Two Players of the Game
With all due credit to Ben Malena, if A&M ends up having a great season, it will be because Mike Evans saved tonight's game. It was 3rd and 20 at the A&M 5 when Johnny Manziel basically lobbed it out to see what his 6-5 classmate could do and Evans answered the call. On the game, the Aggies completed just 17 passes and 8 of those were by Evans. Nobody else had more than two. Evans also had 105 of A&M's 181 total receiving yards in the game.
Moore might not have dominated the stat sheet, but he made several key plays in this game. This spot could have gone to Steven Jenkins also, who had one of the games biggest plays, but Moore's effort on every play was huge in this game. He got a sack at a crucial time, and he kept the Ole Miss offensive line focused on him the entire game.
Four Plays to Remember
Evans Saves the Day - I talked about this one up top, but Evans' catch on 3rd and 19 to keep that drive alive could go down as one of the biggest plays of the season for A&M.
Jenkins Pick 6 - This might have been the easiest touchdown he'll ever score, but it couldn't have come at a bigger time. It looked like Ole Miss was ready to head in for the half, but a play went awry and the ball landed in Jenkins' hands. His feet did the rest and tied the game up at 17 for the half.
Ole Miss Hold - I try to usually make these actual football plays, but Ole Miss being called for a hold on 2nd and 4 in A&M territory midway through the fourth quarter ended up being one of the biggest plays of the game. Because of the penalty Ole Miss had to throw it, which allowed a sack for Moore, and then forced a punt instead of a field goal for the Rebels.
Manziel Hits Swope - It was 3rd and 3, and A&M would have gone for it on fourth down, but Johnny Manziel's go ahead touchdown to Ryan Swope was probably his best throw of the season. He recognized the coverage at the line and threw it up for his senior receivers.
Seven Quick Hitters
- Quite frankly, this was not a well played game for A&M. There's really no other way to say it. You just can't win if you turn the ball over six times, especially not in a conference game, and especially not on the road. But win the Aggies did, and that in and of itself is impressive. Ole Miss had several chances to end this game, and the Aggies were able to keep hope alive. The ability to win when you're not playing well is a trademark of quality programs, and A&M certainly had no business winning this game.
- You saw tonight everything that Johnny Manziel is and isn't. He isn't a great passer yet against tight coverage, and he doesn't see the field well all the time. But, like the team itself, Manziel was able to make the plays he needed to late. He threw an absolutely terrible pass on one third down for an interception, but then he also threw one of his best passes of the year for a touchdown. He wasn't good throwing the ball, but he stll rushed for almost 130 yards and got the job done. He also had an inexcusable fumble earlier in the game.
- The most concerning thing for A&M is the fact that several senior players turned the ball over. You expect turnovers from a freshman quarterback, but not from a senior running back, senior wide receiver, and senior punt returner. The Aggies have done a great job of taking care of the football all year, but today they played like the ball was on fire.
- I'm not a huge fan of A&M's red zone playcalling, and especially not their short yardage wildcat package. Manziel is A&M's best running threat, and by moving him out of the backfield they basically tell the defense that they aren't throwing it. As one person I talked to after the game put it "A&M is basically always in a wildcat package." That's a good way of putting it, and it makes you wonder what they gain schematically by doing it.
- With Deshazor Everett out injured, you could see tonight how dire of a situation the A&M secondary can become with just a couple of injuries. Things get real thing real quick. However, Howard Matthews played a pretty good game overall, and most of the defense did about all you could ask them to do. At this point you can't expect Dustin Harris to just become a great cover corner. But, again, they made a big play when they needed it most when Toney Hurd came up with a huge interception.
- I've always said that if you have a running back averaging more than five yards per carry then you aren't running the ball enough and Ben Malena averaged almost 8 yards per carry tonight. I know people want to see Christine Michael and Trey Williams, but they needed to feed the rock to Malena more on first down against the defense that Ole Miss was playing. It was easy yardage that for some reason A&M just didn't want to take.
- Tackling is still an issue, and it's from people you expect to be great tacklers. Sean Porter, for example, missed a number of big tackles that ended up being big gains for first downs. But the defense played well overall when they had to. If your offense turns the ball over six times, including once inside the ten, and you only give up 27 points you had a decent day. Especially when you're facing an offense as dynamic as Ole Miss'.