In last week’s post I talked about the team in general and how I think this year’s team is worse than last year’s team from a talent standpoint. The loss of Trevor Knight, Myles Garrett, and Josh Reynolds will be a major factor in how this team does and I think it does worse than last year. That won’t help Sumlin as I think Sumlin needs to win 9 games in the 2017 season to save his job. There’s an outside chance he could win 8 games but he’ll need that 8th win to be against LSU and I’m not sure that’s possible. At the end of last season I thought the 2017 season would be a colossal failure with 6 wins being a major question.
Looking at the schedule again I think it’s possible there’s more than 6 wins this season. The schedule is not nearly as daunting as I originally thought. There’s a lot of winnable games. Now, that doesn’t mean there’s more wins than last season as we still have the same coaching staff that only won 8 games with a more talented team. Still, this schedule is more manageable for wins that I originally thought. The problem will be coaching.
For this exercise I’m looking at each game from a standpoint of if it’s winnable with the talent we have on the 2017 team and then if it’s winnable from the standpoint of the current coaching staff. I’m calling these two assessments WWT for Winable With Talent and SOS for Same Ol’ Sumlin. There is enough talent to win 9 games but I don’t think our coaching staff and most importantly the man who wears the #1 headset has the ability to win 9 games if the last 5 years are any indication.
Let’s get to the games.
This is an interesting game because UCLA was 4-8 last season and we beat them to open up the season. We had them handily beat but a late 4th quarter come-back by UCLA sent this to overtime where the Aggies prevailed. Their 4-8 record is deceiving because they lost Josh Rosen halfway through last season and Rosen makes this a totally different team. Prior to Rosen going down in the Arizona State game they were 3-2 with wins over BYU and Arizona with losses to A&M and Stanford. They only lost to Arizona State 23-20 so it’s reasonable to think they win that game if Rosen doesn’t go down. He means a lot to this offense.
They lost quite a bit from last year’s team much like A&M but I think getting Rosen back will be the difference in the game. Their defense is susceptible and they lost some talented receivers. When I look at this matchup I feel that they have a good offensive line and outstanding QB so it’s really a fairly even matchup across the board as we have great defensive tackles. Their defense is susceptible as will be our offense with a new quarterback taking his first ever snaps under center or a quarterback that’s never beat a P5 team in multiple starts.
This is a winnable game but I don’t think Mazzone runs an offense different than last year’s and like always he’s just randomly picking plays over having a real plan to attack their defensive weaknesses. Rosen is going to put up points and we have to counter but I don’t think we do. We’ll be on the road with a new quarterback playing in an almost full stadium. It’ll be a beautiful sight everywhere except on the field for the Aggies. Winnable With Talent is a Yes but Same Ol’ Sumlin is a No here. Sumlin suffers his first loss of the season in game 1 although it’s a winnable game. Not the way to start the season.
SOS: 0-1; WWT: 1-0
Nicholls State and ULaLa:
Two Louisiana schools roll into Kyle Field and get Sumlin back to and above .500 before heading to Jerry World to take on Arkansas. I know ULaLa once beat us causing me to call R.C. Sloucm’s ex-wife to discuss the game but that was in Lafayette and Tupac had just been killed so the team wasn’t focused at all. At least that’s a rumor of why we lost that game. Rap seems to be in a peaceful place where any feuds are just words and not bullets so I think the Aggies are safe in both of these games.
SOS 2-1; WWT: 3-0
This is the most fascinating series to me because after the Johnny Years when we went back to JerryWorld Arkansas has outplayed us for the most part. The games 2 and 3 years ago we had to make amazing fourth quarter comebacks to send it to overtime where we won out. Last year’s end result was a total ass kicking but had our defense not made some key stops, got some turnovers, and Trevor Knight not make two big runs we lose that game. We really do. While we’re 3-0 in the last three games of this series we could easily be 0-3 at the same time. Sumlin has been lucky these games.
I think Arkansas is similar to us in that they’re not as good as last year. I love their quarterback in Austin Allen as he’s as solid as they come but I think their offensive line is worse than last year and they don’t have the running game they had either. Defensively they’re just okay and not great. I think this is going to be a pretty ugly game but the Aggies win in the end. It’s definitely a winnable game and I think A&M continues their run against Arkansas as Sumlin has Beliema’s number although Sumlin has no clue how or why he does. Arkansas couldn’t definitely win this game though and it’s not a gimme. Still, I think the Aggies win.
