After a long hiatus we're back to share our thoughts on the Aggies' season opener against Texas. If you read our Q&A with HornSports.com earlier in the week you know that we didn't have high aspirations for the Aggies in this game and our final score prediction was 65-7. The Aggies fared much better than we (and just about everyone else) thought they would in the first half of the game. In fact head Coach Doug Martin told reporters in the postgame, "14-7 at halftime is about as good as we could have hoped coming into the game. We just let the game get away from us in the second half. Defensively we gave up too many big plays."
In the end the game certainly did get away from the Aggies and the 56-7 final score was probably as good as the Aggies could have hoped for considering that Texas probably left two touchdowns on the board in the first half due to the Aggies forcing turnovers, including an incredible interception by safety George Callendar.
All-in-all it was pretty much what we expected to have happen. The defense got exposed for 715 yards (a Texas football school record) and the Aggies gave up four touchdown plays of 50-plus yards which is the most Texas has had in any single game in the past ten years with their previous best being two in any game (a bit hard to fathom considering some of the playmakers they've had over the years).
There certainly were some bright spots for the Aggies to take away from the game. First and foremost they got out of the game healthy. That was priority number one in our minds. This is going to be a long season with a lot of games against quality opponents.
Second, the offense looked much better than anticipated, particularly in the first half. Andrew McDonald showed good touch on his passes and completed 32-of-46 pass attempts for 242 yards. Unfortunately, the Aggie run game struggled and the age-old quandry of whether a strong showing in spring ball and fall camp for an Aggie run game was due to a good running game or porous run defense, was answered. It's more due to a porous run defense. McDonald was the Aggies' leading rusher with a net of 50 yards on 14 carries/scrambles. Germi Morrison ran the ball 12 times for 31 yards and Brandon Betancourt ran eight times for 19 yards.
The receiving corps held up well and a couple of kids emerged who we think will have good seasons for the Aggies. Josh Bowen caught eight passes for 83 yards and the lone Aggie touchdown. Andrew Dean had six catches for 22 yards which isn't a lot but he looks to be a big physical tight end and against less elite talent could certainly find himself having bigger games.
Adam Shapiro had just one catch but his kickoff returns were solid with five returns for 122 yards. We think he'll break one for a touchdown this season.
Defensively, despite giving up 715 yards, the Aggies did some good things namely, causing three first-half turnovers and likely erasing at least 14 Texas points (seven for certain). Aggie walk-on turned starting linebacker Clint Barnard showed that he wasn't intimidated by the moment and produced one of the two Aggie INTs.
In the end, the defense has a long way to go and it's not going to get much easier. Two of the next three opponents, Minnesota (51) and UCLA (58), both scored 50+ points in their opening games as well. UTEP, the Aggies' week three opponent, opens at home against UNM on Saturday, the Lobos meanwhile lost their season opener to UTSA 21-13.
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