Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ag Football Recap: Ags Roll Pony, 48-3

Although my brother and I went to the game together, this was a little different than our normal weekend football road trips in that we didn't road trip together.

My wife is from Dallas so we took the kids up to see the grandparents.  Friday night the kids were loaded up in the mini-van and we headed up to the Big D (stopping in College Station for dinner).  We arrived at my MIL's house around 11pm and just crashed.

Saturday morning we got up early.  The Mrs. went out, so we took the kiddos to the park for about an hour and then came back.  Sean and his girlfriend, Katie, were just outside of Corsicana at that point so I went ahead and started to get ready.

This was to be Katie's first game day experience with Sean and me.  Going in I think she had a solid understanding of how nuts we are, but I'm not sure if she truly understood.  Ha Ha- I tricked her on this occasion by taming it down a bit this weekend.  I didn't want to screw things up for my brother by scaring her too much.  Girls are all about mind games anyways, right?

We decided to take the DART (public transit train) from out near where we were staying down to Mockingbird Station and walk the few blocks.  It was $4/person round trip so it wasn't too bad of a deal and it worked out pretty smoothly.

Once we entered the stadium and were walking around we ran into my Father-in-Law and his wife, who are kind of like my other game day posse.  We talked about how many other Ags there were, got our game faces on and then headed to our respective seats.
I've mentioned before that I had purchased two season tickets (in the end zone) in anticipation for the small stadium/high demand but what I didn't mention was that with those season tickets I got rights to purchase two additional tickets (which we did).  Those seats ended up in section 224, which is right between the 40s.  The original plan was to sell the end zone seats and for Sean and I to use the good ones but the plan kind of unraveled and then I found out Katie wanted to come so we ended up just keeping the extra pair.

What we wanted to do was trade the two good seats for the seats next to/in front of/behind/around the other two so we could sit together and enjoy the game.  To our surprise the two seats right next to ours were two recent SMU grads.  They refused to take the upgrade, or remove their Prada sunglasses.  Luckily, there were two Ags on the other side of them that were willing to trade so I swapped with them and then asked the SMU boys if they would scoot down one seat.  "Yeah, I'm willing to do that."  Thanks champ.
I don't want to speak for everyone in our travel group, but I was particularly THRILLED to discover that SMU has an actual live pony mascot.  Not a full grown, tough, long-striding, wild mustang - like the logo on their helmet would indicate - but a little 4' tall pony you would see at an elementary school carnival.

Those two cowboys with the reigns ran it up the field just before kick-off, like Colorado does with Ralphie....minus every ounce of coolness.

The game started off pretty much exactly like the Florida game ended.  The defense played well and we couldn't move the football on offense.  It was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Then it all clicked.  Johnny Football hit Ryan Swope for a 29 yard TD pass.....two drives later Johnny ran it in himself on the first snap for a 48 yard score....the next drive he found EZ on a 26 yard TD pass....before we knew it the score was 20-0 at the half.

It was some time during this run of scoring prowess that we realized that the guy sitting directly behind us was the MOST passionate SMU fan ever.  If he used 3,000 words during the game at least 2,200 of them rhymed with the words truck or trucker.  You have to really care about the Ponies to put together that  level of anger.  I can't even begin to imagine how he handled the 1990s.

Mike Evans is a monster.  I knew that when Sherman signed him he was primarily a basketball player who played some football but I didn't realize he was unknown because he didn't START PLAYING football until his senior year of HS.  He has been the leading receiver in both games and has 13 receptions for 183 yards.  He had 123 yards in the first half against SMU and didn't need to touch the ball again in the game.

I am raising my eyebrow at our running game.  Yes, we had 225 yards on the ground - but Johnny had more than half of that.  C-Mike did not make the trip (along with Stephen Campbell) for violating team policy, which was a huge shock to me because he is a good kid.  Trey Williams and Ben Malena split the bulk of the carries but we didn't put up huge numbers (42 yards on 12 carries & 34 yards on 8 carries).

I'm not really concerned about the numbers so much as the fact that I didn't feel like we could have run the ball at will if we wanted to.  This was an opponent that we should have easily been able to accomplish that against.

For three quarters we thrashed SMU....to the tune of 605 yards of offense, thanks mostly to Maziel.  Johnny finished 20-of-36 passing for 394 yards and 4 TDs....and with 2 more TDs and 124 yards on 13 carries.  He didn't even play a snap in the 4th quarter and he was named the SEC Freshman of the Week.

He also had his second consecutive week without a turnover (the team did too for that matter). 

Johnny Football was phenomenal and he is very likely going to be a star.  He was a little more patient than he was against Florida and he did a much better job looking for guys down field while he was scrambling....BUT....

He is still very young and very inexperienced and good defenses are going to make him look that way.  He completely out-athleted SMU.  An awful lot of those plays don't come to be against most SEC opponents so we know he has a looooooong way to go still.