SOS 3-1; WWT: 4-0
Our “rival” in the East comes to Kyle Field to open up SEC play at Kyle. I think South Carolina is getting better under Muschamp but I think they have a long way to go to match A&M’s talent. This is an interesting game to me because I feel A&M is much better from a talent standpoint but Will Muschamp could see this as a winnable SEC game for his squad and pull out all the stops beating Sumlin. Not really a trap game but just South Carolina implementing some wrinkles A&M is not expecting at all. Muschamp knows he needs some SEC wins and a win over A&M would be a big feather in his hat. If Sumlin and the team take South Carolina lightly they’ll absolutely lose but for the first home SEC game of the season I think the Aggies win here.
SOS 4-1; WWT: 5-0
There isn’t ANY chance that A&M beats Alabama in 2017 even at Kyle Field. Not a single chance. I really think this could be a slaughter. Something like 45-7 and this is where the wheels start coming off the Sumlin wagon.
SOS 4-2; WWT: 5-1
After getting pounded at home against Alabama the Aggies will have to turn around and head to The Swamp. Believe it or not I think this is a winnable game for the Aggies. I think Florida is a slightly better team but they’re not the Florida teams under Urban Meyer or even Muschamp’s first year. This is a team that went 8-4 getting pounded by Arkansas, Florida State, and Alabama while blowing a sizeable lead to what wound up being a mediocre Tennessee team. Their marque win was a 16-10 win against LSU in Baton Rouge in which they should have lost. They also barely beat Vandy 13-6. Still a really solid team but this is a winnable game with great coaching. However, we don’t have great coaching.
I think we lose but don’t be surprised if this is an Aggie win as this Florida team is really beatable despite what people think. McElwain is not an elite coach at all. They’re going to get pounded by Michigan to start the season. I just don’t think Sumlin can pull this one out after getting beat by Alabama but it’s entirely possible.
SOS: 4-3; WWT: 6-1
While MSU had our number last year I think we’ll take care of them this year at Kyle. This will likely be an 11:00 am game so we’ll return the favor they did to us last year. They have a great young quarterback but we’re still a more talented team and I think we’ll be looking for payback for what happened last year. I honestly think Mullen might be the second best coach in the SEC because what he does with MSU is remarkable. It really is. He’s as good as any coach in the SEC not named Nick Saban. He just doesn’t have the talent to compete with the other teams in conference. Aggies win this one no doubt.
SOS: 5-3; WWT: 7-1
I’m really torn on this game because I can’t figure out Gus Malzahn. At one point I thought he was a remarkable coach but I’m torn on him at the moment. They were 8-4 in the regular season last year but got pounded by OU in the Sugar Bowl. OU had a really good team but Auburn wasn’t even really competitive in that game. They’re not consistent at all. He didn’t have a quarterback last year but he had a pretty solid defense and they were kind of all over the place.
This year they have Jarrett Stidham under center which I think changes the dynamic of their team as Malzahn is at his best with an exceptional quarterback. I think Stidham is the difference in this game and Auburn beats A&M. This too is a winnable game for A&M with great coaching but I think the quarterback play will be the difference. It’ll be ironic as Sumlin has passed on recruiting Stidham twice. The first time he favored Kyler Murray over Sitdham and now there’s no Murray on the team. This last year he favored Kellen Mond over Stidham and Stidham went to Auburn. Might be kind of ironic if Stidham winds up being the reason Sumlin loses his job. This is a winnable game for the Aggies but Sumlin will find a way to blow it.
SOS: 5-4; WWT: 8-1
This will likely be an 11:00 am game and will be the least attended game at Kyle Field all year. Maybe ever for the new Kyle. Ironically enough it’ll be Sumlin’s last game at Kyle and nobody will be there to see it. Sumlin will get the win but if there’s nobody there to watch it will it really matter?
