Author: rcwouldhavegonefor2

What I Would Do With Jimbo

For this week’s blog I thought about doing the same thing Jimbo does with his offense.  Just posting a previous blog and changing the name of the opponent.  It’s essentially the same thing Jimbo is doing with his offense.

I like to think I’m better than Jimbo so you get a fresh blog this week.

Before I get going on the game I know we’re all numb to losing but let me put into perspective what that loss on Saturday in Auburn means:

  • We lost to a team with an interim coach.  No offense to Cadillac Williams but teams have interim coaches because they’re bad.  Teams that have one of the highest paid coaches in the game are supposed to be good.  JIMBO LOST TO AN INTERIM COACH!!!!
  • Assuming Arkansas beats Missouri we secured last place in the SEC West EVEN with an unlikely win over LSU.  If we lose to LSU then we own last place in the SEC West all by ourselves no matter else what happens.  Jimbo’s FIFTH year as head coach and we’re sitting dead last in the SEC West including Auburn who has an interim coach after firing their head coach because their season is so bad.
  • As we stand now we have as many wins in the SEC as Vanderbilt who is also last in their division.  We have one less overall win than Vandy so we currently sit as THE WORST TEAM IN THE SEC ten games into the season.  Let that one sink in.  The worst team in the SEC including Vanderbilt.
  • Assuming a win over UMass and an LSU loss along with Vandy losing to Florida and Tennessee we will be tied with Vandy for both SEC record at 1-7 and Overall record at 4-8 when the season is done.  TIED.  WITH.  VANDERBILT.

Jerry Reed once sang, “It all sounds sort of funny but it hurts too much laugh.  Jimbo got the goldmine and we got the shaft.”

I don’t know any other way to put it.  Jimbo got the goldmine and Aggie fans got the shaft.

Let’s talk about the Auburn game for just a little bit.

Auburn:

We didn’t know it at the time but that game was lost before we even ran out of the tunnel before the game.  For whatever reason Moose Muhammed’s decision to wear or not wear sleeves created a major issue in the game.

It’s still all kind of murky because  Jimbo “handled it in house” but Moose Muhammed didn’t play in the game because of sleeves on his arms.  That’s right, a player’s decision to wear sleeves on his arms either before the game or during the game caused him to not take a snap.

WHAT THE EFF???

What is going on with this football team when sleeves on a guy’s arm are either an act of confusion or an act of defiance?  Seriously.  It’s minor in the grand scheme but for whatever reason it created a real issue.

I get having standards that players must live by but this is just foolish.  Who cares if a receiver is wearing sleeves or not if they’re producing?  If they fumble while wearing sleeves then advise them to take them off.  A player’s decision to wear sleeves is a minor thing if they’re producing.  WHO FREAKING CARES???

This seems like the epitome of Jimbo’s problem.  I get game preparation and team standards but how in the hell do sleeves on a receiver matter this much where a guy can’t play in the game?

They couldn’t have an adult conversation in warm up or during the game about the sleeves?  He just got an automatic suspension?  It seems like Jimbo is questioning if he has any control of this team so he’s going over the top.  Straight foolishness.

As the game started the following things happened:

  • False start before our first snap.  Auburn is a tough place to play but it’s no different than other stadiums they’ve played in this season.  How in the hell are we still false starting before the first snap in Game 10?
  • We took two time outs in the second quarter to avoid a delay of game after already taking a delay of game.  This was all on the same drive and our last offensive possession of the half. 10th game of the year and we’re still struggling to get plays in and snap the ball before the play clock runs out.  Three times on the same drive.  Unreal.
  • The first 10 offensive possessions resulted in 10 punts.

Read that last one again.  The first 10 offensive possessions resulted in 10 punts.  Not a single scoring attempt in our first 10 possessions of the game against Auburn.  TEN OFFENSIVE POSSESSIONS AND TEN PUNTS!!!!

Jimbo can blame injuries, suspensions, and whatever else he wants but 10 punts in 10 possessions is the definition of offensive failure.  Auburn has a decent defense but they aren’t the 85 Chicago Bears that just dismantled every offense they played.

This Auburn defense has given up the following points to the following teams this season:

Penn State – 41
LSU – 17
Georgia – 42
Ole Miss – 48
Arkansas – 41
Miss State – 39

Okay, Auburn doesn’t even have a decent defense.  They’re a bad defense.  In 10 possessions the mighty offensive genius known as Jimbo Fisher couldn’t even muster a field goal attempt.

We had -3 total yards in the third quarter.  NEGATIVE THREE YARDS IN A QUARTER!!!!  To a defense that’s given up close to 40 or more in 5 games this season.

Winners find a way to win and Jimbo didn’t do that.

He ran the same damn offense that hasn’t worked all season that a junior high coach could figure out how to defend.

The formula is simple – Send your defensive ends straight into the offensive tackles.  Don’t get cute.  Just run as fast you can at the offensive tackles outside shoulder targeting where the quarterback will be three steps back from where he’s standing when he receives the snap.  You both will arrive at approximately the same time.  Then have your defensive tackles and 2 linebackers change up their path and timing headed to the backfield on every play.  You’ll spend the entire night in the Aggie backfield with 6 guys.  If you’re talented enough you can do it with 5.  Then have your other defenders cover crossing routes and the Aggies won’t complete more than 50% of their passes.

Seriously people.  It’s that simple.

Defenses keep doing it over and over again and Jimbo keeps calling plays right into it.

It’s maddening.

Now to the other side of the ball.  While it’s true D.J. Durkin is our defensive coordinator there’s one thing everyone keeps forgetting – D.J. WORKS FOR JIMBO!!!!!

I’m not here to defend D.J. but it’s crystal clear to me that Jimbo is not giving D.J. any guidance or feedback on what’s going wrong.

App State basically broke the code on how to attack this defense – Just run the ball.  We got lucky against Miami because they got behind and thought they had to throw the ball.  We got lucky against Arkansas with the fumble we returned for the touchdown.  This defense did a tremendous job against Alabama with 4 turnovers and against South Carolina with 2.

Other than that teams have run all over this defense.  The last three games against Ole Miss, Florida, and Auburn have really exploited it.

Here’s some rushing stats from those games:

Ole Miss:

Running Backs – 280 yards
Quarterback – 108 yards

Florida:

Running Backs – 180 yards
Quarterback – 93 yards

Auburn:

Running Backs – 242 yards
Quarterback – 66 yards

The last three opponents who aren’t adept at passing the ball rushed for at least 273 yards against this Aggie defense.  Ole Miss racked up 388 yards and lowly Auburn who can’t pass to save their soul gained 302 yards on the ground.  I get there’s injuries and youth but these are one dimensional teams just running it down our throats.

Just running at will and nothing is being done to stop it.

For some inexplicable reason the 3-man front made a regular appearance against Auburn.  I can’t figure out why.  I put this on Jimbo more than I put it on Durkin.  Just like Jimbo gets in a rut with play calls Durkin is clearly in a rut calling his defense.  Jimbo as the Head Coach aka El Jefe needs to tell Durkin he needs to pull out all the stops to slow down the run.  No more 3-man fronts and work with the Front 7 guys on how to scheme to slow down the run.

We’ll worry about the pass when the opponent feels they can’t run on us.  It’s really that simple.

I know it was a 13-10 game so it was technically close.  If you watched that game you know it shouldn’t have been that close.  Sometimes you must make your own fortune and the Aggies did nothing against Auburn to make our own fortune.

That’s why we lost by 3 points.  We put ourselves in that position due to inept coaching.

Press Conferences:

Jimbo is becoming shorter and more defensive in press conferences.  That’s what people do when they have no answerers to what they’re seeing.

Jimbo was asked a question in Monday’s press conference about disarray with the team and recruiting.  His response was this – “We’re not in disarray in recruiting.  We’re not in disarray in our team.”

I got news for Jimbo – Both are absolutely in disarray.  We had a massive de-commit last week with Anthony Hill and since David Hicks we haven’t had a commit for 2023 and we have PLENTY of spots.  We don’t have a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver committed.  We have ZERO offensive momentum and the defensive guys are starting to listen and look.

We’re dead last in the SEC and we had a receiver not play against Auburn because of arm sleeves.

I don’t know Jimbo’s definition of disarray but I will say we’re not in a good state.  If he truly believes everything is fine we’re in big trouble.  Hopefully he’s just giving coach speak to the media. 

I hope behind closed doors he’s being honest to those he reports to with a plan to fix the issues.  I hope those he reports to are asking tough questions he needs to answer.

Things aren’t good, Jimbo.

Here’s What’s Going to Happen:

We’re going to beat UMass convincingly.  Weigman is finally going to break out getting time to throw and to open guys downfield.  He’ll throw for close to 400 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air.  We’ll get another 100 yards on the ground with a score.  Mix in a couple field goals and we’ll score 41 points.

Defensively we’ll keep UMass under 17 so we’ll win by 24 points.  Not sure we cover the 33 points or whatever it is but we’ll win in convincing fashion.

Jimbo and Durkin will think they have everything on track.  They won’t change a thing for LSU.

LSU will roll into town and wipe the floor with us.  They’ll rush for close to 400 yards and put another 150 through the air.  Defensively they’ll attack our offensive tackles freeing up Harold Perkins to make a mockery of everything else we’ll want to do on offense.

It’ll look like we’re playing Auburn all over again with punt after punt after punt.

I’m expecting a 35-10 beatdown.  It won’t be pretty.

Jimbo will look stunned and confused with his glasses staring at his Trapper Keeper.  Durkin will be slinked off on the sideline.

The misery that is the 2022 Aggie Football season will end with absolutely ZERO momentum and a host of questions that can’t be answered for another 9 months.  Questions can only be answered on the field against opponents.  If 2022 taught us anything it’s that.  Practice doesn’t matter.  Performance with live bullets matters.

While most of the teams in college football will get an extra month of practice our young guys will get an extra month to explore the portal.  4-8 with a single SEC win will do that to a team.

All thanks to a stubborn head coach who couldn’t see what was happening to his team or refused to see what was happening and adjust.

My Greatest Concern with Jimbo:

There’s lots of talk over Jimbo hiring an offensive coordinator.  That’s obvious but I’m not sure what it’s really going to do.

Jimbo became Offensive Coordinator at LSU in 2000.  He’s been on the sideline with his trusted Trapper Keeper for 23 seasons now.  Can he stand on the sidelines without his woobie and manage the whole game?

That’s a massive question we have no clue the results because he’s never done it.  He honestly doesn’t appear to have any desire to do it.

Does he really want to hire an Offensive Coordinator or is he doing it because it’s being forced on him?  If it’s being forced on him then it’s pointless.  It’s just doing something to do something and it’s not really going to take hold.

It sounds good in theory and it should keep us from going 4-8 in future seasons but I don’t think it’s going to help us win an SEC West title which should be the goal.

I don’t think Jimbo can be a true head coach.  I think he’d already be there if he wanted to.  We certainly wouldn’t be 4-8 if he can truly see the issues with this 2022 Aggie team.

His offensive staff is full of his closest friends that won’t challenge him.  He already did musical chairs with them and the results got worse from previous years.  He hired an offensive line coach that’s been a massive failure.  That’s on Jimbo because he hired him.

I think Jimbo has been a glorified offensive coordinator for the last 13 seasons since he took over as Head Coach at Florida State.  He’s never adapted his offensive and college football passed him by.

He caught lightening in a bottle in 2013 and in 2020.

He’s not a terrible coach as he can recruit but he’s in a time warp from 15 years ago I don’t think he really wants to get out of.

