Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss
An annotated dictionary
By Emily Bevan, 3:55PM, Tue. Oct. 9, 2012
As the Aggies prepared to visit Oxford for their first away game in the SEC, I experienced a peculiar but common phenomenon: my ears, previously deaf to Rebel revelry, suddenly heard the words "Hotty Toddy" everywhere.
The phrase carried a certain joviality, tinted with camaraderie and a touch of impish glee. But given in context, I found the saying otherwise indecipherable.
Looking back now toward a contest that, in many ways, also was incomprehensible, I thought I'd attempt to shed light on some terms pertinent to understanding Texas A&M's first road win in the Southeastern Conference.
Gig 'em [GIG-um]
An imperative common at Texas A&M University, students and alumnae frequently append the A&M mascot in usage, e.g., Gig 'em, Aggies! The phrase is often but not always associated with a thumbs-up gesture and derives from the lexicon of small-game hunting. In said sport, "gigging" refers to the practice of hunting with a "gig," or a multipronged spear.
For much of Saturday night, it was the Ole Miss Rebels doing the gigging, and the Aggies taking the punishment. Like fish and frog giggers past and present, the Rebels fronted a multipronged attack, hurting the Aggies on offense, defense, and special teams.
Despite a Ben Malena rushing TD in the game's 49th second, the Aggie offense struggled through the first three quarters and turned the ball over six times over the course of the game, compared to just one turnover the first four games of the season. Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace punished the young Aggie secondary, throwing for 305 yards and completing 20 of 35 attempts. The A&M special teams had improved considerably after a sluggish start against the Florida Gators, but made costly mistakes against Ole Miss. Dustin Harris' muffed punt at the end of the third quarter gave the Rebels the ball on the Aggie 5 and led to a Bo Wallace touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief that put Ole Miss up by 10 with just under 15 minutes to play. Aggie kicker Taylor Bertolet missed an extra point attempt with 6:24 left in the game, which meant A&M needed a touchdown in the closing minutes to survive the trip to Oxford.
Hotty Toddy [HAWT-ee-TAWD-ee]
The title of a traditional Ole Miss cheer (not to be confused with an Aggie yell), the phrase "Hotty Toddy" can also serve as greeting or valediction. Despite minutes of research, the phrase fails to translate in a literal sense; however, some sources suggest the full, "Hotty Toddy" cheer can function as a rudimentary sobriety test. If the tipsy Rebel fan can still sputter this jibberish (Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty, who the hell, etc.) he or she may consume the whiskey of choice without worry of sullying the refined atmosphere in the Grove.
Despite long and distinguished football history on both sides, play at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday night often was as nonsensical as this Hotty Toddy business.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze provided the most glaring example when he decided to go for it on fourth and inches from the Rebel 39, and then ran running back Jeff Scott from the shotgun. The extra room in the backfield gave Aggie linebacker Jonathan Stewart time to meet Scott at scrimmage for no gain, and A&M took over on downs.
This is the word ESPNU commentators Matt Stinchcomb and Clay Matvick meant to say when they used "escapability" to describe Johnny Manziel's play Saturday night.
True to form, Johnny Football brought his elusive play to Oxford, rushing for 129 net yards and passing for 191. Manziel ran 29 yards for one touchdown in the fourth quarter and lofted one beautiful TD pass to senior receiver Ryan Swope, who made the over-the-shoulder catch for the go-ahead score.
Even so, Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack did the best anyone's done all season in preparing his team for Manziel and the rest of Kliff Kingsbury's slippery offense. Ole Miss sacked the Aggie QB four times, forced one fumble from Manziel, and intercepted him twice. For much of the night, the Rebels contained Manziel to the pocket and used a spy to quell the redshirt freshman's penchant for perambulating.
At the same time, the Ole Miss offense paced the game well, taking over 33 minutes in total possession and limiting the Aggie offense to just 70 plays. Last week against Arkansas, Texas A&M ran a whopping 98 plays. You can bet none of that eluded Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes, whose team is ranked in the Top 25 this week for only the second time in school history.
A win is a contest in which one's team comes out ahead in points when time runs out. Also: obtain, secure, acquire, achieve, reach, or procure.
When time ran out on in Oxford, the Aggies had scored more points, taking the victory 30-27. In many ways, neither team deserved this win; both made egregious mistakes, and made them often. But deserving a win and obtaining one are clearly two different things, as evidenced by the celebration on the Texas A&M sideline as time expired, and by the Aggies' first Top 25 ranking of the season. Now the Aggie coaching staff is tasked with sculpting a team of winners from this poorly scripted win.