A little Matrix reference for y'all who don't know. As I was sitting in the Payne County jail holding cell waiting to be processed last night, my thoughts returned to one of the craziest football games I've ever seen. Truly, this game was incredible. Not due to trick plays, not due to bizarre weather, but due to the outcome. We had no business winning that game, and yet after 60 minutes the boys in Orange walked off Kyle Field for (hopefully) the last time victorious. How? As I pontificated with the meth addict who was busted for possession about what an incredible game it was I came to a few conclusions. First, when in jail, leave the addicts alone, they are a creepy lot. But before I get to my conclusions about the game (and our season) I think it would be prudent to run down the game.
Starting off the game, I was immediately worried about the defense, especially our run defense. Quinn Sharp kicked off for a touchback, and the Aggies started at their 20. Ryan Tannehill completed a couple of quick passes to Uzoma Nwachukwu (here on out known as Bubbles) for 15 yards, before Jeff Fuller broke the streak at 2 and dropped a pass. Tannehill then ran through a gap the size of Texas for a 65 yard touchdown. Right now I'm thinking holy shit, here we go again, how do we allow those types of runs? If you watch the play, Richetti Jones bites on the fake, which gets Tannehill past the line, and the A&M receivers do an amazing job run blocking, but still, someone should have been able to get an angle on him, especially one of our safety's. No one does, and so that's 6 (plus an extra point). The Cowboys then march 72 yards on 13 plays right down the field but then abandon the corner fade that has been money all season and have to settle for a field goal. (more after the jump)The teams then trade punts before Tannehill completes a big pass to Ryan Swope for 27 yards to the Cowboy 27, but the D comes up big and holds them to 3. The next Poke drive starts off promising, two passes for 11 yards each and two first downs, but then a personal foul and two sacks leave us with a 3rd and 45 (which I face in NCAA 12 all the time, not sure why Monkin had such a hard time with it). Brandon Weeden looks confused, for the first time I've ever seen, and the entire offense looks out of sync. That also marks the end of the first quarter
Starting a quarter with a 3rd and 45 usually results in a punt one play later, and this would be no exception. A&M responded with a 10 play 86 yard drive capped by a Jeff Fuller touchdown (which we know know, would be the highlight of his day). The Cowboys come out on the next drive and get 3 fast first downs and make it all the way to the A&M 40, but then the drive stalls and results in a punt (with a net of 20 yards after the touchback). The Ag's then execute a 15 play 62 yard drive, but the D stood strong and forced an A&M field goal. A&M controlled the ball, and chewed up a huge amount of clock this quarter (9:50 secs) and extended the lead to 3-20. (If you care to look back at the gamethread around this time, if I remember correctly I was suicidal, Cincy was calling for blood, and Sam's phone finally had a charge and he arrives as the sagely voice of reason.) The Cowboys finish off the first half with an odd series, one in which we stop running plays with almost a minute left, let Weeden take a few sacks, and then finally call a time out with 3 seconds left, and then let Weeden be sacked (again). Gundy has an almost Zen-like calm when interviewed at the half. Seriously, he was in honey badger mode, and did not give a shit. Not that he didn't care we were losing, he just was not worried at all. Let's move along to the second half, where things get weird.
Coming out of the gate to start the second half Weeden looked different. The stroke was back. He was back in kick ass mode. I'm serious, the look in his eyes had changed. He went from "what the hell is happening" mode to "fuck this shit, we are winning the god damn game" mode. If you need proof of the change in the Cowboys the first drive is it. 11 plays, 80 yards in under 3 minutes capped off by a Jeremy "Smiff" Smith touchdown run (And it was a classic Smiff run, ran some bitches over). At this point, after all that had happened the first half, we are only down 10. I'm starting to feel this game will hurt more, as we are going to pull a classic OSU move of "get it really close, possible get a lead, then choke with little to no time left crushing every Cowboy fan twice as much as if we'd just lost the damn game easy". According to Gundy after the game Angela Spencer was mentioned at the half, and I think the boys took it as a personal challenge to do better for her and her family, as the D came out hitting hard on the next series. Tannehill completed a pass to Bubbles for a first down, but then the defense clamped down and A&M had to punt. Weeden was in full on beast mode, as were the offensive line, giving Weeden all the time he could ever need (after giving up 3 sacks in the first half, A&M didn't get close in the second half). With Weeden rolling the Cowboys then went on a 10 play 89 yard drive that ended with a Justin Blackmon touchdown. A&M appeared to have something going on the next possession, but after a 33 yard gain Daytawoin Lowe separated Kenric McNeal from the ball, and Justin Gilbert pounced on the loose ball. If you didn't see it live, look it up, Lowe delivered the perfect hit, and McNeal couldn't do anything about it. With blood in the water the offense took over at their own 44, and wasted no time executing a 9 play 56 yard drive that ended with a Tracey Moore touchdown. Cowboys, in one quarter, have gone from down 3-20 to up 24-20, and the cadets are in full on "ball grab" mode, though it didn't help. The Aggies started their next drive from their 20 after the Sharp touchback, which is also where the drive ended after Tannehill threw and interception. I don't know if that's entirely accurate. Brodrick Brown stole that shit from Jeff Fuller. Apparently his nickname is Bulldog, and it's fitting after that play. With a chance to go up by 11 Blackmon fumbled while walking in untouched to the endzone. It was not the first time today Blackmon had ball control issues, but I'm sure after running stairs til, oh say, this Friday, that won't be an issue next week. On their next drive A&M gained five yards on a Cyrus Grey rush before Tannehill threw his second interception in two passes, this one to Justin Gilbert. After a quick loss of 6, Josh Cooper came up huge, gaining 31 yards and taking us to the Aggie 9, and also taking us to the end of the 3rd quarter, a quarter absolutely dominated by the Cowboys (didn't we say that last year?)
