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By The Numbers: Alabama 47, Texas A&M 28

Cursed by hidden yardage

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Alabama at Texas A&M Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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What if I told you Saturday morning that Texas A&M would hold Alabama’s vaunting passing attack to under 300 yards, break even in time of possession and turnovers, intercept Tua for the first time all season, and still manage to find a way to lose by three touchdowns?

Folks, this one was tough to swallow. The defense did enough to keep us hanging around most of the day. The offense showed more spark than it had in a long time. No, yesterday’s culprit was on that hadn’t struck at us in a while. There’s a reason coaches get hyper-obsessive over special teams, and yesterday provides ample evidence. As string noted in the recap last night:

We gave up 159 yards on kick returns. WE gave up 152 on punt returns. That’s 311 yards of free offense. Alabama’s average starting field position was the A&M 48. Our starting field position was the our own 23. Tua and his offense are too good for us to constantly give them a short field and have a prayer of winning the game. If you want to place blame anywhere, it’s on special teams. I have no idea why you keep kicking to Jaylen Waddle when he’s averaging 32 yards a return. Just no dang clue.

Shit. Shit on a stick. Spin me around a hundred times and push me in a pile of cactus shit. The return yardage was crippling: Waddle just chewing up giant blocks of land in the middle of the field. Without Braden Mann’s two open field tackles (he had as many as defensive starters Leon O’Neal and Bobby Brown), this game would have been even uglier. These massive tracts of land were being granted as freely as Alabama liked, setting them up with short fields all day. The Tide offense is just too efficient to not be able to capitalize on that kind of huge advantage.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. No, that came with eleven and a half minutes left in the game as the Aggies were clinging to the theoretical hopes for a possible comeback, down by 20 and attempting to flip the field yet again when sophomore Tide linebacker Ahe Kaho came off the right edge virtually untouched and took the punt cleanly off Braden Mann’s foot. A collective sigh was sucked out of the entire stadium, the second-largest crowd to ever watch a football game in Texas stood there in sheer agony as the ball squibbed and bounced innocently on the turf before backup wide receiver Tyrell Shavers gingerly picked it up like a wayward puppy and cantered into the end zone to put Alabama up 47-20. It was the ultimate Bama kill shot: the Mortal Kombat finishing move that completely eviscerated our last remaining shred of hope and sucked every bit of spirit out of the building. It was a hush, a pall that spread like wildfire among the crowd and even through to the viewers: the realization that not only was this game now completely out of reach, but that Bama had that ability to just fuck with you and let you believe that you have done just barely well enough to perhaps have a remote shot at making it a football game, knowing full well the whole time they would be able to crush those hopes any time they liked.

So now we’re sitting at .500 heading into the back stretch, with LSU and Georgia looming large on the schedule. Plus the team that beat Georgia, and the Mississippi schools, which we haven’t swept since the Manziel era. Happy October, Aggies. it may be another long one. At least the tailgating next week will be good in Oxford.