Thoughts From the Florida Game

What a win for the Fightin’ Texas Aggies on Saturday.  What.  A. Win. 

I won’t say that’s a statement win just yet.  There are still 7 games left and the wheels could fall off of this season.  It’s certainly a game that will shut the Jimbo detractors up for at least a month.  Hopefully it does it for eternity where we look back at this game as the day Jimbo made the definitive statement the Aggies have officially arrived.

I’ve been saying this for a while – one of the most important things Jimbo can do to Make Aggie Football Great Again is make Kyle Field a true home field advantage.  Kevin Sumlin was terrible at it.  For whatever reason Sumlin seemed to win his big games on the road and completely spit the bit at Kyle Field.  If the Aggies are truly going to return to a perennial Top 10 team they must win at Kyle Field way more than they lose.  Kyle Field must be a definitive home field advantage.

Jimbo Fisher is now 7-2 in SEC games at Kyle Field.  The two losses are against Alabama and Auburn last season so they’re not terrible losses.  I like the trend so far and hope he can keep it up.  If I had to choose one of beating Bama in Tuscaloosa or Florida at Kyle I’d take beating Florida at Kyle all day long this season. 

I don’t think people understand the importance of making Kyle Field a true home field advantage.  Other than recruiting and developing talent it’s the most important thing Jimbo Fisher can do to sustain long term success as the Aggie head coach.

On Saturday it was a home field advantage without doubt.  Dan Mullen commented on it but it’s impressive in the era of COVID for Kyle Field to help decide the outcome of the game.  That’s a testament to not only the students but the way the team fought back.  The students feed off the team and vice versa.  If the team didn’t kept fighting against the Florida Gators then the students aren’t yelling as loud.  If the students aren’t yelling, the defense might not have a found the will to make a much needed stop on Florida’s final drive.  It’s a beneficial relationship that needs both giving it their all.  That was certainly on display Saturday.

Before I get to the specific units everyone needs to remember the Aggies weren’t even close to playing a perfect game.  They had some stupid penalties which could have ended Florida scoring drives.  Jimbo and his staff had coaching brain farts.  Our running backs put the ball on the ground a couple of times with one of those almost costing us the game.  We also got burned repeatedly through the air. 

Other than the late fumble I think Florida played almost a perfect game yet still lost.  That is thanks to the 12th Man, the talent on this team, and the resiliency by the coaching staff to keep pushing forward to a win.

This whole team can still improve which is a good sign.  They have yet to play their best game where the defense and offense are taking care of the opposition. 

Hopefully they’re still developing to that point.  There’s not a game on this schedule they can’t win.  They can also lose 2 to 3 games if they don’t stay focused.  Hopefully this team understands there’s still work to do and they haven’t yet arrived.

They’re close but they’re not there yet.

Let’s get to the units:

Offense:

I’m starting with the side that played almost a perfect game.  Take away the two fumbles and there’s not much more you can ask of this unit.  This is the offense Jimbo has been working towards and it finally clicked.  Hopefully it keeps clicking.

Offensive Line:

I’ve been the most critical of these guys over the last two seasons.  What they did on Saturday was nothing short of remarkable.  They ground down the Florida defense and imposed their will when it mattered most.  Florida might not be as talented as Alabama or Georgia defensively but they’re damn good.  They’ve got some legit talent in their Front 7 and the Aggie offensive line imposed their will.

I can’t say enough good things about these guys from Saturday.  They weren’t perfect but they were the key to this victory.  If we didn’t run the ball like we did on Saturday we never have a chance to win this game.  We ran the ball because the offensive line took care of the Florida front 7.  It was impressive.

From a pass blocking standpoint they gave Kellen enough time to throw.  They’re not dominant like the 2012 offensive line who gave Johnny time to make sammiches in the pocket but they gave Kellen a pocket he could step up in.  Kellen and this line were pretty in sync where he had a pocket and knew when he needed to step up to buy a little more time.  They worked well together on Saturday.

The unsung heroes of this line are the running backs and tight ends.  They’ve done a tremendous job in either picking up blitzes or chipping at the line of scrimmage before going into their routes.  They do a tremendous job of helping slow down the defensive pressure so the offensive line is not overwhelmed.  Everyone seems to know their assignments and can read the defense.  This has changed drastically how this unit is performing from last season.  Last season they were often lost on who and how to block.

I sure hope these guys can keep this up because I’d love nothing more than to eat a big plate of crow at the end of this season.  I’ll happily eat a little bit right now as I didn’t think they had Saturday’s game in them.  I’m very happy to be wrong about these guys so far.  Keep it up, fellas.

Kellen Mond:

This was the Kellen Mond Jimbo has been building.  Like the offensive line I’m shocked to see it and glad I’m wrong.  He played his best game in an Aggie uniform by far.  I don’t know if he can keep this up but maybe this is the confidence boost he’s been needing.

He was 25 for 35 for 338 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.  That’s not perfect but it’s DAMN good.  We’ll take that stat line from Kellen Mond every damn game.  I don’t know if he can repeat this the rest of the season but I don’t know why he can’t either.

We’ll just have to see.

If I have one complaint it’s his lack of running ability.  He took off on a couple runs but didn’t gain many yards because he doesn’t have enough shake.  He’s got good straight line speed but he needs some space to get a couple strides going.  He’s certainly not an elusive runner which may explain his desire to stay in the pocket rather than take off.

If he can keep passing like he did on Saturday we won’t need his running ability.

Running Back:

Isaiah Spiller was a complete stud on Saturday.  You can’t say enough about this guy.  He rushed for 174 yards on 27 carries to average 6.4 yards per carry.  His longest run was for 23 yards so that means he was just grinding out yards finding holes and getting yards after contact.  He didn’t get most of his yards on a few long carries.  The dude was taking the rock and finding space and making defenders pay for contact.  He put the ball on the ground once early in the game but he tightened up when it mattered most.  It was a remarkable effort.

He didn’t have a signature run so his performance might not seem that impressive.  It was impressive.  He had a will and he just kept moving the ball forward.  I’m not sure how good he can be but we’re talking about a guy playing in his 16th game as a true sophomore.  He’s still young and seems to get better every game.  Keep on keeping on, Isaiah.

Early in the game I was a little frustrated at Jimbo for not using Ainias Smith more from a running standpoint.  Jimbo was right and I was wrong.  He leaned on Isaiah and it paid off.  There’s a reason I get paid nothing to write this blog and Jimbo pulls in a cool $7.5 million a year.  I’m fine with it.

If Spiller and the offensive line can repeat Saturday it’s going to do wonders for this team.

Wide Receiver:

Holy hell.  We finally completed not one but TWO deep balls to a wide receiver in SEC play.  For one game Jimbo showed us he knows how to use a receiver on a deep route. 

Caleb Chapman had the game of his young Aggie career catching 9 balls for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He saved the best for last catching a beautiful 51-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 38 late in the fourth quarter.  Unfortunately, he tore is ACL on that play and is out for the rest of the season.  Hopefully there’s some guys on the roster that can pick up where Caleb left off. 

I don’t think it’s coincidence we had our best game on the ground in the same game we hit two deep balls.  Those two things work together causing a defense to defend the entire field.  It’s all a balancing act.

As for the other receivers they were pretty productive as well.  Jimbo really stuck with Chapman, Ainias, Wydermyer, and Chase Lane for the whole game.  There weren’t a lot of substitutions at receiver.

Each of those guys caught 4-5 balls for around 50 yards each.  That’s solid when you can equally spread out 3 guys for ~15 completions and 150 yards between them.  That keeps the defense having to defend the whole field and can’t key in on any single person.  It’s also a strong statement to Mond he was either reading the defense well or he was just spreading the ball around making plays to keep the defense honest.

I like what I’ve seen out of these guys.  I certainly like this unit better than last season’s unit but we need to keep developing.  We need someone to step up for Chapman in a big way.  Hopefully it’s time for Demas to finally step in and live up to his promise.  If it’s not Demas I hope it’s someone else.  We need the deep threat.

Overall:

I don’t see a reason why this offense can’t come close to replicating this performance every game.  They’ve actually done it all three games this season.  Against Florida they just didn’t make the mistakes they did against Vandy and Bama as it relates to turnovers and dropped passes.  It’s that simple.  Don’t make mistakes and this offense can win games for this team.

Defense:

This defense is much better than they showed on Saturday which gives me some hope.  Dan Mullen is an outstanding coach with an outstanding quarterback.  They had a great game plan for our defense.  They were really balanced and used a lot of mid level crossing routes and running backs out of the backfield to sustain drives.

It seemed we were pretty committed to shutting down the running game along with not letting Kyle Pitts beat us.  It was a sound strategy by Mike Elko but Dan Mullen utilized other weapons to keep drives going down the field.  I’m not sure we’ll see an offense better prepared for this defense for the rest of the season except when we play Ole Miss and Auburn.

We missed a lot of tackles on Saturday which his really unlike this defense.  I’m really hoping it was related to Dan Mullen’s scheme where our guys were just a tick slow diagnosing plays.  Tackling is physical but it’s also a little mental.  When you’ve diagnosed the play and in the right position it’s a lot easier to make tackles.

My biggest concern for this defense is not having a repeat of when we beat Tennessee at home in 2016.  They missed a ton of tackles in that game and had to be bailed out by the offense.  The John Chavis lead defenses never seemed to be the same after that game.  It’s not a big concern I have with Elko but it is something to be mindful of.  This team is capable of tackling better and they need to get back to it in coming games.

Defensive Line:

This unit is a little boring but I still believe they’re as solid as they come.  They’re still looking for that dominant playmaker but the way Leal and Clemons flash at times I have some hope.  Tyree Johnson is getting more playing time which I think is a good thing to keep guys fresher so they can flash

It would be nice for one of these guys to break out and start playing like Daylon Mack, Demontre Moore, Justin Madibuike, or even half of what Myles Garrett was.  We need someone who on a play can just decimate the offensive line and get a sack or big tackle for a loss.  I’m thinking DeMarvin Leal is the most likely as he’s still a true sophomore learning his role on this defense.  He’s just so versatile right now playing all over the defensive line.  Once the positions become second nature to him I think you’re going to start seeing this guy dominate offensive lines like those names I mentioned.

Now that we’re beyond Alabama and Florida I’m wondering if Donnell Harris starts getting some snaps to see if he has the raw pass rush talent most people seem to think he has.  If we can add true edge pressure in passing situations it’ll be a major boost for this defense and their struggles to get off the field on third downs.

This unit plays a little boring but make no mistake they’re the core of this defensive unit.  This unit allows Elko to focus on the other areas that need help.

Linebacker:

These guys are much like the defensive line.  They’re solid without being flashy and dominant.  Buddy Johnson lead the team in tackles which shouldn’t be a surprise.  Aaron Hansford has looked good as has Andre White Jr.  We certainly need to upgrade the overall talent with this unit but these guys are really serviceable for now.

If there’s one complaint it’s Buddy Johnson really struggles covering running backs out of the backfield.  Alabama was successful doing it and Florida continued it.  He’s not terrible at recognizing it but he’s just a step behind covering it because he’s built to be a run stopper and not cover running backs.  I think getting Erick Young back and not having a defense focused on defending Alabama’s receivers or a guy like Kyle Pitts will help Buddy.  If not, Buddy is going to continue to see situations where he’s responsible for a running back flaring out of the backfield which is a bad mis-match for us.

I’m curious if Antonio Doyle will start getting snaps like Donnell Harris.  He’s a true freshman as well with All SEC talent.  Hopefully he can add some depth and talent to the team this year as it’s still needed.

Secondary:

Dan Mullen doesn’t have the same weapons as Alabama but he does have an accurate quarterback who makes smart decisions.  Florida had 8 receivers catch 23 passes for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns.  We did a really good job limiting Kyle Pitts but I think it opened up Trask to just find the open guy which he did most of the game.

The worst performer of the day for this unit was Leon O’Neal.  For all the good things he did in the first two games he didn’t do it in this game.  He had two REALLY stupid personal fouls.  He also got picked on for three touchdowns.  One was to Kyle Pitts which isn’t a terrible thing to have happen but the other two it seemed like Florida knew they could fool O’Neal in coverage and took advantage.  He let his emotions get the best of him and that can’t happen.  Hopefully Jimbo and Elko can get him settled down and let him play to his talent.  We don’t need this guy regressing as he’s a key component of this defense if his head is screwed on correctly.

As for the rest of the secondary they were all equal offenders it seems.  Florida simply did a good job of flooding the secondary with a lot of crossing routes.  Since we can’t generate a pass rush Kyle Trask simply had time to find the guy our secondary wasn’t covering.  It’s not a huge knock on our defense but just more of a masterful job by Mullen and Trask attacking our secondary in a smart way.

Demani Richardson is still the heart and soul of this unit.  Jaylon Jones does seem to be getting better every game.  It’ll be nice to get Erick Young back at some point this season.  The talent is there to improve.

Overall:

I still believe in Mike Elko and this defensive unit.  I think we simply have seen them against a REALLY good offensive team in Alabama and a very good offensive mind and quarterback in Mullen and Trask.  This unit is going to get tested on Saturday against Mike Leach but I think they’ll be fine.  Leach got his surprise game against LSU and defenses have an idea of how to defend his Air Raid.  The team that scares me the most right now is Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss team as they’re putting up points against everyone they’ve played.

Let’s get past Mississippi State first and then we’ll let the rest of the season play out.  There’s still plenty of time to improve the young talent on this defense.

Looking Forward:

At this point I think this is a 7-3 football team at worst.  That’s a HUGE improvement from the first two games.

I don’t expect us to win out even though it’s possible.  We still play in the SEC and this is a pretty inexperienced team with a very inconsistent quarterback.  I really expect us to go 6-1 finishing up at 8-2.  That will likely put as the second-best team in the SEC West.  While I’d love to go 9-1, if you’d told me after the first two games we’d wind up 8-2 I would have asked how to nail that record down. I’m not going to get greedy from a record standpoint just yet.

This is a good football team.  We saw that on Saturday and have seen glimpses against Vandy and Bama.  We just don’t know how consistent they can be. 

We’ll just have to see how the season plays out.  It sure looks a lot different this week than it did this time last week.  Fine by me.

Make Aggie Football Great Again.

#MAFGA

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Thoughts on the Alabama Game

This week’s write up won’t be as long as normal.  This Texas A&M team was never beating Alabama.  Sure, there was technically a chance but Alabama is still immensely talented coming off a 2 loss season.  All Nick Saban does after a 2 loss season is win a national championship.  There’s a good chance this Alabama team doesn’t lose a game all year.  Texas A&M losing to Bama on Saturday will be like 13 other teams this season.

Still, you wish the Aggies could have been more competitive.  There was a fleeting moment when the score was 14-14 and it looked like the Aggies might compete.  Saban quickly squashed that.  Going into halftime the game was pretty much done.

Defense:

Normally I start with the offense but I’m going to start with the defense this week.  I’m not going to do unit breakdowns like I normally do either.

Nick Saban and his staff did an outstanding job of understating the strength and weakness of the Aggie defense.  As we know it’s a strong unit up front but suspect to the pass.  It’s better against the pass than in years past but it’s still got a ways to go.  There are still holes in this secondary. 

Alabama basically used the run to not only set up the pass but set up deep balls.  It was a marvelous job of coaching.  For the most part the Aggie defense bottled up the run.  Bama rushed 28 times for 109 yards and two scores.  That’s a little under 3.9 yards per carry.  That’s not a dominant effort for the Aggies but Alabama has a solid offensive line and an NFL caliber running back in Najee Harris.  Their longest run was 16 yards and Harris himself never ran for more than 6 yards on a single carry.  That’s a decent enough job by our defense up front.

The Bama offense annihilated the Aggie team with deep balls.  Bama did a tremendous job of attacking the weakest people in the secondary.  They went after Myles Jones, Devin Morris, Jaylen Jones, and Keldrick Carper.  Jaylen Jones has plenty of talent but he’s a true freshman playing in his second game.  He wasn’t ready for the talent Alabama has.

Bama had three touchdown passes of 78, 87, and 63 yards.  Each time they just isolated one of their speed burners on a vulnerable Aggie secondary member and Mac Jones hit them in stride.  Credit to Bama for a great game plan and executing.

I thought the defensive line and linebackers did a pretty good job.  They gave the Bama offensive line a lot of trouble for much of the game.  The defensive line had a nice tip and catch interception that could have swayed the game but it didn’t matter in the end.  The linebackers executed most of their assignments but were just playing more talented guys.  Individually, Michael Clemons continues to look like a guy that can create pressure by himself.  There’s certainly some positives for the defense other than the deep touchdowns.

If there’s one gripe I have about this game it’s the lack of blitzes.  I think we blitzed once and that resulted in one of the long touchdown passes.  Maybe Elko was afraid they would get burned again.  Maybe he felt his defensive line was doing a decent enough job getting pressure.  Maybe he though it wouldn’t matter.  He was probably right.  More blitzes wouldn’t have mattered but it would have been nice to see the attempt jus to see what could happen.

While the defense wasn’t without fault in this game the reality is A&M was never winning this game. Bama is just too talented from a team standpoint as a whole and didn’t make mistakes.  You can’t do anything defensively if you can’t force Bama into making mistakes.  Lick your wounds and move on to Florida.

Offense:

Offensive Line:

I must give these guys credit as they seem to have developed beyond last season.  They’re still not that great but they’re a little more serviceable than last year.  Since A&M played from behind most of the game we really couldn’t focus on the running game to see if we could truly get it going.

When it comes to pass blocking they’re doing a better job of engaging defenders.  In years past they would flat out miss defenders.  These guys are getting pushed back but at least they’re slowing the opposing defense down just a little bit.  They still struggle with blitzes though.

This unit still has issues but for now I’m going to leave them alone.  They’ve improved to a degree.  They are who they are.  They’re not going to establish the run against strong SEC defenses.  All you can hope for is for them to give the quarterback some time to throw by engaging the defender while getting pushed back.

I’m dead serious.  Simply engaging the defender rather than miss the defender straight up is an improvement for this unit.  It’s the little things.

Running Backs:

Spiller couldn’t really get going despite 11 attempts for 25 yards.  Really not much to write about here.  The running game was just never going to be in a factor with the way this game played out.  It takes a while to establish the run against a team like Bama and you can’t do that playing behind the whole game.

Hopefully the run game materializes the rest of the season.  I do see some positives with Spiller and Smith getting hand offs.

Wide Receivers:

Ainias Smith became the first non-tight end to have a touchdown reception over 40 yards in SEC play during Jimbo’s tenure.  That was done solely on his athleticism.  He’s a hybrid receiver/running back so we still have no true wide receiver score a touchdown over 40 yards in the SEC over the past three seasons.  Meanwhile Bama had three long touchdown passes in one game.

