Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ag Football Recap: LSU 23 v. A&M 17

In a game where our offense and defense were both abysmal, LSU somehow just squeaked by with a win at Kyle Field.

It actually started fairly quickly after we punted on our first possession.  LSU was moving the ball well on the ground before Davonte Harris stepped in front of a Tiger receiver to pick off the Anthony Jennings pass.  I don't understand why they were throwing the ball.  Clearly they did not watch film from our game against Mizzou.

Tra Carson had two 4 yard runs before Trey Williams broke off a 41 yard TD run right up the gut and all of a sudden we're up 7-0.

LSU again marches 70 yards down field on 12 plays but misses a FG.  This was a trend that was our only saving grace.  On the night, the Tigers had three drives of 5 min or longer and only ended up with 3 points out of those.

There was a weird play where Myles Garrett hit Jennings as he was dropped back and the officials blew the whistle and signaled an incomplete pass.  An LSU player had picked up the ball but didn't run because the whistle had blown and they had signaled it incomplete.  Then the head official said it was ruled a fumble but the play was blown dead on an inadvertent whistle.  Since the LSU player did not advance the ball because of the whistle they had a choice to replay the down from the previous spot or take the result of the play (which would put them at 4th and 1).  The instant replay confirmed that it was a fumble.  They chose to replay the 3rd down and, of course, converted.  Ultimately, the drive ended with a punt so there was no real damage other than TOP but it was just another example of the strange officiating.
The game was tied up at 7-7 after Leonard Fournette trucked Howard Matthews - it was one of those plays that is going to end up on highlight reels for years.  As a true freshman, Fournette scares me because we're going to see a lot of #7 over the next few years.

LSU scored again with 34 seconds left in the half.  Speedy then fumbled the KOR allowing the Tigers to stretch their lead to 10 with a quick FG.

The big quarter strikes again as LSU scored 17 points  in the 2Q as we gave up 140 yards rushing.  It didn't help that our offense only ran 7 plays in the quarter and had just 23 yards passing in the first half.

The first drive of the 3Q was one of LSU's big long drives I mentioned earlier - they ate up 7:35 of the clock but had to settle for a FG.

It wasn't until the 7 min. mark of the 3rd Q that we picked up our third first down of the game.  At the 2 min mark of the 3Q we finally take a shot throwing the ball down field, hitting Boone Niederhofer for 42 yards, and the offense starts to open up.  We get a gift of a pass interference call in the end zone that moves us down field and then another 10 yard completion to Speedy before having to settle for a FG.

Again, LSU chews up clock before missing another FG.  We're at the 10 min. mark of the 4th quarter at this point and Trey Williams gets his second carry of the night, picking up 22 yards.  Why on earth are we not giving him the ball more frequently in this game?

That is one of the bigger complaints about the offense this year - there is no rhyme or reason for which RB we have in and even when we do have someone doing well, we pull him and stick someone else in.
Anyways, Allen finds Speedy at the left pylon on a jump ball where Speedy just goes over the top of the DB and pulls it down to narrow the score to 20-17.  I swear, we get one "Did you see that?!?" play from him each week. 

LSU answered back with another FG before we get the ball with 2:07 remaining.  Davonte Harris was inches from blocking that FG - it either went over or under him as he leaped because it should have hit him in the stomach.

On our final drive, we moved the ball through the air to midfield fairly easily and then their DT jumps offsides so Mike Matthews quick snaps the ball and Allen takes a deep shot down field on the free play.  It gets picked off, but not a big deal because we'll just take the 5 yard offsides penalty.
Except there is no flag.  From any official.  I saw it from my seat at the game, the announcers saw it when they were calling the game, Matthews and Allen clearly saw it.  It was pretty disgusting. 

LSU took a knee and ran out the clock.

I'm not saying that the officials cost us the game, because they didn't, we played like garbage - but they certainly changed the outcome - whatever that might have been.  They were bad all game and that was the crescendo. 

It was the most rushing yards LSU had in a conference game since 2007 and both Fournette and Jennings ran for career highs.

And so the regular season comes to an end.  We will know our bowl fate next Sunday (12/7) but it looks like we will most likely be headed to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl (previously Queens City Bowl/Continental Tire Bowl/Meineke Car Care Bowl) or to Houston for the Texas Bowl.

