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Hop's Final Report Card - Sam Houston
Johnny was very businessman-like in his performance on Saturday. He wasn't at his sharpest, but he didn't need to be as the Aggies raced out to a 34-0 halftime lead. Then, on the first offensive play of the second half, he threw a perfect strike to Uzoma Nwachukwu for an 89-yard touchdown which ended his day at 100 yards rushing and 267 yards throw the air. That should be enough to keep his Heisman hopes alive and well. He did throw one interception that was a bad pass. Jameill Showers came in and on his first offensive play he throws a beautiful 80-yard strike to LaKendrick Williams. By that time, it was 47-0 and the dogs were called off.
Between Johnny's runs in the first half and the sheer lack of offensive plays in the second half (20), the running backs didn't get many carries and few yards. The final tally was 57 yards on 13 carries. In fact, the backs had only one run over seven yards and on that one run Trey Williams fumbled the ball. To top it off, senior Christine Michael was thrown out of the game after throwing a punch. Not a very good day to say the least.
The receivers have become one of the most consistent and reliable unit on the team. Uzoma Nwachukwu had his best day as an Aggie with 160 receiving yards and a perfect 89-yard TD catch and run. Lakendrick Williams had his second TD as an Aggie with an 80-yard strike from Showers. Mike Evans continues to be the reliable first option for Manziel because of his ability to make tough catches in traffic and grinding out tough yards after the catch.
The pass protection was excellent as usual. But I was a little disappointed in the run blocking against the non D-1 Bearkats. There's no reason for Texas A&M running backs to be held to 57 yards on the day and there were few big holes and few big runs. But in regard to supporting Manziel's campaign for the Heisman, the OL did more than an adequate job in protecting Johnny and letting him whip up another 350+ yard game. Let's be honest, that's about the only thing A&M fans cared about going into the game.
OVERALL GRADE – OFFENSE B
It's difficult to grade out the defense based on the different performances of the first unit and second unit. The first unit forced eight punts, one fumble, and one interception. In fact, in the second quarter the defense surrendered all of one yard in Sam Houston's six possessions. Then you have the second unit giving up 28 points in a just over a quarter of play. Senior Jonathan Mathis led the team with eight tackles.
The first unit did a good job of holding their assignments and keeping the option game in check. Donnie bags had a big game with a nice interception in coverage and a couple of tackles for loss. Sean Porter forced a fumble and recovered it. The second unit struggled in containing the option. Overall, Sam Houston ran for 194 yards. Most of that came against the second team.
I thought the secondary had its most complete game of the season. SHSU's Brian Bell had a hard time finding open receivers downfield. The Aggie defense collected six pass break-ups, and four of those came from the secondary. The defensive backs also had a good day in run support accounting for three tackles for loss. Sam Houston has a solid passing game and A&M held Bell to just 150 yards and a completion rate under 50%.
OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE B+
Special Teams B
Coverage teams were solid as usual. No major positives or negatives in any phase of special teams. I will simply note that I find it frustrating that while Texas A&M has struggled for 3-4 years to find a consistent, strong-legged punter with two on scholarship that Sam Houston's punter is clearly better banging several over 50 yards and averaging almost 46 yards an attempt. Epperson had his usual 39.5 average. Not bad, but very average.
I'm not going to deduct much from the coaching grade for the less than stellar performance by the second team in the fourth quarter. Bottom line, the coaches had the team ready to put this game away by halftime. Sure, the opponent was a non-D-1 program, but this team had every excuse to come out flat and play a stinker. While I think they've played better as a team, they played with enough focus to salt the game away early and allowed the second unit to see significant time. While that didn't go well, it showed the staff exactly what they have going forward into the offseason.
OVERALL TEAM GRADE B+
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