COLLEGE STATION (AP) — Less than a month into the season, Texas A&M has one of the worst passing offenses in the country. And the Aggies are running out of time to get it right.
After Saturday’s home game against Louisiana-Monroe (0-2), A&M plays a nationally televised game at Miami next Thursday night before plunging into a Big 12 slate packed with difficult road games.
The Aggies (2-0) beat Fresno State 47-45 in three withering overtimes last week, pounding the Bulldogs at the end with a punishing rushing attack. A&M abandoned the dysfunctional passing game late, running the ball on 28 of its final 29 plays.
Quarterback Stephen McGee snapped at a reporter who asked about the offensive strategy after the game.
“I’m so tired of hearing run game, pass game, all this bull,” McGee said. “We ran the ball every freaking time and they did not stop it. Why would you do anything else different? That’s what we’re about — getting the ball in the end zone.”
The Aggies rushed for 318 yards in the game but passed for only 79. After two games, A&M’s rushing offense ranks ninth in the nation and the passing offense ranks 115th.
Coach Dennis Franchione knows A&M won’t get away with that kind of imbalance much longer and concedes that the problems in the aerial attack run “across the board.”
“I think it’s protection, route running, catching, throwing, it’s timing, it’s coaching,” he said. “We had a long discussion about that, and we’ve got seven or eight areas that we talked about. There’s no one area that I think needs to improve.”
Offensive coordinator Les Koenning admitted before the opener that he was worried about the Aggies’ ability to pass-protect. McGee has only been sacked twice, but the offense has also been plagued by dropped passes in the inexperienced receiving corps.
Junior tight end Martellus Bennett leads the team with eight receptions, but no receiver has more than three.
“We’ve got better at throwing it, we’ve got to get better at catching it, we’ve got better at protecting,” Koenning said.
Louisiana-Monroe would seem to be the perfect opponent to cure the ills. The Warhawks rank 107th nationally in pass defense, allowing 313 yards per game. Last week, Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper went 20-for-26 and threw five touchdown passes against them.
The Aggies’ defense had its share of problems last week, too. Fresno State gained 267 yards and scored 29 points in the second half after A&M jumped to a 19-0 lead.
Franchione said A&M will face a much different offensive scheme this week. While Fresno State relied on a power running game, Louisiana-Monroe plays a spread offense with two running backs and a mobile quarterback, Kinsmon Lancaster.
AP TOP 25 FOOTBALL: Louisiana-Monroe (0-2) at No. 25 Texas A&M (2-0), 6 p.m. (No Television) — Kyle Field