It’s hard to really even begin to breakdown the numbers from Houston’s offense a season ago. They beat nine of their opponents by more then 20 points, which skews what would have been the potential point totals of the fourth quarters of those games. Not that Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury are known for lifting off the pedal, but it’s natural for players to ease off after a huge lead.
However, one thing I’ve heard and seen from fans, as well as some in the media, is a myth that Kingsbury’s offense was all about coming out of the gate like a man on fire and blowing opponents away early. Certainly that happened in some games, but when you look at Houston’s season you don’t see dominance in the first quarter.
No, it was the second and third quarters that separated the 2011 Cougars from their opponents. Last year Kingsbury’s offense averaged 29 points per game in the second and third quarters, and scored double digit points in 19 of the 28 second and third quarters they played.
But the big difference was the explosive second quarters. Six times the Cougars scored at least 21 points in the second quarter, averaging 16 points in the second quarter over the course of the season.
The Cougars’ worst quarter? The first. Houston averaged just nine points in the first quarter and failed to score a touchdown in six first quarters, something that happened just once in the second quarter.
It’s important for people to remember that just because the offense is uptempo, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have the same effect on a defense as a power run does. The goal of both is wear the defense out throughout the game, so Aggie fans shouldn’t be too worried if the offense starts slow against the Gators.
That’s another reason why it’s absolutely crucial for Johnny Manziel to play within himself at the start of the game and not turn the ball over. With the talent the Aggies have on offense, there are going to be opportunities to scores as the defense tires. Florida’s defense is talented, but they haven’t seen tempo like A&M is going to bring. Defending that many plays wears on you physically, but also mentally. If A&M can stick with the game plan and not panic if things don’t work early, they’ll have their opportunities.
For me, the longer this game stays close, the more it favors the Aggies. They’ll be working out the kinks in the first half (I’m expecting a few penalties early on,) and trying to get into an offensive rhythm at game speed. But if they can stick with the gameplan and just take what the defense gives them, the Aggies will have a good chance to win Saturday.