Texas A&M Football: Grading the Aggies Position by Position Versus Florida
The Texas A&M Football team lost to the Florida Gators 20-17 at Kyle Field on Saturday afternoon. It was the Aggies opening game of the season after the Louisiana Tech game was postponed due to Hurricane Isaac.
The Florida game was one of the biggest games in the history of the program. It was the Aggies' first Southeastern Conference game, as well as the first game under head coach Kevin Sumlin. It was an opportunity to show the rest of the country that A&M belongs in the SEC.
Instead of making a statement win, the Aggies struggled to move the ball in the second half and lost a close game at home.
The Aggies have some issues to sort out before they take on SMU next weekend.
This is a position by position breakdown of how the Aggies performed in their game against Florida.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel made the first start of his career against the Gators. Considering the magnitude of the game, and the fact that it was the first time he stepped on the field in a college contest, he had a decent performance.
Manziel completed 23 of 30 passes for 173 yards with no touchdowns nor interceptions. Manziel also rushed for 60 yards on 17 carries.
The Aggies are going to need Manziel to make better decisions going forward. Florida made halftime adjustments and Manziel became hesitant in the second half. The Aggies, as a result, could not move the ball and they lost the game because of it.
As Manziel gains more experience, the game will slow down for him and he will become a greater weapon for the Aggies' offense. He needs to get into the film room and work on his game as he missed a lot of open receivers in the second half.
Expect a much better performance next weekend against SMU.
Running Back: C
The Aggie running backs had a decent day against a solid Florida defense. There were bright spots, but the bottom line was that they were not able to run the ball well enough to take pressure off Manziel.
Christine Michael led the Aggie ground game with 33 yards on 13 carries. He was benched in the second half, however, after he blew a pass protection assignment and Manziel was sacked.
Trey Williams had 18 yards on five carries and showed some flashes of greatness out there. He also had a reception for 28 yards.
Ben Malena showed that he is a solid SEC back with 23 yards on three carries. Malena's physical play stood out as he knocked out a safety for the Gators. He could have made a bigger impact had he gotten more carries against the Gators.
The Aggies have a solid three-man tailback rotation. They did a solid job of grinding it out for extra yards and playing physical in their first SEC game against a stout Florida defense.
Wide Receivers: D
The Aggie receivers had a solid opening game to the season. Florida has one of the best secondaries in the country, so the Aggie receivers struggled to find the holes in the Gators' coverage schemes. When they were open, Manziel did not get them the ball.
Senior Ryan Swope had a poor game with five receptions for 16 yards.
Mike Evans had a good outing with seven catches for 60 yards in his college debut.
Kenric McNeal had two receptions for 11 yards.
Uzoma Nwachukwu did not have a reception.
The receiving numbers were anemic, especially for a spread offense. Manziel and the wide receivers are really going to have to step up their play if they are going to survive the SEC season.
Tight End: C
No one knew heading into the game how much of a role the tight ends would play in the Aggies' new spread scheme.
Nehemiah Hicks had an important reception for eight yards to extend a drive, but other than that the tight ends were hardly noticeable against the Gators.
Offensive Line: D
Heading into the game, everyone knew if the Aggies wanted to win the game then they were going to have to win the battle in the trenches.
Some have touted the Aggie offensive line as the second best in the SEC behind Alabama. Florida's defensive line is arguably the fourth best in the league behind Alabama, LSU and Georgia.
The A&M offensive line did not win that battle, however. They were unable to create enough push to establish the running game in the second half.
Patrick Lewis had two false start penalties, which is ridiculous for a center.
They gave up three sacks to Florida after giving up nine in all of 2011.
All in all, the A&M O-line could not get a decent push against Florida and it had a deleterious effect on the game.
Defensive Line: B
This was the most important matchup of the game as the Aggie defensive line had to hold up against the Gators' offensive line if the Aggies were to win this game. The defensive line did their job for the most part, but unfortunately for the Aggies it did not lead to a win.
The A&M defensive line did a decent job against the run. They held Florida to 142 rushing yards on 42 carries. That is an average of three yards per carry, which is decent.
Damontre Moore proved that he has adapted to his new weak side DE position. He had a monster game with 10 tackles and three sacks. Expect Moore to be one of the dominant pass rushers in the SEC in 2012.
Spencer Nealy chipped in with five tackles and two sacks from his defensive tackle position. His solid play was a pleasant surprise.
Freshman Julien Obioha flashed his skills on a couple plays and had four tackles.
The play of the defensive line overall was a surprise as they played much better than expected against a tough Florida offensive line.
The Aggie linebackers did a great job in containing the Florida running game. Jonathan Stewart is now displaying the ability that made him one of the top linebacker recruits in the south when he was a senior in high school.
Stewart led the Aggies with 17 tackles for the game including half a tackle for loss. He is a legitimate SEC middle linebacker.
Sean Porter showed a national television audience why he is on some preseason All-American teams. The senior linebacker ended the game with seven tackles and half a tackle for loss.
Steven Jenkins chipped in with a great game with nine tackles and a sack.
If the rest of the team had played as well as the linebackers then the Aggies would have had a better chance to win the game.
Defensive Backs: D-
The Aggies started a very young secondary against the Gators.
True freshman De'Vante Harris was seeing the first action of his career. He had a very poor first game to his career as he struggled tremendously in tackling in the open field, missing at least four tackles on the day.
Sophomore Deshazor Everett started at corner for the first time in his career.
Steven Campbell had five tackles and was not a major factor in the game.
Steven Terrell had three tackles for the game.
The secondary played a lot of zone coverage against Florida and allowed too many uncontested completions. It was a disappointing showing for a unit that had appeared to improve over the spring.
Right now it appears that the secondary is the weakest part of the defense. They need to step up their play if A&M wants to qualify for a bowl game.
Special Teams: B+
The special teams were solid against Florida, not allowing any big returns.
Ryan Epperson was surprisingly solid with an average of 49.8 yards per punt.
Taylor Bertolet hit his one field goal attempt from 27 yards.
The return game was solid as well; Dustin Harris fielded every punt cleanly.
The bottom line for this game was that the Aggies had to find a way to win. The coaching staff was at a huge disadvantage because of the postponement of the Louisiana Tech game.
Still, the inability of offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to find a way to move the ball in the second half was inexcusable.
The defensive coaching was decent despite the soft coverage.
Will Muschamp made halftime adjustments and the Aggie coaching staff never responded to them. It was a very frustrating game overall for Aggie fans.