If he’s truly on board with becoming a different head coach then it’s worth a shot.  If he’s just going to stand around and do nothing or meddle with an offensive coordinator then any staff changes is pointless.

I don’t think Jimbo truly wants to change who he is a head coach.  He’s stubborn and stuck in his old ways.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Actually, I hope I’m wrong but we’ll see.

What I Would Do:

I’m making this decision based on these four things. I have no more insight into any of these than you do but I’m basing my decision on these four items being true because I believe they are:

  1. Jimbo is fighting having to hire an OC and massive offensive staff changes.
  2. Jimbo doesn’t understand he himself has to make massive changes and become a true head coach.
  3. We lose to LSU
  4. We can get the coach I mention

If all four of those things are true I fire Jimbo the morning after the LSU game.  If any of those 4 aren’t true then I give Jimbo one more year.

The remainder of what I write is based on those four factors being true.  If any of those factors are false then I’m not advocating to fire Jimbo.  Let’s be clear on that.

Sure, it’s going to cost us a ton of money but going 8-4 every year is going to cost us even more.  We’ve seen that play out.  I think it’s pretty obvious we have a perennial 8-4 coach in his current form.  There will be a couple of peaks and valleys but I don’t think Jimbo is on the level with Saban, Smart, Kelly, Heupel, Leach, and Kiffin.  That’s his competition.

He’s an NFL coach trapped in a college game he doesn’t understand anymore.

The ONLY thing saving him right now is the struggles in Austin and Norman so recruiting still looks decent.  If that gets turned around in either of those places our recruiting is going to drop like a rock.

If we keep Jimbo and he’s not truly interested in embracing a different college game then he’s a dead man walking.  Offensive coaches won’t want to come here nor will recruits.  Everyone will know it’s not a matter of “If” he gets fired but a matter of “When”.

Same thing happened with Kevin Sumlin which is why he struggled to hire an offensive coordinator after Jake Spavital failed.  Decent offensive coaches knew Sumlin was destined to get let go and didn’t want to take the job.

Unless we have the next offensive coordinator already locked down I don’t think it’s going to be easy to hire someone.  Coaches like some level of stability and Jimbo is going to be clearly on the hot seat.

His contract should be moot on making the decision if we don’t feel he’s committed to being different.  Pull the damn trigger and get it over with.  This isn’t living out some more time with a dog that you love.  This is a football coach that isn’t what we thought he was.  Pull the trigger and move on.

I don’t like a coaching carousel as I do believe Jimbo has had a bad hand dealt to him this season.  However, he’s proven to be a stubborn head coach with ZERO adaptability.  He’s blaming everything but him as the head coach for our failures.  He blames himself with words but his actions say otherwise.

Remember one of Jimbo’s favorite sayings is – “Your actions speak so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

A head coach with some sense of reality pulls off 6-6 even with the issues we’ve faced this season.

At 6-6 or even 5-7 I’m not advocating to fire him.  He’s certainly had a bad hand dealt to him this season but he’s also had his hand in MULTIPLE losses that shouldn’t have happened.

Remember this is the same guy that felt Haynes King was our best option for 2 games and we have a loss to App State to show for that decision.  This is the same coach that for whatever reason didn’t have his team ready after a bye week and we went down 17-0 in the first five minutes at South Carolina.  This is the same coach that held halftime leads at Kyle Field to Ole Miss and Florida only to squander them away.  This is the same coach that couldn’t even attempt a field goal in his first 10 offensive possessions against an Auburn team with an interim head coach.

Decisions he made led to losses in every single one of those games.  I won’t even get into his decision on the last play at Alabama.

It seems weird to say but there seems like a MASSIVE leap from 5-7 to 4-8.  If he runs the same old tired offense and defense out there and gets wiped up by LSU and those other factors are true he needs to be gone.  We will have seen enough. 

He needs to wake up and act like he’s coaching for his job these last two games.  We’re staring down SEVEN consecutive SEC losses.  If he can’t see how he’s contributing to that there’s no point expecting different results in future seasons.

It sucks but it’s true.  We need to correct a massive mistake.

I would go hire Mike Elko as head coach.  Offer him a 5-year $40 million deal.  I’m not sure what he’s making at Duke but I’d guess it’s 5 years for $25 million or in that ballpark.  I believe his mother lives in that area of North Carolina but surely he’d want the keys to the Aggie gig considering what he’d be walking back into.

We send Durkin down the road and can keep our existing defensive staff for the most part.  Defensive recruiting shouldn’t miss a beat.

Let Elko hire an exciting offensive staff along with an ace recruiting staff and we’ll be off to the races.

In case you haven’t noticed Elko is quietly 7-3 at Duke this year.  Duke.  They went 3-9 last season losing their final 8 games.  There’s a good chance he goes 9-3 with losses against Kansas at full strength, an overtime loss to Georgia Tech on the road, and a 3-point loss to North Carolina who’s currently leading their division with no losses.  Elko is 4 points from potentially going to the ACC Championship game with Duke.

That’s one hell of a turnaround.

Mike Elko is a football coach.

If Jimbo is fighting change don’t overcomplicate the decision and extend the misery.  Pull the trigger and make the move.  If he truly realizes the issues with wins and losses are at his feet and he’s willing to change then he can stay.

Based on what Jimbo has said after each loss his look in the mirror is different than everyone else’s.  Sure, he says he blames himself but he clearly blames everything else.  His actions in the last 7 games have told us that.

We got caught up in the coaching salary spike of 2021 and just need to own it.  We made a bad decision and need to correct it sooner than later.

Thoughts On Jimbo After the Florida Game

I could write 12 pages on what we’re seeing with the Aggies but I’m going to keep it as short as possible.  We all see and know the issues.  You don’t really need reassurance from me.  Trust your eyes.

It’s that obvious – Jimbo is an addict.

He’s an addict to an offense that doesn’t work.  Addicts refuse to see reality and go back to comforting activities that are detrimental to their existence.

For Jimbo it’s his offense.  What’s becoming more apparent is his style of coaching.  He’s so enamored with his offense that he’s missing the entire game.

In two consecutive weeks he’s abandoned in the second half what worked for him in the first half.  The run and most importantly play action.

He’ll argue the defense shut down the run and it wasn’t there but he completely abandons it right away in the second half.  Achane got the ball 4 times in the second half against Florida.  How the hell do you know you can’t establish it if you don’t really try it?

The formula on how to stop the Aggie offense has been obvious since the App State game.  If there’s no threat of a run then just pin your ears back and apply pressure to the Aggie offense.  It’s the same damn offense over and over again.  And it keeps getting stopped over and over again because it’s crystal clear how to stop it.

Meanwhile Jimbo keeps doing the same three things:

  1. Shuffling his stack of papers which includes a spiral notebook.  Seriously.  What the hell is he doing with a spiral notebook in his hands during a damn football game?  What could be in there that’s so important?
  2. Yelling at his players that clearly aren’t executing his precious offense when they don’t really have a chance because the defense knows how to shut it down.  He’ll roll his eyes and make faces like he can’t understand why his players are so dumb.  Maybe he’s the dumb one.
  3. Blaming lack of execution by the players after the game for the offensive failures.  The same players he recruited and coaches every day.  He’s blaming the players.  Every now and then he’ll give some coachspeak that he and his staff has to do better.  However, you can tell he truly believes it’s a bigger fault of the players than himself.

That’s what addicts do.  They blame others and deny their involvement in the issues.

We’ve had some injury issues but they’re just excuses.  Sure, the injuries haven’t helped but his lack of coaching is a bigger issue in those losses than injuries.

Let’s look back at our losses this season:

App State – Completely outcoached.  COMPLETELY.  Absolutely winnable game.
Miss State – Mike Leach and his staff completely outcoached Jimbo.  Leach said as much after the game they just took what the Aggies gave them.
Alabama – Thanks to 4 turnovers by the Aggie defense we were on the 2-yard line to win the game.  Jimbo calls a play with ZERO creativity that Bama had seen before and knew how to defend.  Meanwhile LSU beat Bama on the last play by running something Bama had never seen before.
South Carolina – Spotted them 17 points in the first 5 minutes thanks to a special teams screw up and two offensive turnovers.  Coming off a bye Jimbo had a team that wasn’t prepared.  That’s on coaching.
Ole Miss – Squandered a 14-10 halftime lead at home because he apparently didn’t help his defensive coordinator scheme to shut down the quarterback run while abandoning the run himself.  That’s on coaching.
Florida – Squandered a 24-20 halftime lead against a REALLY suspect Florida team.  His precious offense got completely shut out in the second half because he panicked and went back to the offensive plays that didn’t work.  He abandoned the run, the play action, and the middle of the field for the most part.  That’s on coaching.

Obviously this has been a really tough season due to injuries and the flu on Saturday but every one of those games was winnable with better coaching.  To say we could be undefeated is a pretty big stretch.  I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say we could be 6-3 with better coaching.

Losers make excuses while winners find a way to win.  Jimbo spends his press conferences making excuses because he as the head coach didn’t find a way to win.

If you look back over the last two years it’s nothing but a big bag of excuses.  We blamed the loss of Haynes King for going 8-4.  Guess what?  If Haynes doesn’t get hurt we might have been worse than 8-4.

Turns out Haynes King’s injury wasn’t really the issue. The head coach was fully responsible for going 8-4.  That Bama win was awesome but that feels like a decade ago thanks to what’s happened after that game and this season.

Blame youth, injuries, and whatever else but there’s one harsh reality – Better head coaching has us more wins in the last two years.  There’s ZERO doubt about that.

Jimbo is a stubborn addict that refuses to admit he’s the issue.

Color Me Concerned:

At this point I’m concerned we have another Fran and Sherman on our hands.  A man so enamored with his precious offense he can’t see the whole game.

There’s a big rumor Jimbo is going to hire a high-profile offensive coordinator in the off season.  It’s an obvious need.

My big question is if Jimbo will then see the entire game in front of him.  He’s been missing it for at least two seasons now.

Can Jimbo convert to a walk around coach that sees his entire football team?  I’m talking about recruiting, player development, and schemes.  I don’t know that he can because I don’t know that he wants to.  I think he just wants to tinker with scheming offensive plays.

He needs to convert to a head coach that sees the challenges with his whole program and what’s happening in college football as a whole.  He’s currently missing it.

He appears to have COMPLETELY whiffed on the turnover with his coaching and recruiting staff.  He hired people that appear to not be capable and it’s showing on the field and in recruiting.  The lack of wins aren’t helping in recruiting but it’s painfully obvious we’ve lost something else in recruiting.  That’s all on Jimbo.  He makes those decisions.

I don’t see us writing Jimbo an $85 million check so him waking up to be an overall college head coach is our only option.

The question is will Jimbo adapt or will he tinker with the offense ignoring everything else on the team?

If he never admits he’s the problem we’ll just have the same old addict at head coach.

If so, in two to three years we’re gonna have to make a costly decision.

I’m pulling for you, Jimbo.  I just don’t have a lot of hope you’ll actually break your addition.

Admittance is the first step…

Random Musings on the South Carolina Game

Before I get going on more stuff from the South Carolina game there’s a couple things to address.

Rumored OC Hire:

There’s strong rumors Jimbo is going to hire a legit offensive coordinator at the end of this season.  It’s so blatantly obvious at this point he needs to do it.  I’m glad he’s doing it but I’m still frustrated it’s coming to this.

For Jimbo’s first three years here (2018-2020) I really felt like he saw the whole football program.  What I mean by that is I felt he was a head coach that understood what was going on with the offense, defense, special teams, talent, development, and recruiting.