The playoff picture going into the week had Alabama, Oregon, FSU, and Mississippi State in (in that order).  FSU held off a bad Florida team, Mississippi State lost to Ole Miss pretty badly, Oregon ran over Oregon State and then Bama played in a great game against Auburn - losing in the 3rd quarter to end up winning 55-44.  It was a heckuva Iron Bowl. It looks like one of TCU, Ohio State, or Baylor will take MSU's place going into the conference championship games next Saturday.

At lunch time on Friday, A&M announced that defensive coordinator, Mark Snyder, was relieved of duty and the internet rumors commenced as to who will the next DC handed the keys to turn this defense into something formidable. 

Will Muschamp was fired at Florida a couple of weeks ago, Bo Pellinin was fired this morning at Nebraska - it looks like South Carolina and Auburn will be joining us in our search for a new DC.  There are rumors that Clemson's Dabo Sweeny will take over for Muschamp so his DC, Brent Venables's name is also being shopped about (his OC, Chad Morris just took the SMU HC job).

Muschamp is the belle of the ball so it will be interesting/fun/stressful to see how this plays out over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

That Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

A couple of weeks ago, the longhorns beat Oklahoma State and got themselves bowl eligible.  They started the season very poorly under first year head coach Charlie Strong but waded through their Big 12 schedule winning four of their last five, which has in turn bubbled their confidence.

Then a longhorn rumor monger, whose "sources" regarding any and everything A&M have always been a iffy, dropped this on twitter: 
Two sources close to the situation told SEC officials have indicated to bowls with SEC and Big 12 tie-ins that the SEC won't support a Texas vs Texas A&M postseason matchup. In short, A&M has too much to lose from a potential loss.

Good lord, this is like the crazy girlfriend who is still stalking you on Facebook years later - the one whose girlfriends all sigh and roll their eyes when you get brought up in conversation AGAIN.

This is a complete media spin to once again paint A&M as a.) the bad guys who broke up the rivalry and b.) scared to play the horns.

This doesn't have anything to do with being scared.  We left the Big 12 and moved the SEC, the most difficult conference in the country.  Our division is the most difficult division in the history of college football.  We play LSU every year - we recruit against them regionally just as much, if not more, than we do against t.u.  Last I checked, they're still on our schedule for this coming Thursday night.

Sumlin came in and from day one and said, "I want to be around people who want to play at the highest level, want to compete in THE best conference in America and the best division in America and, if you're scared of that, GET A DOG."

Frankly, as bad as we've been, the horns aren't that good this year.  They have one win against a team with a winning record.  They snuck by Iowa State on a last second FG - at home.  They've scored 30 points four times - against North Texas, ISU, WV and texas tech.  If ever there was a year to be scared of playing the longhorns, this is not it.

I don't want to play them in a bowl for the same reason I didn't want to play OU in the Cotton Bowl and the same reason I hate that we've been stuck with Mizzou on our schedule in each of the first three years of the SEC.  I don't want to play any Big 12 schools.  Branch out.  Everything old is not wonderful and sacred.

I have touched on this twice before....

Once, prior to the '12 bowl announcements, when the horns actually asked the Cotton Bowl to skip them over if they were facing us....
 "Frankly, I really don't have any interest in playing any Big 12 team in a bowl this year - I love bowls because you get a chance to match up against big schools from other conferences that you normally wouldn't be able to play.  Playing a Big 12 team doesn't give me that."
and then again after it was announced that we would play OU
"This, to me, is a disappointing match up.  Like I said before, I love bowl games because you get an opportunity to play opponents that you normally don't get to.  This will be the 19th time we've faced OU in the last 20 years."
Even still, if A&M were to play texas again it shouldn't be in a dumpy bowl game.  The AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl?  No thanks.

Of course they want to play us right now.  They are riding high on 4 wins in their last 5 games and we've lost 5 of our last 7 - they don't have anything to lose.  The only result that hurts them is if we beat the dog snot out of them.  A win or a decent loss and they can spin everything in their favor - look how close we are to the big mighty SEC in only our first season with Strong.  Sure, I get that.  They want it on their terms.

