No. 20 Texas A&M survived a thrilling shootout against Louisiana Tech, but the celebrations will not last long as the Aggies have an impending matchup with No. 6 LSU.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin has plenty of positives to take away from his team’s 59-57 victory, but he also knows that his team will have to play significantly better this coming weekend.
Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel was fantastic, throwing for 395 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 181 yards and three more scores. However, the defense allowed 615 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs.
Here are the changes that must be made for the Aggies to have a chance against LSU.
While Manziel was excellent during Saturday’s victory, he also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The score put the Bulldogs within two points of the Aggies, but Manziel responded by throwing a touchdown pass and running for another score to give his team enough of a lead to hold off Louisiana Tech.
However, mistakes against LSU will be significantly more costly. The freshman quarterback started the season by playing four straight games without throwing and interception, but he has been picked off three times in the last two games.
He must not make the same errors again the Tigers, as there will not be opportunities to make up for them.
Penalties plagued the Aggies during Saturday’s game and were a large part of the reason Louisiana Tech was able to keep the game close.
ESPN’s Sam Khan Jr. notes that Texas A&M’s 19 penalties is a new single-game record for the school, and the 175 yards given up on those infractions ranks second among all Aggies teams.
That is not the way Sumlin wants his team make history, and this must be his main focus throughout the next week.
To have a chance at an upset, Texas A&M will have to play mistake-free football. After making 19 frustrating errors against Louisiana Tech, it will take an incredible effort from the coaching staff to keep the team disciplined.
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Texas A&M was up 39-16 at halftime against the Bulldogs, then took its foot off the gas pedal. The teams traded touchdowns to start the third quarter, but the Aggies then allowed 21 unanswered points, and Louisiana Tech pulled within two points.
The offense finally woke up in the fourth quarter, and scored two straight touchdowns to take a 15-point lead with just over two minutes left in the game. But the defense did not learn from its previous error and allowed Colby Cameron to throw two touchdown passes in the final minutes.
Louisiana Tech came within a two-point conversion of sending the game into overtime. If the Aggies are fortunate to find themselves with a lead against LSU, the defense must not make this error again.
While the defense played excellent in the first half, it will need to play at the same level for all four quarters in order to help the team pull off its most important victory of the season.