There were four games in 2019 I wish he would have managed differently but all four of those teams were ranked Number 1 in the country at one point that season.  I chalked those four games up to never having a chance so Jimbo was just building for the future sticking to a plan.

In 2020 it appeared to all come together during the Florida game.  From then on we rolled that season and never lost another game.  We finished #4 in the country with an Orange Bowl win.

I had the utmost confidence in Jimbo because we truly looked like a complete football team and he was recruiting well.  When he spoke, he spoke about football and not just jibberish like some other head coaches had done.  He sounded like an actual football coach.

In 2021 Haynes King went down in the Colorado game.  I chalked up that nail biter to a quarterback that was wildly inaccurate with no experience.  In the Arkansas game I saw coach that still looked confused on what plays to call but also saw a left tackle and quarterback that were getting beat by an Arkansas defense that just wanted it more.  Those two guys looked scared.  I felt that loss was more players than coaching.

We lost to Mississippi State the next weekend and I chalked it up to our defense having a bad game.

Then we beat Bama and rolled over Missouri and South Carolina.  We beat Auburn with an amazing defensive effort without scoring an offensive touchdown.  I thought it was just Jimbo seeing the whole game and not letting an erratic quarterback make errors that could lead to a loss.

The Ole Miss game last year was the first game I really realized there might be issues with Jimbo’s overall coaching ability.  Ole Miss came out and handed it to us both offensively and defensively in the first half.  We even had a safety on a running play in the first half.  A safety on a running play.  That’s virtually impossible if you know your team.  We went into half only down 15-0 but clearly getting out played.

In the third quarter we shut down their offense and Devon Achane was moving the ball at will.  It was 15-10 at the end of the third quarter so the game was well within our reach and momentum clearly on our side.

We closed it to 15-13 and got the ball back deep in our own territory at our 12-yard line.  We still had 7 minutes to go in the 4th quarter.  Plenty of time to mount a drive and then some.  I would have leaned on Achane but Jimbo called two pass plays.  The first goes incomplete and the second is intercepted.

I was always confused why Jimbo was passing there when Achane was gaining yards on the ground by the bunches.

Thanks to the interception Ole Miss only had to go 14 yards to score and they did.

We get the ball back down 22-13 with 6:32 left on the clock.  We need two scores but still plenty of time.

Achane isn’t even in the game.  This is not a knock on Isiah Spiller but Devon Achane was clearly the hot offensive hand and Jimbo sent Spiller in.  For whatever reason he didn’t recognize Achane was what was moving the offense in the second half.

We run a couple check down passes to Spiller with a false start (sound familiar) mixed in.  On 3rd and 10 Calzada throws an interception Ole Miss returns for a touchdown and puts the game away.

That was the first game that I really questioned Jimbo’s true ability as a head coach.  He clearly didn’t see what was happening on the field and ride the momentum.  He went back to what he thought he needed to do and didn’t adjust.

The LSU game last year was a little different but pretty similar.  I won’t bore you with details on that one but on a 3rd and 2 with a little over 2 minutes left trying to salt away a lead Jimbo called for Calzada to roll left asking him to complete a pass he had no business attempting.  Spiller had been moving the ball but Jimbo felt he needed Calzada to make a play when he hadn’t all year.

LSU totally blew up the play and we didn’t convert the first down.  We had to punt and wound up losing.  I give the ball to Spiller in that moment as he had been chewing up yards for most of the game and the LSU defense looked worn out.  For whatever reason Jimbo felt Calzada could execute a play he had no business attempting.

Both of those games I questioned his head coaching decisions late in the game.  I’ve seen those issues in the App State, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Alabama, and South Carolina games this year. He seems to miss key parts of those games where he’s not adjusting to what’s going on in the game.

I say all of this because I’m not sure how much hiring an offensive coordinator is going to matter.  We’ll certainly score more points which will be nice but if Jimbo can’t see the whole game and guide his team and coordinators then it won’t really matter.  He’ll get out coached and continue to lose games he shouldn’t.

Maybe the struggles of the offense have him buried in his play sheet but he needs to realize he’s the head coach responsible for the entire game.  It’s his job to guide the players and the coaching staff based on how things are going with the game.

You go in with a gameplan ready to adjust based on what you see on the field.  That’s not currently happening and that’s my biggest concern with Jimbo Fisher right now.

Hopefully he does more as a head coach with the addition of an OC.  I suppose it can’t be any worse than what we have now.

Player Issus/Suspensions:

News broke late on Monday night we have some potential suspensions and even potential dismissals with a few guys based on something that happened in South Carolina.

Rumor is some players were smoking weed in the locker room before or after the game.  It’s not crystal clear what the issue was but it’s something that’s not good.

Not sure if these are just a couple of boneheads or indications of a program in trouble.  Based on the names I’ve seen I think it’s just a couple of boneheads that need to be tossed out despite their immense talent.  No reason to let a couple of guys bring down a locker room of 85 scholarship guys.

We’ll look back on this South Carolina game as a turning moment for good or bad.

EDIT (10/27/22 8:27 a.m.) – As more details come out it looks like a few of the freshman were vaping in the locker room after the game. I have no idea what was in the vape but it doesn’t seem like the guys were smoking joints or hitting a bong. It sounds like they’ll be suspended for a game. Obviously not a good look and we don’t know all the details but maybe things aren’t as bad as it was initially made out to be.

Winning cures EVERYTHING so we’ll see if this team can win.

South Carolina Game:

Let’s get to a few things that frustrated me from the South Carolina game.

First Offensive Play:

The Aggies came into this game coming off a bye week.  We kicked the ball off and South Carolina returned the kick 100 yards to take a 7-0 lead.  Not the way you want to start but still in decent enough shape.

We get the ball on the 25-yard line after a touchback.  Before we even snap the ball we get a false start.  Down 7-0 after a bye week we can’t even snap the first ball without a false start.  That is a CLEAR sign for lack of preparation.

You would have thought our offense was fired up to have a big play after not playing football for two weeks.  You would have thought they were looking to make a statement.  Turns out they were making a statement.  Nothing evolved with a week off.

We move back 5 yards and run our first play.  It’s a short pass to Max Wright that’s incomplete.  I love the grit and the guts of Max Wright but there is absolutely ZERO reason why he should be receiving the first play down 7-0 coming off the bye week.  This is a play we had run before.

I don’t blame Max as much as I blame Jimbo.  Two weeks off and for his first play he calls a play that’s been called before to a guy that’s not our best offensive threat.  I couldn’t believe it.

Jimbo didn’t have a wrinkle there?  At least let the defense think for a play they may not be prepared for what’s coming.  I bet the whole South Carolina defensive coaching staff laughed out loud that Jimbo called a play they’d seen before and were ready to defend.

In Max’s defense he’d later score an impressive touchdown but he’s not the guy that should have seen the first ball coming off two weeks of no football and down 7-0.

That’s 100% on the “offensive mastermind” Jimbo Fisher.

False Starts:

As most of you know we had 8 false starts.  I believe two were on special teams but 8 is at least 6 too many.  I know the South Carolina crowd was pretty loud but it wasn’t any worse than what they experienced in Tuscaloosa.  There is ZERO reason for 8 false starts in a football game.

ZERO.

That’s on coaching.

Blockers Standing Around:

I’ve noticed it a lot this season but I saw two or three times in addition to the final plays where offensive lineman weren’t blocking anyone and just standing around.  Offensive linemen’s SOLE purpose is to block people.  They can’t legally catch balls and you don’t want them running balls.

Since there’s 11 people on offense and 11 people on defense that means if an offensive lineman isn’t blocking someone the defense has gained a massive advantage.  That means at minimum there’s two defenders running free looking for the ball since the ball carrier can’t block people.

Once again this is squarely on coaching.

Even if you blow your assignment you should always be looking to block someone.  The last thing an offensive lineman wants is to be on film not blocking someone.  Yet we had multiple moments where our offensive linemen were standing around not blocking anyone.

It’s as if the offensive linemen say to themselves, “Well, the guy I’m supposed to block is not here so not sure what I should do.  I guess I’ll stand here to see if a defender comes along that needs blocking.”

GO FIND SOMEONE TO BLOCK!!!!!

Lack of Commitment to the Run:

This is what’s so confusing to me about Jimbo’s play calling.  In 2020 we committed to the run in the Florida game and had massive success.  We have one of the most underrated running backs in the country with plenty of talent behind him.

For whatever reason Jimbo won’t even try to commit to the run early in the game.  The South Carolina game seemed PERFECT for it.  You have a banged-up quarterback, a line that struggles to pass block, and a defense that’s suspect to the run.

What do you do?  You don’t give your running back the ball until the third play of the third series after turning the ball over the previous two series.

Your best offensive weapon didn’t touch the ball until the third snap of your third possession.  How in the hell does that happen?

It ain’t that complicated, Jimbo.

Run.  The.  Dang.  Ball.

Opposing Defensive Strategy:

The opposing defensive strategy has become crystal clear.  We’ve seen it in EVERY game since the App State game and Jimbo refuses to adjust.

The opposing defensive ends are simply going to fire straight off at the outside shoulder of our offensive tackles.  No moves or anything.  Just fire right off at their outside shoulder.  They’ll either run around them or push them back to the quarterback who for some reason keeps dropping back even though he’s in shotgun formation.

Seriously.  Our quarterback takes the snap in the shotgun formation and if it’s a pass his first move is to step backwards.  I think it’s a massive key that defenses have picked up on.

While the defensive ends are racing to meet up in the backfield the defensive tackles are moving laterally to confuse the guard and center.  They change it up quite a bit but they almost make some lateral movement before heading up field.

As that’s happening the linebackers are looking for the gaps that are getting created and then rushing through them.

It’s the same damn defense over and over again.  It doesn’t change because we won’t do anything about it.  We just let it happen while we try and execute the perfect play.

South Carolina is not a stellar defense but they played great defense based solely on film study.  They learned the cheat code to beat our offensive based on the fact Jimbo would likely trot out the same pile of offensive garbage.

It’s maddening.

Aggie Defensive Turnovers:

I see a lot of complaints about our defense but let’s be clear – If it wasn’t for the defense getting 6 turnovers in the last two games we’re not even in the position to have a play at the end to win.

Without the key turnover in the Arkansas game we lose that game.

This defense isn’t without fault but I’d love for this defense to play with a lead just like they did in the Miami game.  Ideally I’d love for this defense to play a with a two score game to see what they can do.  I think it would do wonders for this whole team.

Unfortunately, we can’t because Jimbo keeps trotting out that same old pile of offensive garbage.

Don’t hate on this defense because there’s only so much they can do with an offensive that can’t score points.  Even worse the offense turns the ball over with a certain quarterback under center.

Yelling At Players:

I’m tired of Jimbo yelling at his players.  He thinks he’s coaching but he’s not.  I’ll give him credit he’s not berating his guys but he’s treating them like they’re inferior.  It’s an old act because his scheme ain’t working.

I have ZERO issue with a coach yelling at a player when it’s warranted.  ZERO issue.  In fact, I want to see someone getting yelled out when they make a mistake so they can learn from it.

We’re not seeing that.  For two years now all we’ve seen is Jimbo yelling at his players because they didn’t execute the play correctly.

If you’re yelling at your subordinates after every single thing they do that’s a massive failure on your part as a leader.  You either recruited the wrong talent for what you want to do, aren’t clear in your teachings, or your teachings are flat wrong.

In this instance it’s Jimbo’s teaching’s are flat wrong.  He can’t see the defense has already diagnosed what’s coming and blowing it up.  Jimbo can only see his precious offense isn’t working so it must be on his players.

