We're back for a second year, gang. And before you question our methods of prognosis, the 2015 Virtual Review was pretty dang accurate.
In that article, the virtual Aggies went 9-3 amidst a swirl of Quarterback controversy, a beating at Oxford, a loss to an underachieving LSU, and a literal no-show to a bowl game.
Meanwhile, the real Aggies clocked in at 8-5 amidst a swirl of Quarterback controversy, a beating at Oxford, a loss to an underachieving LSU, and an only slightly better bowl game experience.
The lesson? Pay attention.
Like last year, I found a surprisingly solid roster file that pretty closely approximates the SEC rosters and depth charts. They did not update special teams, however, so I turned to the Twitter streets to decide Drew Kaser's fate.
Okay y'all, these rosters I found are pretty solid... but they never updated special teams. What should I do?— David (@gigthem08) June 18, 2016
The people have spoken. Welcome back, Drew (and Taylor).
Once again, the inability to edit conference schedules was an issue. I tried so, so hard to keep from disbanding the entire conference (like I had to last year), but I should have opted for the clean kill. The result was so much worse.
I only cut the teams I had to, which made A&M, Auburn, South Carolina, and LSU into independents. The SEC was now an unrecognizable ten team mess. And as we all know, ten team conferences are the freaking worst and should never be imitated.
Y'all, this bothered me. There's legitimate blood on my hands here. I soldiered on in the name of scheduling realism, but I did not make this decision lightly.
A few additional quick hits before we get to the gameplay
- Every game was played on "coach mode." I can call plays and manage the clock, but every single play was CPU vs. CPU. No tampering.
- All settings were set to "Heisman," the hardest difficulty.
- Despite the scheduling wreckage, I couldn't fit New Mexico State into the right spot. They are now two weeks early.
- We used UCLA's playbook and LSU's defensive settings for each game, as a nod to our OC/DC locations in 2014.
- Like last year, there is no playoff, no conference title game, and some really weird bowl affiliations.
With that, it was time to begin.
Game One: UCLA (Kyle Field)
I hope truth reflects fiction, because this game had a kickoff temperature of 78 degrees and solid rain throughout.
We put the mud tires on Keith Ford and ran a great high-tempo drive for an opening TD... and then we missed the extra point.
Editor's note: We never ran high tempo again for the rest of the half and I was getting legitimately agitated. This is
probably definitely not healthy.
Both teams stalled for the remainder of the first half, and the afternoon started to look like a game between two staffs that were insanely familiar with one another. Weird.
UCLA finally abandoned their "run through the mud into a very, very good defensive line" strategy, and they started picking up large chunks of yardage through the air. Our response? We dusted off the quick tempo that had worked so well in the opening drive, and it worked again. It was the damnedest thing. When the teams finished trading 3rd quarter blows, the score was 13-13.
A 4th quarter A&M missed FG (from 52, calm down) was met with a UCLA effort from 40, and we found ourselves down three, with the ball, with two minutes remaining. We moved near the 50 with relative ease before a big sack, which leads to a new "Play of the Game" feature we’re going to try out this year.
Play of the Game
Crap. The Aggies fall to 0-1.
Final Score: #14 UCLA 16, Texas A&M 13
Game Two: Prairie View A&M (Kyle Field)
This was... better? Yes. Definitely better. But it didn’t feel great.
Our virtual Aggies struggled with a feisty PVAMU squad, carrying a paltry 7-6 lead late into the second quarter. A late scoring drive put the locals slightly at ease, but it didn’t do much to appease the AD. Because after our band took the field and nailed their routine... the second half started. No Prairie View band. Not a great look imo.
It didn’t seem fair, but I suppose a world where Kyle magically lost 25,000 seats and 24,000 chandeliers has to live in a state of suspended disbelief.
The poor PVAMU squad was devastated by the slight, as the game quickly spiraled out of hand in the third quarter.
Play of the Game
Aggie fans had their win, but as they trudged through the heat and humidity to kick the tires on their 2:30 tailgates, they cast a wary eye towards the future. The schedule was about to get real.
Final Score: Texas A&M 35, Prairie View A&M 12
Game Three: Auburn (Jordan-Hare Stadium)
There are slow starts, there are insanely slow starts, there are starts where you somehow move backwards, and then there are starts like we had at Auburn. The Tigers woke up and blitzed their butts off, and poor Trevor Knight ran for his life to the tune of five sacks in the first quarter.
That’s usually a recipe for disaster, but Chavis and the boys put together two insanely long ‘bend but don’t break’ efforts that had a 6-0 deficit feeling like a massive victory. An A&M "drive" (it was really just failure sandwiched around a Speedy Noil 66 yard catch) cut the lead to 6-3, but Auburn ground the clock down yet again (sup 2015) and punched it in to take a 13-3 halftime lead.
At this point, I promised poor Trevor that I’d leave a running back in to chip for the rest of the game. And I kept my word. I called audibles for the running back to stay home on every single pass play, and Auburn still lit him up like a Christmas tree. It was starting to look like a crime scene.
Another 10+ play Auburn drive only ended in three points, and I told Trevor (with A&M down 16-3 and needing to pass on almost every down) that it was now quick routes only. Get the ball out and try to stay alive. It worked. We had finally graduated past the "take the snap and run for your life" stage of the game.
A touchdown on our only competent drive was followed by a Donovan Wilson pick (chieeeef), and we now had a chance for the Ultimate Theft game. Again, in a fair world, we would have been down by 30.
Quick routes were once again the order of the day, and the Ags were able to get to the Auburn 15 with no timeouts and :22 remaining.
Ouch. That stings. We had it and we misfired, so I did what any frustrated gamer would do and dialed up the exact same play.
Play of the game
Well, crap. There goes an opportunity to steal a game that we had no business winning.
Final Score: Auburn 16, Texas A&M 10
Part two is coming soon. In the meantime, Aggie Football needs the internet's help to turn this ship around.