Here's what irritates me the most.  When it was announced that A&M was leaving the Big 12, President Loftin had the following to say:
"I would just say this, that if we were to negotiate with other conferences of any kind, SEC or anybody else, a primary criterion would be our ability to continue a non-conference contest each year, hopefully on Thanksgiving Day or thereabouts, with our friends at UT-Austin. That's a historic rivalry. We see no reason why it could not continue under a different conference arrangement. If they chose to do so, we certainly want to make that part of any discussion we have with another conference."
Then Bill Byrne followed up in October 2011....
"After placing calls to Texas, we have been informed their non-conference football schedule is full through 2018. I have asked our coaches in all of our other sports to check with their Texas counterparts to see if they would like to continue to play in non-conference action in years to come. Our men's tennis coach reported they have declined." 
Here is Deloss Dodds' email response:
"'We’re scheduled out with non-conference games through 2018 and our Big 12 schedule is not yet settled.  What we have right now is a full schedule, but if any future options are available, the decision will not be made by just one person.'"
Then a few weeks later they turned around and inked a deal with UCLA for the 2014 season opener.

Within the last 12 months we have filled out THREE different OoC games for 2015 and added marquee OoC games for each of 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2024, and 2025.  We still have an OoC game open in each of 2016 and 2017.

If texas wants to play us so badly, pick up the phone and call Eric Hyman.

(They should also call up the Big 12 office and beg off having to play Arkansas in the Texas Bowl - that would be a worse match-up for them than playing us)

Ag Football Recap: Mizzou Takes What They're Given - a 34-27 win

In the middle of our three game stretch of Tiger hunting, we laid an egg.

We gave up 587 yards to Missouri.   587 yards.  I can't get past that.

That is 257 yards ABOVE their season average.

This is a team that had 394 yards against South Dakota State.  They had 325 yards against Toledo.  They had 322 yards against South Florida.

The gashed us on the ground for 335 yards with Russell Hansbrough setting a career high 199 yards with 2 TDs.  He was averaging 66 yards per game.  He only had 591 yards on the season as their leading rusher.

It was the third quarter that did us in.  Missouri ran 28 plays and had 308 yards (11 yards per snap) and 28 points.  That's 17 fewer yards than they had in their entire game against Toledo.  Toledo?  Toledo!

That had to be the worst quarter of defense I've ever seen.  The only things I can think of might be '03 OU, the Bama game from a few weeks ago - but those were against elite teams.  Maybe Utah in '03 - they ran over and over and over against us....but I don't think they had 300 yards in a quarter.

We couldn't get off the field - Missouri converted 14-of-24 third downs (58%) and also converted on a fourth down as well.

In our defense, and this is the best defense that occured on Saturday, Myles Garrett and Ivan Robinson missed the game due to injury.  There were whispers of a possible concussion during practice for MG, and then later rumors that it was back spasms.  No clue.

What I do know is that we missed him DESPERATELY.  We got very little pressure on Maty Mauk, and no pressure on their OL.  There is no question in my mind that if Myles Garrett had suited up, we would have won that game.

We also lost starting linebackers, Otaro Alaka and Josh Walker at the end of the second quarter (Walker will miss the LSU game and likely the bowl game with a broken foot) and then Shaan Washington for a portion of the 3rd quarter.  Washington still finished with a team high 10 tackles.  Ivan Robinson was also clearly banged up but with the other injuries he played through it.

Still, our backups shouldn't be 200-300 yards worse than the starters on South Dakota State, Toledo, or South Florida.  That is staggering.

Even after all of that, we somehow still had a chance.  As the third quarter wound down, we were down 34-20.  We managed a 12 play drive that ended with a 4 yard Malcome Kennedy TD reception, bringing the score back to 34-27.

On Mizzou's next drive, they had to settle for a 49 yard FG attempt and it clanked off the right upright giving us the ball back with 5:30 remaining in the game.  We started working it with our running backs...Tra Carson runs for 3...then Allen hits him for a 10 yard gain....then an offsides....then Trey Williams runs for 5 yards, but fumbles and we recover 11 yards downfield....they Allen hits Speedy for 13 yards to get us to 1st & 10 from the 11 yard line.  We throw one away and then Allen hits RSJ for 9 yards to put us in a 3-1 from the 2 yard line.

We need one yard to get a first down for four more chances from one yard out.  We line up in a shotgun with Brandon Williams and run a draw.  He gets completely stuffed as soon as he gets the handoff.  Then on 4th & 1we roll right towards the near sideline and throw back across to Cam Clear who gets stuffed for a loss of one.  Ball game.

