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Checking in on the Aggies

Due to real life and our own incompetence, A&M has played several games since the last Aggie Watch. For that we apologize. But aside from owing you an apology, we also owe the Aggies themselves a tremendous thank-you. The reason we decided to have a running update on Little Brother this fall was that we believed the experts and thought, along with Nebraska and OU, A&M would be one of the Longhorns' three toughest opponents. But after three straight losses in increasingly depressing fashion, the Ags have been busy proving our entire premise questionable while we were busy failing to follow it. So: thanks, Mike!

Of course, the misfortune that has lately befallen the Longhorns has also contributed to the dilution of the Aggie Watch's purpose, in that it hardly makes sense anymore to call any team "one of the key opponents" for Texas this season. The goals for this season have drastically changed, and it's tough to think of the Aggies as any more or less important than K-State or OSU--unless you consider the title "arguably the third best team in Texas" worth something. Still, we started the Aggie Watch and then abruptly became a big stack of fail. So:

(It starts making sense at around the 0:35 mark)

Since we last looked in on Little Brother, Aggieland has experienced quite the crash. They lost three in a row to Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and Missouri before righting the ship with wins over the conference's two worst teams, Kansas and Texas Tech. The big story has been the fall of Jerrod Johnson. As we reported early in the season, most Ag fans were head over heels for JJ coming into the season--as were many members of the media, tagging him with the handle "dark horse Heisman candidate." Like the cobver of Sports Illustrated, that appears to have been something of a curse for Johnson as the quarterback has suffered a disastrous senior year.

In A&M's win over FIU, Johnson was shaky and gave an indication that he wasn't going to fully have "it" this season. He was only 11 of 41 with four interceptions and the Aggies needed some late game heroics just to beat the cupcake Panthers. It was only a harbinger of bad things to come. In Stillwater, Johnson's performance was best summarized by Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter immediately after the game: JJ "kept both teams in the game." He threw the ball sixty two times, completing 40 for 409 yards and five touchdowns. Which is how he kept A&M in the game. But he also thre another four picks, including a huge one late that led to the winning field goal. Which is how he kept OSU in the game, and indeed won it for them.

Johnson never recovered, and has now been replaced by wide receiver/backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill. You can't help but feel bad for the kid, whose final season as leader of his team started with high expectations and seems to be over much sooner than anyone anticipated. But Tannehill looked great against Tech, setting a school record for passing in his first start with 449 yards and four scores. The Aggies won 45-27, continuing to put up big numbers on the scoreboard. It's certainly possible that if Tannehill can avoid the turnovers that plagued Johnson, and therefore stop putting the defense in bad situations, the Ags could get a glimpse of how good they thought they were going to be.

The grander story, though, is the parallel disappointment happening in Austin and College Station right now. Both teams believed the Thanksgiving showdown would be a huge impact game with potential conference championship implications. Now there's a distinct possibility that the winner's prize will be avoiding a holiday trip to Shreveport. For the Ags, it's a study in how important the quarterback position is. For Texas, it's all about...well, that's what the rest of BON is trying to figure out.