Unfortunately the drive stalled at the A&M 7 and the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal, taking a 27-20 lead. A&M appeared to be poised to finally answer the Cowboys on the next possession, gaining 40 yards, but the D held yet again, and forced an A&M punt, which went into the endzone for a touchback. Monkin went into a mode I haven't seen with his playcalling this year, just slowly and methodically slicing the exhausted Ag defense all the way down the field on a 12 play 5 minuted drive capped by another Sharp field goal, extending the lead to 30-20 with just over 6 minutes left in the game. The vaunted Aggie D surrendered 27 points in the second half, and the offense was unable to answer for almost 27 minutes. A&M took over at their 20 with 6:24, and marched right down the field (though slowly) and finally got some points when Jeff Fuller walked in for his second TD of the day, but burned 4:04 doing so. With a chance to bury any thoughts of an A&M comeback, the Cowboys needed one first down to end the game, but, they didn't get one and were forced to punt with 1:47 left. At this point I was standing, my heart wouldn't allow me to sit, and had graduated to straight whiskey. Luckily though, after completing a pass to Grey for 1 yard, Tannehill tossed up interception number 3 to James Thomas (though, we have to give massive credit to Brodrick Brown for forcing the ball up), and the Cowboys take over ready to enter the Victory formation and finish with the win. Even this series went weird, as we apparently had Les Miles managing our clock over the last minute, and had a 4th down decision to make with 5 seconds left. In an interesting (to say the least) decision we had Blackmon take the direct snap and head out the back of the endzone for a safety, but the game was over, and the Cowboys had prevailed, 30-29.
Now, after all that, I said I had learned some things about this game, this team, and this season (besides not talking to weirdo's in the holding tank). First, I will stop questioning Gundy so much. I don't understand why he makes the decisions he makes, but damn if they don't somehow work out. I guess, being an Oklahoma State fan, it's hard to accept that a better team simply wins, as we are so used to giving games away (I still hate Vince Young, that dick) and beating ourselves. For the first time, possible ever, but defiantly in a long while, we are able to compete with the best on the road, and win. Unlike the game at Austin in 2009, we finished the job, and took the win. While I will never (EVER) agree with using soft zone coverage, I'm going to let Bill Young do his thing (though, for the love of God Bill, work on some run defense), with little questioning from me.
Secondly, the heart of this team can't ever be question again. After the week they've had (the tragic loss of Coach Spencers wife, the Tulsa fiasco. Thanks again Tusla) being blow out by 40 would have been understandable (which appeared to be where we were heading), but they didn't go out like that. They fought, the competed, and they won. That's not to say there were not issues that need addressing immediately (umm, hold on to the damn ball Blackmon, and the defensive line has to learn to read run fakes. Not read them better, read them at all), but we now have two weeks to heal up and get ready for Kansas (who, hopefully, will have completely quit by then, and we can get the backups some meaningful snaps).
The last thing I learned is that Mike Sherman is a terrible coach. Really, he's terrible. After all I've said, we still didn't have any business winning that thing without some help. Well, that help came when Sherman abandoned the run. We hadn't slowed their run down at all, but he stopped running in the second half, and Tannehill provided his best Jerrod Johnson imitation and started throwing picks. All I can say, is I'm glad we have our "man" Gundy, and not some old washed up NFL guy enjoying cashing the check.
I'm sure the other guys will have better statistical reviews, but I've been up for 30 hours and felt like going over this while I'm still in that "no sleep adrenaline phase". Before I forget, for all those haters out there, Weeden didn't throw up a single pick, so suck on that.