Just once I’d love to see an Aggie receiver running deep due to busted coverage and get hit it in stride for a touchdown.  I’d be even happier if it was because the receiver is just so talented they can blow by coverage by themselves.  It still hasn’t happened under Jimbo’s watch.  Deep balls remain elusive for this offensive unit when another SEC team is on the schedule.

Ainias Smith was our best receiver on the day catching six balls for 123 yards and two touchdowns.  The dude is a baller.  Wydermyer was our next best pass catcher with 8 receptions for 82 yards. He almost added an amazing catch on the sidelines but couldn’t hold on.  It was good to see him come back after a bad performance against Vandy.

Chase Lane was targeted 11 times but only caught 6 balls for 62 yards.  Some of the passes were uncatchable but at the same time he’s not regularly getting open.  The rest of the unit was basically the same.  Jalen Preston was targeted 5 times and only caught two balls for 27 yards.  He was the target of the interception returned for a touchdown and did nothing to fight for the ball or chase the defender down.

My biggest gripe with this unit for guys not named Smith and Wydermyer is they don’t fight for the ball.  They just don’t adjust and go after balls.  They basically only catch balls if they’re open and it’s a catchable ball.  Other than that, they’re not making much effort.

Demas saw some snaps and the stat sheet shows he was targeted once.  I guess Jimbo is bringing him along slowly but this dude needs to see snaps.  The other true freshman in Price and Muhammed ought to start seeing snaps as well.  I like this unit better than last year’s unit but it’s not by much at this point.  We need to find some guys that will fight for the football.

We’ve got issues with the offensive line and quarterback but these guys aren’t helping either.  At some point we need a true receiver to step up and be a threat the defense must worry about.  It’s not there right now.

Quarterback:

For the first time in Jimbo’s time at A&M I get to talk about two quarterbacks in a game. I feel like Lawrence in Office Space with a million dollars.

Kellen Mond did what Kellen Mond does.  He made some decent passes but he also missed a bunch of passes.  His receivers dropped a couple balls they should have caught.  Statistically he didn’t look bad.  He was 25 of 44 for 318 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.  The interception was a back breaker as it was a Pick 6 that took the score from 21-14 to 28-14 midway through the second half.  The Aggies would never stand a chance after that play.

A completion percentage of 56% isn’t terrible against Bama but it’s the way Mond does it.  He’ll throw a beautiful ball at times and an ugly pass the next.  He’s terribly inconsistent.  The offense never gained any true momentum.  He simply failed to make plays in the game much like he did all last season against better opponents.  He did nothing to put the team on his shoulders.  He’s a senior and it’s disappointing to watch.

If you stuck around for the whole game you saw Haynes King take the reins for the final offensive drive.  I wasn’t totally surprised to see King take the field over Calzada.  He’s a true freshman but I think his skill set is better served for what this team needs.  Calzada has a cannon but that doesn’t really help if the offensive line can’t block and receivers can’t get open.  King offers mobility.

King didn’t look that great passing but his running was outstanding.  I understand the game was out of reach and Bama was playing a couple backups but King was decisive in running the ball.  That’s what this offense needs.  A quarterback that WILL run.  Mond has the ability but just chooses not to.

King’s final play was an interception in the end zone but I don’t have a problem with it.  He had single coverage with Chase Lane and put the ball where Chase Lane could make a play on it.  Lane didn’t and the Bama defender did.  At some point you must take chances as a quarterback.  Especially with this team.

King doesn’t appear to have the arm that Mond or Calzada has but if he’s smart and accurate it’s more valuable.  Completions matter more than style.

It was a small sample set but I like what I saw out of King.  He appears to have some moxie and you need moxie at quarterback.  You need someone who’s willing to show the team he’s willing to take chances to make plays.  Mond should have developed that by now.

Special Teams:

Seth Small missed what should have been an easy field goal.  Our kick and punt returners fair caught everything.  None of it mattered.

Looking Forward:

I was shocked Jimbo put in King.  That was a HUGE sign he’s looking for something different.  Even if he didn’t want Mond in on that last series he could have put in Calzada.  That’s the safe play and minimizes controversy.

Calzada has been in this program since January of 2019.  That’s almost two seasons.  Jimbo decided to put in the guy who was playing at Longview High School this time last season.  No offense to Longview but it’s a far cry from Longview High School to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in less than 12 months. 

I think it’s pretty telling for what Jimbo sees playing out at quarterback the rest of the season.  I still believe Mond was the best option at quarterback for the last two seasons.  Starkel wasn’t the guy two seasons ago and Calzada didn’t get the back up reps against Bama on Saturday he wasn’t ready last season.

I do think it’s obvious Jimbo put Kellen Mond on notice.  If you’re going to continue to do the same things you’re not going to take snaps.  I’m totally good with that.

I also think by going with King that Jimbo has a better grasp of the offensive issues than we give him credit for. 

My personal belief is that Mond will start against Florida and struggle.  Florida will be up by two touchdowns at half.  King will start the second half and we’ll never look back.  We won’t beat Florida but I think King will do enough to hold on to the starting job.  King won’t be without his struggles as he’ll make plenty of mistakes but it’s time for a youth movement with Aggie football.

I’m just a little shocked Jimbo is willing to go to it so soon.  It’s good to see though as it’s warranted.

It’s time for a youth movement on the offensive side of Aggie football.  Jimbo’s recruited the talent so it’s time for them to all grow up together.  I’d much rather go 5-5 with the younger more talented guys gaining real experience.  I think we could pull off 7 wins if we do it sooner than later.

It’ll be a sacrifice worth making.  Let’s Make Aggie Football Great Again.

#MAFGA

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Thoughts from the Vandy Game

The third year of the Jimbo Fisher era at Texas A&M got off to frustrating start.  While most of us don’t expect the Aggies to contend for the SEC West this season we are hoping this is they year where make a clear step towards that goal.  We certainly didn’t see that on Saturday night at Kyle.

This was basically an extension of the 2019 season.  If you put this game in the collection of game film from 2019 it would have fit in perfectly.

Let’s count the ways:

  • Kellen Mond not taking over a game
  • Kellen Mond being loose with the football putting it on the ground multiple times
  • Kellen Mond not knowing when to run
  • Kellen Mond being inconsistent with his passing
  • Receivers dropping easy passes
  • No downfield passing threats
  • No play calling creativity
  • Delay of game calls
  • Bone headed special teams play
  • No pass rush
  • Strong defensive effort despite that
  • Jimbo and Kellen saying they’ve got some problems to fix

I can keep going but you get the idea.  While Kellen Mond is a good portion of this list he’s not the only issue this team is facing.  Maybe it was rust by the players or maybe it was Jimbo trying to figure out what he has with this team.  Whatever it is, the team on the field Saturday night will be lucky to win 5 games.  It really has the talent to win 10 games.

Speaking of talent, it needs to be pointed out the ONLY reason the Aggies won the game was because they’re more talented.  It wasn’t coaching and execution.  The Aggies are simply more talented than the Commodores and that’s why the Aggies won.  While Jimbo has major question marks on his coaching and development his recruiting is showing promising results.  He’s got talent to work with.

Before I get into specifics about the game I have to say Kyle Field was really impressive all things considered.  It certainly wasn’t the environment of a packed Kyle but it was damn good.  The students were yelling, the band was playing, and the DJ was rocking.  You knew who was the home team and there were moments when the team fed off the crowd that was there.  Kudos to the Aggie gameday operation crew and the students.  Despite the COVID limitations they made it a pretty solid experience.

On to the game in my usual format where I look at the specific units.

Offense:

Kellen Mond:

I think I’ve been consistent in my assessment of Kellen Mond.  He’s not as bad as some people make him out to be but he’s not someone that’s going to take a game over either.  In his first game of 2020 he showed exactly ZERO development.  I mean not one step of development from a nine month off season.  He was the exact same quarterback he’s been under Jimbo Fisher.  Not one positive deviation from who’s been for two full seasons.

All of this talk about looking at every play from last season to correct errors did absolutely nothing.  He did all the same things he’s done in 2 seasons with Jimbo.  He was inconsistent passing the ball.  He was unaware when to run and when to sit in the pocket.  He was lazy with the ball and put it on the ground multiple times.  If he really did watch every play from last season to correct errors he wasted a bunch of time.  The test on the field showed he learned NOTHING.

The fumbles bother me the most because that’s the sign of quarterback who’s thinking too much.  He’s still trying to figure out plays and not being careful with the ball.  He’s now put the ball on the ground 5 times in the last two games against lesser talented teams.  That’s inexcusable.  Running backs lose their jobs for doing the same thing.  Jimbo has a ton invested in Mond’s development but if Mond keeps up this fumbling he won’t be under center much longer.  That’s too big of a liability.

I was hopeful we’d see a senior quarterback take command of the game against an inferior opponent.  Kellen didn’t do that.  He’s not a natural leader and it’s painfully obvious at this point.  He’s really damn talented but he doesn’t have the mental makeup to be any better than he is.  He pays a lot of lip service to being a better quarterback but his play doesn’t show it.

Kellen is still in the top half of SEC quarterbacks in my mind simply because he has talent.  I no longer have any hope he’ll be the dominant player he could be because of his talent.  It’s simply not in him and he really doesn’t want it.

It’ll be interesting to see how Jimbo handles Kellen.  He must be frustrated he has the same guy he’s had going into this third season.  I don’t think Jimbo changes quarterbacks anytime soon but if this offense plays like it did on Saturday night I think he’ll have to seriously consider a change at some point in the season.

Let me be clear – I don’t think there’s a quarterback controversy right now.  I’m simply saying if this Aggie team winds up 1-3 with losses to Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi State due to offensive ineptitude Jimbo is going to be questioning if it’s time for a change.  The fans will already be there but at the end of the day wins and losses are what matters.  Kellen Mond has a tough three game stretch to prove he still belongs under center.

After the Mississippi State game we have a bye and then two games against Arkansas and South Carolina.  That’s the perfect time to make a change under center if the offense is struggling.  I’m not saying it will but the schedule is set up to make a change if we’re 1-3 with a puttering offense.  Just something to be mindful of if Mond doesn’t step up his play over the next 3 games.

Mond can still win the Aggies a lot more games than they lose but I do believe the clock is ticking for Jimbo.

I watched a lot of the Florida game on Saturday and what I saw from Kyle Trask is what I was hoping to see from Kellen on Saturday.  Trask stood comfortable in the pocket and made some nice throws.  Trask had complete control of the Florida offense.  Mond is more athletic than Trask but on Saturday Trask stood head and shoulders above Mond.  Trask appears to have developed while Mond continues to be who he is.  It’s extremely frustrating.

Wide Receiver:

A lot of new names at receiver but it looked more of the same.  Decent on some plays but also dropped some very easy passes.  Jalen Preston appears to have taken over the role of Jhamon Ausbon as the possession receiver.  Preston has plenty of talent so good to see him out there.  Didn’t like his fumble but hopefully he can correct that.

Caleb Chapman was targeted 7 times and caught 4 balls including a nice touchdown.  Chapman looked okay but he wasn’t spectacular.  Chase Lane had a couple nice catches along with Kam Brown but nothing impressive.

I love Ainias Smith and he had some nice catches and most importantly yards after the catch.  We’ve been missing a guy that can make defenders miss after the catch since Christian Kirk went to the NFL.  In my mind Smith needs to see the ball more.

What I’m most shocked by is Demond Demas had ZERO snaps.  He was suited up and on the sideline but he didn’t see a single snap.  This is mind boggling to me.  By all reports he’s far and away the most athletic receiver we have.  I get he’s a true freshman but he needs to be out there to see what he can do.

We don’t do true deep balls.  We don’t throw passes downfield in one on one situations to see if we can win contested balls.  We don’t turn short passes into super long gains.  Our longest three catches on the night were of 26, 23, and 21 yards.  Against a team like Vanderbilt that’s terrible.  Elite level teams have receivers that can either get down the field or turn a short pass into a long catch and run.  This has been amazingly missing in the Jimbo Fisher era.

At some point we need a legit downfield threat.  We still haven’t had a receiver catch a touchdown ball over 40 yards in the SEC since Jimbo took over.  A deep threat would do wonders for this offense.  Somebody needs to step up to fill that role and Jimbo needs to work that into the playbook.

Let me put it this way – In 17 SEC games we have never snapped the ball on our side of the field and completed a touchdown pass to a wide receiver under Jimbo Fisher.  Think about that for a moment. 

Jace Sternberger had a touchdown catch of 46 yards against Kentucky in 2018.  Wydermyer had one for 52 yards against Mississippi State last season.  Those are tight ends and those are our longest touchdown passes in 17 SEC games under Jimbo Fisher.  That’s it.  46 and 52 yard scores to really gifted tight ends who did most of the work after the catch thanks to their athleticism.

I’m quite certain defensive coaches are aware of this and it’s a major factor into how they defend us.  We have to develop a downfield threat if this offense is really going to start doing something.

Running Back:

In addition to the defense, Isaiah Spiller is why we won this game.  He only carried the ball 8 times but he had 117 yards ripping off two really nice runs in the second half.  Spiller should have gotten 20 carries in this game.  Maybe Jimbo wanted Mond and his receivers to get some reps but Jimbo should have leaned on Spiller a lot more in the second half.

Spiller is starting his second season but he’s impressed me.  I’m not sure how great he can be but the dude produces.  He was the only offensive player against LSU last season that showed any fire.  On Saturday night he took what touches he got and made the most of them.  This dude needs more touches in my mind.

Here’s Isiah Spiller’s last three games:

LSU – 11 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown.  That’s 6 yards a carry against a tough LSU team.
Oklahoma State – 19 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown.  That’s 4.1 yards a carry.
Vanderbilt – 8 carries for 117 yards with no touchdowns.  That’s 14.6 yards a carry with a long of 57 yards.

Isiah Spiller is producing at running back with a spotty offensive line.  Give him the damn ball more.

I love Ainias Smith as a receiver but I also love what he’s doing at running back.  He’s a nice change of pace to Spiller and knows how to make defenders miss.  His touchdown run was proof positive of that.

Jimbo really needs to figure out how to confuse defenses with Spiller and Smith in the backfield.  They’re clearly the most dynamic offensive players we have and they need to touch the ball more.  If you’re not going to thrown the ball downfield at least stretch the defense at the line of scrimmage with two running backs capable of two different things.  Give the defense something to worry about.

Offensive Line:

Obviously this has been my biggest concern coming into the 2020 season.  On Saturday night they looked solid enough.  They weren’t really tested but they did just fine.  We had 183 yards on the ground and Kellen only got sacked once.  For the most part Kellen had time to make passes.

I’m still concerned with this unit but they were fine on Saturday night.  Had the quarterback and receivers did more to catch and protect the ball their work might have looked a lot better.

We’ll find out more about this unit over the next three games.  For their first game they actually looked serviceable.  No complaints from me right now.

Mark me worried about what they’re going to do against Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi State though.

Defense:

Defensive Line:

We all knew this is the best unit on the team and on Saturday night they did what they do.  Michael Clemons, Bobby Brown, Jayden Peevy, and DeMarvin Leal were solid.  DeMarvin Leal is a beast.

This unit is the heart and soul of this team.  I really can’t say anything more about these guys.  They show up every game and play as a really strong unit.

The lack of pass rush is a bit concerning but Michael Clemons got a key sack late in the game.  I’m hoping he’s the guy that gets more comfortable and starts to develop into a guy that can bring pressure.  He has the potential so I hope he realizes it.  If it’s not these guys bringing the pressure directly I think you might see Elko get a little creative and bring disguised blitzes.

The most impressive thing from this game was McKinnley Jackson.  He’s a true freshman and got some snaps in the second half.  He looked outstanding.  I’m excited about this guy.  He was the best player in Mississippi last year.  He was a late addition to the recruiting class and he chose A&M over Bama.  It was a major get for Jimbo and his staff.  If his first game is any indication he’s going be a total beast as well.

I was excited about this unit coming into the season and nothing about Saturday night changes that.  If anything I’m thinking it might be better than we thought.  If Clemons can develop a pass rush and Jackson adds serious athleticism and depth then this unit will be one of the best in the country.

Linebacker:

While this unit isn’t as talented as the defensive line it’s a strength of this team.  Buddy Johnson and Aaron Hansford lead the defense in tackles which is what they’re supposed to do.  Buddy Johnson is a football player.  He’s probably not going to make first team All SEC because he doesn’t have the raw talent and make highlight plays but the dude can play football.

I think Anthony Hines was getting passed up by Hansford which is why Hines decided to opt out.  Hansford is a heck of a story coming back from a serious knee injury and switching from offense to defense.

Andrew White saw a few snaps and looked solid.

While this unit is not as talented or deep as the defensive line it’s a solid unit.  I wasn’t worried about this unit coming into the season and I still feel the same way.

Secondary:

Welcome back, Leon O’Neal, Jr.  This kid had a less than stellar 2019 season.  In the off season it looked like he was going to transfer.  On Saturday night he was starting for the Aggies and played outstanding football.  He got a key interception late in the game with a nice return.  I hoping O’Neal has his head screwed on straight because he’s a heck of a talent and can be big for this team.

Demani Richardson was his normal self.  He picked of a pass and was all over the field.  He’s certainly the heart and soul of this secondary.  Jaylon Jones started at corner and he looked pretty solid as a true freshman.  Myles Jones started at the other corner and was decent enough.  I must give him credit as Myles has really developed.  He’s not as talented as the other guys he plays with but he’s playing much better than he used to.  Erick Young also played much of the game as the nickel and was strong.

This unit is going to have it’s hiccups but I feel pretty good about them right now.  I’m wondering if Elko starts trying to figure out how to bring pressure with these five guys.  They’re all pretty talented and flexible in what they can do between covering and tackling.  Sneaking one of these guys on a blitz a few times a guy will do wonders for this defense.

Special Teams:

I love Ainias Smith but I have no clue what he was doing fielding a punt in the endzone.  Even worse I don’t know what Brian George was thinking illegally blocking someone in the endzone.  No punt return personal should ever be in the end zone.  Just take the ball at the 20.  That resulted in 2 points for Vandy and even worse a loss of possession.  That’s bad coaching and execution.

Constantinou had one bad punt and one good punt of 53 yards averaging 45 yards on the day.  Seth Small hit his one field goal attempt and his two extra points.  Return wise we don’t have much going for us other than some head scratchers on returning balls in the end zone.

This unit appears more of the same under Jimbo.  It’s not going to win us any games so you just hope it doesn’t lose us any games.

Coaching:

As most of you know I love Jimbo Fisher.  His offensive plan and the player’s execution on Saturday night was terrible.  Spiller and Ainias Smith get a pass.  His play calling made no sense.  He looked like a 12 year old playing Madden just randomly selecting plays.  I hope he was just trying to call as many different plays as possible to see if Mond had truly developed in the off season.  If so, he couldn’t have liked what he saw.