I’m not saying the players aren’t botching assignments from time to time.  If you’re constantly yelling at failure you need to look in the mirror as you’re part of the failure.

Jimbo ain’t doing that.

Lack of Quarterback Runs:

One thing that really opened Jimbo’s offense up was Kellen Mond’s legs.  Jimbo openly talked about how he wished Kellen Mond would run more.

It wasn’t designed runs but simply when a hole opened in front of you then tuck the ball and run.  It worked wonderfully as Kellen’s ability to just take off and gain yards changed how defenses had to defend us. 

Kellen wasn’t even the deadliest runner.  He had decent speed but he wasn’t super elusive.  He just simply took off and ran when he saw space and green grass.

For whatever reason Jimbo doesn’t have Haynes King doing that.  I know King isn’t all the elusive as a runner but it’s like he doesn’t even know it’s an option.

I feel like King only runs in these two instances:

  1. Designed run
  2. Running for his life

I know there’s a lot of the running for his life but if Jimbo is going to keep running King out as his quarterback he needs to tell him to tuck the ball and run the second he sees space and green.  Stop going backwards and go forwards the moment you see any gap to go.

Weigman:

Building on the last one I hope Jimbo rolls Weigman out as quarterback the rest of the way.  I have no clue if Weigman is the guy but I know for certain it ain’t King.  Let Weigman develop a rapport with some of these receivers in actual SEC play.

If Haynes King and Max Johnson have confirmed anything it’s that a Jimbo Fisher designed offensive practice is not indicative of SEC play.

Let’s get game film on Conner in at least five games and hopefully six.  The six would be a bowl game.

This notion it’ll stunt his growth is complete BS.  He’ll make mistakes but as most people know the only way to learn from mistakes is to make them in the first place.

Time to let Weigman make some plays and mistakes while hopefully showing those 5 stars were well warranted.

I have no clue what to make of the rest of the season.  I lean to us not going bowling or barely getting eligible at 6-6 with wins over Florida, Auburn, and UMass.

I do believe we can beat Ole Miss.  They’re not as good as their record shows which LSU exposed and we’re not as bad as our record shows.  At least not talent wise.

If Jimbo is willing to do things a little different we can win on Saturday night.  I just don’t think he will because he’s so damn stubborn.

What a season…

Aggies at South Carolina – Breaking Down the Hail Mary Plays

I was jotting down notes for my full blog and one of them was going to be a point on how the final play perfectly encapsulated the entire offensive side of things. We couldn’t even get off a Hail Mary.

I pulled up the video of the game at lunch to see if South Carolina rushed 3 or 4 people. I remember seeing 3 defensive lineman but couldn’t remember if another South Carolina defender rushed in.

Well, what I saw was worse than anything I imagined. I grabbed screen shots so you can clearly see just how bad it was.

Before I get to those screenshots I have to tell you about the offensive series before the final two plays where we kicked the field goal.

For those that watched the game with me they know I was yelling for Jimbo to kick a field goal when we got to the 36 yard line. There was about 22 seconds left and Jimbo called a timeout after a 2 yard Weigman scramble. We had one timeout left. My point was we needed a field goal so let’s go ahead and try it which would give us about 17 seconds and a timeout if we made the field goal.

That’s a 53 yard attempt which is by no means an easy field goal but we’re in a desperate situation. I thought it gave us the best chance to win assuming we hit the field goal and got the onside kick.

Here’s what happened after that timeout:

  • Conner Weigman throws the ball away because he was pressured and nobody was open.
  • The refs called a roughing the passer which moved the ball to the 21 yard line. That’s a 38 yard field goal which is much better than 53 yards.
  • That previous play burned 5 seconds so there’s 17 seconds left and we still have one timeout.
  • 38 yard field goal with 17 seconds and one timeout. It’s a no brainer to me and I’m yelling to kick the field goal even louder.
  • We run a pass play which gets us 15 yards to the 6 yard line and burns 4 seconds off the clock. We’re down to 13 seconds and the clock will keep moving when the chains are set.
  • Jimbo is forced to burn a timeout.
  • Now we’re attempting a 23 yard field goal with 13 seconds left and no timeouts.
  • We could have been attempting a 38 yard field goal with 17 seconds left and one timeout.
  • In reality we’re splitting hairs but give me the 38 yard field goal with 17 seconds left and one timeout all day long. It at least gives you a little more flexibility on play calling if you get the onside kick.
  • In what is only fitting for this game the Aggies false start on the field goal attempt. We got pushed back five yards. The EIGHTH false start of the game. EIGHT FALSE STARTS IN THE SEVENTH GAME OF THE SEASON COMING OFF A BYE!!!!
  • We attempt a 28 yard field goal instead of a 23 yarder. We still make it.
  • Maybe Jimbo was afraid we’d false start on the 38 yarder so he knew we needed more yards before the attempt. That why we pay him $9.5 million a year.

As if that questionable decision making wasn’t enough let me show you why none of it matters.

Thanks to a well executed onside kick the Aggies get the ball on the 49 yard line with 9 seconds left. Plenty of time for at least one Hail Mary.

This is the first snap of the second to last play. Notice South Carolina has three defensive linemen and a linebacker moving forward. Notice the Aggies have five offensive lineman and a running back. That is SIX on FOUR. Should be a big advantage for the Aggies.

The downside to that math is it also means South Carolina has seven defenders to cover four Aggie receivers. This is why they call it a Hail Mary but we’ll worry about that later.

Before we get to the next photo look at the Aggie left tackle above. The defensive end next to him is CLEARLY firing off the ball and headed to the backfield. He should pick up that defensive end as our tackle is clearly the closest to him.

Our left tackle doesn’t even engage that defensive end and for some reason goes inside where nobody is. He leaves that defensive end COMPLETELY unblocked.

To make matters worse notice two of their four guys were CLEARLY coming towards the backfield and aren’t even being noticed by ANYONE in a white uniform. There are two South Carolina defenders in pursuit of Weigman that nobody is even looking at. Our left tackle COMPLETELY ignored that defensive end AND linebacker firing off the ball.

We have SIX people engaged with TWO people when we should have IMMEDIATELY known there were four coming. We somehow completely ignored two defenders. They were there the entire time.

How the hell does the left tackle completely ignore them and go inside leaving them unblocked? We’re rolling the pocket to the right which is another issue but it doesn’t mean we leave the guys on the left alone.

If you look even closer we have FOUR guys on one defender as our right tackle and running back have the other defender engaged. So that’s FOUR on ONE and two running free.

Here’s where it gets real comical.

What in the world is our center doing? There is not a South Carolina defender in his 180 degree peripheral. However, he’s in pass blocking mode doing nothing. At least all of the other linemen are pursing someone.

How does he not know to turn around and find someone? Did he think a defender hit invisible mode and is going to show up out of thin air? How does he think what he’s doing is okay?

You can say what you want about the player but that’s 100% on coaching to me. A well coached lineman knows to turn around and find someone when there’s nobody there. A good blocker is always looking for someone to block even if it’s not their assignment. If you have no one to block go find someone.

Even worse is you still have the two South Carolina defenders running unnoticed. One guys is about to get caught up with the mass of people but the other guy has a clear line to Weigman with nobody picking him up. That’s the guy the left tackle should have engaged from the start but somehow let him run free.

Let’s continue to watch the play develop. Our center continues to do a WONDERFUL job of blocking air. If he turned around he would have picked up the linebacker that no one had noticed. Seriously. If he turns 90 degrees to his right the moment he realizes there’s no one to block he probably picks off number 22.

Our right tackle has dis-engaged which is actually the right thing to do but like our center he’s headed off to block air. In his defense that guy shouldn’t be sneaking up behind him because the left tackle should have engaged him from the start but he’s not looking for anyone else around him. Just headed to green grass with no South Carolina defender. I’m sure his intention is to help wall off anyone from Weigman so it’s not a horrible move by him. No reason to think there’s a guy running full speed behind him at this point.

Next sequence above shows that linebacker and lineman that nobody on the left side noticed with free lanes to our quarterback because nobody even touched them. They had to navigate a little bit of traffic but no Aggie blocker ever engaged them. This entire time SIX blockers have been focused on TWO defenders.

That is TERRIBLE coaching. I have no clue how this is happening at a program like Texas A&M. Blame youth all you want but how do two guys go COMPLETELY untouched this entire time?

Weigman starts to wind up for the throw but he’s got serious pressure coming. He’s running for his life and can’t even fully wind up. He lets it fly and the ball only gets to the 10 yard line. He can’t even get the ball to the end zone because he’s under so much pressure.

Two guys never accounted for are two steps away from him as he’s winding up trying to throw the ball 60 yards in the air.

Look at Weigman’s feet above. He can’t even get a full throwing motion he’s under so much pressure. He never had a shot to get that 60 yards downfield into the middle of the end zone for a chance at a score.

Weigman winds up getting knocked down. The dude never had the chance to set his feet.

Go ahead and scroll those photos from top to bottom just to see how bad it was.

Since the football gods are funny they left one second on the clock so the Aggies could make one more Hail Mary attempt.

Here’s everyone lined up for the final play. Notice anything different? South Carolina has moved their linebacker to their left side which is the Aggies right side. They clearly noticed the Aggies rolled the pocket to the right and are giving their defender a shorter path to where Weigman likely wants to go.

Does it work? Let’s play it out.

Here’s a MASSIVE improvement for the Aggies as the left tackle engages the defensive end. The left guard and center are doing a nice number on the defensive tackle while the right guard and right tackle are in position to intercept the defensive end. The running back is putting himself in position to engage the linebacker.

So far so good.

The blocking looks INFINITELY better but there’s one slight problem. South Carolina’s adjusting of the linebacker appears to have cut off Weigman’s path to the right. Does it work?

It sure does.

Weigman is cut off so he pulls up. The offensive line is doing a much better job of engagement but South Carolina cut off Weigman’s path from the previous play. Wonderful adjustment by South Carolina.

Something else to notice is that Weigman is under SERIOUS pressure and the furthest Aggie receiver is only 10 yards downfield. The South Carolina defender has advanced 8 yards into the backfield and the Aggie receivers are barely to 10 yards.

You don’t need to know anything beyond basic math to know these are not numbers in the Aggies favor.

Weigman pulls up but he finds more pressure. He still wants to go right but there’s barely a lane to get there. At least the Aggie receivers are beyond 10 yards down the field. The math for the Aggies is getting better, kids.

Weigman tries that lane to the right only to find that linebacker South Carolina smartly moved right where he wants to go. This is a WONDERFUL job by the four South Carolina defenders anticipating where the quarterback wants to go and not letting him get there. Notice the bottom two South Carolina defenders just staying in the general area to cut off any potential of Weigman coming back to the left.

Weigman has no choice but to load up and throw because he’s got a defender with a clean line to him.

As he’s about to release the ball and the defender is coming at him.

Weigman gets his arm moving forward but the defender makes contact and the ball just pops up into the air. You can see it around the 48 yard line. It’s that little dot in the air.

It lands at about the Gamecocks 39 yard line while Weigman lands on the ground at the Aggie 46 yard line. A 15 yard Hail Mary attempt. At least the receivers got more than 25 yards down the field at this point.

There’s obviously some execution areas here but there’s also something else I feel like. I feel like the players are overwhelmed in their assignments. The coaching staff also just keeps going back to the same thing not expecting the defense to adjust.

That first Hail Mary attempt probably works if the left side of the line engage those guys that went completely untouched. The pass probably doesn’t get completed but it looks like a real Hail Mary attempt.