Coach Sumlin said it very well in his weekly press conference on Tuesday,
"The big improvement in Johnny on Saturday was his ability to stay in the pocket and  keep his eyes down the field.  I think as the season goes on, that will continue.  What he is finding out is that he's not the fastest, most talented guy on the field. A lot of players who go through that have to figure out their strengths and what they can do, and their weaknesses. You start to learn the speed of the game and what you can get away with and what you can't."

"The only way to do that is to play. We can talk until we're blue in the face about what we want and what we don't want, but he's a talented guy who will have to continue to learn. He has to move from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback who's an athlete. There's a big difference."

Jamiel Showers played the first two possessions of the 3rd Q and I thought he looked really good - he ran the offense the way I envisioned it to be run with quick sharp passes that hit his receivers in stride.  He was 6-of-7 for 76 yards.  I'm not saying that Showers should be starting but he played well enough to make me want to see more of him in the opportunities he gets.  We have a very capable #2.

[edit: I realized that I completely left the defense out of my original post - the following 3 paragraphs are completely necessary]

One of the most overlooked aspects of our team through two games has been our defense.  Mark Snyder and Marcel Yates deserve a lot of credit for what their side of the ball has done thus far.  They held Florida to 20 points and 307 yards and then turned around and held a June Jones coached squad to 309 yards and a FG.

The defensive line made Garrett Gilbert look like he did back in Austin - bad.  He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn and was under constant pressure, particularly from Damontre Moore and true freshman Julian Obioha.  Damontre added two more sacks to his season total making him the national leader at 5, with one fewer game played than almost any other team.  Obioha had a sack and a big forced fumble.

The run defense also held Zach Line in check - he finished with 103 yards on 13 carries, most of which came in garbage time late in the game.

A couple other quick notes:
  • Floyd Raven BLEW up the SMU punt returner on kick coverage
  • SMU defensive end, Mangus Hunt (who is from Estonia), blocked his 10th career kick setting a new NCAA record
  • I love games where The 12th Man gets to play a full series of downs at LB
At the end of the game the petting zoo pony did exactly what it's team did.  Pee'd itself on the field.  My son's 4 y.o. birthday is coming up next month and this act has caused me to cancel our original  plans and start looking for a bounce house.

Our post-game saga was much more eventful than the pre-game had been, or than we had hoped for it to be.  The highlight was seeing these pants:
I didn't even know those existed before last Saturday.  How on earth are those still in-stock?  Every good Ag needs a pair of those. Casual Friday here I come.

On the way back to the DART station, I almost got hit by some yahoo in a Lexus SUV who was nudging his vehicle through a large crowd of pedestrians in a parking lot.  Then I almost got hit by him again as he was turning (although I kind of deserved that scare).  Then the guy had the nerve to roll down his window and yell back at someone who had yelled at him....this as he was turning out of the parking lot onto the road.  If it had been a cartoon he would have splattered someone just as he made the turn while his shaking fist was still out the window.

The wait for the train was pretty long and then when we got back to the car.....
The car wouldn't start.  Couldn't even get the engine to try to turn over while we were getting jumped by my MIL.  The tow truck was called and we ended up missing dinner with my FIL, who arrived on the scene to help just as the tow truck was winching it up on the flatbed.

When the tow truck dropped the car off at the automotive place my FIL asked if he could try to jump it....and instantly became a hero when he got it to start.  We at least knew that the problem was a battery so it could be quickly fixed in the morning when the shop opened.

Sean and Katie weren't planning on staying in town but we ended up getting them a hotel (at ALoft, which is Jennifer's favorite place - she is like a walking endorsement for them).

We went to pick them up in the morning to take them to the automotive shop and as I was getting out of the car in the hotel parking lot I heard a "Gig'em!" When I looked up I literally did a double take.  It was Michael Wacha and his family.  Michael Wacha had just given me a "Gig'em".  It was the first time an Aggie athlete had hit me with the "Gig'em" before I could.

Honestly, I am pretty sure that I am one of a very few who would recognize Wacha out in public, although his USA baseball hat might have helped some folks.  For those who are unfamiliar with the name, he is one of the greatest pitchers to ever toe the rubber at Olsen Field.  The 2-time All-American helped get us to Omaha two seasons ago and was drafted this past June by the Cardinals with their 1st round pick.

He performed so well in his professional debut that by mid-August he forced the Cards to move him up to AA - something almost unheard of in such a short period of time.  On Saturday night, his Springfield Cardinals had beaten the Frisco Ruffriders to win the Texas League Championship to end the season - Wacha threw a scoreless inning in relief.

That was a pretty cool thing for me.  Jennifer thought I was a loon.  I'm really kicking myself for not getting Benjamin and my camera out of the car to get a picture.  Jennifer still thinks I'm a loon.

After coming down off of cloud 9 we took Sean and Katie back to get the car taken care of, caught up with my FIL who met us there, and headed back home.  It was a good weekend, that could have been much worse in other company.

Up next the Ags host South Carolina State on Saturday....game time is 6pm.

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