Brought to you this week by Tito's Vodka, Bob Marley, and the slippery asphalt of Lot 44. If you haven't seen it, The Pit made a better tackle during the Hog Walk than either team could claim last night. Bert went down like a goon taken out by a Tommy Gun in a mob movie. He got back up, though, much like his Hogs would throughout their battle against Aggie.
Extended time in the rain is never optimal, but it certainly didn't put a damper on the crowd last night. Easily the best crowd since Alabama in 2010, and the element of Johnnyhate made it seem even more intense at times. Beverage of choice yesterday was whatever anyone who was standing could fetch me. Ain't no seat-check at a tailgate, and I'm no sucker. Let's get to the game.
Johnny Football gonna Johnny Football. Worth the price of admission. Funny thing about gravity, though, is that the fall is always equal to the rise. He seems to enjoy ensuring that the entire world will revel in his, and make no mistake, his is inevitable and will be spectacular. I can't wait. I'm petty like that.
The A&M offense is so dynamic and efficient and talented across the field at most every position that I have a hard time giving the Hog defense any type of a grade. I didn't see any new issues pop up last night. Our linebackers are still non-existent. Secondary still improving, still butt-puckeringly inconsistent. Yes, the defensive line got gashed by the run, but that's a byproduct of not giving #2 another career day. Also, the A&M running back corps is pretty freaking good.
Some obvious and maybe not as obvious defensive takeaways from last night:
Darius Philon is a beast. I will take any other defensive linemen you'd like to spurn in the future, Dur Saban. One day heads up will be just fine.
We did quite a bit of toying with Manziel in the first half. Dropping linemen and blitzing from the back seven and whatnot. Did a decent job of mixing coverages and disguising them, but he just wasn't fooled. Cover 1, Cover 2, didn't matter. That's to his credit. Saw less of it in the second half, probably because the staff realized JFF wasn't going to be baited into a mistake. And also because he barely needed to throw the football in the first place.
Rohan Gaines flying up to stop their rushing attack was necessary, and it was good to see him back and making plays, but it was a little disheartening to know that they could go play-action over the top at any time they wanted, and never did because they didn't need to.
Moving onto the offense. Great performance against a less-than-stellar defense, but the game was probably decided between the pick-six and the two three-and-outs following defensive stops. With that said, the balance was superb and its effectiveness just underscores how one-handed Jim Chaney was last week in Piscataway.
Two picks and the fourth down pass into the end zone notwithstanding, I think Brandon Allen played a very good game. He is accurate with the quick-hitters, and throws the ball with enough zip to hit some pretty tight windows.
Alex Collins is a running back. Not a sprinter playing running back. He doesn't have the final gear. Maybe he will develop it. Maybe he won't. If he doesn't, there is still a long list of NFL backs in that mold making scads of money. He has enough power to get through the line and enough speed to get around the corner and get downfield. What makes him scary good, however, will always be cuts at speed and acceleration coming out of them. His long run at the end of the first half to help setup Hocker was a run an elite back makes.
The play-action pass play that went to Hunter Henry on the Hogs' first drive is a beauty. Herndon runs a deep post and looks perfectly setup and then you see Henry 20 yards clear of everyone save the safety that is chasing Herndon and out of the play.
What about a corner fade to Henry in the red zone? He's not too different physically from Mike Evans, and the kid has incredible hands.
Jonathan Williams got better as the game went on. We give Collins most of the praise, and he deserves every bit, but Williams just keeps scoring touchdowns.
Korliss Marshall had a great run. I missed it. I had some beer yesterday. Excited to see the highlights.
What are we going to do when Hocker misses a kick? It seems almost unfathomable, doesn't it? Yet it's bound to happen.
The Gauntlet continues with a trip to Gainesville next week. They don't have their starting quarterback, and it looks likely we'll catch Carolina the next week without theirs as well. I'm going to stop way short of predicting a win over the Gators since we've never beaten them, ever, anywhere, since we've been in the SEC, but damn if it doesn't look a lot more promising than it did preseason. Or even last week.
See y'all next week.