At some point Jimbo must add some wrinkles to this offense.  I get what he’s doing because his defense is so good coupled with a questionable offensive line and quarterback.  He wants to win time of possession and limit turnovers so he limits plays for his defense wile minimizing his offensive weakness.  I get it because not many people have a defense like he does.  No reason to gamble and put those guys in a bind.

However, he must develop a downfield threat.  If defenses only need to worry about 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage it’s only going to make this offense’s job even harder.  Better defenses will flat out expose this offensive line and Kellen Mond.  We saw it in 2019 and we’re about to see if over the next three games.  We’ll still have LSU and Auburn at the end of this season.

Jimbo has to evolve and develop as much as his players need to.  Right now everyone is kind of holding each other back so it’s time to try some different stuff.  This is not a tough offense to defend if you’ve watched any film on it.

Jimbo needs to coach in 2020 a little differently than he did in 2019.  He certainly didn’t do that on Saturday night.

Speaking of coaching, here’s the list of current SEC West head coaches:

Alabama – Nick Saban
LSU – Coach O
Texas A&M – Jimbo Fisher
Auburn – Gus Malzahn
Mississippi State – Mike Leach
Ole Miss – Lane Kiffin
Arkansas – Sam Pittman

Three of those guys have national championship rings.  One of those guys took his team to a national championship game and won a ring as an offensive coordinator.  One of those guys has multiple national championship rings as an offensive coordinator.  One of those guys is Mike Leach.

One of those is not like the others.  How do you feel if you’re an Arkansas fan knowing you could have hired Mike Leach?  What a failed job by the Arkansas administration to miss on Leach not once but twice.

Looking Forward:

I obviously don’t feel good about my 10-2 season prediction right now.  Football is a funny game so you never know.  The talent is still there to win 10 games this season.  Jimbo and some key offensive players need to take a different step forward. No more one step forward and two steps back they’ve taken for two seasons.  \

We’re going to learn a lot about this team in the next three games.  Based on this past weekend there’s a strong chance we go 1-3.  More than likely I think we still wind up going 2-2 as Elko will find a way to keep Leach from repeating what he did in Baton Rouge.  I just don’t see us beating Florida based on how the two teams played on Saturday.

I put our chances of beating Bama at exactly zero.  That’s not battered Aggie syndrome and just reality.  The only way we can beat Bama is if they turn the ball over and/or we really open our offense to try and score lots of points.  I don’t see either of those happening.

Saban will play into Jimbo’s hand of wanting to play a slow and methodical game just like Jimbo.  Saban will make sure his guys don’t turn the ball over and Jimbo will take exactly zero chances on offense.  Bama will break more offensive plays and Jimbo will be yelling at Mond over multiple bad decisions.  I won’t be shocked to see us get the back door cover of 17 points late in the game.  The final score won’t mean we were ever in the game though.

I hope I’m wrong but 17 SEC games with Jimbo and Mond give me a pretty good idea of how things are going to play out in Tuscaloosa this weekend.

We’re still 1-0 with a ton of talent but Jimbo needs to get coaching if he wants to earn that $7.5 million.

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Projecting the Aggies’ 2020 Record

As we know, 2020 has proven to be a year where expectations change by the week.  Assuming the Aggie football team can stay healthy through the COVID mess I don’t see expectations changing much throughout the season.  We shouldn’t need to see a few weeks of football to determine what kind of team we have. 

I think this Aggie team is easy to determine.  This is a good football team.  It’s got big holes with the offensive line and lack of experience.  However, it’s by far the most talented team Jimbo has had in three seasons.  This should be the season where Jimbo finally puts a foot in the ground and people take notice of what he’s really building in Aggieland.  This isn’t a college football playoff team but it is a borderline Top 10 team.

I’m torn on what 2020 and the new SEC schedule will bring from a win/loss standpoint.  I think the floor for this team is 6-4 but 9-1 is possible.  It’s not the Aggie team that I don’t know about.  I feel comfortable knowing where this team stands from an ability standpoint.  It’s four of their opponents in Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, and LSU I’m not sure.  Those are four really good football programs but I don’t know what they’re going to look like in 2020.  They all have question marks coming into the season.  I don’t believe last season is indicative of this season for those teams.  I think all 4 can be worse in 2020 than they were in 2019.  I just don’t know enough about their talent. 

The talent is there for the Aggies to be better than those teams.  The ultimate judge will be who wins and loses so we’ll just have to see how it plays out on the field.   

I’m not worried about how Jimbo is going to handle this season from a coaching standpoint.  In his two seasons he’s shown to trust his defense and limit mistakes by his offense.  Don’t get greedy.  Stay really steady and focused hoping the breaks roll your way late in the game.  It’s worked as we’ve come back in games against Kentucky, LSU, and Oklahoma State. 

There were times I wish he’d roll the dice more against better teams but I get what he’s doing.  He’s put down a solid foundation and I think we’ll see Jimbo continue to build on it.  He’s got a plan and he’s going to stick to it.  He and Mike Elko have shown to be a really good team so no need to disrupt that balance in year 3.  Just keep doing what you’ve done.

Year 3 has been interesting for recent Texas A&M coaches.  Coach Fran completely imploded coming off a Cotton Bowl appearance.  He tried to implement some option/spread type offense with Reggie McNeil.  The Aggies went 5-7 that season.  Mike Sherman had his best year in his third season after struggling early to start 3-3.  He wound up taking the Aggies to the Cotton Bowl reeling off November wins over Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas.  Kevin Sumlin had a yo-yo of a season his third year destroying South Carolina to open things up which lead to 5 straight wins followed by 3 straight humiliating losses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss and cumulating in the 59-0 loss at Alabama.

I don’t expect Jimbo to repeat any of those seasons.  I think you’re going to see the Aggies compete in every game they play this season.  If that offensive line can make any level of improvement I think the Aggies stand a really good chance of placing second in the SEC West making a New Years bowl game.  Assuming those still happen this season.  If the Aggies place second in the SEC West that will be one hell of a season.

Enough talk.  Let’s look at the Aggies 2020 schedule and how I see these games playing out.

Vanderbilt:

Vanderbilt is not good.  The Aggies should beat them.  I expect a fairly close game in the first half with the Aggies pulling away in the second half.  For an all SEC schedule this is as good of an opponent as you can get to knock off the rust.

Ags win. 

Record 1-0.

Alabama:

2019 was considered a down year for Alabama.  For Alabama that means you lose by 5 points to one of the best teams ever in the history of college football.  You also lose by 3 points on the road to your rival in an abnormal game.  In that game against Auburn, Mac Jones replaced Tua Tagavolia a couple games prior and threw two pick sixes.  That’s 14 points gifted by the Bama offense.  Auburn also got the benefit of bad officiating.  They kicked a field goal at the end of the first half they shouldn’t have been allowed to kick.  That’s 17 points. 

That loss knocked Alabama out of the New Years bowl games and into the Citrus Bowl.  In the Citrus Bowl they throttled a pretty good Michigan team who was ranked 14th at the time.  11-2 with a Citrus Bowl win over Michigan is a bad season for Nick Saban.  Unreal the expectations for that guy.

I cite the above because people want to write off Nick Saban and Alabama after a season they don’t make the playoffs or win the SEC.  That’s a damn good season for anyone other than Bama and maybe Clemson or Ohio State.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that Alabama is on their way down because they went 11-2 in 2019.  They’re still Bama.

The Aggies and Tide pose an interesting matchup because they match up pretty evenly.  Bama lost some serious firepower in Tagavolia, Ruggs, and Jeudy at quarterback and receiver.  They certainly won’t have the firepower through the air but they return four of their starting offensive lineman.  Three of those guys are seniors and the fourth was a freshman All American.  It’s tough being Nick Saban.  Senior Najee Harris is in the backfield who is no different that the dozen NFL running backs Saban has had before him.  Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith return as starting receivers.  This offense may not be as spectacular but it’s still going to be damn good.  Saban is basically going from a Ferrari to a Porsche.  It’s still better than what most everyone else has.

The strength of the Aggie team is in the defensive line so we should be able to give what might be the best line in college football a good fight.  We should keep them from running up and down the field on us.

I think Nick Saban goes back to his old offensive plans of letting talent take over late in the game.  He’s not going to let Mac Jones make any mistakes like he did against Auburn.  They’ll use the run game to set up shots downfield with the speedy Waddle and Smith.  They may not put up 40 points a game but they’ll put up 30 while wearing down the opponent’s defense.  The Aggies will need to make some key third down stops to get off the field if they stand any chance of winning.

Believe it or not the defense is where Bama is likely to have the most questions.  They still have plenty of talent but Saban doesn’t return as much on the defensive side of the ball as he has in the past.  He has four returning starters on defense including Dylan Moses who started in 2018 and sat in 2019 due to an injury.  It might be best we catch then in the second game.  This might be a defense that’s still learning to play with one another when the Aggies catch them.  Plenty of talent but not the experienced unit Saban is used to running out there from the start.

If we can establish the running game and keep pressure off Mond the Aggies stand a real chance to win this game.  That’s a big if though.

This is a winnable game for the Aggies.  I really believe it’s the most winnable game against Bama since 2012.  However, I’m not betting against Nick Saban until I see the clock hit 0:00 and the Aggies have one more point than the Tide.

I’m marking this up as a loss.  I hope I’m wrong though.

Record 1-1.

Florida:

Florida is a really interesting team.  I think they’re perceived to be better than they are.  They’re a damn good football team but they benefit by playing in the SEC East which isn’t nearly as strong as the West.  They went 11-2 last year but they really didn’t beat anyone other than Auburn which was at home.  They lost to LSU and Georgia which is understandable.  They played in the Orange Bowl beating Virginia 36-28.  That’s not that impressive.  Good solid win but it’s still Virginia.

11-2 looks good until you look under the hood a little.  I love Dan Mullen as a coach but I don’t think this Florida team is as talented as the record indicates.  This is only their third season removed from being 4-8 so Mullen has had to do some roster rebuilding.  This isn’t a typical Florida team deep in talent and experience like we saw in 2012.

I think this team is somewhere between the 2012 team we saw at Kyle and the 2017 team we saw at The Swamp.  I believe the Aggies might be more talented overall.

Florida returns Kyle Trask under center which I don’t think is a great thing.  He’s pretty pedestrian but he’s coached up by Mullen who’s got a pretty good track record with quarterbacks.  Guys like Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott, and Nick Fitzgerald.  Trask lacks the running ability those four guys have so it really limits what Mullen can do with him.  If he had better wheels I’d be more concerned.

Their best offensive player is a very talented tight end in Kyle Pitts.  Ironically he’s coached by Jimbo’s former tight end coach who coached Jace Sternberger.  The Gators are inexperienced at receiver and offensive line.   It’s not without talent but it’s short on experience as unit.  This will be a pretty solid but not spectacular offense.  I think the Aggie defense can really give them fits.

Getting Florida in their third game will be good for A&M.

Defensively it’s solid but not spectacular.  They’ve got some veterans and younger talent but nobody that stands out.  Not one of their guys on defense was named to the pre-season first team All SEC team.  They’ve got three guys on the second team.  These pre-season teams aren’t always indicative of how one will perform but they’re a good guide.  The first team defense is laced with guys from Bama, Auburn, LSU, and Georgia.  It feels like Florida’s defense is a step below those programs.  Fine by me.

This game feels like a “Jimbo Special.”  Those are games where Jimbo doesn’t do anything to make major mistakes for 3 quarters and finds a way to pull it out in the end.  I think this might be a pretty ugly game as Elko and the defense stalemate the Florida offense while Mond and the offense take little shots here and there hoping something will break open.

This feels like 2017 but at Kyle with more talented teams.  I think the Aggies win this thing 19-13.

Record 2-1.

Mississippi State:

Mike Leach is back in our division.  I love Mike Leach but I HATE him being in our division again.  I want to cheer for the guy but hate playing him.  He had our number at Tech.  Not only would he beat us on the field but then he’d get in his little jabs after he did it.  I don’t blame Mississippi State for hiring him.

However, I don’t think he’ll have the same amount of success against us as he did in Lubbock.

This isn’t a very good Mississippi State team.  They were 6-7 last season only because of the Ole Miss playing who pretended to be a dog peeing on a fire hydrant.  If it wasn’t for that event Mississippi State has exactly 2 SEC wins last season.  1 of those being over Arkansas so it’s really 1 SEC win.

We handled Mississippi State at Kyle last season and I expect us to do the same this season in Starkville.

This is an Aggie win.

Record 3-1.

Arkansas:

At some point Arkansas will beat us in the SEC.  I don’t think it’s this season.

This is an Aggie win.

Record 4-1.

South Carolina:

This feels like the ultimate trap game.  The Aggies could be going into Columbia, SC on a pretty decent win streak having only lost to Alabama.  South Carolina has lost a lot and we pounded them last season at Kyle.

Put this as an 11:00 am game and I can see the Aggies being completely surprised.  I don’t really see that happening but if there’s a trap game this season this one is it.

As long as the Aggies don’t turn the ball over they’ll be fine here.

This is an Aggie win.

Record 5-1.

Tennessee:

Tennessee is like Florida benefitting from playing in the SEC East.  Their record is inflated compared to an equivalent SEC West team.  A lot of people think Tennessee is on the rise after last season.  They’ll be improved but we need to look more at the 2019 season.

They started out HORRIBLY last season losing to Georgia State and BYU at home in their first two games.  Sitting at 2-5 looking like a lost season they then reeled off 6 straight wins including a Gator Bowl win over Indiana.

The problem I have with this team is they didn’t beat a single ranked team all last season.  They barely beat Indiana by 1 point in Jacksonville.  They weren’t competitive at all against Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  Sure, not many teams are but it feels like Tennessee happens to be in Tier 2 all by themselves in the SEC East behind Georgia and Florida.

Jeremy Pruitt is certainly improving things at Tennessee but I don’t think he’s farther along than Jimbo is at A&M.

As long as the Ags are healthy, playing like they should be, and don’t turn the ball over the Aggies will win this game.

Record 6-1.

Ole Miss:

This sort of feels like a trap game as well but I’m not terribly worried about it.  It’s an SEC West opponent that’s played us tough so I think we’ll be ready.

I’m excited to have Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach at the Mississippi schools.  That is going to make for serious theater. 

Kiffin has some work to do in Oxford and he’ll cause some people fits at times but I don’t think it’s in 2020.

I think the Aggies will be just fine here.

Record 7-1.

LSU:

This is by far the most conflicting game I have on the schedule right now.  My head says despite all the losses LSU had from last year’s team this is still a REALLY tough game for the Aggies.  It will be decided at the line of scrimmage and I don’t trust our offensive line in this game.

My heart says we win this game.

Like Alabama this is a very winnable game.  LSU lost a TON from last season’s game.  They lost their entire offense for the most part.  They lost what I think is the brains of their offense from last season in Joe Brady.  This won’t be anywhere close to the same offense as last year. 

They lost Dave Aranda as their defensive coordinator.  They replaced him with Bo Pelini who I have no idea if he’s still any good as a defensive coordinator.  He should be but guys tend to lose their fastball.  Lord knows we see plenty of re-treaded DCs in Aggieland that didn’t turn out so well.  I hope the same for SMU.

Their defense took a hit but they return Derek Stingley and Jacoby Stevens in the secondary who are potential first round guys at the next level.  Coach O has recruited well so they might lack experience on defense but they’ll have PLENTY of talent.  There’s a load of LSU guys in the NFL.  They just grow them differently in Louisiana so they’ll have talent.

I’m going to chalk this one up as a loss right now.  What I really think is going to happen is we’re going to trip somewhere between Bama and LSU losing one of those game and then pull this one off.  Basically the same thing we did in 2018.  I just can’t tell where that other loss is right now so I’m giving it to LSU.

Aggies lose.

Record 7-2.

Auburn:

Gus Malzahn is to the SEC what Mike Leach used to be in the Big 12.  You never know what you’re going to get each week because they draw up something different each week.  When their plan works it’ll hit you from out of nowhere.  It doesn’t always work and they lose some stinkers.  He’s a fascinating coach.

He’s had Jimbo’s number the last two years.  The Aggies gave the game away in 2018 at Auburn.  Gus walked into Kyle last year and pulled down Jimbo’s pants.  The Auburn defensive line mutilated the Aggie offensive line and Gus ran enough mis-direction on offense where they caught a couple Aggie defenders sleeping for big touchdowns.  It was a masterful game plan by Gus.  He knew where the Aggies were weak and attacked.

I’m not sure what to expect from Auburn this season.  Bo Knix returns for his second season in Auburn.  An experienced quarterback is always dangerous with Gus.  They have two talented receivers that can burn you downfield.  Gus will move the ball but the question his how much will he score.

Defensively they won’t be as talented but they’ll still be damn good.  They lost three defenders in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.  The fact that Derek Brown is gone is a major win for the Aggies.  That dude single handedly destroyed our offensive line in last year’s game.  He regularly took out two Aggie linemen on his way to hit Mond before Mond had his feet set.  It was impressive.

Auburn always has a stout front 7 so the 2020 Auburn defense will still be damn good.  They know how to play SEC football.

This game is really a toss up to me at this point.  It’s the last game of the year and could mean a ton.  Depending on how LSU does this could be the game that decides who’s second in the SEC West or even first.  This could be a really big showdown.

I think this is the year Jimbo finally gets over on Gus so I’m going Aggies here.

Record 8-2.

Year 3 is the year Jimbo needs to take the next step.  I believe in Jimbo so I think he will.  He’s got a senior quarterback and a lot of young talent.  If the Aggies do pull off an 8-2 season with this schedule and offensive line that’s a major step in the right direction.  It will really put people on notice to what Jimbo is doing.

While I would love to see the Aggies win the SEC West this season I just don’t think this is the team to do it.  I think this is the team that will knock on the door of doing it.  Let’s get through the 2021 season before we even talk about next season.  Enough next season talk for Aggie fans.  Let’s see what the 2020 Aggies do first as they’re capable of plenty. 

Should be an interesting season for a host of reasons.

Make Aggie Football Great Again!

#MAFGA

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A Look at the 2020 Aggies by Position

I have no idea what to expect from the 2020 Aggie Football season.  Thanks to COVID there’s additional questions beyond the roster and original schedule.  The schedule has changed dramatically along with a major reduction of fans in the stands.  Some players thrive off a stadium’s energy even on the road.  Some players get distracted by it.  Nobody has any real idea what this means so we’ll just have to see how all of this goes. 

I am PUMPED about the 10 game SEC schedule.  This schedule is amazing.  Every game this season is worthy of watching.  If it sticks around after COVID we’ll have one blessing from this pandemic.  Schedule one cupcake and one other Power 5 school for an out of conference game and we’ll finally get our money’s worth as season ticker holders.

I’ll look at the schedule in my next post but for this post I’m just going to pontificate on the various position groups.

