Texas A&M Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Aggies Loss Against the Gators
The Texas A&M Football team lost to the No. 24 Florida Gators at Kyle Field 20-17. It was a learning experience for an Aggie team that was breaking in a new head coach, new quarterback, new offensive and defensive schemes, while playing in a new conference.
It was a disappointing loss for the Aggies because the game was winnable.
Florida was not head and shoulders better than A&M. They just executed when they needed to in the second half.
The Aggie offense could not get anything going in the second half and were shut out on the scoreboard.
It was the first game of the year, so the coaches learned a lot about the team from their first live action. The players and fans also learned some things about the coaches.
This is a look at the top 10 things that we learned from the Florida game.
The Importance of Playing a Game Before Your Opponent Has
The Florida Gators played a game last Saturday, while the Aggies had their season opener against Louisiana Tech postponed due to weather.
Florida struggled against Bowling Green but the Gators' coaches were able to spend the last week fixing some of their issues in practice.
The Aggie coaches were flying blind headed into this game. Johnny Manziel struggled to the defensive adjustments that Florida made in the second half and was rendered ineffective.
It is likely that a week of studying live game action of himself would have alleviated some of those issues.
The Aggies tackled poorly at times, and in general looked like a team playing their first game of the season.
It is a frustrating fact for Aggie fans that they likely lost this game, simply because Florida had played a previous game and A&M had not.
There Is No Need to Ice Kickers in the First Half
Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 51 yard field goal attempt off the upright in the first half. Unfortunately, Kevin Sumlin called a timeout in an attempt to ice Sturgis.
The miss was negated and Sturgis made his second kick. That kick provided the margin of victory for the Gators.
It is one thing to try to ice a kicker before the end of the game. To do it in the first half seems rather pointless.
Damontre Moore Is Still a Monster
Damontre Moore may have switched positions from outside linebacker to defensive end, but he is still a disruptive force on the field.
The junior from Rowlett, TX had one of the best games of his career against the Gators. Moore had 10 tackles and three sacks on the day. He seems to have adjusted to his new defensive end position rather nicely.
He should only get better as he gets adjusted to every aspect of Mark Snyder's new scheme.
The Aggies Need to Get the Ball into Ben Malena's Hands More
Junior running back Ben Malena proved that his impressive play during the spring was no illusion.
He averaged 7.7 yards per carry on his three totes against the Gators. He showed great quickness and power, knocking a Florida safety out of the game.
The Aggie coaches need to find a way to get the ball in Malena's hands more. He is a huge asset in the passing game and should be used more on routes out of the backfield.
Kliff Kingsbury Needs to Call More Deep Passes
Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury struggled to call the right plays to get the Aggies going in the second half.
The result was an anemic offensive output after halftime. The Gators seemed content to sit on all the short routes 15 yards and in, and challenge Kingsbury to try to burn the secondary deep.
Kingsbury never called any deep passes and the Ags could not move the ball in the second half.
He needs to learn that in the SEC, a lot of the defenders are going to make the tackle in the open field so multiple short passes in a series is not going to be effective.
Johnny Manziel Has a Lot of Poise
There was some concern heading into the Florida game that the moment may be too big for redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel was very steady in the first half and played within himself. He made good decisions and helped the Ags offense score 17 points in the first half.
In the second half he struggled with the defensive adjustments that the Florida coaching staff made, and seemed to become hesitant.
He will get better as he gains more experience. The future is bright for the Aggies at the quarterback position.
Spencer Nealy Can Actually Play DT in This League
Spencer Nealy played defensive end for the Aggies in 2011. He moved to strong side defensive end in Snyder's 4-3 scheme in the spring.
He moved inside to defensive tackle when freshman Julien Obioha showed that he could play the DE spot.
Nealy had a very good game against Florida with five tackles and two sacks. That may have been the most shocking development of the entire game.
It is just one game but Nealy was a difference maker against Florida.
Freshman WR Thomas Johnson Is Ready to Contribute
True freshman wide receiver Thomas Johnson had a solid first game to his career with three receptions for 26 yards. Included in those receptions was a spectacular grab of a pass from Manziel that was well over Johnson's head.
Johnson caught the pass for a 14 yard gain and a first down. Johnson justified the hype that he received during Fall camp.
The Ags need to find more ways to get the ball into the hands of their young playmaker.
The Ags Need to Run More Quick Hitting Plays
Everything that was slow developing on offense, failed against Florida.
The Aggie coaches need to realize that in a league like the SEC where all the defensive have tremendous speed, they need to run quick-hitting plays in order to move the ball.
Kingsbury needs to adjust his play-calling to include more vertical routes.They need to utilize the middle of the field more in the passing game.
Freshmen Are Going to Have a Big Say in How Good This Team Is in 2012
The members of the 2012 recruiting class are going to have a huge say in what the Aggie team does in 2012. Multiple true freshmen stood out against Florida.
Trey Williams, Julien Obioha and Johnson all performed well against the Gators.
The same cannot be said for De'Vante Harris. The freshman cornerback missed at least four tackles against the Gators. He needs to get better at tackling, or he will find someone else starting at corner.
These freshmen are going to need to grow up quick because the Aggies are counting on them to contribute in a big way this season.