SOS: 6-4; WWT: 9-1
I have no clue what to think on this one. This is the 11th game of the year for Ole Miss and their season could go in two COMPLETELY different directions. Obviously Hugh Freeze is a moron off the field but I’ve always thought he was a moron on the field as well. Twice he let Johnny Football come back on him at home and then twice he won two games in which A&M completely vapor locked from a coaching standpoint. At Ole Miss two years ago Jake Spavital made a fool of himself and his precious note cards. The Aggie defense played well enough to win that game but Spav couldn’t get the offense to do anything. Last season Ole Miss scored 23 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to beat A&M. It’s not anything Freeze did but the A&M coaching staff collapsed in those games.
Enter Matt Luke who was the offensive line coach for Ole Miss. I know nothing about this man but I do know he could be better than Hugh Freeze as a coach. He has an outstanding young quarterback in Shea Patterson. Luke is coaching for his life and has a decently talented team. Can he rally an Ole Miss team by coaching better than Freeze? I think it’s possible as Freeze’s bar wasn’t really high in my mind. Or is Luke a failure of a coach and by this game the whole Ole Miss team has quit making this an easy for win for the Aggies? I honestly have no clue because I don’t know anything about Luke as a head coach. A&M could be falling apart at this point as well with the team knowing Sumlin is gone.
Right now I’ll give Sumlin the benefit of the doubt in this game because interim coaches tend to be worse than the previous coach. At best I think Luke is Coach O at LSU last year but I think that’s a stretch. It’s entirely possible A&M loses this game but at this point I’ll give Sumlin the win.
SOS: 7-4; WWT: 10-1
I promise I went through the list of games above independently not looking at the season as a whole. As it stands with my prediction Kevin Sumlin walks into Baton Rouge with his job on the line needing to get to 8 to have any chance of keeping his job. I didn’t do that by design but it could absolutely play out like that. If he goes 7-5 with a loss in Baton Rouge for his 6th straight loss to LSU then he’s done. I don’t think there’s anything that will save him in the scenario. However, if he can pull off win 8 against LSU and especially with Mond as his quarterback he has a puncher’s chance of holding his job. I think he would hold it if that happens because his buyout is so much and he seems to be recruiting decently enough.
I’m not sure what to make of Coach O as head coach at LSU. He’s working with one of the most talented teams in the country with two outstanding coordinators and a dynamic running back but they still don’t have a quarterback. I was never a fan of Les Miles as he reminded me of Mack Brown. He beat the teams he was supposed to be beat with the talent he had but he had problems against more capable coaches.
I don’t see any way A&M beats LSU in this game but I don’t know what Coach O looks like over the course of an entire season. A part of me thinks he’s a super conservative coach that doesn’t want to make mistakes. Those are the kinds of coaches you can beat with an aggressive game plan. That’s not Sumlin but depending on how the season goes with Coach O along with what’s on the line for Sumlin this could be a winnable game if Sumlin has his back against the wall. I think this LSU team is too talented for this A&M team so LSU wins even with great coaching but by game 12 you never know what could happen with a job on the line.
I’m chalking this up to a loss even if Sumlin’s job is on the line and A&M comes out with an aggressive game plan. It’ll be too little too late and Sumlin will get his $10 million check and be on his way.
SOS: 7-5; WWT:10-2
So there you have it. Kevin Sumlin will go 7-5 and this will be his final season in Aggieland. It’s possible with this schedule and the talent on the team to go 10-2 so Sumlin can save his job if he’s really focused. I don’t think he cares though. I think in the back of his mind he knows he’s getting $10 million no matter this year’s record. He doesn’t have it in him to make the changes needed in how he handles game preparation and in game management. I think that’s why there’s so much talk about the new strength and conditioning coach. He’s deflecting his shortcomings. As I’ve said time and time again it wasn’t strength and conditioning that lost those final 4 games to close out last season. It was mostly lack of good decision making by the head coach. He couldn’t see things before they happened and prepare the team. Instead he just looked shell shocked at the result.
I hate saying this but I equate this year’s Aggie football season to last year’s Presidential election. Don’t get stirred up by what happens prior to November. None of it matters. Don’t get worked up over what’s in the press or what happens in games. I equate games to the debates as they won’t be pretty at times and you’ll wonder if this is the best we have to offer. There will be a change in November and there’s nothing you can do about it. I just hope those in the decision making process give us something better than Hillary or Trump. If not, we might be wishing for Same Ol’ Sumlin…