Offense:

Kellen Mond:

I’m not even going to call this group Quarterback.  The quarterback is Kellen Mond.  He will start the season and barring a major injury he’ll be the quarterback all season.  Simple as that.

Somehow Kellen Mond has become the most polarizing Aggie player that I can recall.  Maybe it’s the Johnny Football effect where everyone expects a dynamic quarterback under center. Mond is nowhere near dynamic but he doesn’t deserve the anguish he gets.  I can’t figure it out but for some people no matter what Mond does he’s a terrible quarterback.

The reality is he’s an above average college quarterback.  He’s been solid enough in his two seasons under Jimbo.  Go look around college football if you think Kellen is a horrible quarterback.  We’re MUCH better under center than a lot of college programs.  He’s been the best guy available for the Aggies since Jimbo got to town.  If you don’t believe me go find out where Nick Starkel is.  As a hint, he’s moved on from Arkansas because he couldn’t find playing time there.  Mond is the best guy Jimbo has had available.  Starkel wasn’t the guy.  Calzada and King aren’t ready.

The good news is that 2020 will likely be Mond’s last year under center.   I don’t see him coming back despite the new rule the NCAA created where 2020 is a free year of eligibility.  Mond either does well enough in 2020 to try his hand at the next level or he won’t have done well enough to warrant leaving.

If Mond comes back in 2021 I believe he’ll have a hard time fending off Calzada or King because his 2020 was more of the same.  He didn’t progress enough to try his hand at the NFL so not sure why he’d beat out two guys that seem really talented.  I fully trust Jimbo to run a quarterback out there that’s going to help him win football games.  I don’t see that being Mond in 2021 if he’s still around.  Mond will move on.

As for Mond’s play in 2020 I do expect it to be better.    

His legs made the difference in the Aggie’s season last year.  That took a few games for him to figure out.  Once he took off running he changed the dynamic of the offense.  His legs helped immensely in the games we won in the second half of the season.  We probably don’t beat OkSU in the Texas Bowl without Mond’s legs.  Without his legs there’s a good chance we go 6-7 rather than 8-5.  I suspect he’ll be more likely to run all season which is a huge deal for a defense to defend.

From a passing standpoint I think he’ll be better as well.  He’ll have a better group of receivers to throw to which I’ll get to next.  There’s no way he’ll make a Joe Burrow like accuracy jump but I do expect him to be better.  He’ll still be wildly inconsistent at times but any quarterback is better when their group of receivers is better.

As for Mond’s off the field stuff related to the Sully statue I truthfully don’t care.  I think too much of it has been made.  Everyone is bored and wants something to talk about.  A&M is much bigger than a statue.

I personally don’t think the Sully statue should go anywhere but Mond has a right to feel how he wants.  From what I saw he was protesting it peacefully.  Maybe he learned something about leadership through all of it.  I have no idea and I’m not going to judge him because I’ve never had a conversation with him about it.  Getting wound up over what college kids say/post on social media isn’t a good idea.  I think we’d all agree we think MUCH differently than we did in college.  I’m sure as hell glad I didn’t have social media in college. 

Mond does have the ability to be a really outstanding college quarterback.  Physically he can make a lot of throws and he can run.  I believe a lot of his issue have been confidence in addition to not having time or open receivers.  He should have more confidence and open receivers in 2020.

Hopefully 2020 will be the year that Mond shines.  It’s in EVERY Aggie Football fan’s best interest for Mond to have a really solid year.  Mond’s success will do nothing but keep the Aggie program on an upward trajectory. 

This team isn’t ready to win a national title which I’ll get to in a bit.  8 wins with a bowl win will be a pretty good season for the Aggies.  That’s an 8-3 season for an all SEC schedule.  I want more and I think there’s more there but that is the low water mark.  If Mond has a good enough season to get us 8 wins then let’s all tip our hat to him and wish him well at the next level.

If Mond fails, it’s not going to help any facet of the Aggie Football program.  For 11 games this season cheer for the man under center.

Wide Receiver:

Last season I consistently said our wide receiver group was way overrated.  Jhamon Ausbon was our most consistent receiver but he wasn’t dynamic.  Our most dynamic receiver wound up being a true freshman tight end.  Quartney Davis and Kendrick Rogers appeared to have all the tools but they really couldn’t get open for the most part.  I believe the lack of them getting drafted proves they weren’t as good as some people believed.

Enough about those guys.

The 2020 receiving group should be IMMENSELY better.  Ausbon comes back to be the consistent move the chains guy.  Demond Demas while a true freshman should be in the regular lineup just so defenses must defend his physical ability.  I’m hoping he’s a big play threat all season.  We’ve been missing a guy like him since Josh Reynolds left.  Cam Buckley is out for the season which is a loss but I think guys like Caleb Chapman, Kam Brown, Dylan Wright, Chase Lane, Devin Price, and Muhsin Muhammad can pick up his slack.  I’m thinking there’s a couple of guys in there that can cover the loss of Cam Buckley.

The wide receiver unit will definitely be better than last season.  I have no concerns of that.

The best news for the receiving group is the return of Jalen Wydermyer along with a healthy Baylor Cupp.  We saw what Wydermyer did last season and Cupp is supposed to be a more gifted receiver.  Those guys will give Jimbo a lot of flexibility in formations because they’re so versatile.  I think they’ll also help a very suspect offensive line which I’ll get to later.

The person I’m most excited about returning is Ainias Smith.  I know he’s listed as a running back right now but I think you’re going to see him flexed or motioned out of the backfield to get receiving advantages.  Think of what Bill Belichick does with his receiving running backs.  Smith will certainly get handoffs in the backfield but I will be shocked if he’s not targeted in the passing game as much as he’s getting touches in the backfield.

I was really shocked he didn’t get more playing time at receiver last season.  I thought he showed out in the Arkansas game but for some reason Davis and Rogers kept getting playing time when Smith was simply more productive when he played.  Ainias Smith is a football player that can do a lot of things.

Between Wydermyer, Cupp, and Smith you have a lot of flexibility in attacking the shorter and intermediate areas of the field.  That was really missing last season.  They are going to wear out linebackers in coverage.  I believe those three guys can also help someone like Demas get one on one matchups where we can watch him just go get balls.

This receiving group won’t be on par with those from LSU, Bama, and Clemson last season but I do expect it to be MUCH better than the Aggie receiving group last season.

Running Back:

The running back position has really taken a step back in the area of depth.  We basically have two guys in Isiah Spiller and Ainias Smith thanks to injuries and lack of talent.  They were true freshmen last season and had a solid year all things considered.  Behind them there’s lots of question marks. 

I REALLY love the speed of Devon Achane but he’s small.  I think he’s a guy that you’ll see flexed or motioned out as well.  He’s nowhere near an every down back but you’ll see him in sets where they hope to get him the ball in space so he can utilize his speed.  He adds some nice depth and flexibility though.

The rest of the group remains to be seen.  Earnest Crownover comes in from the junior college ranks.  He’s not highly ranked but has size going 6’1” and 220.  Hopefully he can turn into a short yardage back.

We still a need a Bama style all purpose running back but I’m fine with Spiller and Smith taking the snaps.  They both look like legit football players so I think this position group will be better than last season simply because those two guys will be a year older.

Offensive Line:

This is the group that’s bothered me the most in the two seasons Jimbo has been in charge.  I don’t see 2020 being much better and that’s a MAJOR concern.  There’s a REALLY good chance we don’t have an offensive lineman get signed by an NFL team between Erik McCoy and Kenyon Green.  Notice I said signed and not even drafted. 

That means we’ll go at least three seasons without having an Aggie offensive lineman signed by an NFL team.  More than likely it’ll be four seasons as I don’t think Kenyon Green leaves early.

You can’t compete in the SEC with that deficiency.  You just can’t.  The NFL is the ultimate metric of SEC talent.  When you have a position group that has a void for that long without NFL caliber talent you have an issue.  I don’t know how to stress this enough.

You have no idea how much I hope I’m wrong but that’s what I’m seeing.  It’s why I don’t see the Aggies being a true Top 10 program capable of beating anyone in the country this season.  Strong defensive lines will eat our lunch.  See the 2019 losses an example.  Especially the Georgia game.  We could have won that game had the offensive line done anything that game.

Most of the offensive line is back.  That’s usually a good thing for a team.  Not with this group.

The only change is Ryan McCollum will take over for Colton Prater.  McCollum was the 2019 Spring MVP but then barley played all last season.  I know he had injuries but he’d occasionally trot out there so whatever was wrong never seemed to be season ending.  I’m hoping he had some nagging injury that never fully healed and he’s fully healed now.  I believe he can be a better center than Prater which will be an improvement.  If he was really healthy all season and couldn’t beat out Prater then that’s a little alarming.

Dan Moore, Jared Hocker, and Carson Green return for their senior seasons.  I don’t see those guys improving very much from their junior to senior season, but it has happened before.  They were terrible against the elite teams last year.  I mean just got repeatedly destroyed.

We have no depth behind those guys because some of the guys Jimbo brought in his first season have had to retire due to injuries.  We have nobody in the two deep to really compete with those guys.  This is just a decimated unit that missed on a solid 3 years of recruiting.

Kenyon Green should be better with a season under his belt.  He certainly has NFL level talent.  Supposedly he’s been playing left guard some this summer which could help us.  My personal hope is that he can move out to left tackle at some point this season.  At worst he goes to right tackle.  He needs to be playing tackle at some point this season.

We do have some talented youth in Layden Robinson and hopefully Luke Matthews can live up to the family name.  We have some good looking freshmen in Chris Morris, Akinola Ogunbiyi, and Smart Chibuzo coming in.  It’s hard for a true freshman to do well at offensive line in the SEC though.  Kenyon Green struggled at times last season and he has all the talent in the world.

Short of the returning senior starters making a quantum leap I’m hoping Layden Robinson and Chris Morris find their way into the starting group at some point.  I think they’re the most ready from a talent standpoint.  Even if they’re slightly worse than the returning seniors at least they’d be getting valuable experience.

If McCollum can play as good as he did in the 2019 Spring then I think a combination of McCollum, Kenyon Green, Layden Robinson, Chris Morris, and whatever senior works best with those guys might be serviceable.

I hope I’m wrong but this is the weak link of the 2020 Aggie Football team.  I think it’s a pretty major weakness.  You can mask a weak offensive line in any other conference but the SEC. Looking at you, Big 12.  Unfortunately, we play in the SEC West where those weak offensive lines get exposed.

If I find the time I’ll do a write up on why the offensive line is in shambles but the reality is this is still a  “gift” from Kevin Sumlin and Jim Turner.  We should have talented guys entering their redshirt junior and senior year on campus but we don’t.  We simply missed on a good 2-3 years of offensive line recruiting and paying the price.

Defense:

Coaching:

Before I get to the players I have to point out Mike Elko.  This dude has been the unsung hero of Jimbo’s first two years in Aggieland.  He and Jimbo have worked perfectly together.  His one mistake was at LSU last season but I kind of get why he tried it.  He tried a 3 man front thinking he could confuse Burrow with increased coverage and Burrow just torched it.  We were never winning that game but it was interesting to see Elko go away from the strength of the team which was the defensive line.

Outside of that he’s been OUTSTANDING.  Seriously.  I don’t think most fans realize how sound of a defensive coordinator he is.  At some point he’s going to take a head coaching job.  We need to enjoy him in Aggieland.

The other blessing of COVID besides the 10 game SEC schedule is that Elko likely sticks around for 2021.  I don’t see many programs firing their coaches this season for a host of reasons.  I think Elko comes back in 2021.  I’m not sure we see Elko in maroon in 2021 without this COVID mess.

There are some blessings in all of this.

Defensive Line:

This has been the strongest unit on the field in Jimbo’s first two years and I don’t see 2020 being any different.  It’s a fairly young unit but it’s probably Jimbo’s most talented.

There will be a lot of movement as Elko likes moving guys around based on opponent and situations.  You’re going to see DeMarvin Leal, Jayden Peevy, Bobby Brown, and Michael Clemons taking most of the snaps and that’s damn good.  Leal will likely be a high round draft pick and the others can hold their own in the SEC. 

Peevy is coming into his senior year and he’s been solid in his time at A&M.  He’s not an every down tackle as I think Leal will move down on passing downs but Peevy will see lots of snaps and be fine.  I personally think Bobby Brown is a little soft.  He’s a big fella but I don’t think he’s quite playing to his potential.  He goes 6’4”/325 so he’s a big body in the middle which you must have.  I just would like to see him be more dominant because he has the talent.  This will be Clemons fourth year on the A&M campus.  This is his third on the football field as he sat out his first year.  He came in with lots of hope but hasn’t quite delivered.  He finally showed some promise last year at times.  Maybe the third season is the charm.  He’s 6’5”/270 so he’s a big body at defensive end for running downs.

Behind them will be some mix that’s likely adjusted all season.  We have lots of really good depth so it’s just finding the right mix.  Jermiah Martin and Tyree Wilson will back up Leal and Clemons.  Martin had probably his best game all season in the Texas Bowl so hopefully that carries over.  True freshman Donell Harris will likely see some snaps in obvious passing situations.  He’s supposed to be fast off the ball.   That’s something you can’t coach so let’s find out early.

Backing up Brown and Peevy will be Josh Rogers and Derrick Hunter.  We’ve got some talented true freshman coming in at Defensive Tackle as well.  The best incoming freshman is McKinley Jackson who Jimbo got over Alabama.  If he’s as advertised he’ll be in the rotation this year and hopefully starting next season.  In addition to him we have Isiah Rakes and Dallas Walker coming in who are both over 325 pounds.  Jimbo has been recruiting space eaters for the middle of the defensive line.  That’s a good thing.

This is not quite the elite unit it needs to be in the SEC but it’s got enough talent and depth to compete in the SEC.  I don’t really have any issues with this unit as it’ll be the anchor of the defense.

Linebacker:

Buddy Johnson and Anthony Hines return as the starting linebackers.  I can’t type enough good words about Buddy Johnson.  The dude is a football player.  I’m not sure he’ll sniff the NFL but he’s a really solid middle linebacker at the college level.  He plays smart and anticipates plays.  I think we’d be in big trouble if we didn’t have him.  He’ll be a senior and he’ll be the quarterback for the guys up front.

Anthony Hines is long on talent but he’s short on football sense.  He’s often out of position because he can’t read or anticipate plays.  He relies on his athleticism to bail him out which really doesn’t work in the SEC.  He’s not terrible but it’s just frustrating to watch someone with so much talent continually be out of position to make plays.  This is Hines’ fourth year on campus.  I’m hoping the light finally comes on for him and he plays up to his potential.

We’re finally starting to develop some depth at linebacker which we’ve been sorely missing for a few seasons.  Andre White and Aaron Hansford will back up Johnson and Hines.  Andre White was a true freshman and looked good for the times he played.  Aaron Hansford is a senior.  He came in as an offensive player but due to some injuries switched over to defense last year.  He really impressed me in how well he played at times.  I don’t think he’s an every down linebacker but he is a good situational guy.

Antonio Doyle is a true freshman coming in from St. Louis.  I believe he was the top player in the state of Missouri and is already 6’3”/250 so he has SEC LB size.  He’ll likely see some time and hopefully he’s seeing regular snaps by the end of the season.  We also have Chris Russell, Andre White, and Ke’Shun Brown who saw time as true freshman last year.  I don’t think they’ll make a major impact this season but it is nice to know we have some young depth on the roster.

This unit isn’t as good as the defensive line but it’s nice to finally see some talent and depth here.  We’ve been putting a Band-Aid on the linebacker position for what feels like 4-5 years now.

Secondary:

The secondary is a lot like the linebacker unit where we’ve been trying to Band-Aid it since Armani Watts left.

Demani Richardson is the anchor here.  He started last year as a true freshman and he’s really solid.  He’s as good as we’ve seen since Armani Watts.  I have no issues with him being the anchor for this secondary.

Leon O’Neal should be the starter at the other safety position but he’s a head case.  He’s got a load of talent but like Anthony Hines he’s often out of position.  O’Neal has also shied away from contact at times.  To make matters worse he flirted with transferring in the off season.  I have no idea what to make of him.  He seems like somebody that just likes the idea of playing football and the attention.  He doesn’t actually like playing football.  He’s got next level talent but his head last season looked like he was still in junior high.  There are rumors he’s finally taking football seriously so let’s hope that’s the case.  If he wants to see the next level he’s got a long way to develop.

Backing them up will Brian Williams and Keldrick Carper.  Brian Williams played at times last season and looked decent.  He’s not as talented as Richardson or O’Neal but he should improve with experience.  Carper is a 3-year letterman so he’s been around a while.  He’s improved but he’s still not as talented as the starters.  He does add nice depth.  If O’Neal falters I think you’ll see Williams and Carper rotate out at the other safety position.

Antonio Johnson is a true freshman that should be a safety at some point.  He’s got talent.  He shouldn’t make an impact in our secondary this season but it is nice to see Jimbo bringing in talent that can take some time to develop rather than getting thrown to the fire right away.

Corner is a bit of a toss up at this point.  This position used to be worse than our offensive line.  Smart teams would just completely expose this group.  It improved dramatically last season but still has a long way to go.

Elijah Blades and Myles Jones were looking to be the starters to begin the season.  It was always assumed Jaylon Jones would push Myles Jones at some point this season.  Jaylon Jones comes in as a true freshman but he’s really talented. 

That thinking has changed since Elijah Blades decided to sit out the season earlier this week.

Blades has battled injuries since he got to Aggieland so I’m guessing this is why he decided to sit out.  That doesn’t make much sense to me because this is a free season.  I think he’d be better off spending time on the practice field hoping to get healthy and get playing time.  

Either way this takes away some much-needed depth and talent in a position we can’t afford to lose depth or talent. 

Brian George is a talented junior college transfer so I think he’s now in the mix to start right away.  My hope is at some point this season Brian George and Jaylon Jones are our starting corner backs.  Nothing against Myles Jones but he doesn’t have the talent to regularly go against the top receivers in the SEC.

I think the plan all along for this season was to bring Jaylon Jones and Brian George slowly along to get the starting spots.  Blades’ announcement just likely changes the timing of that.

The wildcard in all of this is Erick Young.  Like Richardson and Jaylon Jones, Erick Young is SEC talented.  He’s also really versatile in what he can do defensively.  He’s been slated to basically play the nickel role mainly covering the slot receiver or defending the run.

Erick Young is going to see LOTS of action.  How he’s used is going to change each week and each series I have a feeling.  If Leon O’Neal plays to his talent then I think you’ll see Erick Young at corner back when a third linebacker is in there.  When a fifth defensive back comes in (the nickel formation) then I think you’ll see Young cover the slot receiver and another corner comes in.

