Texas A&M football takes a risk
Even after everything I just said—especially after everything I just said—I’m going to point this out. I tweeted about it during the game, but near the end of the half, we did see Jimbo and this Texas A&M football coaching staff take a risk. Given, it was a risk that benefitted the defense—perhaps because they’re still able to operate at or near their ceiling—but it was a risk all the same.
The Volunteers were driving with the ball late in the half after the Aggies were unable to convert on a short fourth down (which, I guess, was kind of a risk too!). Max Johnson had tripped after Bryce Foster stepped directly on top of his foot in a sort of keystone cops-esque routine that really didn’t land with anyone outside of Tennessee fans, giving the Vols the ball behind midfield with enough time to score.
As they drove down the field, though, picking up yards and drawing ever nearer to field goal range, the penalties—which affected each team a lot in this one—reared their ugly head again. Joe Milton attempted a scramble on a long third down, picking his way to the sideline but ultimately came up short. The Aggies had gotten their stop, and it looked like Tennessee would be kicking the ball to try and tie rather than going for a touchdown and the lead. However, a flag came in for holding; rather than declining the penalty and taking the guaranteed outcome, though, Jimbo accepted the penalty to move the Vols back near midfield. This was a gamble; the Vols have the players to create chunk plays either through the air or on the ground (the latter option was one they took full advantage of throughout this game, by the way). The defense answered the bell. They created a fumble around midfield, forcing the Vols to punt. This essentially took points off the board for the Volunteers. It was a gamble that paid off. If only the offense had some of those, then maybe we’d be in a different spot.