Donnie Baggs drew the first start of his college career when the Aggies took on Louisiana Tech last season.
A&M prevailed, 59-57, over the previously unbeaten and 23rd-ranked Bulldogs in one the wildest games of year.
That should result in one excited locker room, shouldn’t it?
“We were kind of upset,” Baggs said. “We came out on fire in the first half, and it really didn’t go our way in the second half. We didn’t play as well as we expected to.”
Simply put, the Aggies left a lot to be desired on the field that night in Shreveport. A slew of mistakes allowed Louisiana Tech to stay in a game they never should’ve been in.
The Aggies committed an astronomical 19 penalties for 165 yards, some coming on third or fourth down to extend Bulldog drives.
“I’ve never, ever been in a game with that many penalties,” coach Kevin Sumlin said following the game.
A&M led by 27 in the first half, and by 23 during the second, but had to stave off a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute to secure the win. All involved left Independence Stadium worn out, as the onslaught lasted four hours and 28 minutes, and did not end until 12:45 on Sunday morning.
“It was a win, so we just put it over our shoulders, and kept moving forward,” Baggs said.
The defensive effort wasn’t as bad as the score suggested, but the penalties made it look that way. Louisiana Tech sported one of the best offenses in the country in 2012, yet the Aggies only allowed the Bulldogs to convert on 5-of-17 third-down tries. Tech went for it five times on fourth down, making good on just two. But, the Bulldogs were awarded seven first downs from Aggie penalties.
The absence of Steven Jenkins and Howard Matthews due to suspension didn’t help. Neither did an injury sustained by DeShazor Everett that kept him out of the game.
Kevin Sumlin contends that a major part of the Aggies’ advancement is the stockpiling of depth, which was tested that night in north Louisiana.
Looking ahead to this fall, key portions were added along the front seven. At linebacker, the likes of Tommie Sanders, Reggie Chevis and Brett Wade have arrived, and are ready for their first campaign in the SEC. Nate Askew has moved from wide receiver to outside linebacker for his senior season, and he is not holding back despite unfamiliar surroundings.
“I’m going in with the attitude that I’m trying to get 12-plus sacks, that’s what it is,” Askew said in the locker room after the Maroon & White Game. “I have one more year, and I have to grind hard this summer and see where it takes me.”
Steven Jenkins returns and brings stability, even though he missed spring practices.
Baggs, who is looking to start on an everyday basis, likes what this unit can become with Jenkins in the mix.
“We finished up (spring) real strong, and with Jenks coming back, and with some of the younger guys coming up, I think we are going to be real good come the fall.”
Baggs knows expectations are high in 2013, and the front seven will have to play well for those expectations to be fulfilled. What he doesn’t anticipate are more four-hour shootouts like the one in Shreveport a season ago.
He certainly doesn’t mind the Aggie offense hanging 50-plus on the opposition. But, this defense didn’t like seeing 57 next to a foes’ total after a game, even in victory.
Yes, wins are wins, and the sensation in the locker room after them should be cherished by every player, and never taken for granted. But that feeling wasn’t around after defeating Louisiana Tech a season ago. It has to be there often in 2013.
Moving forward, Baggs and the Aggies are counting on its presence.