COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- There's plenty to take away from Texas A&M's 45-41 loss to Auburn on Saturday. Some good, some bad. Let's look at three things we learned:
Still much work to do on D: After some signs of progress in different spots of the last two games, the Aggies' defense struggled in crunch time. For the second straight week, they allowed three fourth-quarter touchdown drives. That allowed Auburn to pull ahead after trailing 34-24. The Aggies allowed a season-high 379 rushing yards and 615 overall. Yes they're young. Yes they're inexperienced. But at some point, they have to get better if the Aggies are going to win games.
Johnny Manziel's a tough cookie: Last week's scare with his knee against Ole Miss was brief; Saturday's was much more pronounced. Manziel had trouble throwing a football after apparently injuring his right shoulder, but he was treated by the training staff and came back into the game after leaving early in the fourth quarter and missing an offensive series. He guided the Aggies on a touchdown drive and scored on a 1-yard run. He threw for 454 yards and four touchdowns.
The Aggies can't expect to have a magical final drive every time: Manziel and company have found ways to pull out some thrilling wins in the Kevin Sumlin era, but the Aggies can't always expect that it's going to happen. Certainly there's nobody you want to have the ball when trailing in the fourth quarter more than Manziel, but there were missed opportunities earlier. Midway through the game, for example, the defense made four consecutive stops but the Aggies managed just 10 points on their ensuing possessions. It's hard to ask the Aggies' offense to put up more than 41 points, but that's the reality with this team right now.