To me Leon O’Neal is the difference maker here.  If he plays to his potential then you’re going to have Demani Richardson, Leon O’Neal, Jaylon Jones, and Erick Young getting most of the secondary snaps.  All four of those guys have SEC talent.  It would be nice to have Elijah Blades talent to add to the rotation in the nickel set but such is life.  If those four guys can play to the talent we’ll have the best secondary we’ve had in a good while.

We still need to improve this unit but it’s good to see there’s finally some talent and depth here.  It’s been sorely lacking.

Special Teams:

I honestly don’t now much about our special teams.  We lost Braden Mann and I’m still in mourning.  We obviously won’t be nearly as good at punter but I think we’ll be fine.  This is a unit that won’t win us any games but hopefully they don’t cost us any games.

Smith and Achane are likely our return guys which will be interesting as they have plenty of talent.  I just don’t know if they’re on Christian Kirk’s level.  Not many are.

For special teams here’s what I want to see:

  1. Give me a field goal kicker that’s 80% inside of 50 yards and over 95% inside of 30 yards.
  2. A punter that averages 45 yards in the air and 90% fair catches.
  3. Kick and punt returners that don’t fumble the ball and know when to take the ball at the 25 yard line.

That’s it.  Let the defense and offense win games.  Don’t make it harder on them.

Overall:

I really like this Aggie team except for the offensive line.  That’s obvious.  I wish things under Jimbo were a little further along but I still agree 100% with what Jimbo is doing.  If we hadn’t missed on 2-3 years of offensive line recruiting the outlook for this team would be completely different.  

This would truly be a team that could win the SEC and make the college football this season.  There’s still a chance we get there but there’s just a major hole in a key spot.  This is a young but very promising football team.

In my next post I’ll look at what all of this means from a wins and loss standpoint.  At the end of the day there’s only one metric in sports – Wins and Losses.

You have to win games to Make Aggie Football Great Again.

#MAFGA

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Looking Back at the 2019 Aggies

Despite the difficulty of the Aggies 2019 schedule there was a lot of optimism heading into the season.  There was good reason for it.  The Aggies closed out the season with a 7 OT thriller against LSU and then absolutely demolished NC State in the Gator Bowl.  There was reason to think some level of momentum would carry over to the 2019 season.

In the end, the 2019 Aggies were only one win off from the 2018 Aggies.  The 2019 Aggies wound up 8-5 compared to the 2018 Aggies that finished at 9-4.  That doesn’t seem like much of a difference.  Especially when you factor in the Aggies traded Kentucky for Georgia so that one-win difference kind of makes sense.

Despite the records, the 2018 and 2019 teams don’t even come close to comparing to each other.  While the losses of Kingsley Keke, Daylon Mack, Otara Alaka, and Tyrel Dodson weren’t that significant on the defensive side of the ball the losses of Erik McCoy, Jace Sternberger, and Trayveon Williams proved extremely significant.  Believe it or not Erik McCoy might have been the biggest loss of all.

The 2019 Aggie team took a major step back from a talent standpoint with a more difficult schedule.  Somehow only wound up one win worse.  I think that’s a major testament to the Aggie coaching staff and the effort of the players even if they weren’t as talented.  There’s a lot of previous Aggie teams with different coaches and players that would have wound up at 6-6 if not worse.

The 2019 Aggie football schedule makes it really hard to truly evaluate this Aggie team.  They played against 5 teams that were ranked in the Top 10.  Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU were ranked at some level of the Top 4 all season.  Auburn was no slouch either.

On the flip side the Aggies played against 7 teams that couldn’t crack the Top 50.  Only one of those teams even qualified for a bowl at 6-6.  That was Mississippi State.  They qualified thanks to an Ole Miss player who pretended to be a dog peeing on a fire hydrant on what could have been the game tying touchdown.  The SEC, y’all.  It just means more.  MSU would go on to get soundly beat by Louisville in their bowl game.  That was the Aggies best win during the regular season.

Even the Aggies’ bowl game left one confused how good this team was.  Nobody knows how good Oklahoma State was in 2019.  It was a great hard-fought victory but the Aggies really should have won in a more convincing fashion.

The Aggies were on the brink of getting blown out by Oklahoma State being down 14-0.  They then reeled off 24 unanswered points to win 24-21.  In probably the most equal of matchups all season the Aggies looked like two different teams at times in the span of 4 quarters.  You take the win but this bowl game left confusion on how good this team really was much like the rest of the 2019 Aggie season.

There’s no good gauge to determine where A&M stood between the elites and the dregs of the 2019 college football landscape.

Here’s my thoughts on what I saw for the position groups in 2019 and see for 2020.

Offense:

Offensive Line:

I’m going to start with by far the biggest weakness of the 2019 Aggie football team.  This is also the biggest concern of the Aggie football team going forward.  This line was HORRIBLE pretty much the entire season.  They’d have some moments when they looked like a decent unit but those moments were few and far between.  I never thought a center could mean that much to an offensive line but the loss of Erik McCoy was huge.  I believe the biggest loss between the 2018 and 2019 teams.

This line went from having a second-round pick who would go on to start for one of the best teams in the NFL to a line that won’t have anyone signed to an NFL practice squad in their current state.  Yes, I know Kenyon Green has tremendous upside but 2019 Kenyon Green wouldn’t get signed to an NFL practice squad.  That’s not a knock on Kenyon as he was a true freshman playing in the SEC.  It is a knock on the rest of the offensive linemen on the 2019 roster.  A true freshman was one of the best 5 offensive lineman on the roster.  At times he was the best which makes the state of the 2019 offensive line even worse.

I personally put most of the blame for this on Kevin Sumlin and Jim Turner.  They simply did a HORRIBLE job of recruiting talented offensive linemen.  There have been a few unfortunate injuries to some promising linemen but there should be more talent and depth for this group.

I’m a little worried about Jimbo’s recruiting as we’re really missing some promising tackles on the current roster.  I think the interior of the line will improve over the next two years but to compete at the elite level of college football you need talented tackles.  It might be that Kenyon Green and Chris Morris develop over the next couple of years.  They’ve got a long ways to go and a short time to get there though.  I’d rather not rely on a true sophomore and freshman to man the tackle situation in the SEC West over the coming years but it’s our current situation.

Of the players that have taken a snap as an Aggie offensive lineman there’s only one guy that has any real potential.  That is not a good situation at all.  Let’s hope 5 guys pan out over the next 2 seasons because until that happens this Aggie team is not competing at an elite level no matter who else is starting in the other 17 spots.  If you don’t have an adequate offensive line then you have no chance of competing at an elite level in football.

Running Back:

Jashaun Corbin came into the season as a running back with lots of promise.  He looked good at times filling in for Trayveon Williams in 2018.  That promise wouldn’t prove out at all in 2019.  Corbin got a season ending injury early in the season and then decided to transfer to Florida State after the season.

I said in my write-up after the first game of the season that Corbin really didn’t look that good and Derrick Spiller looked like he had more potential.  I had no idea Corbin wouldn’t ever be a factor for Aggie football.  This sport takes some funny turns.

Derrick Spiller had some serious growing pains along the way as he proved to be a liability with the ball at times.  He certainly got better as the season went on and might have had his best two games against LSU and Oklahoma State.  I don’t think he’s a guy that will ever be talked about as a first or second round pick for the NFL but he does look like he has some potential to be part of a strong running back platoon.

It looks like the Aggies are going to miss out on Zach Evans so Jimbo will need to figure out who he’s going to pair with Spiller next season.  There’s no running backs left thanks to injuries and transfers.  Ainias Smith looked good in the Texas Bowl and Devon Achane looked solid in his state title game even though his team lost.

This unit still needs some depth and size but I do think there’s some pieces that Jimbo can work with as we head into the future.

Wide Receivers:

I think the 2019 Aggie wide receiver unit might be the most overhyped receiving unit in Aggie football history.  Jahmon Ausbon is far and away the best receiver of this group.  The second best receiver is a true freshman tight end in Jaylen Wydermeyer.  The rest of this group really didn’t do anything.  Quartney Davis and Kendrick Rogers just never produced.  Quartney was the more productive of the two but he only amassed 616 receiving yards in 2019.  That’s right at 50 yards a game.  Rogers was even worse getting 351 receiving yards.  Between the two they didn’t even achieve 1,000 receiving yards.  That’s terrible.

You can certainly blame Mond and the offensive line to some degree but the reality those two guys rarely beat their man on their own and never did anything after catching the ball.  Both of those guys will leave A&M having never caught a touchdown pass over 40 yards against a Power 5 opponent.  Outstanding receivers find a way to get open, routinely catch contested balls, and make plays after the catch.  I never saw that out of Davis or Rogers.  I know they’re fine Aggies but I do believe it’s best they moved on so some other receivers can get some snaps.

For whatever reason Ainias Smith never really got significant playing time this season.  Even with limited snaps I thought he showed the most promise behind Ausbon and Wydermeyer of the receivers.  I think that will change going into 2020 based on the Texas Bowl.  He looks like he’s going to be a guy that lines up in multiple positions trying to find matchup advantages for him and the rest of the offense.

Obviously Demond Demas looks to be a guy that should take snaps from Day 1.  Having a guy that can blow the top off coverage or repeatedly win contested balls will do wonders for this offense.  We’ll also get Baylor Kupp back to pair with Wydermeyer which should be a solid boost.

The 2020 Aggie offense won’t turn into the 2019 LSU or Bama offense but I do think it can make some major strides with some fresh blood running routes.

Good luck to Davis and Rogers at the next level but I do think their leaving will be best for everyone.

Quarterback:

Time for what I believe might be the most polarizing Aggie player ever.  Because of that I’m not going to spend a lot of time here.

After two full seasons under center it’s clear in my mind Kellen Mond is who he is.  He’s a wildly inconsistent quarterback that can make beautiful throws at times and then miss wide open guys for no good reason.  He also stays at the same level no matter the opponent.  He doesn’t play up in big games nor does he play down against lesser opponents.  He’s consistently inconsistent against everyone.  It’s kind of remarkable

I have no reason to think Mond makes any significant improvement in 2020 and we’ll see the same Mond we’ve seen the last 2 seasons.  The only slight change we might see is being more apt to run.  Truthfully Kellen’s legs are what made the difference in the 2019 season.  Without his running we might have lost to Arkansas (as painful as that is to say) and Ole Miss.  We certainly lose the bowl game in my mind.  We also probably don’t beat Mississippi State and South Carolina in convincing fashion without Kellen’s running.

The good news about Kellen is he’s shown he’ll beat the teams he should beat over the last two years.  That hopefully sets the Aggies up well based on their 2020 schedule.  Kellen isn’t going to lead this team to the SEC West crown.  If he wins 10 in the regular season and then adds a bowl victory to finish 11-2 I’ll thank him for his service and we’ll move on down the road.

Until that offensive line is fixed it won’t matter who we have under center.  That offensive line isn’t getting a major overhaul in 2020.  Let’s all hope Kellen goes 11-2 so we can get back to what Aggies do best – look forward to the following season where hope springs eternal.

DEFENSE:

Defensive Line:

The strength of this team was far and away the defensive line.  I think it took a slight step back with the loss of Daylon Mack and Kingsley Keke but it wasn’t much.  Justin Madubuike proved he might be the most dominant defensive lineman since Myles Garrett.  I don’t think he’ll be drafted in the second round but he’ll likely go in the third if not fourth round.  He had the best season of any player on the 2019 Aggie team in my mind.  Yes, even better than Braden Mann.

This unit still needs a rush end but there’s some solid pieces moving forward.  I think Bobby Brown might be a tad bit overrated as I think he’s a little too big and soft but he’s certainly serviceable in the middle of the line.  Demarvin Leal probably showed the most promise but he too has a lot of developing to become dominant.

Jimbo has recruited the defensive line really well since arriving in Aggieland and I think we’re going to be fine here.  We’ve still got a long way to go to match what LSU, Bama, Auburn, and Clemson have or have had in recent years but I feel good with where things are right now relative to the rest of this team.  Without this unit over the last two years I shudder to think what the Aggie record looks like.  They’ve been the heart and soul of the past two years.

Linebackers:

I knew it was going to be hard to replace Tyrel Dodson and Otara Alaka.  Luckily the fall off to Buddy Johnson and Anthony Hines wasn’t as bad as the offensive line without Erik McCoy.  I really like Buddy Johnson.  I doubt he winds up on any All SEC teams or spends any time in the NFL but the dude balls out for his ability.  Every team needs a guy like him.

Anthony Hines is the exact opposite.  The dude is dripping with talent but he has yet to develop the instincts to play exceptional linebacker.  He’ll flash at times but he’s often out of position because he doesn’t anticipate the play and his athleticism can’t make up for not being in the right place.  Maybe he takes a major leap in 2020 because he certainly has the athleticism but he needs to become a much smarter player if he wants to play at the next level.

I thought Aaron Hansford develop nicely as the season wore on.  I don’t know that he’s an every down linebacker in the SEC but he certainly provides nice depth and situational role.

I feel linebacker is another area where Jimbo has done a decent job of recruiting.  Some of these young guys need to mature and develop but I feel like Jimbo has the numbers and talent even if they’re young.  Enough guys should shake out where we finally get a serviceable group of linebackers over the next couple of seasons.

Secondary:

This is still a MAJOR area of need.  We had some unfortunate injuries with Elijah Blades and Erick Young so we never really got to see if they could develop into legit SEC talent.  They showed promise at times but mostly they were hurt or still adjusting.

Safety play never developed other than Demani Richardson showing he could turn into something with more experience.  Leon O’Neal certainly didn’t take that leap we all hoped he would.  He reminds me of Anthony Hines.  He’s dripping with talent but until he decides he wants to rely on smarts over athleticism he’ll never take that step as an elite football player.  O’Neal might be a guy that wants to “test” the NFL waters after the 2020 season.  It’s not because he’s ready but more because he feels he’s getting passed on the depth chart.  In a way I hope O’Neal has one more season in Aggieland.  That would mean he either took that leap or Jimbo has found someone better than him because he never developed beyond where his right now.

Due to the injuries to Blades and Young, Mike Elko was forced to trot out the same cornerbacks that got burned in 2018.  I thought they did an outstanding job for much of the season.  They definitely did a much better job for most of 2019 compared to 2018.  However, against superior opponents they just couldn’t hang.  Most of these guys just aren’t talented enough to cover elite receivers.  I’ll give them it’s not from lack of effort as they definitely improved from last season but it’s not enough.

For this Aggie team to compete at an elite level it needs MUCH better cornerbacks.  This is another area that Jimbo has recruited well.  Our issues at corner won’t be totally cured in 2020 but if the guys Jimbo has recruited stay healthy I think there will be some major improvement from a coverage standpoint.

Coaching:

I think Mike Elko has been the unsung hero of Jimbo’s two years in Aggieland.  While everyone has been gnashing their teeth about Kellen Mond or bitching about the secondary getting burned Mike Elko has strung together an outstanding defensive unit all things considered.

While he hasn’t been perfect, much more often than naught his game plan and in game adjustments have been outstanding.  Other than against elite level teams this defensive unit has given the Aggies a chance to win games.  Even against elite level teams in 2019 like Clemson, Auburn, and Georgia I believe the Aggie defense played well enough for the Aggies to win.  The offense just couldn’t muster any kind of momentum.  We certainly don’t beat Oklahoma State without the in-game adjustments Elko made.  The dude can flat out coach.

In a way I’m kind of glad the Aggies went 8-5 this season.  It kept Mike Elko around for another season as I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention to the Aggie defense.  There’s no doubt Elko is going to take a head coaching position at some point.  The longer we have him in Aggieland while Jimbo loads the cupboards with talent the better off we’ll be.  If we can somehow keep him around for 2 more seasons I think we’re going to be in really good shape defensively.  We should at least get one more season barring anything drastic happening between now and the beginning of the season.

 

Quick Look at 2020:

There will be plenty of time to discuss what could or should happen in 2020.  From my standpoint I definitely think the Aggies will be better from a talent standpoint.  They return roughly 18 starters with a lot being really young and talented which means they should only get better.

The schedule is cake compared to 2019.  It really sets up where there’s a solid chance the Aggies could be 10-0 with games against Bama and LSU to close the season.  Colorado won’t be a cake walk but it should be a solid chance at a win.  Ole Miss and Mississippi State will definitely be more competitive but I think the Aggies should still out talent them.  Auburn should be slightly worse and I think Jimbo is in line to finally beat them.  At worst the Aggies should be 9-1 with Bama and LSU left.

I don’t think 2020 is the year the Aggies win the SEC West simply because of the offensive line.  It won’t be good enough to beat both Bama and LSU.  2020 should be the year we take that next step to an elite level team though.  Not to elite level but a strong step there.  Hope springs eternal but I think 2020 will be the season we finally see something different from Aggie football where that eternal hope is actually built on something sustainable.

Make Aggie Football Great Again.

#MAFGA

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It’s the off-season but we’ll post some random things here and there and get back to game re-caps next season.

Thoughts From the LSU Game

Figuring out where to start on the LSU game is a little tough.  We got our asses kicked from the start.  I mean we just got destroyed from the opening drive and were never competitive.  I knew that was possible but hoped it wouldn’t happen.  What Coach O and LSU did was identify the Aggies’ two biggest weaknesses and simply went after them.

Before I get to anything football related I have to say the trip to Tiger Stadium was enjoyable.  This is my second trip to Tiger Stadium having gone in 2013.  I’ve never had any issues.  In fact, I’ve always been welcomed by LSU folks at tailgates.  I suppose it helps during the game when you’re getting your ass kicked.  Fans feel sorry for you so they leave you alone but even leading up to the game LSU fans were nothing but friendly and hospitable.

I think there’s a huge element of weariness for Aggies still left over from the Big 12 where everybody hates everyone.  Especially the Texas schools.  Traveling to away games at Texas venues is for some reason the worst.  There’s more trash talk and lack of friendliness by our own citizens.  The SEC is really like a family.  There’s some competition but at the end of the day we all seems to like each other save a few schools with real rivalries and hatred.  For the most part though I can’t complain one bit about being in the SEC including LSU.  I’m sure LSU has some bad fans but I have yet to experience them.  I hope it stays that way as I really like the folks from Louisiana.

I’ll get to a few things later about the experiences of going to Clemson, Georgia, and LSU this season.  Kyle Field can be a special place but it needs some help.  Visiting other schools really make you realize this.

As for the LSU game I’ve been saying since Jimbo got here that our secondary and offensive line are major issues.  Because of that, I put this beatdown at 50/50 between coaching and talent issues from a responsibility standpoint.  We were probably never winning this game now realizing how bad LSU really wanted it.  Eddie O talked the talk leading up to the game and then absolutely walked the walk.  He told Jimbo he was going to beat his ass and Jimbo either didn’t believe him or had no clue how to fend off the beating.

There was basically one wrinkle from a defensive standpoint that failed miserably.  I’ll get to that later.  Other than that it was the same thing we’ve run out there all season.  The game plan and team attitude was doomed for failure from the start.