I didn't understand either of those playcalls.
  • Why is Brandon Williams out there instead of Tra Carson in the goalline package?
  • Why are we running out of a standard shotgun - if you're going to run, line up and either pound it for the one yard, or run a QB sneak
  •  I would have, at least on one of the plays, lined up with Pope, RSJ, Speedy, and Josh Reynolds and if no one can get open let Allen scramble.
So frustrating that we let that one get away.  Without Johnny's poise & scrambling ability, this sort of situation has become very difficult for us.  We were just 4-of-14 on 3rd downs (29%) which is a trend that has hampered us during all four of our losses.

I did think that Allen played better than the two previous weeks and Armani Watts at safety had a great game, including another INT.
Josh Reynolds also tied the school record with his 13th TD of the season - he had 125 yards and 2 TDs on the night.  He has, overall, had a really nice season.

That game was very un-Sumlin.  We usually win those types of games - but no matter what, you can't get shredded like that on defense.  That was putrid.

We have an off weekend coming up before our Thanksgiving night match up with LSU, who has taken a bit of a dive of late.  The lost to Bama two weeks ago in another epic LSU/Bama game and then dropped one to Arkansas this past weekend, allowing Arkansas their first SEC victory in 18 tries.

LSU's running game still scares the ever living out of me, especially after what Hansbrough did to us.  Their defense will also be the best defense, by far, that Kyle Allen will try to crack.  Hopefully, Sumlin can get this 3 game LSU losing streak to end.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ag Football Recap: Ags Stun #3 Auburn, 41-38

What the hell just happened there?
After 4 weeks of spiraling we somehow put it all together and knocked off the #3 team in the country - on the road.  The Vegas line was 22 - and I would have taken the over.

Kyle Allen made his second start - his first SEC action/first ranked opponent/first road start - and he had a solid game.  Good enough to be the SEC Offensive Player of the Week - 277 yards with 4 TDs on 19-of-29 passing.

As a head coach at A&M, Sumlin has now won 3 games against top 10 opponents on the road - with three different freshman QBs.  That is, frankly, pretty unbelievable.

[note: he also did it with Reggie McNeal in 2002 against OU when he was our OC]

Things started quick - on our fourth snap, Allen hit Malcome Kennedy on a slant (something I've been yelling for week after week) and Malcome took it to the house - 60 yards.  Then on Auburn's first snap Howard Matthews popped C. Artis-Payne and Floyd Raven came up with the fumble recovery.  3 plays later Allen hit Josh Reynolds on a great play down the right sideline for a 36 yard TD.  There was still 12:53 remaining in the first quarter and we were up 14-0.

We needed those points because Auburn tied the game up with 2:32 remaining in the 1Q on a 30+ yard Artist-Payne TD run.

Our third possession started with a great 45 yard KOR from Trey Williams that was brought back to the 6 yard line for a ticky-tack/questionable block in the back.  Allen marched it down the field with a nice mix of running, scrambling, and a few first downs before hitting RSJ for a 23 yard TD (on another slant).

Our fourth possession was another TD pass to Josh Reynolds (on a slant) to put him 2 TDs shy of tying Mike Evans single season TD record.

Fortunately we built up that lead because the offense didn't score another TD after the 10 min mark of the 2Q.

No worries - we have Myles Garrett.  Myles has flipped the switch at this point in the season and completely manhandled Auburn's tackles.  The holding calls that were missed were egregious - to the point that they were literally tackling MG.  I didn't realize it until the press conference afterwards, but Sumlin mentioned that Myles had to leave the game for part of the second half with an injury as a result of one of those holds.

Even with the holds, MG was a game changer - if he wasn't making the sack or tackle himself, he was funneling Auburn's offense to a place where the rest of the defense could make a play.
To top it all off, Auburn lined up for a 41 yard FG with 0:09 left in the half, which would bring the score to 28-20 with Auburn getting the ball to start the 3Q.  Myles Garrett ends up blocking the FG and Deshazor took it to the house for 7 points.  35-17.  That was a 10 point swing right there - a HUGE 10 point swing.

The second half was all Josh Lambo vs. Auburn's offense.  Artis-Payne finished with a career high 221 yards and 2 TDs.  We got up 38-24 before Auburn's comeback started again.  They scored 1 minute into the 4th quarter and we answered with a FG.

They scored again and we went 3-and-out.  It's 41-38 with 5:40 remaining in the game and Auburn is starting on their own 20.  They marched down the field after a couple of pretty great plays by their WRs and the next thing we know it's 1st & G at our 7 yard line.
Artis-Payne runs for 5 yards right up the gut but on the next snap there is an exchange issue between Nick Marshall and Artis-Payne and Julien Obioha ends up recovering the fumble.  HOLY COW.

