October 16, 2006

Offense makes the grade

Texas A&M used an efficient, ball control offense mixed in with a little razzle-dazzle to come away with a 25-19 victory over No. 19 Missouri at Kyle Field on Saturday. Not only did the offense rack up 403 total yards and 25 points, but also in the process kept Missouri's explosive offense off the field.

The time of possession statistics are staggering. The Aggies held the ball for over 41 minutes to just 18 minutes for the Tigers. Missouri's longest drive consumed just three minutes and 23 seconds. A&M had five drives that consumed more time, including their marathon 8:40 drive on their opening possession. In fact, the Tigers held the ball just 3:23 in the opening quarter.

Strangely, A&M's success with keeping the ball in the first half had more to do with the controlled, short passing game than the power running game of Jorvorskie Lane and the A&M offensive line. On A&M's first drive of 74 yards, 57 came through the air on five completions. Missouri's front seven did a good job stuffing Lane on the drive, limiting him to three yards on five carries. But A&M answered with some short passes, and then hit big when Chad Schroeder faked the reverse and threw a perfect strike to Kerry Franks for a 45-yard catch down to the five-yard line.

After Missouri scored to take the lead 7-3, the A&M offense again sandwiched a big passing play around a series of running plays. Lane finally had a significant run bowling over tacklers for a 13-yard gain. Two runs later, McGee faked the option and aired it deep, again hitting Franks for a gain of 67 yards down to the three-yard line. It took Lane three tries, but he finally slammed into the end zone for a 10-7 lead.

To that point, Missouri was having success stopping the big man, limiting him to just one carry over two yards in his first nine attempts. That continued as A&M ran the ball on the next six plays from scrimmage spanning two drives, two three-and-outs and two punts. A&M just wasn't running the ball effectively, but the staff persisted.

When the Aggies set-up shop at the Tiger 23-yard line after their third fumble of the day they continued on the ground, but a third down strike to Schroeder kept the drive alive, and then Stephen McGee hit Chris Alexander for six-yard touchdown pass.

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