The Georgia game might have been a really bad thing for us.  I think Jimbo thought he could use the same game plan against LSU that he did against Georgia and be competitive.  He convinced his team of it.  What Jimbo didn’t realize is that LSU wanted to whip our ass way more than Georgia did.  The Aggies weren’t prepared for a street fight and that’s partially on Jimbo.  It’s also on the leadership of this team or lack of leadership.  We weren’t prepared for a street fight and completely folded when the street fight broke out.  I’ll get to it later but it wasn’t because of the environment in Tiger Stadium.  The events that unfolded on the field had way more of an impact than anything in the stands.  Simply put the Aggie coaching staff and it’s players got their ass whipped by a more talented team that wanted it more.

Let’s get to some specifics of the game:

Offense:

Offensive Line:

I’ll start with one of the two biggest culprits of the game.  I knew this line was a major issue all season but somehow they played decently at times.  They established the run against South Carolina and Mississippi State.  They got destroyed in the running game against Georgia but somehow held up in pass protection against the Bulldogs.  This unit has struggled to pass block all season so what they did in the Georgia game gave me some hope for the LSU game.  Because LSU has struggled against the run this season the optimistic side of me hoped they could establish the run like they did against South Carolina and pass block like they did against Georgia.  It seemed reasonable.

Optimistic me couldn’t have been more wrong.  Our offensive line got DESTROYED.  Thanks to the failure of our secondary we got the ball playing from behind and the LSU defense just pinned their ears back and came after us.  LSU got us into passing situations and proceeded to destroy our offensive line.  They were twisting, stunting, blitzing, and just bringing pressure from everywhere.  Our offensive line had no clue how to handle it and Kellen Mond was left to run for his life.  Kellen had some nice scrambles but it wasn’t enough.

This offensive line needed to stand up to the LSU defense in the first half and didn’t even put up any kind of fight.  They completely got destroyed.  I mean they did nothing in the first half.  We only had three runs in the first half for a total of seven yards.  Kellen Mond was like the frog in Frogger wondering where he was about to get run over and just going to whatever small space he could see.

Spiller started ripping off some nice runs in the second half but it was too little and too late.  We were already down by 34 points when the Aggies scored their first touchdown on a run.

Not much else to say about this group as it was the worst offensive line performance in the Jimbo era.

Erik McCoy was on the sideline watching the game and I could only imagine what he was thinking.  I said hello to him briefly but didn’t ask what he thought since he played with most of those guys.  I really do believe he was the biggest loss from our team last season.  He’s now starting in New Orleans which tells you how good he really is.  Nobody on the 2019 offensive line comes close to where he was last season.  Major loss.

I hope to get some time in the next week or two to do a more in-depth analysis of the offensive line and if there’s any hope for the future.  This really is our biggest issue going forward.  After the game I spoke with the parent of one of our offensive lineman who’s injured right now.  They don’t have any issues with Josh Henson and don’t see a big a difference between Turner and Henson.  I believe the problem is not coaching and completely a talent problem.

Wide Receivers:

How this wide receiving corps got built up so much before and during the season boggles my mind.

Here’s the final tally for yards and scores for this unit in 2019:

Jhamon Ausbon – 862 yards – 4 TDs
Quartney Davis – 568 – 4
Jalen Wydermeyer – 419 – 6
Kendrick Rogers – 351 – 2
Ainias Smith – 235 – 3
Camron Buckley – 121 – 0

I’m sorry but that’s trash other than Ausbon and the true freshmen who had limited playing time to start the season.  Davis and Rogers have been rumored to leave early for the draft.  I hope when their draft evaluation comes back Jimbo alters it so it reads they go in the first round.  If they go we won’t be missing much production and could use their scholarship.

As you saw in the LSU game these guys don’t get separation, don’t anticipate the defender, and don’t go after the ball other than Ausbon.  Davis, Rogers, and Buckley have had two years to develop into quality receivers and they haven’t.  At some point you must realize what you see is who they are.  They have talent but being better than average isn’t who they are.

I get Jimbo’s offense isn’t a wide-open offense but only Jalen Wydermeyer has a touchdown catch over 50 yards in SEC play this season.  Last year it was Sternberger who had the only touchdown catch over 50 yards in SEC play.  In two seasons Ausbon, Davis, Rogers, and Buckley have failed to score a long touchdown catch.  Kellen has certainly missed some deep balls but these guys don’t do much after the catch.  They’re also not running wide open down the field separating themselves from the defenders.  When they do catch the ball they basically get tackled because they’re not running wide open or have no real wiggle to make defenders miss.

Against LSU Kendrick Rogers had a ball hit him in his hands that he dropped and then asked for a flag.  Seriously.  Cam Buckley didn’t even go for a ball that wound up as an interception.  Ausbon will fight for a ball but other than Kendrick Rogers in the end zone these guys just don’t fight for balls.  Every week in college football you see quarterbacks put the ball up in single coverage and their receiver will adjust and fight for the ball.  Not these guys.

This unit doesn’t need the full infusion of talent the offensive line needs.  However, there’s some guys in this group I don’t think will be missed when they’re gone.  Don’t let their flashes of promise fool you.  They’re just not that good.  The season stats bear that out.

Running Back:

The lone “bright” spot for the game.  He only carried three times in the first half but was able to amass 59 yards on 9 carries in the second half.  Sure, the game was well out of reach and LSU didn’t have their ears pinned back but it’s good to see Spiller average a little over 6 yards per carry for some point in the game.

Believe it or not Spiller also lead all the receivers with a 45-yard reception in the second half.  It’s good to know someone can make defenders miss after catching the ball.

On the Aggies lone touchdown drive Spiller touched the ball 5 times accounting for 69 yards and the touchdown.  For one series Spiller was basically a one man show.

He wasn’t without his growing pains but Spiller certainly got better as the season went on.  I’m not sure he’ll be an elite SEC back but he should be a very serviceable back during his time in Aggieland.  There’s your bright spot from the game.  One of our true freshman didn’t appear intimidated by LSU.

Kellen Mond:

Everybody’s “favorite” Aggie player.  The offensive line did Kellen zero favors on Saturday night but Kellen didn’t help himself from a passing standpoint.  He broke off some really nice runs when under pressure but he also did a terrible job of anticipating pressure and getting a quick read to his receivers.

Kellen was moving for his life and he let that affect his performance.  Sure, every quarterback wants time to throw but good quarterbacks anticipate pressure.  The difference between Burrow and Mond on Saturday was night and day.  It wasn’t just because Burrow was throwing to wide open receivers.  Burrow’s sense of pressure on where to scramble and deliver the ball is light years ahead of Mond.

Mond can make a throw as good as anyone in the country.  The problem is everything must be perfect for him to do that.  When he has the time and the read is right he can deliver a perfect ball.  I’ve seen it several times in his two years under Jimbo.  Mond’s problem is he’s inconsistent and he can’t improvise.  That’s the difference between being good and great.

Mond has one more year in an Aggie uniform and he still has room to grow.  2019 Kellen Mond was better than 2018 Kellen Mond with a worse supporting cast.  I don’t how much more 2020 Kellen Mond can develop but it’s certainly possible.  I don’t think he’ll be great but he certainly could prove me wrong.

I’m DEFINITELY not saying Kellen Mond turns into Joe Burrow but nobody say Joe Burrow becoming the passer he was this season.  Burrow was a gritty guy last season but nobody saw a 78% passing percentage coming.  Maybe Mond flips on some switch where the light really comes on.  I doubt it though.

As for a general summary on 2019 Kellen Mond I do firmly believe 2 things:

  • No other quarterback in the country would have won more than 1 more game this season. Johnny Manziel wasn’t beating Clemson, Alabama, or LSU.  He might have beaten Auburn or Georgia but not both.  He might have lost to both teams as well.  Let’s not forget Johnny was 8-4 his second year with a much better team than Kellen had in 2019.
  • Kellen’s legs are the reason we’re 7-5 and not 5-7. Once he decided to run after the Auburn game this offense started to open up a bit.  Without his running ability we potentially lose to Arkansas and Ole Miss and don’t have convincing wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina.

You can keep blaming all the Aggies’ woes on Kellen if it makes you feel better.  The issues with this team go well beyond Kellen Mond.

If it helps you any, the Aggies won’t win the SEC West in 2020 barring some miracle and Kellen Mond is gone after 2020.  Unlike Trump, Kellen won’t have a shot at 4 more years next year.  Hope and change could be just around the corner for you.

Jimbo Fisher:

There’s a large part of me that’s frustrated with how Jimbo handled the Auburn and LSU games this year.  He didn’t anticipate his offensive line being destroyed and had no adjustments.  He just sat there calling the same plays watching his line get manhandled.

I think there’s a large part of Jimbo that realized the limitations on his team.  As you saw all season he didn’t want to get in shoot outs.  His team wasn’t equipped for those types of games.  I get why he called the games he did as he’s trying to build a solid foundation and tried to avoid the LSU type games.  We’re a couple of passes from Hunter Lawrence and Jake Fromm from having Bama/LSU type scores in those games.

Maybe Jimbo just wanted to get through the 2019 season in the least painful way possible.  If that’s the case he did a decent job.  He had a worse team than 2018 and an infinitely harder schedule.  He only lost one more game than last season.  Maybe time of possession was what mattered most to him.

We’ll find out over the next two years if Jimbo’s grand vision for 2019 pays off.  I do know there’s a real chance Fran, Sherman, or Sumlin could have had a 6-6 or 5-7 season with this team.  Jimbo’s play calling never gave us a chance against Top 10 teams but he didn’t lose the games he shouldn’t have either.

There’s a slight something that can be said for that.

As for thinking Jimbo will hire a new offensive coordinator or something forget about it.  Jimbo is the offensive coordinator and he has a plan for his time in Aggieland.  I’d actually rather see him stick to his plan at this point than try and change course.  Assistant coaching carousels rarely work out well other than Nick Saban.

Defense:

Coaching:

Before the game I spoke to several LSU fans that talked about how solid our defense was.  I agreed with them.  Our defense played REALLY well all season.  Save two plays against Auburn and parts of the game against Bama our defense was really damn good all year.

I completely forgot about the possibility Eddie O and his staff would realize our secondary was still pretty weak and he had a Heisman winning quarterback and receivers that are as good as anyone in the country except for Alabama.  Eddie O knew if his team went downfield early and often he could completely hammer the Aggies.  He wasn’t wrong.

To compound matters, Mike Elko thought it would be a good idea to start the game with a 3-3-5 defense.  That was a decision like Cousin Eddie going to kidnap Clark Griswold’s boss.  The intention was good but not well thought out.

We don’t have a strong pass rush so it gave Joe Burrow more time in the pocket to pick apart our secondary.  When our secondary was covering decent (which wasn’t often) it gave Burrow easy lanes to scramble in because we only had three guys bringing pressure.

We did get 3 sacks on Burrow but that wasn’t until they were already up 28-0.  I believe we switched back to our standard 4-man defensive line at that point.  I’d have to watch the tape to verify but things changed after they were up 28-0.

It wasn’t just LSU pulled off the throttle hence why the points slowed down. We were playing better defense.  The 3-man front was a complete failure.

I’m not sure why Elko and Jimbo decided to go with a 3-3-5 defense.  Our defensive linemen are far and away the strongest asset of our defense and have played well all year.  Why the decision was made to remove one of them for the early part of the game is baffling to me.

I’m not saying we win with our standard defense but I think reviewing the game in great detail would show the decision to start with only 3 defensive linemen is the reason we got our ass kicked.

I certainly wanted some wrinkles to try and beat LSU but going away from the strongest part of our team is not what I had in mind.  That was bad coaching.  I can’t put that decision on the players at all.

The Flop:

We’ve all seen the tape of Buddy Johnson falling down.  That was embarrassing.  Jimbo and Elko should be ashamed for that even being an option.  I don’t like flopping in any sport and I especially hate it when my team does it.  When you’re faking contact or an injury looking for some relief you’re already beaten.  You’re saying you’re not strong enough to beat your opponent straight up.

That was a move of desperation.  The defense and staff were at a loss on what to do at that moment.  Whoever decided that was a good idea should run gassers in front of the rest of the team.  I’m not kidding.  I can’t recall any non-NBA or soccer championship teams doing stuff like that.  Great teams don’t fake stuff like that.

It was damn embarrassing and I hope it never happens again.  It’s one thing to get your ass kicked.  It’s another thing to fake an injury while getting your ass kicked.  Take your beating like a man.

The Team:

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the players themselves as you saw what happened.  We were just outclassed from a talent standpoint.  We got hit in the nose and never responded.

Our secondary got burned and our linebackers were non-existent when they weren’t flopping.

Our defensive line looked decent when they got four of them out there playing together.  It was too little and too late.

 

I like this defense for the most part.  There are some serious players up front and some youth in the other places that could be difference makers in the future.  It’s definitely further along than our offense.  You need a defense to win championships.

I thought Mike Elko has done an outstanding job in his time in Aggieland other than his decision to run that 3 man front against LSU.  Everyone is afforded a mistake here and there.  If anything, that three-man front might keep people from trying to poach Elko like last season.

Maybe that was a grand plan by Jimbo.  Give Elko just enough tarnish to keep people from kicking the tires on him in the offseason.  “Yeah Mike.  That three-man front seems like a brilliant idea.  Go ahead and run that.  I’ll let you know when to switch back to the four-man front.”  Jimbo’s out here chessing when everyone else is checkering.

Special Teams:

In his final regular season game Braden Mann punted 7 times with an average of 50.3 yards and a long of 62.  He even converted what I assume was a fake punt running 15 yards for a first down running through a couple of defenders.  I don’t know if it was designed or Braden just decided to do it on his own.  Either way I loved it and glad we had that moment.  Seems like the perfect way for Braden to cap off his Aggie career before the bowl game.

Everybody else?  Don’t really care.  We couldn’t even attempt a field goal our offense was so inept most of the game.  LSU rarely punted so didn’t get any real punt returns.

We’ll miss you, Braden.

Bowl Game:

Based on most predictions it looks like the Aggies have one of two possibilities for the bowl game.

If the SEC gets enough teams in the NY6 games the Aggies will likely head to Tampa to play in the Outback Bowl against Minnesota.  I’m thinking it’ll be Minnesota unless Wisconsin beats Ohio State this weekend throwing some kinks in the Big 10 projections.

The other possibility is going to Houston to play Kansas State or Oklahoma State.  It looks like playing the Longhorns isn’t a possibility.  I don’t think either schools or conferences want that matchup to occur in a lowly bowl like the Texas Bowl.  I’m sure the Texas Bowl, ESPN, and ticket websites would love to see it but I don’t think they have enough influence.

I personally hope we go to Outback and play whatever Big 10 team has the slowest edge rushers.  I don’t see any benefit to playing a Big 12 team in Houston.  There’s a huge perception difference between playing in Houston in late December to playing in Florida on New Year’s Day.

I think we stand a chance against a ranked Big 10 team.  Getting a win in Florida over a ranked team would remove a lot of the sour taste from the last two games.  Getting a win over a non-ranked Big 12 team in Houston is really a big bag of “Meh.”  I don’t even want to talk about losing to K-State again in the Houston Bowl.  I don’t need revenge from that.

Let’s hope it all shakes out this weekend where the Aggies wind up in Tampa.

 

Thoughts on Kyle Field Compared To Others:

Stadiums This Season:

After visiting Clemson, Georgia, and LSU in the same season I honestly believe the difference between big time college environments isn’t that much.  I went to Clemson in 2005 and LSU in 2013 so those weren’t my first trips there.  Some people might believe Tiger Stadium was extremely intimidating this game but it really wasn’t.  What was the most intimidating was the ass kicking occurring on the field.

At all three venues I sat in the lower level near where the Aggies came out.  The beginning of each game was roughly the same as 80,000 to 100,000 people cheered for their team.  Believe it or not it’s not that much louder with 20,000 more people.  The additional people are so far away from the stadium I don’t think their sound makes it down to the field.

The Clemson game started at 2:30 and was really hot.  The game was close so the Clemson fan’s enthusiasm slowed down as the game wore on thanks to the play on the field and the heat.  To start the game it was lively though.  During the game it cranked up when needed.

The Georgia game started at 2:30 and was pouring down rain.  It was a really close game the entire time so the Georgia enthusiasm also waned due to the game and elements.  Just like Clemson, at key moments the stadium cranked up and was loud to start.

The LSU game had the perfect storm for a college game with a 6:00 pm start, perfect weather, revenge game, and then an ass kicking broke out.  Even then, other than the noise lasting the entire game it wasn’t more intimidating to start the game.  Had the Aggie team punched back the LSU fans would have settled down at times just like at Clemson and Georgia.  LSU fans had the ability to keep the party going the entire game and I don’t blame them.  I would have done the same if I was at Kyle and we were dropping an ass kicking on a major SEC opponent.

My girlfriend attended these stadiums for the first time this season.  I asked her after the LSU game if she felt Tiger Stadium was any more intimidating than Clemson and Georgia.  She said even with the elements being worse at Clemson and Georgia that Tiger Stadium wasn’t any more intimidating and they’re all kind of one in the same.  They’re all big-time college football stadiums.  They’re impressive but not any one is more unique than another.  Don’t let the talking heads tell you otherwise.

While fans can certainly have a slight impact on the game the product on the field matters way more than anything else.  If you want further proof think back to the 2014 Ole Miss game at Kyle Field.  110,000 people at 8:00 in the evening flat out roaring to start the game.  The Aggie offense sputtered while the Ole Miss offense put up quick points and the roar was gone never to be heard from again.  The largest crowd ever at the corner of Wellborn and Joe Routt with perfect conditions was completely wasted thanks to the product on the field.

When it comes to having an intimidating venue one thing matters way more than anything else – Just win, baby.

Improvements to Kyle Field:

Even with what I just said I do think there’s some things that can be done to Kyle Field to make it a more intimidating environment.  The thing that stands out the most at any of these stadiums is the entire stadium yelling in unison.  It hit me this year that’s gone at Kyle Field.  There’s so much going on at Kyle Field the sound is just a dull roar more than anything.

At any given time you’ve got the DJ going, the band playing through cranked up speakers, commercials on the big screen, getting loud on key third downs, and people on their phones.  It can get loud at times but I wouldn’t call it intimidating.  It’s just a lot of random noise over a wide range of decibels.  Other than the War Hymn there’s nothing really in unison for the entire stadium to make noise together.  The War Hymn is a cool visual once the swaying starts but I don’t think it’s really that intimidating when it’s all you got.