It doesn't end there - there is 2:37 left in the game and we're at our own 3 yard line.  Brandon Williams runs for 5 yards and then we line up in a shotgun formation and try some handoff to Trey Williams way back in the endzone and he *JUST* got the ball across the line to save a safety.  We end up going 3-and-out and have to punt to the Tigers.

So Auburn starts with 1:28 and the ball at our 42 ayrd line.  They need about 15-20 yards to set up a game tying FG.  The first snap is a 6 yard completion putting them at our 34 yard line.  Cold, sweaty palms can be found all across Texas at this point.  Somehow, on the next play, the center snaps the ball without Marshall being ready for it and Alonzo Williams jumps on it!

Victory formation to run out the remaining 0:54 in the game.

Auburn's crazy streak of luck, dating back to last season, has finally come to an end and we are the beneficiaries.  What a crazy ballgame.

Suddenly, all is right with the world.  I love this conference.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ag Football Recap: Ags Hold Off La-Monroe, 21-16

I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to take Benjamin up to College Station with me for the La-Monroe game, his second real home game.

He had a soccer game at 8:30am and the A&M kick-off was at 11:00 so I went into it knowing we weren't going to get there until the 1st quarter had started.  I had full tank of gas and all of our gear for the A&M game ready in the car, with a lunch packed ready to go as soon as the final whistle blew on his soccer game.

Unfortunately, we forgot to throw his bike in the bed of my truck before we left the house so we had to double back for that and then there was really heavy traffic getting out of the subdivision due to lane closures from the construction of the new tollroad.  We lost about 20-25 minutes there but we did the best we could with what we had.
After finding a place to park deep in Southgate, we headed towards the stadium.  I heard the cannon go off when the team ran out onto the field and then a few minutes later we heard it go off after we scored a TD - already making progress from last weekend's game.

We stopped for a minute to snap a picture in front of the John David Crow statue as I tried to remind Benjamin that he had met JDC a year or so ago.  He vaguely remembered - he knows the name and he knows there is a picture of him and an old guy hanging on his wall but he hasn't put it all together.

We actually were able to get to our seats with about 6 minutes left in the 1st Q, so it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Sean was waiting for us with a quick recap of what we had missed.

At the SMU game Benjamin was pretty much ready to check out as soon as we got there, but I can't blame him - it was hot at all get out and we had plucked him from a day full of playing at GrandAggie and Cici's house.  This weekend, however, he was actually much more into it.  He liked that he could yell and kept asking at various points of the game if it was OK for him to wave his 12th Man towel (which is appropriate at all times).  I helped him with a couple of yells, he sang right along and swayed with us during the War Hymn.

The key, I have figured out, is food.  We stuck him with a hot dog at the beginning of the 2nd Q and then I got him a bucket of popcorn at the end of halftime that lasted through entire second half.
As for the game itself, the highlight was the special uniform the team wore to "honor" the 1939 national championship team on their 75th anniversary.  The helmet was sick.

Coming off the 'Bama "game", Sumlin basically opened everything back up and in the course of that, Kyle Allen nudged himself in front of Kenny Hill and was taking the 1st team snaps on Thursday.  Then on Saturday, a couple of hours before the game, the athletic department announced that Kenny Hill was suspended for two games due to "violation of team rules and athletic department policy".  No one really knows what that exactly entails but he is basically out until the Mizzou game.
So Kyle Allen got his first start, which was what a good portion of the fan base wanted - not for any other reason than "he couldn't play worse than what we've seen...let's try it to see if there is a spark in the offense."

We also came out in and played in a completely different formation than what we've seen in the Sumlin era.  We had 5 linemen with 3 wide, a fullback, and a RB in the pistol.  For the most part, Ben Compton (our backup center) played FB.

We have essentially dumped our 5 wide spread, high speed offense - and I'm not sure why.  I don't know if it is a WR issue or if it is an OL issue or if it is a QB issue.

As I predicted, Kyle Allen did not come in an set the world on fire - he actually had a terrible game statistically (13-of-28 for 106 yards, a TD and an INT) - but I did see some small positives.  He is much more mobile than I expected - much more so than Kenny Hill - and his arm strength is plus.  Time will tell.  I'm not convinced he is THE answer, but i think he is the answer for now....and for heavens sake - he's a true freshman.