However, when South Carolina moved the linebacker to the Aggies right side someone should have picked up rolling to the right wasn’t the best idea. We ran the same exact play and South Carolina shut it down. That’s on coaching for not pointing out what is likely to happen.

I get that it’s a Hail Mary so options are limited but the awareness of what the defense might be doing seems completely lost on this offense. They just have to run the play as it’s designed and called even if it appears the defense knows what’s coming.

Not sure if I’m going to do a full blog this week because it’s so demoralizing going through all the obvious issues. Some of it is clearly player execution but I put more on the coaches for not letting the players have a better chance at executing.

As I finishing typing this I just learned that Bryce Foster and Aki Ogunbiyi are out for the year. That’s our starting center and starting left guard. The hits just keep on coming…

Thoughts At the Halfway Point

I’ve been debating what to write since the Mississippi State loss.  What Jimbo built up with wins over Miami and Arkansas completely fell apart in 60 minutes of football.  Then came the Alabama game which was nothing but a moral victory.  I hate moral victories.

So I sit here as confused as anyone as to what to expect for the final 6 games.  This team could honestly go 6-0 or 1-5.  Neither would surprise me.

The bye week comes at the perfect time.  Problem is I don’t know if Jimbo is going to double down on the things that made this team 3-3 or make some adjustments and make a run at 6-0.  I honestly have no idea.

Just when I think I can see this team trending one way it takes a serious turn and I’m lost.

I’m just going to hit on some random topics.

Jimbo and His Offense:

It hit me on the flight back from Tuscaloosa what Jimbo’s offense is like.  Jimbo is that stubborn dad that wants his son to drive a manual transmission when he turns 16.  Jimbo wants his son to learn how to drive an outdated transmission because it’ll be good for him and that’s how cars used to be built.

So Jimbo buys his son a mid-90s Mustang V8 with a manual transmission.  Jimbo thinks once his son masters that pesky clutch he’s gonna have a cool ass car.  On Sunday mornings Jimbo and his son head to the mall parking lot where Jimbo is going to teach him how to drive that thing.

They spend multiple Sunday mornings screaming at each other because his son just can’t figure it out.  Most of the time his son lets off the clutch too soon and it just lurches until it stalls out.  Other times he just rides the clutch entirely too long and you can smell that burning clutch.  Sometimes he gets the car going but then he presses the brake and not the clutch so the car stalls out yet again.  Every now and then he’s able to make a complete circle of the mall parking lot with no issues at all.

In those moments Jimbo beams with pride forgetting all about the 5 previous attempts that resulted in failure.  Jimbo pictures in his head his son pulling into the high school parking lot looking super cool.  He never envisions his son could become the laughingstock of the school parking lot because he’s repeatedly stalling out.  Jimbo can only see his son in his mid-90s V8 Mustang with the windows rolled down, classic rock cranked, and mullet flowing.

That’s all he can see because he’s blind to the reality of what other kids are driving.  Jimbo is stubborn and lives in the past.

All the other kids are driving more modern vehicles that actually have more horsepower, get better mileage, more reliable, and most importantly – are just plain easier to drive because they don’t have that stupid complicated clutch.

Jimbo just can’t see there’s a MUCH better way for his son to drive.  He doesn’t understand that clutch makes thing infinitely more challenging and completely unnecessary. 

It’s The Scheme:

We can blame the players all we want but the reality of this team’s struggles are centered around an offensive scheme that isn’t working.

I can’t precisely say why it isn’t working but my eyes and statistics say it’s not working.  It’s ranked near the bottom in many statistical categories.  It’s a complete failure at this point.

I think it’s not working because there’s no wrinkles.  Jimbo believes he’s devised the perfect system and if all 11 players do their job then the offense hums along.

NEWSFLASH – Every single offensive play designed by anyone ever is designed this way.  There’s not an offensive coordinator alive that just willy nilly designs offensive plays without accounting for every defender.  If all 11 offensive players execute perfectly then every offensive play ever designed gains large amounts of yards.

It’s a foolish statement for an offensive coordinator to say if the players execute the play is there.  It’s on the coach to create plays that can be executed because it confuses the defense.

This offense isn’t confusing the opposing defense because there’s no damn wrinkles and everything takes so damn long to develop.  App State really exposed this and every defense since then has done basically the same thing.

Here’s the secret to defending this offense – Pin your ears back and apply pressure.  What you see in front of you is what you’ll expect to see.  Don’t worry about a wrinkle you’re not ready for because there is no wrinkle.

The opposing defensive ends basically make a pact to fire off straight into our tackles and plan to meet at the quarterback.  Meanwhile the defensive tackles and linebackers give the interior lineman a little confusion and someone will break through.  It’s not a difficult offense to defend.

I don’t chart plays of this offense but I bet a junior high kid decent at math could chart our plays and predict with 80% accuracy if a run or pass is coming based on offensive personnel and the down and distance. 

Knowing if a run or pass is coming is a HUGE advantage for the opposing defense.  I don’t think it’s hard for opposing defenses to determine what plays are coming.

Jimbo simply thinks if all 11 guys execute we’ll be moving the chains.  He’s not wrong except for one thing – the entire reason the defense exits is to blow up the play.  When the defense has a really good idea of what play is coming they’ll routinely blow it up.

That’s what’s happening and Jimbo is too stubborn to admit it.

Until Jimbo designs some wrinkles and speed things up this offense will be stuck in the mud.  It’s completely maddening and frustrating.

Where Are the Wrinkles?:

Believe it or not there have been some wrinkles.  They’re few and far between but they’ve been there.  Against Sam Houston we had receivers run routes across each other which confused the defense.  I don’t recall seeing those routes since that Sam Houston game.  We seem to have run them once and abandoned them.

Against Bama we finally added some wrinkles including the first reverse I think I’ve seen Jimbo run since he got here.

We also had a beautiful delayed pass to Donovan Green for a touchdown.

We need a LOT more of those.

I’m hoping Jimbo spent the entire bye week drawing up wrinkle plays.

Make Them Defend the Unknown and Space:

Lane Kiffin is one of the best play designers in college football if not the best.  I hate to say it but Steve Sarkisian is not far behind him.  Each week if you watch those teams there will be 5-10 plays the defense never sees coming and they grab big yards if they don’t get a touchdown.

We never see that from Jimbo.  It’s the same old plays over and over again.

Kiffin has less offensive talent but his scheme is totally superior to Jimbo’s.  Kiffin uses the full width of the field and attacks downfield as far as possible.  Jimbo runs plays around the hash marks and as deep as 15 yards at most.

Kiffin makes the defense defend more space while Jimbo lets the defense defend less space.  In case you’ve never defended anything it’s much easier to defend less space than more space.

It’s simple physics and Jimbo can’t figure this out.

There’s No Sequencing of Plays:

The best playcallers think about plays 2-3 plays ahead of the one they’re calling.  Once again, Lane Kiffin is one of the best at this.  He’ll call a play expecting a certain result and has the next play ready to go right after that.

Jimbo doesn’t do that.  Jimbo appears to call plays completely independent of each other.  It’s almost as if he says to himself, “Okay, let me see how this play does and then I’ll call the next play based on the results of this one.”

He has no expectation of what a play will do until he sees it happen.  That’s a big reason he’s so ineffective as a play caller.  He has no expectation of what’s going to happen with every play.  He must call it and then see what happens.

It’s like Congress passing a Bill to figure out how it effects the American people.  Only morons do things like this.

No Urgent Execution:

I’ve talked about this before but Jimbo has ZERO sense of urgency from an offensive standpoint.  I’m sure defenses love this.  This gives them a chance to get set up and read the offense before the snap.

Because Jimbo believes he’s the perfect play caller he’s giving the defense more time to rest and defend his offense.

It’s maddening to watch.  The more you put a defense on it’s heels the easier it is to execute against them.

There’s a reason why up tempo offenses have become so popular – THEY WORK!!!!!!

Meanwhile Jimbo is doing the exact opposite trying to slow things down which gives the defense an advantage.

It makes ZERO sense why he won’t push the throttle all the way to the floorboard on occasion.

This goes back to the lack of sequencing plays.  To run up tempo you must have the offense ready to go on the next play as soon as the ball is set.  Jimbo needs to see the result of the play and then go back to his massive playsheet to decide the next play.

Jimbo is the person that orders an appetizer without looking at the main course or anything else on the menu.  One thing at a time, people.  One thing at a time.

What Do You Want to Be, Jimbo?:

In 2020 after the Alabama game Jimbo decided we were going to be a running team.  It worked beautifully.  Sure, we had a mostly senior offensive line but it really wasn’t that talented.  Only two guys from the offensive line are playing in the NFL.

I say that not as a knock on those guys but just showing what can happen when you decide on your offensive identity.  Creating an identity helps the offense executes.

We should have been a running team the last two seasons but for some reason Jimbo won’t commit to it.  I don’t know why.  I get wanting to be a robust offense but when you can ram the ball down the defense’s throat you’re going to set up other plays.

In the games last year against Arkansas and Ole Miss Jimbo should have committed to running the ball late in the game but he wouldn’t.  We lost both games.

It’s like he sees a run go for no yards and thinks, “Ah shit.  That run got stuffed.  I better dial up some passes!”

He’s completely afraid of establishing the running game.  In order to establish the running game you have to commit to the running game.  He won’t do it for some reason.  We have one of the most underrated running backs in the country along with some talented younger running backs.

We can run the damn ball if Jimbo will commit to it.  I don’t know why he won’t.

You establish the running game and your passing game will flourish if you know how to design and call plays.

Maybe we’re back to the main problem – Jimbo doesn’t know how to design and call plays.

The Final Play at Bama:

The entire season so far was encapsulated in the final play at Bama.  I’m sure you’ve watched the play multiple times.  For any Aggie football fan it’s like watching the Zapruder film.

You watch it even though you know the result is going to be bad.

We can bitch about the officials all we want but the reality is the players executed that play REALLY badly.  The play took way too long to develop, Evan Stewart didn’t get deep enough in the end zone, and after staring Evan Stewart down Haynes King threw a ball that even if caught would not have resulted in a touchdown because it wasn’t in the end zone.

They didn’t execute it well because it was a terrible job of coaching.

Jimbo and the players can say what they want but it was a horrible play call.  It never had a chance.  It really didn’t.  Bama defended the play decently but they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.  They just defended what they expected to happen and that’s exactly what happened.

Bama knew everything to expect on that play and just played basic defense  The Aggie offense did NOTHING to surprise Bama on that play.

My entire list from above boils down to this single play.  With a chance to pull off a MASSIVE upset Jimbo has nothing special.  I mean nothing at all.  We’d already run this play earlier.  We did score a touchdown on it but Bama was well aware of that and prepared to defend it.

It’s almost as if Jimbo looked at his play sheet and noticed he’d put a star and “TD” next to this play.  He probably thought, “Well, hell.  Apparently this play scored a touchdown already so let’s just call it again.”

Jimbo was playing with house money on one final play and dialed up something the defense had already seen.  He just needed two yards.  No wrinkles, no urgency, no nothing new.  Just the same thing he’d previously called.

I wanted to give the ball to Achane in space.  I know Bama was expecting it but if I give Achane the ball and some space I have more faith in him to get two yards than anyone on this team.  He’s proven that so I would have given it to him.

Jimbo didn’t and I don’t know why.

Even beyond giving it to Achane did we not have some play we’ve been working on since the summer to get two yards?  Something the defense never saw coming?

