There are wins and there are must-wins, and Saturday night was the latter. It was probably the toughest win of the season to date, and it happened in one of the hardest places to win in college football.
It’s a great win, and here are some of the building blocks that made up its bizarre construction.
8-5. HEHE LOL NO NOT LIKE THAT. The Aggie defense rolled up eight tackles behind the line and five sacks against Florida. Another outstanding effort.
23 tackles. Our top two tacklers were linebackers Otaro Alaka and Tyrel Dodson, who had 12 and 11, respectively. It’s an absolute pleasure to see multiple linebackers leading the team in tackles with double-digit games.
8 tackles. Kingsley Keke had a monster game, too. Anytime an interior defensive lineman puts up numbers like that, he’s played his ass off.
+1. Won that turnover margin again, and it literally won the game. Beautiful pick by Dodson.
4/4, long of 46. After getting is out to an early lead last week against Bama on a 52-yarder, Daniel LaCamera’s confidence has been soaring. He was clutch in The Swamp and nailed all four field goals, including the game-winner from an awkward angle with under a minute left.
8 for a 48.6 average, long of 55. Specialist party! Shane Tripucka was an unsung hero in this game. The offense was throwing up bricks all night long, and we were regularly punting out of our own end zone. Tripucka did a nice job of consistently flipping the field.
Speaking of which...
389: punting yards
263: total offensive yards
4/16 on third down conversions. That’s a cool 25% for all you non-mathematicians.
10 total first downs.
263 offensive yards.
2.2 yards per rush.
It truly speaks to how far Chavis has brought the defense that we were even in this game, much less that we won it. This offense, for the vast majority of the time, is bland, unflexible, and stubbornly repetitive. Granted, a couple of key drops didn’t help, nor did the various procedural penalties. But we were consistently starting out in holes after losing chunks of yards on first-down sweeps, and tried little in the way of adjustments or wrinkles. Now, credit where credit was due, the play at the goal line that resulted in the wide-open tight end catching a touchdown pass was a beautifully-designed play that had been set up over the course of the entire season. The fact that the score was wiped off the board by our best player lining up in the wrong spot is pretty much a metaphor for this 2017 offense as a whole.
The Ugly...but in a good way.
8 completions for 180 yards. Kellen Mond wasn’t efficient with his overall completion rate, but when he did complete them, he made them count. 23 yards per completion is not a bad way to bail out a struggling offense if they’re scattered in at the right times. Mond also started showing more confidence in his own running when it became clear it was going to be our most effective way of moving the ball on the ground.
371 yards allowed. On the one hand...that’s still over 100 more than we managed on offense. On the other hand, it’s a pretty sound effort.
That 79-yard [insert descriptive phrase here] jaunt? scamper? journey? by Felipe Franks. Exasperating. Frustrating. HOWEVER, I discovered in my weekly post-game text wrap-up with my dad that maybe we’re onto a new strategy.
What’s better: 10 missed tackles on one play, or 10 plays with one missed tackle on each? HMMM
This was a huge win in that we managed to steal a game in The Swamp with portions of our game looking very bad at times. This team’s toughness is becoming a big part of its identity. The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, and then we get Mississippi State at home to close out October. This is getting fun, y’all.