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Thursday, November 26, 2009
Texas 28, Texas A&M 21: First-half analysis

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It’s been a wild first half as Texas has claimed a 28-21 halftime lead over Texas A&M.

The two teams have combined for 28 first downs and 643 yards of total offense in a game where the offenses have ruled.

It's almost like the Big 12 last year, all over again.

Here are some specifics about why the Longhorns have charged to the lead, but struggled at times against the Aggies.

Turning point: Anthony Lewis pounced on a muffed punt return to give Texas A&M possession at the Texas 36 with 2:38 left in the half. Five plays later, Jerrod Johnson hit Howard Morrow with a 14-yard touchdown pass that tied the score at 21. The punt was intended for Jordan Shipley, but grazed off the knee of Texas blocker Emmanuel Acho, who was on the ground near Shipley.

Stat of the half: The Aggies have already scored 21 points against the Texas defense. The Longhorns’ season high for most points allowed was 24, which came in a 34-24 victory over Texas Tech on Sept. 19.

Best player of the half: Colt McCoy needed a big night to convince the Heisman voters in what will be his next-to-last game before the ballots are due. He’s done that and more in the first half, completing 18 of 26 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns. McCoy has also rushed for 119 yards on 10 carries and a 65-yard score. His offensive numbers have been astounding as he's accounted for 341 of Texas’ 398 yards so far.

Best call: McCoy and James Kirkendoll hooked up on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds left in the half to boost the Longhorns to a 28-21 halftime lead. McCoy showed great patience on the play, waiting as Kirkendoll charged past defender Justin McQueen on an out-and-up move to push the Longhorns ahead. McCoy either rushed or passed for every yard on the 64-yard scoring possession that put Texas back ahead.

What Texas needs to do: Play some pass defense. The Longhorns have showed some struggles in their deep coverage and tackling. Johnson has picked them apart in the first half as he’s hit 13 of 15 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Something tells me that Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is blistering some ears in the locker room as I type this.

What Texas A&M needs to do: Do a better job of containing McCoy. The Aggies have been blitzing more than at any time this season. It might be wise if they accounted for a defender to spy specifically on McCoy considering the way he’s ripped them apart in the first half with his arm and his feet.