiently for Cooper to gather the ball and start running.
Cooper gladly takes the free yards and instead of no gain, which it should have been, he gains eight yards. Here's the video. (1:27 mark)
Very next play, 2nd and two. Once again, we give such a big cushion (the corner is actually backing up during the picture) that it triggers a quick throw to Cooper. (When I say it triggers a quick throw, what I mean is that, if you notice, these are run plays. The line is run blocking, the running back expects the ball, but if the quarterback sees a chance for free yards, he will just quickly throw it to the receiver without telling anyone else.)
As the pass is thrown, our corner isn't even in the screen. This is part of what I was so frustrated with in the prior article. These big cushions just give away first downs for nothing.
While the ball is in the air, our corner (this time Victor Davis) closes the gap to about five yards, just like was done in the previous play. And again, rather than being aggressive, he then breaks down waits to see where the receiver will go. The only problem is that this lets a receiver get some speed and momentum going, which he uses to juke our defender and gain a billion yards. (Just kidding of course! It was just 22 yards... kill me now.)
Here's the video. (1:39 mark)
Ok, so very next play. Maybe our linebackers will be more aggressive? Let's see. Here's the pre-snap look.
Oh, who would have thought, they're throwing a quick pass to the perimeter!
OK, well they have a couple defenders blocked outside but we have two unblocked defenders flowing from the inside. Let's see how they handle it, particularly our linebacker, #7.
See that? He's already giving up ground. They are seven yards away from each other, the ball carrier is stumbling, and our linebacker is not even moving towards him. Thankfully, the stumble cost him and he only gained four.
So we're one drive in and already it was apparent that our defense was not going to be the aggressors. How about the offense? Well, here's how the very first play went. We lined up in what I call our "sloth" formation (TM), with Cam Clear lined up as an H-back.
We motion Malcome Kennedy across towards Clear and give him a touch pass. As you can see, this is schemed pretty well. We have a numbers advantage over there and this should be a successful play.
Ahh, look at this. Only two perimeter defenders out there, and we have a blocker for each. Just follow Cam Clear, right?
Well unfortunately, Clear decides to do exactly what our defenders do. Just stop. Inexplicably. Stop and wait for the other team to come to him. So much so that Kennedy almost runs into him.
And just like that, the play is ruined. If Clear had gotten up field and blocked, we gain several yards and put ourselves in position to move the ball. Instead, we face 2nd and long.
Ok, back to the defense. We all know it happened, but I still just want to provide some more proof of things that will drive you mad. 3rd and five for Alabama. Nine yard cushion on the receiver. Easy throw and catch. Defender isn't even in the screen as the quarterback is throwing the ball.
Three plays later, it's 3rd and five again. Have we learned anything? You be the judge.
In case you're wondering, it was an easy throw and catch to the inside receiver on top. Next play, Alabama tries to throw deep but then has to hit the running back on a check down. Another chance for us to go tackle someone, right?
Again, an Aggie linebacker breaks down a full six yards from the ball carrier, waits for him to get going, and of course gets juked out of his shoes and doesn't even touch him.
Noticing a theme yet? To drive the nail home, I will show you the touchdown that Alabama scored on that drive. I've circled A&M linebacker Shaan Washington.
Now watch him and him alone on this play.
So remember how I pointed out our lack of aggression defensively when Bama would throw the quick screen to the perimeter? Now compare how Bama attacks us when we do the same type of play.
The defender is already on our side of the line of scrimmage.
And the tackle is made by 15 defenders and six cheerleaders, four yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Coverage busts and mental errors continue to make things worse as well. Bama's long touchdown pass on the first drive of the 3rd quarter illustrates it perfectly. We line up in what looks to be a pretty obvious case of Cover 3. Three deep defenders, each responsible for a deep third.
Deshazor Everett has help in the underneath flat. You can see our linebacker go out to cover his zone. The linebacker is obviously responsible for the flat, and the corner then should be protecting his deep third. But instead, the corner jumps what he thinks is a short route. There's no reason to do this, as we already have a defender in perfect position to stop that pass. But he does, and gets beat on a double move and gives up a huge touchdown.
So there you have it. Just a few examples. The scary part is, there were dozens of other plays that could be used to prove these points. Can A&M right the ship?