It's becoming so much of a recurring theme, one could almost call it cliché - nonetheless, the Wildcats seemingly shot themselves in the foot again Saturday, as a result of turnovers, penalties and other mental mistakes.
In all, the Wildcats were penalized eight times for 99 yards, had more dropped passes than you can count on one hand, and missed assignments on defense leading to Aggie touchdowns.
"If you do silly things, and beat yourself up, you can't win that way," coach Bill Snyder said.
Those "silly things" started early, with penalties giving the Aggies an extra 29 yards on their opening drive. A fair catch interference penalty moved Texas A&M's starting position up 14 yards to the Wildcat 41.
On the next play, the Wildcats were flagged for a personal foul, moving the Aggies ahead 15 more yards. With the ball now on the Wildcat 26, quarterback Reggie McNeal cut through and ran by the Wildcat defense to give the Aggies an early lead.
How frustrated is Snyder with the team's lack of discipline in these areas? "On a scale of one to ten, you know the obvious answer," Snyder said.
Snyder said the personal foul penalties, among other things, were direct results of problems with discipline, "and discipline falls right back in my lap." Snyder said the bulk of what is plaguing the Wildcats is controlled directly by the individual players. "You've got to have the discipline to make the right decisions and do the right things to not put your team in jeopardy."
The first quarter was a somewhat abysmal one for the Wildcats on both sides of the ball, but the defense took over in the second and third quarter, along with the beginning of the fourth. During this time, the defense allowed just seven points, and allowed the Wildcat offense many opportunities to get back in the game.
"I thought we played well enough defensively to win," Snyder said, but added that more consistency is needed on third down situations. "Something is happening that seemingly is positive, and, bang, you break down on third down. Then you're back on your heels."
When the Wildcats finally took advantage of their opportunity to come back, it was the defense that failed. Trailing by only two, the Wildcat defense took the field with the Aggies at their own 24. Eight plays, 76 yards, and almost four minutes later, the Aggies were back in the end zone, and had made it a two-possession game.
Snyder said some positives could be drawn from the comeback at the end of the game. "I thought they fought back," Snyder said. "I thought they didn't give up. That's significant and important for a team that's had three losses."
The offensive spark in the fourth quarter came from a passing attack that totaled 357 of the Wildcats 384 offensive yards. Allan Evridge completed 23 passes, including three for touchdowns.
Another positive for the Wildcats was the continued ascension of receiver Jordy Nelson into local hero status. Nelson caught another touchdown pass, lengthening his own record to seven games, but also found another way into the end zone. Nelson appeared on the punt return unit for the first time this season, and scored by diving on a blocked punt early in the fourth quarter.
The schedule gets no easier next Saturday, with the Colorado Buffalos coming to Manhattan. A relatively mistake-free game from the Wildcats would be a welcome sight, and may be necessary to keep the Wildcats within striking distance. A foot can only be shot so many times before it has to be cut off.