Saturday, October 6, 2012
Halftime Analysis: A&M 17, Ole Miss 17
By Sam Khan Jr.
Texas A&M has had its struggles, turning the ball over three times in the first half, but they enter the locker room knotted up with Mississippi at 17-17 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.
Stat of the half: The Aggies have turned the ball over three times tonight, a season high. Coming into the season, Texas A&M had tied for the fewest turnovers in the country with West Virginia (one), but it's been a sloppy first half in that department. Johnny Manziel committed his first turnover with an interception and running back Christine Michael and receiver Ryan Swope each have lost a fumble.
Player of the half: Texas A&M running back Ben Malena. He recorded the Aggies' first touchdown (a 59-yard run in the game's first minute) and has 85 rushing yards on 11 carries, an average of 7.7 yards a tote. He has also had some nice blitz pickups in the passing game. And most importantly, he has taken care of the ball when he's had it in his hands.
What’s working for the Aggies: Defensive pressure. The Aggies have been able to hassle Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, sacking him once, forcing a turnover when Sean Porter nearly sacked him before Steven Jenkins got a 37-yard interception return, and they have three quarterback hurries. The defense as a whole has been solid overall, even though it has had its not-so-bright spots (the opening drive and the two-play, 82-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter).
What’s not working for the Aggies: Ball security. That's the biggest issue so far. Also, Manziel has been given plenty of time in the pocket to pass by his offensive line, but will have to do a better job of finding receivers downfield. Several times he had plenty of time only to tuck and run it. He hasn't been bad, but he could be better.
What Texas A&M needs to do to win: Take better care of the ball. If the Aggies don't turn it over again, they have enough firepower and the defense is playing well enough for the Aggies to come away with a tough road win.