It’s not surprising based on how Jimbo’s called this offense all year but it’s really disappointing.

House money and Jimbo runs trips to the wide side, five offensive linemen, a lone receiver right, and Achane lined up next to the quarterback in the shotgun.  No motion or anything.

Not a single wrinkle or chance at something the defense had never seen.  Just Jimbo in his head thinking, “If all 11 guys execute this perfectly we’ll win this game.”

The entire first half of the season was summed up in that final play.  A failure because it’s the same old thing over and over again.  The players never had a chance to make a great play happen.

No urgency and no wrinkle.  Just a play off the same spreadsheet he’s been running for 2 seasons now.

Line up a tight end to slip into the endzone, put in a fullback to make it look a run, or run someone in motion to see if the defense will tell you how they plan to defend it.  Do something the defense had no idea what was coming.

We had a chance to upset Bama in back to back years.  We didn’t because Jimbo just called an ordinary play like he didn’t know or care what was on the line.

Just like he was in a mall parking lot on a Sunday morning trying to teach his son how to drive a clutch because he’s oblivious to the advances they’ve made to automobiles.

Maddening.  Frustrating.  Disappointing.  Pick your word.  Hell, pick them all.  They all apply.

Looking Forward:

This team is talented enough to wind up winning 7 games which would include the bowl game.  I don’t see it happening unless Jimbo has a massive epiphany.

That’s not happening so let’s look at reality.

We should beat UMass.

I think we’ll beat South Carolina and Auburn.

I think Florida and LSU are toss ups.

I don’t see how we beat Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss.

I think we wind up 4-2 over those six games for a final record of 7-5. It’s a little ambitious but this is a talented football team. Especially the defense and I think they play well enough to win 4 games the rest of the way.

Even with that it will be a massive disappointment for Year 5 of Jimbo’s tenure.  7-5. Massive disappointment.

Jimbo is not going anywhere as our head coach but there are massive rumblings he’ll be forced to hire an offensive coordinator in the off season.  I hope that’s true.  Everything else about this program seems to be humming along.  Most of the recruiting and the defense appear to be fine.

Ironically enough the positions we don’t have any commits for the 2023 signing class are quarterback, running back, and wide receiver.  Offensive skill players are shying away from committing to Jimbo’s offense.

Strangely the one thing that needs improving is the one thing Jimbo controls.

We’ll find out how stubborn Jimbo is over the next couple of months.

I hope he finds better things to do with his Sunday mornings than spend them with his son in a mall parking trying to figure out how to use a clutch…

Thoughts From the Arkansas Game

Well kids, another week, another Jimbo Special.  It wasn’t pretty and it looked bleak at times but Jimbo pulled out another victory like only he can.  Get just enough offense and pray the defense can hold on.  It worked thanks to Jerry Jones’ super tall field goal uprights.  I have no clue what the call would have been had that ball sailed over the uprights but I don’t care.  A win is a win.

Every year I go to the Arkansas game wishing it was a home and home instead of at JerryWorld.  Nothing against JerryWorld as it’s a wonderful stadium but I just feel college games should be played on college campuses.  However, I leave JerryWorld after an entertaining game with an Aggie victory and wonder if we should just leave well enough alone.

I can’t recall another series like this where it’s been a decade of bizarre games and plays.  Somehow, the Aggies have come out on top most of the time.  We’ve certainly got our share of breaks in JerryWorld.  I’m not complaining one bit.

A win is a win.

Ainias Smith:

Before I get going on the game I have to give a shout out to Ainias Smith.  As most of you know he suffered a broken bone in his leg and will miss the remainder of the season.  I feel horrible for the kid.  He came back for his senior year hoping to prove more on the field only to have this happen.  It’s a horrible literal and figurative break.

For four seasons he’s been the one constant of Jimbo’s offense.  Jimbo has plugged in and played parts with a lot of people that never developed.  Ainias was the one constant every season the last four years.  Obviously there’s Spiller and Achane but for three plus seasons Ainias carried a pretty anemic passing attack.

I wish we could have seen what Ainias could have done with more offensive threats around him.  He was the receiver that defenses keyed on and he still made play after play.

I don’t know what his future holds but I wish him the best.  Get well my man.  You’ve served and represented A&M well in every regard.

Coaching/Mental Mistakes:

There’s a lot to take away from this game but the coaching and mental mistakes are the most mind boggling to me.

We had 9 penalties for 65 yards.  Well prepared players get fewer penalties.  You’re going to have mistakes here and there but 9 penalties is unacceptable.  It really does start with coaching.

Jimbo placed some blame on the players after the game but the reality is it starts with him.  Penalties happen because a player is not prepared or motivated.  That starts with the head coach.  Smart and prepared football teams don’t get 9 penalties at key moments of the game.

The most glaring penalty was the delay of game after receiving the ball from the kickoff.  That’s THE LAST PLACE you should ever get a delay of game.  I have no clue how that happens and that’s squarely on Jimbo.  The other team scores and you know you’re getting the ball.  You have PLENTY of time to prepare your offense and have the play called.  The Aggies didn’t.

The only way that happens is complete indecisiveness by the coach or confusion by the players.  Either way that’s on the coach for not having the play or players ready.  This is squarely on Jimbo’s shoulders.

The other massive mental mistake wasn’t even a penalty.  It was the failed extra point after the amazing defense fumble return.  That also failed because of coaching.  Extra points in college are a free point.  It should be muscle memory.

For some reason the Aggie extra point team was hesitant to snap the ball and everything was out sync.  The snapper, holder, and kicker weren’t aligned.  What exactly happened I don’t know but it’s on coaching because something was off. 

There’s no reason for this because it should be repetition.  The second Demani Richardson crossed the goal line the coaching staff should have been yelling “EXTRA POINT TEAM!  EXTRA POINT TEAM!” 

I’m not kidding.  It’s that basic.  The whole focus of the coaching staff should have been getting the 11 guys out there to kick the extra point.  It didn’t look like that was the case because we waited so long to snap the ball.  That doesn’t happen to a well-prepared football team.  A well prepared and coached team trots out there, lines up, snaps the ball, and nails the extra point.

A team that’s not well prepared is a failure of the coaching staff.  That was a free point and we botched it because we weren’t prepared.  That’s on coaching.

The other concerning coaching decision and execution was at the end of the first half.  Thanks to an Arkansas penalty we got the ball down to the Arkansas 42 with a few seconds left.  We tried a pass that was incomplete to Moose Muhammad leaving us with 4 seconds on the 42-yard line.

Jimbo runs a kicker out there to attempt a 59-yard field goal.  I couldn’t see but I’m guessing it was Caden Davis.  Davis has enough leg to make that distance.  Accuracy is in question but he has the leg to get the ball through the uprights that far out.

I don’t have a problem with that decision because I felt like it was the best opportunity to get points.  Sure, it could get blocked and returned but Davis has enough leg to get it up.  Apparently Jimbo felt it was worth the try at that moment.

Before we snap the ball Arkansas calls a timeout.  After the timeout Jimbo trots his offense out there where we fall on our face in a botched hail mary attempt.  Max didn’t even heave it down field.  He got pressured and just kind of threw it away.  It was completely botched.

Based on what I’d seen so far in that game I had ZERO confidence in a hail mary.  Max wasn’t going to get enough time to throw a ball 50 yards downfield to our receivers.  Nothing in that game up until that moment told me that was a good idea.

At least Davis has the leg to make a 59-yarder if he hits it right.  Maybe it even gives him some confidence.

Here’s my biggest problem with that sequence – What did Jimbo see in that stack of papers in his hand during that timeout he didn’t see once the pass was incomplete to Moose?  Did he find the sheet with the hail mary play so he could show his offense?  Did he find a picture of Auburn and the Kick Six against Alabama?

What changed during that timeout to switch to a play that seemed like a low percentage based on what we’d seen in the game so far?

There’s other examples during the game but those are the three most obvious to me.  When we have the ball there is ZERO sense to do what I call “Urgently Execute”.  There’s a whole lot of standing and looking around trying to decide what to do while the play clock just ticks away.

George Patton once said, “A violent plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”  Someone needs to post this in Jimbo’s office.

I like Jimbo as a head coach.  I do have my concerns that being head coach and playcaller are too big for him.  I’m afraid these are more examples.

Defense:

I’m starting with the defense again because these guys won the game for us.  I know a lot of people are disappointed with our defense but they held Arkansas to 21 points.  That’s a damn fine accomplishment.

Arkansas is a damn good offense in their third year of Kendall Briles.  Yes, Art’s son.  The dude knows how to coach an offense.  Unless you’re the 2020 Georgia team you’re not shutting this offense out.

Arkansas is going to score points.  K.J. Jefferson runs the system perfectly and I wouldn’t be surprised if 21 points is the lowest amount of points Arkansas scores all season.

The Aggie defense slowed down the Arkansas offense just enough to win that game.  Would I like a more dominant effort?  Sure.  I’ll take holding Arkansas’ offense to 21 points all day long because that gives your team a chance to win.

The 3-Man Front:

I’ve seen a lot of griping about A&M’s 3-man front.  Perceptionally I don’t like it because the defensive line should be the strength of our defense.  We should be able to run 4 guys out there and just destroy the opponent’s offensive line.

Unfortunately, that’s not really the case and can be used against you in an Arkansas type offense.

Arkansas’ offense is meant to read the defense and exploit gaps and holes.  With a quarterback like K.J. Jefferson and running back like Rocket Sanders it works well.  Those guys generally crank out the yards. 

It’s not a power rushing attack but more of a patient running attack looking for gaps and seams to get to the next level where they can really chew up yards.

I believe Durkin’s reason for running the 3-man front was to see if he could consume the offensive line with 3 defensive lineman and then have the linebackers and safeties fill the gaps that are created.

I think it worked because we held Arkansas to their least amount of yards all season and Antonio Johnson, Chris Russell, and Jardin Gilbert lead the teams in tackles.  That’s two safeties and a linebacker which leads me to believe those guys were constantly sticking their nose in those gaps.

The last thing you want is to have Jefferson and Sanders hitting the second level where there’s no safety or linebacker.  That’s how Arkansas’ offense will destroy you.  The Aggie defense wouldn’t let them do that as they held Jefferson and Sanders to their combined lowest total of rushing yards against any team this season.

I think Durkin wisely made sure he had plenty of safeties and linebackers in the second level so Jeffeson and Sanders didn’t rip off long runs.  It wasn’t perfect but it worked pretty well for the most part.

Do I wish the Aggie defense could have definitively shut down the Arkansas rushing attack with a four-man front?  Absolutely.  However, I’m not going to gripe too much if the end results are an Aggie victory.

Now, I do have a concern if Durkin trots out the 3-man front against Mike Leach on Saturday.  You have to apply pressure to the Mississippi State quarterback or he’ll tear you apart.  He’s not really a threat to run so I’m not as worried about those little gaps.  If the 3-man front was for one game to slow down the Arkansas rushing duo of Jefferson and Sanders then I’m good with it.

Defensive Line:

I talked about 3-man front already but regardless of Durkin’s reason the defensive line did what they were asked to do.  For the much of the night they occupied the 5 Arkansas lineman allowing other defenders to make plays.

The defensive line won’t get any of the individual glory but they’re the guys that made that defense really work on Saturday night.

There were some pretty obvious holding calls that didn’t get called but these guys never relented all night long.  They just lined up and took on the Arkansas offensive line.

This will likely be one of the best offensive lines they face all season so I think it’s a very promising sign for the rest of the season.

