A different approach

A different approach

Through the first two games of 2007, the Aggies have not shown much more of a passing attack than they did with an injured Stephen McGee in 2006. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp suggests that while fans want to see the added dimension to the A&M offense, the Aggies may still be able to get it done on the ground again in 2007.

Ask Stephen McGee who he wants to replace Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione after the Aggies dismal 2-0 (yes, two wins and zero losses) start to the 2007 season. Go ahead. It will be fun. Worst case scenario: he takes a shot at your chin. Best case scenario: he'll look at you like you're crazy.

McGee doesn't understand all the hoopla surrounding the "vertical passing game." His No. 1 objective is to win, and since he's taken over the team, he's accomplished that goal more often than not. Excluding his start against Texas as a freshman in 2005, McGee sports an 11-3 regular season record as the Aggies starting quarterback, including a 2-0 start in 2007. Which leaves him asking, "What is there to complain about?"

The typically mild-mannered McGee released some of his frustrations in Saturday's post-game press conference when he said that all of the questions about the Aggies inability to throw the ball down field was "bull-crap."

He claims that the Aggies only continued to run the ball against Fresno State because "they couldn't stop it, so why would we do anything else?"

And maybe he's got a point.

The Aggies averaged five yards per rushing attempt on Saturday, including a 10-play drive at the end of regulation that included zero passing attempts. But it also featured zero third-down attempts.

Not bad.

And through week two of the 2007 college football season, McGee leads the nation in rushing among quarterbacks, averaging 122.5 yards per game on the ground. The Aggies are averaging 218 yards rushing yards per game in their past 15 contests. They're also 11-4 in that span, and three of those losses were by a combined six points.

Oh yeah, and the Aggies ran the ball down the Longhorns' (who boasted one of the nation's best rush defenses in the country) throats last year in Austin to the tune of 255 yards, so the Aggies have proven that they can run the ball against really good defenses. McGee threw for just 58 yards in that game—ironically enough, there weren't many questions about the Aggies lack of a "vertical passing game" last November.

The problem for McGee is that most fans go home on Saturday night, finish off whatever semi-cold beverage is still floating in their cooler from the tailgate around of Reed Arena, take a much-needed shower and turn on ESPN Gameday Final to catch all of the highlights from the day. What they see is a set of highlights from across the country of 40-50-yard bombs with a five-star quarterback on one end and a four-star receiver on the other.

But the Aggies don't have those kinds of luxuries yet, although with a recruiting class ranked at No. 6 waiting in the wings, it might not be too much further off.

For now, the Aggies are what they are. They've got a hard-nosed quarterback who wills this team to win at times. If A&M was short at defensive end, McGee would be the first to volunteer to help out, and knowing McGee, he'd figure out a way to record a sack or force a fumble.

The Aggies have united as a team over the past 12 months (for the first time since Franchione arrived) and they're going to win games doing what they do best, not what other teams do.

They'll have to mix in the passing game more as the year unfolds if they want to achieve their goals of playing for the Big 12 Championship, and they're aware of that. Franchione said as much after Sunday's practice. But that's not what the Aggies are built for.

They've got an offensive line built for power blocking. They've got several receivers who are exceptional down field blockers, and they've got a backfield that is absolutely loaded with weapons. So maybe Mcgee is right. Why try to do what other teams do?

And isn't that the Aggie way? Shouldn't Aggies be proud of the fact that their team isn't trying to do it like everyone else? Being different (sometimes for the sake of being different) is almost an Aggie tradition in and of itself.

Yes, being different could be the undoing of this year's team once it faces stiffer competition against Miami and Big 12 opponents. It could, indeed, lead to the end of the Dennis Franchione era.

But McGee doesn't think so.

McGee believes that being different will revitalize another Aggie tradition as the year unfolds—winning. Only time will tell.

But unlike many of us on the outside of the Bright Complex, winning is the only thing McGee cares about.



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