Speedy.  Thank God for Speedy.  He seems like nearly the only one out there who cares - he plays with passion.  He was literally the difference between a win and a loss.  He is also seemly good for one jaw dropping catch per game - this week's installment was an insane TD catch on a free play after ULM jumped offsides.  It was a smart play by Allen also - to know he could heave one up.

I also think that Malcome Kennedy must still be hurt - he has been back now for two games and has only two receptions.  That is very unlike him.  Ed Pope and RSJ were both on the field, but they were silent.

We did get a little bit more out of the running backs. The number might not make your eyes pop (they combined for 118 yards and 2 TD on 32 carries), but Brandon Williams and Tra Carson both played very hard, despite a sieve for an offensive line.  I would still like to see more consistency in the rotation - I think we're switching them up too much and no one can get into a good rhythm.  There was also no Trey Williams, due to him "not taking care of business".  Not sure what that means.
Defensively, Myles Garrett had 3.5 sacks and broke the SEC freshman record for sacks in a season (with a 1/4 of the regular season still to go).  He is a complete monster and is just a joy to watch.  I find myself watching him on nearly every snap and even when he doesn't make the play he is *right* there.

There were a lot of snaps for freshmen.  I believe we played 16 freshmen, with Allen, Otaro Alaka (LB) and Josh Walker (LB) making their first start, joining Myles and Speedy.  Seven of our top nine leading tacklers were freshmen.  Read that again.

That also doesn't include Zaycoven Henderson or Qualen Cunningham, who did not play.

Medically, we had two big "oh no" moments.  Deshazor ruptured a tendon in his right elbow - he was in significant pain and I have no clue how long he might miss.  Then Germain Ifedi sprained his ACL - he will be out for the rest of the year.  That hurts an OL that has struggled mightily.
At the end of the day, having Benjamin with me helped keep things in perspective.  We had a great day together, the weather was GORGEOUS, there was popcorn, Uncle Sean, and he was excited to run into the house and exclaim to Momma that "The Aggies WON!"

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How Did the _efense Get To This Point?

[note: this was all written prior to the La-Monroe game]

We all know that the defense in 2012 was better than 2011 but still "eh" and then took a huge step backwards last season - simply put, they are the sole reason Johnny didn't win a national championship here.

So how did we get to this point?  Let's take a look....

         RushD        PassD          TotalD          ScoreD          3DC
      ========================================================    ========  
2003  225.1 (112)*  206.42 (40)     431.50 (96)*    38.8 (115)+   2003 44%
2004  142.5 (55)    244.25 (93)*    386.75 (63)*    23.3 (47)     2004 44%
2005  139.2 (38)    304.64 (117)+   443.82 (108)*   31.2 (96)*    2005 48%
2006  132.1 (44)    190.54 (44)     322.62 (46)     20.5 (44)     2006 29%
2007  160.9 (65)    254.85 (92)*    415.77 (83)*    25.9 (50)     2007 46% 
2008  219.3 (114)*  242.67 (93)     461.92 (113)+   37.4 (114)*   2008 55%
2009  171.6 (90)    254.69 (106)*   426.31 (105)    33.5 (105)*   2009 38%
2011  101.8         276.3*          378.2           28.2          2011 40%
2013  222.3 (110)*  253.5 (95)      475.8 (109)+    32.2 (95)     2013 41%
2014  190.2 (94)    232.4 (68)      422.6 (78)      27.1 (70)     2014 37%
Last season's defense was right in line with the worst defenses that we've ever fielded and as bad as it has seemed this year, the number indicate we have "improved".  Just not enough.


We've been hit particularly hard on this side of the ball in terms of attrition.

A good defense, particularly in the SEC, is anchored by upper classmen with a sprinkling of youth but as you can see we are pretty much the exact opposite of that.

 DE J.Obioha                
 NG A.Williams               
 DT I.Robinson               
 DE M.Garrett                 
OLB D.Baggs                 
MLB J.Mastrogiovanni        
OLB J.Bass

 CB V.Davis                  
 CB D.Everett                
 SS H.Matthews             
 FS F.Raven                
 CB D.Burns                

Please note that Justin Bass and Sam Moeller are both walk-ons.