Linebacker and Safety Play:

I touched on it briefly talking about the 3-man front but I thought our linebacker and safety play was pretty damn solid this game.  The Arkansas offense loves to exploit linebackers and safeties out of position and for most of the game our guys were where they needed to be.

We all know about the abilities of Antonio Johnson and Demani Richardson but Jardin Gilbert is really playing some good football.  Chris Russell, Jr. played the best game of his career at a time we needed it most.  I’ve been a little concerned with him as he’s been out of position some in the first three games but he stepped up in a big way against Arkansas.

Bryce Anderson again showed he’s likely to be something special.  It looked like he went out with an injury so I hope he’s okay and bounces back for this week.

The defensive line is the heart and soul of this team even with a 3-man front but the linebacker and safety units are proving to be nice complimentary units.

Coverage:

The entire secondary seemed like a swarm of defenders all night.  They had one massive brain fart on the 56-yard touchdown pass.  Other than that I thought they played really well.  That one pass counted for 33% of Arkansas’ total passing yards.  If that play never happens then Arkansas has a total of 115 passing yards and 14 points.

Arkansas doesn’t have the best receivers but we’ve seen plenty of Aggies games where marginal receivers got the better of us.  I feel good about this unit when it comes to covering.  It’s not going to be without errors from time to time but I do like the depth and talent Jimbo has assembled with this group.

Offense:

Devon Achane:

I talked about Ainias and I don’t want to take anything away from him but Devon Achane once again proved he’s the hands down MVP of the 2022 Aggie Football team.  It’s not even close.

What he did on Saturday night was overshadowed by so many things such as the fumble return and the “Oink Boink.”  If Devon Achane doesn’t suit up for the Aggies those aren’t even discussion points.  We’re just talking about Arkansas beating the Aggies in back-to-back seasons.

Achane was without the doubt the heart and soul of this offense on Saturday night.  The dude averaged 8.4 yards per carry on 19 carries.  For a team that sputters offensively that is an insane amount of yards per carry.  He’s the only real threat to the defense and they still can’t bottle him up.

While that yards per carry is impressive this is the most impressive stat for Devon Achane – Out of 60 total offensive snaps for the Aggies he was in on 58 of them.  58 of 60 offensive snaps!!!!

After his 63 yard run he didn’t even come off the field.  He just lined up and took the next two snaps for runs of 5 and 10 yards.  No timeout or anything.  Just hauls ass for 63 yard, hands the ball to the official, and lines up for two more carries for 15 yards.

How many running backs in football do you know that rip off a 63-yard run and don’t come out of the game?  Jimbo just lined Achane up and handed the ball to him two more times for 15 more yards and a first down.  THAT IS INSANE.

Everybody is talking about our missed field goal against App State, Miami’s botched punt return, and the Arkansas plays.  None of those things are being discussed if there’s no Devon Achane.  If Devon Achane is not on this team we might be 1-3 and I’m not kidding.  He’s not the sole reason we’re 3-1 as the defense has played well but without Devon Achance there’s no offense to get a few more points than the defense has allowed.

We all know about his elite level speed but the more he touches the ball I’m amazed at how elusive he is.  It’s not flashy either.  He’s just so damn smooth that he has great vision and ability to cut and then that homerun gear if he gets free.

He is special special and I don’t think most football fans including Aggies realize just how special he is because he looks so effortless in what he does.

Max Johnson:

While Achane is carrying this team Max Johnson has made sure there’s no additional burdens for Achane to carry these last two games.

Max Johnson has not been great by any stretch of the imagination but he’s done exactly what he’s needed to against Miami and Arkansas.  He hasn’t made any massive mistakes and has allowed others around him to make plays.

The best play to showcase this was the touchdown pass to Evan Stewart.  Arkansas’s defensive strategy this year has been very clear – we don’t trust our secondary but we’re not going to give you enough time to test them if we can help it.  Arkansas blitzes like crazy and did all night against A&M.

On that touchdown pass to Stewart Arkansas didn’t disguise the fact they were going to force Max Johnson to throw before he wanted to.  We had an empty back set and Arkansas lined up six guys on the offensive line.  No tight ends.  That’s a math of six defenders to five blockers.  What that means is at least one guy is going to break through and apply immediate pressure to the quarterback.

Max recognized this.  On the snap two Arkansas guys broke free and ran immediately for Max.  Max waits as long as he can and calmly lofts the ball in the air towards Evan Stewart who was able to turn around and make a play for a touchdown.

It was the only play to make.  Max recognized before the snap and after the snap while calmy executing it.  It looks like a lucky pass but if you go back and watch the play it was the perfect call executed perfectly.  That was a big game changer.

The featured image of this post is the photo of Max throwing that ball to Evan Stewart.  Max has two defenders barreling down on him and he releases as perfect of a throw as he can.  It’s actually a very impressive play on Max’s part.  Great job by Stewart looking back to get the ball but a lot of QBs would have scrambled rather put the ball in a spot for their receiver to make the play.

In addition to that play Max had to deal with bad snaps all night long and calmly corralled them while looking to make plays down the field.

Statistically he didn’t do anything impressive as he was barely a 50% passer for 151 yards against one of the worst secondaries in football.

I don’t necessarily like getting excited about a game manager at quarterback but perspective is a funny thing.  I think the only quarterback in the Jimbo era that would have beaten Arkansas on Saturday night was 2020 Kellen Mond.  2018 Kellen, 2019 Kellen, Haynes King, and Zach Calzada lose that game.

Sometimes it’s not what you do at quarterback it’s what you don’t do.  Max didn’t do anything to put the Aggies in a worse position than what they already were from a scheme and talent standpoint.

Max is never going to be Johnny Manziel or even Trevor Knight.  His pocket awareness is pretty good though and he avoids trouble well for a guy his size and without blazing speed.  More than anything as trouble is coming he’s already assessed what’s going on downfield and acts accordingly.  That’s a big key for what you want in a quarterback.

Max isn’t going to be the reason we win football games but considering the 14 games before he took over I’m gaining some confidence he won’t be the reason we lose football games either.

Offensive Line:

This is a tough one for me to assess.

On one hand the offensive line finally did enough to spring Achane.  In addition Arkansas was bringing pressure the entire game.  These guys had their work cut out for them.

On the other hand we didn’t do anything in our first four possessions.  We also didn’t score a point when we really needed points on our only fourth quarter possession that mattered.  We did miss a field goal on that possession but 53 yards from the Arkansas 36 is hardly a chip shot.  We needed to be deeper in Arkansas territory on that drive.

The offense needed to do more on that possession and they didn’t.

During the second and third quarter this offensive line did take the fight to a tough Arkansas defensive front.  They deserve major props for that.  Maybe they would have responded on the final drive if Arkansas made that final kick.  We don’t know and quite frankly I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.  I’ll take the win from the “Oink Doink”.

I hold out some hope maybe this is like the 2020 Florida game where the offensive line finally found some level of identity.

I’ve complained about Jimbo’s decision making in this game but he along with the offensive line deserve massive credit for realizing and executing the run game as the only real hope of moving the ball.  Achane is special but this offensive line executed the play calling to spring him to make some amazing plays.

Now that we seem to be settled on the five guys going forward I’d like to think this unit can only improve and not regress.  Especially as Bryce Foster gets stronger.

We’ll find out more against Mississippi State but it was great to see this unit finally give Arkansas a fight after not doing anything at all for four possessions in the first quarter.

Wide Receiver:

Ugh.  This is where I have to remind everyone that Ainias Smith is out for the year and there’s no clear replacement.

I have no clue what to think with this group.  There’s some flash with Evan Stewart and Donovan Green for sure.

Those two guys lead the team in receptions with 3 each and totaled 86 yards.  Green had 50 yards and Stewart had 36. 

That’s a pretty pitiful showing against one of the worst secondaries in the country.  At least statistically. 

They didn’t light it up but they did make a couple very tough catches at key moments.  Great to see them step up and make plays in moments you need it most.  They are true freshman adjusting to the college game.

I’m disappointed Jimbo didn’t run more hot routes trying to get the ball to these guys in some space to see what they can do.  I think Jimbo realized he had a hot hand in Achane and decided to ride it which I have no problems with.  Jimbo failed to ride the hot hand in a couple games last year and it cost us victories.

Like the offensive line this group is kind of hard to judge because Arkansas wasn’t going to give us time to pass.  I also believe Jimbo didn’t have as much confidence in his passing game as he did his run game.

Unfortunately, I also have to bring up Moose Muhammed who probably contributed to the lackluster performance of this group more than anyone else.  Moose played about as terrible of a game as a receiver can play.  He had 3 penalties but most importantly he dropped a certain touchdown pass where he was wide open.  He completely botched the catch not being in proper position and then kind of jumping where the ball bounced off his hand.

A competent receiver positions himself where he runs under that ball in stride and cruises to the end zone.  It’s the route and pass every receiver dreams of where it’s an easy six points.  The moment was too big for Moose and he botched it. 

We wound up getting a field goal on that drive so it wasn’t a 7 point swing but it was a 4 point swing.  I believe if Moose catches that ball it completely changes the outlook of the game.  I certainly don’t think the “Oink Boink” happens.  Arkansas wouldn’t have been kicking at that moment because it would have been a six point game if Moose caught that ball like he should have.

Like the offensive line we’ll see what happens against Mississippi State this weekend.  Evan Stewart was targeted 7 times against Arkansas so it’s pretty clear it’s in the works for him to be an integral part of our passing game.

I’m not worried about Stewart and I feel confident about Green with him getting more experience.  I’m also hopeful Yulkeith Brown and Chris Marshall can develop as they get more experience.

Paint me optimistic that Max, the line, and the young receivers can develop a serviceable passing game as the season wears on.

Looking Forward:

Since the App State loss I’ve said we’ve got to really take one game at a time.  There was a legit chance we were staring down a 1-5 record.  As it stands we won’t be worse than 3-3 going into our bye which seems like a massive accomplishment.

I’m hopeful we can get by Mississippi State so the worst case going into our bye is a 4-2 record.  That would be remarkable considering how we looked in the first two games.

Mississippi State won’t be easy at all.  Just like we somehow have Arkansas’ number Mississippi State has ours.

We are 3-5 against Mississippi State since 2014.  That’s our first year without Johnny.  We’ve won one game in Starkville in that time and that was the 2020 team in Mike Leach’s first year there.

It goes without saying that Starkville is not our favorite place to play.

This will be a tough game because the Mississippi State defense is better than people think.  We all know what Leach can do offensively but Durkin does have some success against him.  Durkin slowed Leach down last season when Ole Miss beat Mississippi State in Starkville.

As I write this Mississippi State is favored by 3.5.  Vegas doesn’t always get these lines correct but they’re generally a better guide than anything else.

This won’t be an easy game and Jimbo has his work cut out for him.

Let’s just hope he plans to urgently execute on Saturday rather than sift through his stack of papers looking for the perfect play or a good diagram to show his team.

Thoughts from the Miami Game

I heard a lot of disappointment from Aggies on the fact the Aggies beat a higher ranked team and covered the spread while missing four key freshman.  Seriously.  I get the frustration but this Aggie team was staring down the barrel of a 1-5 start.

The Aggies beat a Top 15 team who has a quarterback that’s a potential first round pick.  They beat a Miami team that has a lot of excitement and momentum.

This Aggie team lost to App State last week and a win over Miami still isn’t enough for a lot of fans.  This is why we can’t have nice things.  We ain’t winning the National Title this year so get excited about positive developments with some occasional struggles.

The Aggies won a football game that just might get their season back on track.  Sure, there’s still plenty of questions and concerns but a win is a win.  Enjoy it for a bit.  This week will feel much better than last week.