I’d start with working the yell portion of the Spirit of Aggieland back into the start of the game.  I know R.C. went away from it because the players felt it was too slow at the start.  I get that but I don’t think Kyle has been any more intimidating than when the team lined up all the way across the field and yelled along with 80,000+ fans to T-E-X-A-S  A-G-G-I-E  Fight! Fight! Fight-Fight-Fight!…you get the idea.  I remember many times when the opposing team had no idea what was going on and started walking out to mid-field thinking a fight was about to break out.  There were some Texas games where fights did break out.  I’m totally okay with that.  Let teams know there’s 100,000 fans ready to work in unison against them.

I’m fine with the current team entrance of the drums and Kanye song.  Instead of the War Hymn after that’s done we should give the Spirit of Aggieland a try as the team is running on the field.  Let the players that want to line up for the yell portion line up.  The lyric portion of the Spirit is slower than the War Hymn but the yell portion is a hell of a lot more intimidating than swaying and singing in the stands.  At least in my mind.  We should give it a chance at least to see how it works with at new Kyle and the new entrance.

Maybe it winds up being like the New Zealand All Blacks Haka dance before their rugby matches.  That’s one of the most intimidating starts by a team in sports.

As for the Yells, I know they show the Yell Leaders on the big screen at times but I don’t think the former student sections really think the Yells are for them anymore.  Only the student two decks on the West side really do yells it seems and it’s not that intimidating.  You need the whole stadium in unison to be intimidating.

I know Slovacek means “I Love You” in sausage and if I want a quality electrician then someone from the local IBEW is the person for me thanks to the commercials.  Memorial Herman tries to keep me healthy with fun quizzes but I rarely pay attention.  My cholesterol is still a mess.  HEB sponsoring the tailgater of the game ain’t intimidating anybody.  I know the money to get those messages across helps the athletic department financially but it doesn’t do anything for the environment at Kyle.  I think making a more intimidating environment should be more important.  Winning football games should be more important than a few bucks here and there.

I know we live in a new era where distractions have everyone’s attention.  They days of just Yells and the Aggie Band unamplified at Kyle Field are gone.  I know that.  I’m not opposed to some commercials and the DJ to get everyone going.

I do think Kyle has lost some of what used to make it unique which is having everyone in the stadium working together to create sound in unison.  It hit me at Clemson, Georgia, and LSU there’s nothing more impressive than 80,000 to 100,000 people yelling sounds in unison.  No, I’m not talking about yelling “First Down!” after the stadium announcer tells us, “And that’s another Fightin’ Texas Aggie…”

I’m not totally sure of the answer but I know we need more than randomly timed yells for the students and the War Hymn for everyone twice a game.  Kyle Field is better than that.  Someone with some real stroke needs to figure out a way to get every Aggie fan inside Kyle to yelling the same thing at the same time more often.   I don’t think there’s anything more impressive and intimidating than knowing 100,000 people are paying attention to the same thing and they’re not cheering for you.

That’s enough for now I think.

Jimbo needs to win more but the athletic department should look at making some changes to enhance the intimidation factor of Kyle Field so everyone can help Make Aggie Football Great Again.  It will take all of us.

Especially until our offense line improves…

#MAFGA

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Can the Aggies Beat LSU?

Athens/Georgia Game:

Before I get to anything on the LSU game I have to touch on Athens, Georgia.  Athens is far and away the best college town I’ve been to.  The combination of their Downtown and campus is the best I’ve seen.  Lots of schools have a downtown or entertainment district across the street from their school but the size and variety of Downtown Athens isn’t like anything I’ve been to.  Downtown Athens has plenty of bars and places to eat along with some nice hotels to stay in.  If you ever get the chance to take in a college football weekend in Athens I highly recommend it.

Sanford Stadium didn’t stand out to me in any way but it’s a great college football venue.  That’s not a knock on Sanford but I don’t see it being much different than Bryant-Denney, Jordan-Hare, or Tiger Stadium.  All great stadiums but nothing truly amazing.  A lot of the stadiums in the SEC kind of blend together.  As for amenities we don’t realize how good we have it with new Kyle.  Kyle may not have the best atmosphere in college football but as far as amenities I think it’s up there.  It’s probably the best.  $250 million well spent.

As for the Georgia game itself the refs certainly didn’t help the Aggies at key moments but let’s be clear – The Aggies just didn’t do enough in the first half to win the game.  We couldn’t establish the run and even the great Braden Mann didn’t help with field position.  We do more offensively in the first half and those lack of calls might not have mattered.  You can blame the refs all you want but I’m blaming the Aggie offense for playing from behind all game.

I thought the defense played outstanding all game long.  They DEFINITELY played well enough to win.  Jake Fromm missed a few big passes that could have swung momentum in Georgia’s favor but he didn’t make them.  The Aggie defense went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the country for four quarters.  If the offense scores more points in the first half the Aggies walk out of Sanford with a win.

I thought Deondre Swift was the difference in the game.  His ability to get outside and to the next level was crucial in keeping the chains moving for Georgia.  Right when it looked like the Aggies could swing some momentum their way Swift would have a run that moved the chains for another set of downs.  The Aggies certainly don’t have anyone near his ability in the backfield.  He’s a special talent.

In the end Jimbo didn’t abandon the run soon enough and his preferred style of play didn’t work.  I put this loss on Jimbo.  He got fooled into thinking he could have some semblance of a running game like he did against Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and South Carolina.  His defense was playing good enough where he could keep trying to get a running game going.  Isiah Spiller carried 11 times for 7 yards.  That’s .6 yards per carry.

By the time Jimbo abandoned the run and went to the air it was too little and too late.  It was very reminiscent of the Clemson game where he mis-judged the ability of his offense against it’s opponent.  Hopefully Jimbo learned a lesson in Athens for the LSU game.

Can the Aggies Beat LSU?

While LSU seems like an unbeatable team let me give you some interesting nuggets on their season so far:

  • They played Texas within 7 points winning 45-38. It was in Austin but it’s also the same Texas team that needs to beat 4-7 Texas Tech to have a winning record.  Texas ain’t back.
  • Vanderbilt scored 38 points on LSU. LSU scored 66 so it was never close but giving up 38 to Vandy is bad.  That 38 points ties the highest point total for Vandy all season.  The other team Vandy scored 38 on?  East Tennessee State.
  • Florida lead by Kyle Trask at quarterback had LSU tied at half 21-21 and then Florida took a 28-21 lead early in the second half. This was in Death Valley.  LSU roared back to score 21 unanswered points.  LSU would win 42-28 but the Florida offense is no juggernaut and they put up 28 points on LSU early in the game.
  • Auburn played LSU to 23-20 in Death Valley. I think Auburn is a slightly better team than A&M but Auburn gave LSU a game in Death Valley.
  • They had a 20-point lead on Bama at half and wound up winning 46-41. It was in Tuscaloosa but LSU let Bama back in the game.
  • Against Ole Miss LSU gave up 402 rushing yards. The majority of that was by the Ole Miss quarterback in the second half when the game was well in hand but that’s not a good look by the LSU defense.

With all those facts above let me be clear – LSU is a damn good football team.  They’re certainly an elite team this season.  I’m just saying they’re not invincible.  I put the Aggies chances of winning at 25% but it’s not an impossible task as LSU has shown some holes this season.

For the Aggies to win it’ll come down to Jimbo Fisher.  If Jimbo stubbornly rolls out the same game plan he’s used the entire time he’s been in Aggieland the Aggies will lose.  If Jimbo rolls the dice and takes shots early I do believe the Aggies can win.  That means the Aggies must score the first touchdown and keep up the pace.  If the Aggies don’t score the first touchdown it’ll be a monumental task to come back.  LSU will likely bury the Aggies in Death Valley if the Aggies don’t take an early lead.  The Aggie offense must come alive early in the game and that’s on Jimbo.  It’s the 12th game of the season and he must know what his team is capable of.  Jimbo must give his players a chance to make he plays.

I know a lot of people don’t like Kellen Mond.  He’s far from perfect but he’s simply following Jimbo’s orders.  The slow pace of snapping the ball is a direct order from Jimbo.  If it’s not Kellen should have already been replaced.  The false starts and delay of games are on Jimbo as much as the players.  Jimbo is trying to slow down the game and it hasn’t worked against teams with more talent.  That has to change against LSU.  We have to see an Aggie offense we haven’t seen in the Jimbo era in Aggieland.

My greatest fear is Jimbo seeing other teams run on LSU.  He’ll spend a good portion of the first half trying to establish the run while LSU is putting points on the board.  It’s what we saw against Clemson, Auburn, and Georgia.  By the time the offense started moving the ball it was too little and too late for the Aggies to come back and win.

Jimbo has been enamored with winning time of possession since he got to Aggieland.  It’s a sound strategy with the defense he has but against LSU time of possession won’t matter.  You must score points to beat this LSU team.  Jimbo must have this offense ready to score from the first snap.  No mindset of making methodical drives.  Taking shots to score must be the mindset.

Defensively I think we’re strong enough to slow LSU down.  Burrow is probably the best quarterback in college football so they’re going to get points through the air but I do think our defense can make the LSU offense work for points.  Our defense has played well all season and has gotten better as the season has worn on.  Defense won’t be the issue against LSU assuming you go in knowing LSU is going to score at least 24 points.

Here’s what I think is going to happen:

LSU will get the opening kick and will drive down to kick a field goal.  The Aggies will get the ball and run for a first down on the first two carries.  Jimbo will stick to establishing the run and it’ll eventually stall out where the Aggies will punt.  LSU will score on a big play to go up 10-0.  The Aggies will get the ball back and try to establish the run once again.  The Aggies will fail to drive the ball very far and punt.  LSU will get the ball back and drive down to kick a field goal to go up 13-0.

At that point Jimbo will finally start passing and the Aggies start moving the ball.  For the rest of the game the Aggies and Tigers will trade some combination of points.  The Aggies will cover the spread but will never have a real chance of beating LSU.  It’ll be the same thing we’ve seen all season with the Aggies against the elite teams.  They won’t be embarrassed but they won’t have a real plan to win the game either.

 

I really like Jimbo.  I get what he’s doing as a coach.  He’s building a program to elite status.  His offensive line is junk and his secondary is questionable.  He’s winning the games he should win and recruiting to fix the issues.  He got handed a terrible schedule in his second year and next year we could likely jump to a 10-win team as the schedule changes dramatically.  I understand his long-term goal and agree with it.  He’s building a culture and style of team.

However, for one game I want him to channel his inner Gus Malzahn and roll the dice on a strategy nobody sees coming.  Run some plays that could catch LSU off guard even if those plays could blow up in your face.

LSU is the better team.  That much is clear.  We’ve seen this movie already with Clemson, Bama, and Georgia.

Do what Auburn did to us.  Find some potential weaknesses on the LSU defense and run some plays they never saw coming.  Take a damn chance on winning this game.  It’s entirely possible.

In the end I think Same Ol’ Jimbo makes the game plan and the Aggies never have a chance to win.  Just once I want to see River Boat Jimbo give it a shot even if it means we get our ass kicked.  I’m tired of moral victories.  I want the upset.

#MAFGA

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What’s Left for the Aggies in 2019?

Quick Bama Thoughts:

Before you get your hopes up for beating Alabama at Kyle Field on Saturday you need to realize this isn’t 2012.  We’re not walking into an Alabama game with an offensive line where all five guys will start in the NFL and four will be drafted in the first round.  We also don’t have Johnny Football although I’m sure he’ll be around somewhere.  Oh, and that Mike Evans guy.  Or Spencer Nealy.  Or Ryan Swope.  Should I go on?

If Jimbo and Elko run out the same schemes they’ve been running for the last 18 games there is a ZERO chance we win this game.  I suppose there’s a marginal chance if Nick Saban, his staff, and players have been in Mexico for the last two weeks and did zero preparation for this game.  Our weaknesses are very evident and we’re just not that talented.  Even a marginal effort by Bama will beat this Aggie team if it’s same scheme.

I don’t see Jimbo doing anything drastic scheme wise in this game.  I go back to this year’s Houston Coach’s Night when he said he must trust his process more than wins and losses.  You might see some wrinkles in this game but it won’t be enough.  Maybe Jimbo will implement a totally different scheme on offense and defense but I just don’t see it happening.

From a personnel standpoint we won’t be much different than we’ve been all season.  Roney Elam appears to still be out which has proven to be a major blow to our defense.  He was our best secondary player in stopping the run and defending passes.  I don’t know what’s going on with Ryan McCollum but until he starts snapping the ball the outlook for this offensive line doesn’t change.  We will continue to get destroyed on the offensive line of scrimmage.

We’ve seen some glimmer of hope in the passing game with the emergence of Ainias Smith but I don’t think it will be enough.  Our most talented running back can’t hold onto the ball.  Jacob Kibodi had nice runs against Arkansas in the second half but they weren’t dominant by any stretch.  The Bama defense ain’t the Arkansas defense.

Defensively Leon O’Neal and Anthony Hines appear to be better athletes than they are football players.  We’re solid up the middle on the defensive line but we have no real speed on the edge to seal or bring a legitimate pass rush.  Our cornerback situation is still questionable.  The Bama passing game isn’t questionable so they’re probably going to light us up.

I’d love nothing more than to have a repeat of 2012 at Kyle Field.  In fact, I’d trade beating Bama and going 6-6 to losing to Bama and going 7-5.  That would mean going 1-2 against Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and South Carolina.  I expect to go 3-0 against those teams but I’d trade going 1-2 if it meant beating Bama at Kyle Field.

Without a doubt I’d take beating Bama over Georgia and LSU at this point in the season.  Beating Bama at Kyle Field would make a major statement.

It’s not going to happen though.  We just don’t have the talent and Jimbo isn’t going to roll the dice.

So What’s Left for the 2019 Aggies?:

I think the most realistic outlook for the Aggies this season is to go 7-5 beating everyone but Bama, Georgia, and LSU.  Even that won’t be easy as Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and South Carolina aren’t push overs.  If we pull off those wins and win our bowl game that will be a solid season.  It’ll be disappointing compared to pre-season expectations but turns out this team isn’t nearly as talented as everyone thought/hoped.  If Jimbo can get to 8 wins and close out a Top 10 recruiting class we’ll be in pretty good shape.

The talk of winning a championship in 2020 should be dead.  There’s no chance of that.

If you can’t stand Kellen Mond it shouldn’t matter anymore.  Kellen will be gone after 2020 and he won’t be the reason we didn’t win more.  There will be a game or two when he could have done more but in the grand scheme it won’t matter.  Keep focusing on Kellen if it helps you cope but the issues on this team are much bigger than Kellen Mond.

The offensive line is our biggest issue right now.  We have no talent with our upperclassmen and there’s no depth.  We need a major injection of talented youth and then we need that talent to season with experience.  Kenyon Green is the only person that fits that bill right now.  There’s 4 more spots to fill.

You can blame Jim Turner’s leaving all you want.  However, Jim Turner was here for 3 years prior to this season.  Jim Turner didn’t recruit or develop any talent in those three years other than Erik McCoy.  I don’t know if Josh Henson is the answer but this offensive line is devoid of talent and technique and Jim Turner has to take the blame for some of it.  This offensive line has been questionable since Turner got here and really hasn’t improved.  That must change for this team to have a chance at winning big and that only happens through recruiting and development.  That could take 2-3 years.

Defensively we’re in better shape from a talent standpoint but there’s still a lot of development that must happen.  We’re still looking for shut down corners along with safeties and linebackers that don’t continually get out of position while not being afraid to tackle.  We also need defensive ends with speed to seal the edges on runs and bring pressure on passes.

I’m not trying to get anyone down.  I’m just trying to be the bearer of realistic expectations.  The 2019 Aggie Football team isn’t nearly as talented as 2018.  2020 won’t be the year we make the big leap.  2021 absolutely could be the year we take a leap if Jimbo can keep recruiting like he has been since he got here.

We need to be competitive in every game and let Jimbo sell the development story to recruits.  What we don’t need is the wheels coming off where we’re losing to teams we shouldn’t be.  That development story gets harder to sell.

Right or wrong Jimbo has his process and he’s going to stick to it.  We won’t see the results as fast as we’d hoped but it doesn’t mean they won’t come in due time.

This weekend’s game will have very little outcome on if that happens more than likely.

I hope I’m wrong and Jimbo proves me the fool for the rest of 2019.  I just don’t see the 2019 games against Bama, Georgia, and LSU as providing that boost we were hoping they might have.  At some point those games will absolutely matter but I don’t think we’ll see it this season.

Turns out it’s going to be a longer road to Make Aggie Football Great Again than I originally imagined coming into this season.

#MAFGA

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Thoughts From The Auburn Game

That Auburn loss on Saturday was not at the hand of any single Aggie player.  Some players aren’t without fault but that loss on Saturday was at the hands of Jimbo Fisher and his staff.  Auburn marched into Kyle Field and punched the Aggies in the nose starting on the first possession and continued the whole game.  While Gus Malzahn can be a little schizophrenic as a head coach he flat out owned Jimbo on Saturday.

Gus and his staff perfectly diagnosed every A&M weakness from last season and especially this season creating a perfect plan of attack.  Jimbo and Mike Elko made no real adjustments and continued to run their standard offense and defense through the whole game.  Jimbo and Elko foolishly believed their normal plan of attack could overcome the point deficit throughout the game.  They were wrong.  Texas A&M truly never stood a chance in that game because Auburn diagnosed and schemed to attack the entire Aggie team before the game even started.

Jimbo and Elko made some slight adjustments but they seemed shocked for the most part by what Auburn was doing.  It’s like they refused to admit to what was happening on the field and kept their original plan of attack in hopes it might work.  They had no Plan B.  It was stick to the same method they’ve used for the last 16 games.  Their plan never stood a chance.  Gus and his staff watched the first three games of the season and knew exactly where to attack.  Gus attacked those weaknesses and Jimbo never shifted gears.

This was basically Clemson 2.0 but worse.  Auburn is a solid team but they’re not as good as Clemson.  To make it worse Auburn walked into Kyle Field and controlled the game from the first possession.  This was a VERY winnable game for A&M but one coaching staff owned the other.  It sure wasn’t the A&M coaching staff as Gus Malzahn walked into Kyle Field and pulled Jimbo’s pants down.

So What’s the Issue With This Team?:

Coming into this season I didn’t think we’d experience a similar situation to the 2012 and 2013 season where one team was dramatically different than the previous year’s team.  I was wrong.  I remember watching the 2013 Alabama game with Bama marching up and down the field against our defense.  My seatmate asked if we were that much worse on defense.  At that moment it hit me.  From that 2012 defense we lost Damontre Moore, Spencer Nealy, Sean Porter, and Jonathan Stewart.  Those guys were huge leaders and performers for the 2012 defense.  We also lost Dustin Harris and Steven Terrell who turned out to be bigger contributors than we realized.  That 2013 defense was much different than the 2012 defense.  Hence the reason we went from 10-2 to 8-4 with basically the same offense.

