Reacting to Narrow Texas A&M Football Loss to Ole Miss
Well, that was just a gut punch for Texas A&M football. After climbing all the way out of a 14-point hole to take the lead in the fourth quarter, the defense gave up a long drive, easy as you please, to give the Rebels a three point advantage in the waning moments of the game. Of course, it was that three point advantage that persisted until the end of the game, as Bond was unable to coax his field goal attempt through the uprights in the final seconds.
This one is just a mixed bag. The offense absolutely came alive in the second half, even without Evan Stewart (and, later in the game, Le’Veon Moss) and didn’t slow down. At the same time, though, this is by far the worst performance by the Aggie defense since the Miami game: they both bent and broke in this one. I’m not going to say that Shemar Turner’s ejection was what decided the game by any stretch, but the lack of his presence can’t have helped late in the second half when the Rebel offense was going a mile a minute. It feels strange that the defense is the side of the ball that let down the team, but it’s kind of true here.
At the same time, though, the defense did give this team opportunities. There was a stretch where the Ags outscored the Rebels 21-3, and the defense holding strong was a key player in that time frame. In a one-score contest like this, you could point to any number of missed plays as the deciding factor, but it was definitely disappointing for the defense to have this kind of showing, even without their top two corners.
You could say that the lack of those corners, though, led directly to an Ole Miss touchdown. Sam McCall didn’t see a receiver on his side of the field late in the first half, and the Rebels threw the ball right to him as he walked, untouched, into the end zone. Change that play, and the outcome is different here. Heck, change the floater of a pass that Max tossed up for a red zone interception and the outcome is different. Given, there were a couple of other, similar passes that Max made that weren’t intercepted, but Dart had a comparable number of those. Each team had their fair share of breaks. It was just that the Rebels capitalized on more of them.
I’m not quite sure what to say going forward. You have Mississippi State and ACU coming up before going to Death Valley to face LSU, so you should be riding a two-game winning streak coming into that one. I guess you could say this buys a bit of cautious optimism about the offense, but it’s tiring being so constantly on the wrong side of these close games. There does come a point where it is too much of a pattern, but I don’t think that point has hit yet—at least not for the people where it would matter (donors, recruits, etc).
If there’s one solace here, it’s that this is not a team who has given up. They’re still playing hard and giving it their all out there. The coaching needs to be directing that effort in a better way, but they’re still giving it their all. It’s when that changes that things are done for.