Defense (* = in 2-deep; CAPS = starter; strikethrough = not on team)

2010 (5th Yr Seniors)    Pre-2014  2014
     C.Honeycutt (QB)..... 16/4     7/0
     N.Askew (WR)......... 43/2

     N.Hicks (DE).........  TE    
     T.Hurd (DB).......... 51/17 

     B.Jackson (DT)....... 13/1 
     J.Mathis (DT)........ 29/10 
     T.Micken (DB)........  0/0 
     D.Moore (DE)......... 38/23 
     D.Patterson (LB).....  8/0
     I.ROBINSON (DT)...... 24/5     5/4
     G.Stansbury (DE)..... 34/10

2011 (Seniors/RS-Jr)    
Pre-2014  2014 
     B.Alexander (DE)..... 12/0      TE
     D.BAGGS (LB)......... 33/7     8/2
     D.BURNS (DB).........  9/0     8/6
     D.EVERETT (DB)....... 37/22    8/8

     J.Franklin (DB)...... 11/0
     S.Jenkins (LB)....... 36/27
     H.MATTHEWS (DB)...... 38/20    8/8
     F.RAVEN (DB)......... 33/5     8/2

     L.Strahan (DT).......  -/-
     T.Taylor (LB)........ 23/2     2/0
     S.Ward (LB).......... 17/0
     D.Washington (LB)..... -/-

2012 (Juniors/RS-Soph)   Pre-2014  2014

     D.Harris (DB)........ 23/18    5/2
     T.Jacobs (DB)........ 26/9 

     P.Manukainiu (DE)....  -/-   
     K.Marshall (DB)......  -/-
     J.OBIOHA (DE)........ 24/23    8/8
     E.Ray (DT)...........  -/-
     M.Richardson (DE)....  -/-
     J.Richmond (LB)......
     T.Taylor (DE)........
21/1     0/0
     A.WILLIAMS (DE)......
18/9     8/8

2013 (Sophmores/RS-Fr)   Pre-2014  2014
     J.Arnold (DE)........
  9/1     8/1
     R.Chevis (LB)........
  -/-     1/0
     D.Claiborne (LB).....
     V.DAVIS (DB).........
  -/-     8/5
     N.Ellis (DB).........
  8/0     -/-
     T.Garner (DB)........
  7/0     4/0
     I.Golden (DT)........ 12/7
     D.Hall (DE).......... 13/1     8/4
     J.Manning (DT).......  -/-     3/0
     J.MASTROGIOVANNI (LB) 13/2     7/7
     K.Miles (DB).........  -/-
     J.Points (DE)........  -/-     -/-
     T.Sanders (LB)....... 11/2     6/0
     A.Sezer (ATH)........ 13/2     7/0
     B.Wade (LB)..........  -/-     2/0
     H.Walker (DT)........  9/1     8/3
     S.Washington (ATH)... 12/0     5/0
     J.Wiggins (DB).......  9/0     3/0

2014 (True Freshmen)     Pre-2014  2014

     O.Alaka (LB).........  -/-     7/0
     C.Collins (DB).......  -/-
     Q.Cunningham (LB)....  -/-     8/0
     M.GARRETT (DE).......  -/-     8/4
     N.Harvey (DB)........  -/-     8/1
     Z.Henderson (DT) ....  -/-     7/0
     J.Johnson (DE).......  -/-     0/0
     J.Walker (LB)........  -/-     7/1
     D.Washington (DT)....  -/-     0/0
     A.Watts (DB).........  -/-     8/6
     D.Wilson (DB)........  -/-     6/0
Man, that 2012 class killed us as did the guys we lost from the 2013 class (Claiborne, Golden, & Miles - all three were projected to start).

We've had 18 starts made by freshmen compared to just 26 from fourth and fifth year guys.  Of our 3rd year guys - we have two contributing.

The thing that is most staggering is two deep
  • Every single defense player from our 2014 signing class is already in our 2-deep.  
  • There are 17 guys in the 2-deep who had fewer than 2 career starts coming into the season.  
  • There are 10 guys who have already made more starts in 2014 than they had coming into the season (and two more guys will be added to the list after this week's game).
As a fan base, you don't want to hear "youth" as an excuse for consecutive seasons but the fact of the matter is that "youth" is a huge reason why we're not competing on the defensive side of the ball like Alabama and Ole Miss are.  LSU, however, is a great example of reloading - they lost a TON of guys over the last two seasons and their defense is getting stronger each week.

I don't think "youth" is the only reason we're struggling but it is certainly one of the reasons.