Offense scores on 9 of 10 series in 54-14 romp over La.-Monroe
By TERRANCE HARRIS
COLLEGE STATION - Texas A&M fans can look at Saturday night's rout of Louisiana-Monroe one of two ways.
After two weeks of inconsistent play, the 25th-ranked Aggies finally put together a complete game this season. But the flip side is that they were facing a winless team that's made a habit of giving up 500 yards of offense per game this season.
Either way, Texas A&M (3-0) recorded a feel-good and thorough 54-14 victory. But its schedule heats up in a hurry Thursday night, when the Aggies visit the Miami Hurricanes in front of a national viewing audience at the Orange Bowl.
"This was a very solid game," A&M coach Dennis Franchione said. "I thought we played well in all phases."
The Aggies' offense, maligned for being one-dimensional in the first two games, opened up and scored on nine of 10 possessions against the Warhawks (0-3).
Quarterback Stephen McGee was impressive in managing A&M's intermediate and deep passing game, completing 19 of 33 passes for 237 yards and one touchdown against a defense that entered Saturday night's game at Kyle Field ranked 107th in the nation.
For the first time this season, McGee consistently took advantage of the mismatch 6-7 tight end Martellus Bennett poses for opponents. McGee hit Bennett on tight-out routes against slower linebackers and deep routes against smaller defensive backs as Bennett tied a career high with six catches for 98 yards.
Wide receiver Kerry Franks also got into the flow of the vertical passing attack, catching a career-high five balls for 82 yards. He caught a 20-yard touchdown pass on the skinny post, helping put the Aggies ahead 34-7 early in the third quarter.
McGee, who popped off to the media after being questioned about A&M's passing problems last week, downplayed his performance Saturday. He also brought to the postgame news conference a cake inscribed with "Beat the (heck) out of ULM" - a play on his tirade a week earlier.
"It feels just like it did last week when I had 78 (yards)," McGee said when asked about his 237-yard passing performance. "It really doesn't matter if I had 1 yard passing and 1 yard rushing. As long as we win the game, I would be as happy as I am right now."
A&M didn't abandon its bread-and-butter rushing attack. It still rushed for 310 yards and six touchdowns with someone besides McGee leading the way.
Running back Mike Goodson showcased his speed and cutback ability while getting his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. He finished with 113 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries before taking the rest of the night off with most of the starters late in the third quarter.
Running back Jorvorskie Lane had only 34 yards on 11 carries, but the 277-pound back barreled in for touchdown runs of 6 yards and 1 yard in the first half to move into a tie for third place (35) on the school's all-time rushing touchdown list.
In all, the Aggies' offense totaled 547 yards. The starters scored on their first six possessions before McGee threw his first interception of the season on the second series of the third quarter.
"That's what we really wanted to do: work on all aspects of the game," Bennett said. "I think we got the passing game going and the running game going.
"Everybody talks about we don't pass enough, but you see what we can do when we want to pass the football."
Defensively, A&M gave up some big yards on the ground and through the air. But the starters gave up only seven points while coming up with interceptions by cornerback Jordan Peterson and linebacker Misi Tupe.
Peterson, who lost his starting job to Marquis Carpenter earlier in the week, had a spectacular 54-yard interception return to the Warhawks' 44 in the second quarter. Seven plays later, Goodson raced in from 7 yards out to make it 24-7.
The A&M defense did allow Louisiana-Monroe's Calvin Dawson to rush for 126 yards on 20 carries.