Saturday, October 14, 2006

And... exhale

I'm not ashamed to admit I didn't give my Aggies a whole heck of a lot of hope for beating no. 19 Mizzou today. A&M teams under Coach Fran have proven reliable at losing games they're supposed to lose (as well as losing more than a few they were supposed to win). So after the undefeated Tigers thumped Texas Tech last week (a team that handed A&M a loss two weeks back) I figured the best the Aggies hope for was a good showing against the class of the Big 12 North.


I do believe that was the best game A&M has played in Franchione's three-plus years in College Station. The defense was solid throughout, the offense productive, and the special teams were respectable. There were stupid penalties here and there, and that botched deep snap that led to a safety stunk up Kyle Field, but the team didn't let any of that get them rattled. Chad Schroeder is awesome in every aspect of his game. Stephen McGee is like the second coming of Bucky Richardson--only he can actually throw the ball. And Jovorski Lane, well, he's like Ja'Mar Toombs without the self-destructive tendencies and the extra baggage around the midsection. And to give props to the oft-maligned coaching staff, I thought the play-calling--both on offense and defense--spot on for the majority of the game.

Some folks, myself included, have wondered openly if Coach Fran is our version of John Mackovic (aka Mac II), the former coach over at Taco Meat U. who scattered a few really solid seasons amidst a bunch of profoundly mediocre campaigns. Adding Gary Darnell, Mac II's former defensive coordinator, to the A&M staff this year didn't do much to dispell those comparisons. But after watching this game, I think the team has reached the tipping point. Lose against Mizzou, and Fran likely still wins enough games to keep his job another year, but win, and suddenly a 9- or 10-win season becomes realistic. Coach Fran may have just pulled himself out of Mac II comparisons and into Jackie Sherrill comparisons. Hopefully, NCAA probation isn't part of the package, but Sherrill was another high-dollar coaching import that didn't live up to expectations early on. After three seasons, he'd yet to produce a winning campaign, and did such things as introduce the 12th Man Kickoff Team and work on Bonfire to try and stave off a disgruntled alumni buyout of his contract. Coach Fran's first three seasons (Cotton Bowl year included) were underwhelming, to say the least, and this year he has re-introduced the 12th Man Kickoff Team to occasional action. Coincidence? I think not.

Now, if Coach Fran can just get past that personal demon known as the Baylor game...

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  1. As a graduate of Taco Meat U., I'm getting a little worried about the Big Game. Up until yesterday, I felt pretty confident. Now I'm not so sure.

  2. We'll see. Taco Meat U. is still head and shoulders above the rest of the Big 12 until someone shows otherwise. Although I have to admit, now that the Sooners have lost Adrian Peterson for the season, I have to like our chances to enter the game that should be played on Thanksgiving with a 10-1 record.

    Of course, there are plenty of potential pratfalls between here and there. Remember, we couldn't even take care of business against Tech...