It hit me during the Auburn game the 2019 offense has suffered a similar fate.  This offense is completely different without Erik McCoy, Trayveon Williams, and Jace Sternberger.  Those three guys really are the difference in what you’re seeing on the field.  In two games against Power 5 opponents we haven’t scored a touchdown in the first three quarters.  We’ve scored 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter when the game was over.  That’s the only time we’ve scored touchdowns this season against quality opponents.  This offense has been completely inept in the first three quarters of the Clemson and Auburn game.

I never thought those three guys would that much to this team but it’s clear to me it’s a bigger issue than I ever imagined coming into this season.  McCoy anchored the offensive line and is now starting in New Orleans.  Trayveon set the single season rushing record and got drafted by the Bengals.  Jace outpaced every receiver on the team by a large margin and got drafted by the Packers.

Jimbo is still running the same exact offense but the production isn’t anywhere near what we saw last season.  Those three guys completely made the offense go last season and now they’re gone.  Except for Jhamon Ausbon there’s not one player on offense that comes close to matching the contributions those three made last season as individuals.  Put all three together and it’s a MAJOR loss when it comes to the productivity of this offense.

I don’t think we beat Clemson with those guys but I do think we could have beaten Auburn with them.  It sure as hell would have been a lot more competitive for both of those games.

I was wrong about replacing those guys.  They’re the difference between last season and this season so far.  Those three guys are the difference in what you’re seeing on the field.

Let’s get to the game itself:

Offense:

Kellen Mond:

As usual if you think Kellen Mond lost that game then I can’t help you as a fan.  You’re like the person that blames the President for everything you think is wrong with anything.  The overall issues you’re seeing go way beyond one position and player.

Before I say anything else I believe quarterback is the best offensive unit we have right now.  I’ll cover the other units next but if you truly look at the contributions of the offensive line, running backs, receivers, and quarterback I truly believe quarterback is the strongest performer of those units.  Jhamon Ausbon is the only offensive player I think you could potentially argue provides as much production as Mond right now.  You can certainly argue that’s like having the best grade in remedial math but my point is the offensive issues go way beyond Kellen Mond.  Kellen is seriously one of the strongest pieces of our offensive puzzle right now.  To think otherwise is foolish in my mind.

Kellen Mond could certainly improve as a quarterback but he had a fine enough day on Saturday.  He was 31 of 49 for 335 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.  I get statistics don’t tell the whole story but when you complete 63% of your passes for over 300 yards and no interceptions that’s not a terrible day.  It’s not even close to a terrible day.

I’m beginning to think Jimbo is part of the issues when it comes to Kellen.  I think it’s Jimbo that’s not lighting any urgency under Kellen.  Kellen took the same approach down against Auburn as he did against Clemson.  If Jimbo was pissed about the pace and not pressing the defense between snaps I would think that would have been corrected down against Auburn.  As it was Kellen keeps doing the same thing between snaps.  I could be wrong but I’m beginning to think Kellen is just following orders.  I believe Kellen is letting the play clock click down because that’s what Jimbo wants.  If not, Jimbo needs to jump his ass and it’s on Jimbo to fix that.

Kellen could do a better job of knowing when to run and pass but I go back to believing that’s influence by Jimbo.  Kellen seems reluctant to run when there’s space.  He also has no interest in attacking deep when the defense jumps offsides and there’s a free play.  We have no deep plays.  We never take shots deep down the field so maybe that’s why Kellen doesn’t try and go deep on free plays.  He’s running the same methodical offense Jimbo wants him to run looking for a high percentage pass and not take any chances.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you Kellen can take over and win games.  That’s not Mond but Mond can only do so much as his supporting cast will allow.  His supporting cast is pretty damn bad right now.  Couple that with what appears to be Jimbo’s preferred method of running his offense and I don’t think Kellen is nearly as bad as the perception is.

Maybe Mond is not the kind of quarterback to win a national title.  With all the issues we have on offense it really doesn’t matter.  Johnny Manziel couldn’t win a national title or even the SEC West with the pieces on this team right not.  I’m pretty sure this team is still 2-2 with Johnny under center.

Gnash your teeth all you want over Kellen Mond.  Kellen Mond could certainly do things differently but Saturday was a glaring example for how the ineptitude of this offense goes well beyond the performance of Kellen Mond.

Offensive Line:

This offensive line is hot garbage.  I don’t know what else to say.  They’re terrible.  Signs of them not being very good have been there from the start.  We couldn’t establish the line of scrimmage against Texas State and we’re getting destroyed by formidable opponents.  In that Texas State game it took the offense three tries to score on a run from the 1 yard line.  I was hoping that was anomaly but we now know it’s a reality.

This offensive line just can’t get any push.  Not against Texas State or anyone else.  On Saturday our running backs carried the ball 12 times for a net of 30 yards.  That’s 2.5 yards per carry.  That’s not great by any stretch.  If you dig deeper you realize 35 yards came on two carries.  Kibodi had a 22 yard carry on a 3rd and 30 where the defense was playing back and then Spiller’s 13 yard carry where he fumbled on the first play of the second half.

That’s right.  We basically had two carries that accounted for all our yards by our running backs.  Take away those two carries and our running backs carried 10 times for a net of NEGATIVE 5 yards.  TEN CARRIES FOR NEGATIVE FIVE YARDS!!!!!  That is hot garbage.  I don’t know any other way to describe that.  Anytime you rush for negative net yards on 10 of 12 carries you got destroyed at the line of scrimmage.

From a pass protection standpoint Mond was sacked three times and officially hurried 7 other times.  You can say Mond holds on to the ball too long but if you watched that game you know Mond didn’t have time to throw for most of the game.

Auburn has one of the best defensive lines in the country but our offensive line didn’t put up any kind of fight all day.  They just got destroyed all damn day.  If you can’t establish the line of scrimmage you’re going to struggle to win games.  This offensive line can’t even put up a fight at the line of scrimmage.  They just get whipped.

What’s even worse is the mental errors.  It’s one thing to get beat physically but this crew routinely false starts.  We know about the false starts in Clemson but this unit had two false starts AT HOME against Auburn.  The worst was the false start by Dan Moore on 3rd and goal at the 1 in the fourth quarter.  We were down by 18 and really needed a touchdown.  We probably weren’t going to score on a run from the one-yard line but the offensive line doesn’t need to false start changing the dynamic of the play calling.  3rd and goal at the one at least gives us a chance at a nice play action or deception.  3rd and goal from the 6 gives the defense a serious advantage as they can pull back and play zone clogging up throwing lanes.  If you can’t help yourself then damn sure don’t hurt yourself.

This offensive line isn’t good enough to have ANY mental errors.  Especially at the goal line.

How this gets fixed I have no idea.  It’s really a talent issue more than anything else.  Where Mike Sherman left Sumlin an offensive line of 1st round draft picks Sumlin didn’t leave Jimbo anyone that could even make the third team All SEC team.

I’ve expressed my concerns with Dan Moore and really think its time to move Kenyon Green out to left tackle.  We haven’t seen the backups get meaningful snaps this season but I think its time to get guys like Luke Matthews and Tank Jenkins some meaningful playing time.  Anybody else that has potential to be a starting offensive lineman should see playing time as well.  We’re now staring down a 7-5 season so we might as well take some chances on getting key players some playing time for the future.

This is far and away the worst unit on the offense right now.  Talent is really the only way to fix it.  Until this offensive line becomes more talented this whole offense is hosed.

Wide Receivers:

Other than Jhamon Ausbon this whole receiving corps isn’t much better than the offensive line.  Ausbon has played with amazing heart this whole season.  I can’t question that guy at all.

The rest of his group drops way too many balls they should catch and don’t get separation from the defender.  Quartney Davis is probably the next best receiver but he’s inconsistent dropping balls and even getting open at times.  Kendrick Rogers is behind him and he’s wildly inconsistent.  I’ve been saying since last season that Rogers is only good if he’s not moving downfield and just looking back for the ball.  He’s not good at running routes or catching the ball while running.  That’s a bad combination for a receiver.

Ainias Smith shows some promise but he’s only recently got minimal playing time.  I’m totally fine if Smith starts taking playing time away from anyone not named Ausbon.

This unit still doesn’t have a touchdown catch over 40 yards against quality opponents.  I know a lot of that is the design of Jimbo’s offense but there is no deep threat in this group.  None at all.  Defenses know this so they rarely play back deep.  They just basically must defend a box 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.  The opposing secondary doesn’t have to worry about defending anyone behind them.

Caleb Chapman has been talked about having that deep ball potential but he’s rarely seen the field.  He was targeted once against Auburn and didn’t even know to look for the football.  He’s got a LONG ways to go if he’s going to be that deep threat.

My favorite moments from the game for this group was both Quartney Davis and Kendrick Rogers staring down the defender after a catch when they had dropped the ball their previous target.  I know it’s a bit tacky on my behalf but if you’re out there regularly dropping passes you shouldn’t be staring anyone down when you do catch one.  Just catch the damn ball and go back to the huddle.

Until this unit not named Ausbon stops dropping balls they should catch and gets yards after the catch I’m going to have serious questions.  I get Mond had a bad day against Clemson but I really thought Mond threw plenty of catchable balls on Saturday against Auburn.  This unit simply must become more productive if the Aggie offense has any hope.

Running Back:

I’m not sure why Kibodi got the start but I don’t think he’s anywhere close to having the ability of Isiah Spiller.  For whatever reason he appeared to have pulled up on a potential touchdown pass when he was open on a wheel route.  Maybe he just didn’t have the speed to get there and he knew it.  Either way he’s not a threat at all with or without the ball.

I know Spiller’s fumble basically killed any chance the Aggies had of coming back but he’s the more talented back.  I think he needs to be our main back going forward.  There’s a reason why Kibodi has been buried on the depth chart for most of his time at A&M.  He just not that good.

None of it really matters if the offensive line can’t create holes to run through but we’re lacking big time at running back when it comes to overall depth and talent.

If Jimbo thinks he can establish the running game between the tackles this season he needs to think otherwise.  What was a unit of major strength last season with Trayveon and Corbin is now a unit of major weakness with little depth and talent coupled with a suspect offensive line.

I get we can’t completely abandon it but trying to run 20 times between the tackles would be a MAJOR mistake unless it’s all about keeping a game close.

Defense:

I’m not sure where to begin with this defense.  I’m not going to do a unit by unit breakdown like I normally do and just talk about the whole defense together.

What has seemed like a unit of major strength under Mike Elko got exposed on Saturday thanks to Gus Malzahn.

This unit was really Jekyll and Hyde on Saturday.  They had some series where they were flat dominating but then they had way too many series where this defense bit on mis-direction or simply didn’t seal the edge on quick tosses.

Auburn ran for 193 yards on 42 carries for an average of 4.6 yards.  That’s damn solid.  They had the long touchdown run of 57 yards but for the most part they were methodical and attacked the strength of this defense coming into this game which was stopping the run.  Gus realized you can’t really run between the tackles on this defense but you can still attack this defense on the ground.  Auburn just used a complete mix of mis-direction, solid reads, and quick tosses to stretch and confuse the Aggie defense.

It was a beautiful coaching clinic by Gus Malzahn on running the ball if you’re a football fan.  I just hate he did it against the Aggies.  I believe Gus knew there was a bunch of young Aggie defenders beyond the front four that he could confuse for a good portion of the game.  It worked beautifully.

They only passed 20 times for 100 yards so they weren’t even using the pass to help the run.  Just a few passes here and there to remind the defense they would throw the ball.  They simply committed to run all game long and the Aggie defense struggled to shut it down when it mattered.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom by the Aggie defense.  For much of the game this defense did more than enough for the Aggies to win the game.  The offense was just stuck in neutral for the majority of the game so the Aggie team never had the chance to win.  We’ve gotten so spoiled by this defense under Elko we think this was a bad defensive effort when it wasn’t terrible.

Auburn only converted 4 of 12 chances on third down so the defense was its usually stingy self on third downs.  That’s what’s so frustrating.  The defense could get off the field for the most part but Auburn lured them into mistakes when it mattered most.  Genius coaching.

I do wonder what this defense would like protecting a lead against a quality opponent.  Auburn held a major advantage spending most of the game being up by two scores.  Auburn never had to worry about needing a true freshman playing quarterback in his first SEC game on the road to make plays through the air.  Because of that, Auburn spent the entire game just needling the Aggie defense with a wide combination of runs.

I believe what Gus identified more than anything was an inexperienced secondary and linebackers he could work out of position by making bad reads.  He was spot on.  For as talented as they are physically Anthony Hines and Leon O’Neal found themselves out of position to make plays on a lot of runs.  The second touchdown where the Auburn tight end simply released with no one paying attention to him is a great example.  Somebody completely blew coverage as the tight end was wide open in the end zone for an easy pass and catch.

Once Auburn got up 14-0 this game was effectively over.  Gus felt no pressure and just continued needling this defense with the run and the occasional pass.  With no answer from the offense the defense couldn’t do anything.

If I do have one major complaint about players it’s Anthony Hines and Leon O’Neal.  Right now, these guys have more physical ability than they do mental ability.  I think both of these guys feel they have the physical ability to make plays but they need to learn sooner than later the mental ability matters more than physical ability.  Especially at the positions they’re playing.  It’s all about anticipating and reading.  I’m certainly not going to pin this loss on those two guys but they certainly could have made plays on the first two scoring drives limiting Auburn to field goals or not even scoring on the first drive at all.

Elko certainly has a lot of work to do with the youth on this team.  He must get their football IQ up to match their physical ability.  It’s rare when a defense plays mistake free football but there’s a lot of mental errors happening with the youth on this team that needs to get corrected.

I still have faith in this defense.  The offense certainly isn’t helping this team win games.  I think this defense would look much better if the opposing offense felt a little pressure to score points.  As it’s been with Clemson and Auburn they got up early and were able to sit on a lead in both games.  All the defense could do was try and slow down a methodical plan of attack against them.  That’s really tough to do.

I’m not happy with the defensive performance on Saturday but it’s still the strength of this team by far.

Special Teams:

Braden Mann:

Braden struggled on his first punt.  His first punt went 54 yards per the stat sheet but he actually didn’t hit it right as it didn’t have any height.  It was a low trajectory and got a great bounce but there was no coverage and Auburn returned it 30 yards to the Aggie 46.  Auburn then used that short field to score their second touchdown.

After that he was his usual self.  He averaged 56 yards on the day with a long of 68 yards.  He was phenomenal after that first punt.

The best part of his day was when he had to punt three times on one series.  Each punt got better where his final punt went 68 yards to the Auburn 1-yard line.  It was an amazing punt.  I could watch those three punts on a loop all day.  All Mann should do is send those three punts to NFL GMs to ensure he’s drafted.  That’s all they’ll need to see.

The best part was the punt returner kept looking to the sideline asking where he should be lined up.  Mann is such a weapon the Auburn returner couldn’t figure out where to line up without help.  Mann is that good.

Seth Small:

Seth was 2 for 4 hitting a 33 and 23 yarder.  He missed a 47 and 52 yarder.  In my book he must make those.  If those are too far for him to make then send Caden Davis out there for anything over 45.  Seth still needs to get more consistent in my book.

Roshaud Paul:

He was fine returning punts all day but he finally did what I said he never does.  He muffed a punt late in the 4th quarter.  Luckily we recovered it.  Paul can’t do that.  If he’s not going to be an electric returner then he needs to protect the ball on EVERY punt return.  Hopefully he never does that again.

 

Going Forward:

Jimbo has a major decision to make for the rest of the season.  A 10-win season after a bowl game seems all but impossible now.  It was a stretch coming into the season but it’s all but gone now.  This team has major holes.  A 9-4 season would be amazing as it would mean pulling a victory over Bama, Georgia, or LSU along with a bowl win.  I know there’s a lot of football to play but I don’t see wins over any of those teams anymore.  This Mississippi schools and South Carolina are now wins in question.

We’re staring down a 7-5 season with a trip to a crappy bowl game at best.  If Jimbo doesn’t make any changes then 7-5 might even be a stretch.  While other teams might not be as talented as Clemson and Auburn they’ve shown the blueprint on how to beat Texas A&M.

It’s simple as there’s two things you need to do:

  • Defensively don’t worry about defending more than 20 yards in a box from the line of scrimmage. Mix in various blitzes along the way.
  • Offensively attack the edges rather than try and establish the run between the tackles.

If I’m an opposing coach I’m going to make sure my team does both of those things well.  That’s the blueprint.

Jimbo’s methodical game plan of controlling the time of possession is not going to work going forward.  It worked last year to a degree but he’s missing some key personnel from his offense.  McCoy, Trayveon, and Sternberger are gone.  Even with those guys his game plan didn’t work against Clemson, Bama, Mississippi State, and Auburn last season.   There’s no one even close to their talent on the offensive side of the ball this season.  Thinking the same type of game plan will be the same or better this season is foolish.

I believe its time to work in the youth and see if Kellen and this offense can push pace.  Winning time of possession is great in keeping games close but it’s time to see if the Aggies can win on the scoreboard.  Screw moral victories.  Make a real effort to win games.

I know Jimbo can look back at the Auburn game and say if that 57-yard touchdown on the opening possession doesn’t happen along with Isiah Spiller’s fumble then the Aggies likely win that game.  That’s a reasonable argument but the reality is the Aggies lost and never really stood a chance.  The Aggies got DESTROYED on the offensive line of scrimmage and the Auburn offense exposed the Aggie defense’s biggest issue.  This team has major holes that need to be fixed or compensated for.

He can keep running the same offense out there but it’s not going to work.  It doesn’t need a major overhaul but it certainly needs some wrinkles.  Defenses know what’s coming at this point.  There’s a reason it took until the 4th quarter for the Aggie offense to score touchdowns against Clemson and Auburn.  Even then it was way too little and way too late both times.

We’ve got Arkansas and then a week off before Alabama.  Arkansas looks terrible but if we’re not careful they can absolutely beat us.  They’ll be hungry and if they follow the Clemson and Auburn blueprint they can absolutely hang with the Aggies and possibly even beat us.  I thought Auburn would be our test but the reality is we weren’t ready for Auburn.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but Arkansas is actually going to be a test for us.  Does Jimbo stick to the same script he’s used since he got here or does he try some new things?  We can absolutely beat Arkansas with the standard Jimbo game plan but we will get DESTROYED by Alabama and struggle to win 7 games this season.  He needs to use Arkansas to do things a little differently.

I still believe in Jimbo as our head coach.  However, starting with Arkansas he needs to admit there’s some serious deficiencies on this Aggie team and begin to correct them.  How he does it I don’t care but something must change.

We’re talking about the man who’s catch phrase last season was, “It ain’t gonna be like it used to be” and this season has been, “If you don’t bite as a puppy you won’t bite as a dog.”  Well, its time to make some changes so it ain’t like it used to be and we start biting.

If not, it’s going to be a much longer road to Make Aggie Football Great Again.

#MAFGA

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