Statistical Notes from Texas A&M Football vs. Miami
I promise we’ll be on to ULM soon. But this game was much more of a barometer than that game will be, so it will therefore be more instructive about the Aggie team we will see the rest of this year. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting facts about this game as it pertains to Texas A&M football.
Carter Karels of GigEm247 had some revealing insights when he dug into the Pro Football Focus stats from this matchup. Two of the most eye-catching—in my opinion at least—are below.
Reading between the lines of the first tweet, when Conner was blitzed but not pressured—i.e., when the OL picked up the blitz or he got the ball out too quickly for it to take effect—Weigman was 8-8 for 67 yards. That’s around 8.38 YPA, which isn’t stellar on 100% completion, but it also tells me that these were much more in the camp of “quick throws so that the defense can’t get to me” rather than “the OL picked up the blitz so now I can cherry pick my matchup.” That was one of the bigger adjustments that Petrino made at halftime, it seems—the quick throws were much more prevalent in the second half than the first, neutralizing the blitz somewhat (though it still got home too often).
For what it’s worth, Conner’s overall performance was encouraging. He racked up the most passing yards in a road game since 2018 for the Aggies, which is no easy feat.
The boom-or-bust nature of the OL in pass pro lines up well with the idea that the Aggies had a physical advantage over the Hurricane DL, but that Guidry’s scheme had the protection off-balance. As I tweeted yesterday:
The good thing is that those are fixable problems. Of course, that’s also the frustrating thing—especially the share of the blame that lays at the feet of Bryce Foster, who has much more starting experience than does Weigman. I have significantly more faith in our offensive staff than I did at this time last year, but this is a coaching issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
Another couple of advanced stats that are telling for this game are success rate and predicted points added (both via collegefootballdata.com). The Aggies ended the day with a 40% success rate compared to just 37% for the Hurricanes, meaning that the Aggies were better down-in and down-out at staying ahead of the chains. See the chart below:
Of course, being better at staying ahead of the chains down-in and down-out doesn’t mean too terribly much when you’re giving up huge chunks of yardage through the air, as Texas A&M football was doing far too much in this game. I covered why that seemed to be the case in a column yesterday, and—long story short—it seems like it was just questionable strategic decisions by the coaching staff that inhibited our guys from unleashing their potential. Again, I’m not sure how comforting that is, but it does seem like something that can be flipped sooner rather than later; especially when a completely different approach was taken almost all of last year.
Looking Forward for Texas A&M Football
Things may not be as dire as they seem right now. As Billy Liucci pointed out on the Loochador podcast yesterday, you don’t know who you’re beating or losing to when it’s only week 2. Could Miami turn out to be really good? Certainly. Both of these teams could end up in the upper echelon of the sport when all is said and done.
In the immediate future, the Aggies have time to work on the issues that showed themselves here. This week, you play ULM, who (respectfully) does not pose a challenge to this Aggie roster. Then you get Auburn at home. Hugh Freeze’s offensive staff is doubtless taking notes, but Payton Thorne and Robby Ashford in concert with the Tiger receivers do not pose the same downfield threat as Miami did. A trip to Dallas for the Southwest Classic against Arkansas won’t pose a huge challenge to the Aggies when it comes to deep passing either. Given how Jalen Milroe looked against the Texas defense at home, it’s doubtful that an aerial attack will be blitzing the Aggie defense in that matchup either. It’s not until Tennessee that you have another high-flying, deep-passing team to worry about.
Even so, these things that are fixable better turn into things that are fixed, and quick. If they don’t, the goals that Texas A&M football brought into the season could dissipate sooner rather than later.