Posted: 4:03 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2, 2013
First - and it must be first, as these things go - a tip of the hat to young Matt Joeckel. Thrown into the eye of Tropical Storm Johnny through no fault of his own, he merely smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and was an efficient 14 of 19 for 190 yards and a touchdown playing with the limited scraps of the playbook entrusted to him. Playing the part of both emergency spot starter and crafty veteran reliever, the junior left A&M; fans feeling much better about the state of backup quarterback.
On the other hand, I question how many fathers, after watching their eldest son leave for college, immediately turn their lawn duties over to their 2nd grader, and then wonder why only half the yard is mowed, the garage has burned down, and the child is in need of stitches. The freshmen littered all over the defensive two-deep Saturday had no business playing 30 to 60 snaps, and yelling at them to wrap up while they are trying to figure out which gap to attack is as useless as screaming at the 7 year old who has just watered your rose bushes with bleach.
Unfortunately, there were other defenders on the field older than 18, and after a fall camp where we heard repeatedly that Leadership! and Athleticism! and Development! were taking place, the returning starters played, to put it kindly, like hot garbage. While the schemes they were placed in didn't do them any favors (Mark Snyder spoiler alert: Tyrell Taylor is going to struggle playing a 5 technique in a 3 man front weighing 230 pounds), a drinking game consisting of shots after A&M; missed tackles would have resulted in certain death with about 12 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter. Luckily, Kirby Ennis returns next week and Steven Jenkins the week after that, but the thought of the defensive starters having exactly zero game snaps together before Alabama comes calling is a bit frightening.
There was, however, good news to be found on that side of the ball; the freshman linebackers are going to be special in time, especially the under-the-radar-Louisiana-style Shaan Washington, who should immediately get 85% of Tommy Sanders' and Nate Askew's snaps. The new defensive tackles all look to have some skills, especially Isaiah Golden and Jay Arnold, a Spencer Nealy starter kit if there ever was one. Daeshon Hall is going to be great, assuming he can stop throwing WNBA punches, and at safety, um, Floyd Raven is allowed to play next week. Also, I had forgotten the vehicle had the option of All-American punter, it will be nice to check that box again.
Oh, and lost in suspensions, first-game pagentry, girls in sundresses, and sports media idiocracy: the offense played four offensive linemen in new positions, ran out a boatload of new wide receivers, was missing its starting quarterback for a half, held the ball for less than 22 minutes, and merely put up 52 points on nearly 500 yards of offense. At some point, the national media is going to realize that Sumlin, McKinney and Spavital deserve to be mentioned alongside any offensive braintrust in America.
So all in all, not a terrible start, considering. Let's watch this week as our senior stalwart defensive tackle returns, we hopefully play fewer 3 man fronts, and a certain quarterback has the reigns from snap one. And please send your flaming bags of poop directly to Bristol, care of Brian Griese's unending inanity, thank you.