Overall this win is what I call a “Jimbo Special.”  Jimbo has won many times like this in his short tenure at Aggieland.  The defense does the brunt of the work while the offense jabs away trying to land a couple knock out punches that never land.  In the end the jabs are enough and the Aggies get a win.

I’d prefer to land knock out punches and put games away early but I like winning.  Winning is fun. I’ll take this over losing.

There’s still some questions and concerns about the rest of the season but let’s not get greedy just yet.  Let’s enjoy a win that was desperately needed.  At least that’s what I’m going to do.

Offense:

Devon Achane:

I’m starting with the guy that might be the most underrated player in college football.  A lot of people know his name and know about his speed but the dude is basically single handedly carrying this Aggie offense.  I don’t think people realize the amount of work he’s doing compared to the rest of the offense.

He’s the only guy that’s consistently doing anything.  It’s remarkable.  The dude is a football player but really isn’t that flashy.  We all know he’s fast but his ability to bounce off hits is uncanny for a guy his size.  He’s done it time and time again in his three years in Aggieland.

His touchdown catch early in the 3rd quarter completely changed the game in my mind.  It put the Aggies up by two touchdowns causing how the Hurricanes and the Aggies managed the rest of the game.  The Aggies were able to focus on playing mistake free football while Miami had to have a much higher sense of urgency. Well, they should have but their head coach didn’t exactly look like it. Fine with me.

The catch itself was typical Achane.  It was a short pass that looked like Achane would work to get 10-15 yards as a defender made contact.  Next thing you know Achane somehow sheds a couple defenders and he’s running free to the endzone.  Nothing flashy but he just somehow got free and then used his world class speed.

Beyond that catch he did a remarkable job running all night.  He carried the ball 18 times for 88 yards for 4.9 yards per carry.  That’s REALLY damn good considering the game plan and I bet you didn’t realize that.  There’s obviously issues with the offensive line but Achane is still out there producing even though there’s not a lot of room to run.

At one point in the third quarter he was averaging 6.6 yards a carry.  It didn’t seem like it because we weren’t scoring more points but Achane was absolutely producing on an offense that had struggles everywhere else.

I don’t think people realize what we have in Devon Achane.  He may be the most underrated Aggie player ever.  He’s extremely talented and productive but there’s no flash because he’s so damn smooth in what he does.  Can’t say enough good things about this guy.

He’s the ONLY bright spot on this offense right now.  In fact, he’s the Aggie Team MVP through the three games and there’s not even a close second.

I think we’re 1-2 without him.

We also might have got shut out by App State without Achance. Major ouch.

Offensive Line:

It was good to see Bryce Foster back.  It seemed to help a little bit but there’s still some issues.  I think it centers around the fact we haven’t settled on the five guys yet.  We’re still unsure who should be the left guard as Ogunbyi and Moko rotated throughout the game.  Moko started but Ogunbyi got some playing time.

I was a little surprised this group struggled so much with the pass rush.  They’ve been better against the pass rush in their first two games.  In this game they seemed a little better at establishing the run than pass blocking.  Not sure why that is but just more of the inconsistencies with this offensive line.

I don’t think this line is as bad as most people think.  It DEFINITELY needs improvement but it’s somewhat serviceable right now.  It’s definitely not as bad as the 2019 offensive line.

We need to decide on a left guard and let the five guys play together.  I don’t think it’s going to be the 2020 offensive line that just dominated people but I do think we’re going to start seeing more improvement with Foster back and settling on the left guard.

We’ll find out a lot about this unit on Saturday night against Arkansas.  I know you’re ready for the final answer but these things do take a little time to develop.

Wide Receiver:

Thanks to a rumored kick ass party at Prairie View A&M on Friday night we got to transport back to 2021 where our receiving unit was Ainias Smith and some other dudes.

We REALLY missed Evan Stewart in my mind.  None of the other receivers other than Ainias Smith could get any separation from the defender.  When they did get separation they dropped passes that should have been caught.

We had 140 yards of receiving on 20 attempts with 116 yards of that between Ainias and Achane.

Hopefully Evan Stewart stays in his hotel in DFW and Chris Marshall doesn’t fight anyone at practice this week.  We really need their talent on the field.  With Max Johnson at quarterback I think we’ll be able to exploit their talent so we need them.

People love to bitch about the offensive line not blocking and the quarterback not passing but when there’s not open guys it’s really a moot point.  There weren’t many open guys on Saturday night other than Smith and Achane.

Tight End:

Donavan Green had a nice 18 yard catch on the first series of the game but we never saw anything develop for the tight end the rest of the night. This is a little confusing as Jimbo has shown he loves tight ends catching balls in his previous four seasons.

Maybe he’s saving it for SEC play.

Quarterback:

I wasn’t far off in my guess for how the starting quarterback would play out this year.

This is what I wrote in May of this year:

I think we’re going to see King and Johnson share snaps in the first two games.  How that happens I’m not sure and that doesn’t really matter.  Maybe it’s 2 series and 2 series or 1st quarter and 2nd quarter.  I think you’ll see Johnson in the first half of both of those games though.  That means there is no definitive starter for Jimbo to start the season.

I think at some point in the Miami game Johnson goes in the first half and doesn’t come back out for the rest of the season.  At least as a starter.

I wasn’t totally right on how it played out.  I was right the Miami game would be the definitive moment for the quarterback position.  With that humble brag out of the way let’s talk about Max.

I thought Max looked really good.  Not great by any stretch but the dude was starting his first game in a new offense where he hasn’t got many game snaps.  His previous starting experience at LSU really shined in my mind. 

The moment was not too big for him.  That much was clear.

He was under pressure much of the night and had receivers that couldn’t get separation.  When they did they dropped balls.

The most impressive thing King did all night was his scrambles.  Max isn’t Johnny Football but he showed great awareness of the pocket and the coverage.  His runs were pretty decisive which was great to see.  He clearly saw what was happening on the field and processed it quickly.  I think that speaks to his awareness and experience.

I don’t have any delusions that Max Johnson leads us to the College Football Playoff.  I do believe Max can take us to at least 8 wins and potentially 10.  We weren’t getting that with Haynes King.

I know Conner Weigman is likely the future but Max Johnson is the now.  Let’s not get that confused.

I believe once our freshman receiving threats come back and the offensive line develops more we’re going to see a lot more out of Max Johnson.

He clearly has experience and poise which we didn’t see last year and the first two games this year.

I fully believe Max gets us back on track pushing to a 10-win season.  He’s not going to carry the team but he doesn’t need to.  He just needs to be smart and get the ball in the hands of our playmakers.

Based on what I saw on Saturday night I think Max can be the guy that keeps us from a potential freefall after App State. Thank goodness for quarterback depth.

Defense:

D.J. Durkin Assessment:

Three games in I’m scratching my head because I don’t know what D.J. Durkin is doing defensively.  I know he has a lot of questions when it comes to talent and experience outside of Antonio Johnson and Demani Richardson.

He’s rotating a ton of guys in and out while playing different sets.  That makes sense because he’s got a lot of talented youth.  I haven’t been able to track the sets in great detail because he seems to change it up quite a bit.

I can’t fully diagnose what he’s doing but through three games his defense is averaging less than 9 points a game.  That’s all I need to diagnose at this point.

There’s a lot of statistics in football but there’s two that matter more than anything else -Points Scored and Points Against.  When it comes to Points Against we’re doing REALLY damn good.

Here’s some random statistics that lead to my head scratching:

  • This Aggie defense has only given up touchdowns on Aggie offense turnovers.  This defense has not given up a touchdown when the opposing offense has received the ball via a punt or kick off.  Kind of quirky but interesting none the less.
  • App State rushed 52 times for 181 yards just bludgeoning us for 3.5 yards a carry.
  • App State only passed for 134 yards.
  • App State got 22 first downs.
  • Miami rushed 36 times for 175 yards which is 4.9 yards a carry.  That’s generally a REALLY bad sign.
  • Miami only passed for 217 yards.  Tyler Van Dyke has started a little slow this season but he averaged 351 yards a game last year.
  • Miami got 27 first downs.
  • Miami didn’t score a touchdown.

I don’t like the rushing yards and first downs given up to App State and Miami.  I like the lack of passing yards and especially no touchdowns given up except on two turnovers.

I don’t know if this is a mastermind by Durkin or it’s pure luck but it’s worked the first 3 games.  Our defense has played well enough to win all 3 games and that’s all you can ask for.  This is a good defense that should get better.

I’m interested to see what Durkin does against Arkansas this week.  In last year’s Ole Miss/Arkansas game where Durkin was Ole Miss’ Defensive coordinator Arkansas rushed for 355 yards and passed for 326 yards.  That’s 681 yards of total offense resulting in 51 points.

Lucky for Durkin in 2021 his boss at the time is an offensive mastermind and they totaled 611 yards and scored 52 points to win.

Unlucky for Durkin in 2022 his boss is not an offensive mastermind.  Giving up almost 700 yards and 50 points is not going to cut it for a win.  Durkin is absolutely going to have to come up with a scheme to keep Arkansas from rolling up and down the field on the Aggies.

If you can’t match Arkansas point for point you can’t let them run over you on the ground.  I sure as hell hope Durkin plans on a LOT more guys in the box to force Arkansas to pass more.  In addition, he’s going to have to get creative in how he uses those guys in the box.  If he just fires off our defensive lineman hoping the backers and safeties properly fill the gaps then Arkansas will simply find little seams to run through and bludgeon us on the ground like App State.

Durkin needs to create schemes that Arkansas isn’t expecting and disrupt their running game.

Arkansas is averaging 244 rushing yards a game this season.  They’re going to run the ball and we better come up with stops.  If not, we lose this game.

Personnel Assessment:

From a talent standpoint nobody is really sticking out as individuals.  That’s not a bad thing as it means guys are following the scheme and it’s working.

There’s guys that flash from time to time but 3 games in I haven’t seen anyone that’s truly disrupting every play.  Once again, that’s not a bad thing as a defensive unit is much tougher to defend than a defense that has two playmakers and not much else. 

You can scheme to disrupt defensive playmakers and attack a defense’s weakness if you have the offensive playmakers.  Just think back to the secondaries of Kevin Sumlin and the defensive lines under Mike Sherman and Fran.

We’ll see if any single player starts dominating against Arkansas but I’ll be happy if this defense continues to keep teams out of the end zone.  That’s more important than anything else from a defensive standpoint. Don’t let them score touchdowns.

The loss of Demani Richardson on a BS targeting call was pretty big but I thought Bryce Anderson did a really good job of filling in.

I also thought Jaylon Jones did a damn good job in his first game back.

These guys are playing great as a unit and I think as they get more games under their belt we’re going to see guys start to show some dominating tendencies.

Looking Forward:

We are truly in a week to week situation when it comes to assessing Aggie football.  Just look at the last two Saturdays.  After App State Aggies everywhere thought the world was ending.  A Saturday later they stuck up their head thinking it might be safe to wear maroon in public again.

This team is likely not going to the College Football Playoff so get that out of your head.  The reality is we can still salvage a 10-win season with a trip to an NY6 Bowl Game winning that for 11 wins.  If we played in any other division besides the SEC West it would be a much easier path.

Part of the price we pay for playing in the toughest division in college football but still possible.

I think we showed on Saturday night that we’re a Top 20 football team.  We’ll figure out in the next 3 weeks if we’re a borderline or even Top 10 team.

Calm down and let’s watch things develop week to week.

Recruiting Effect:

What a lot of you probably don’t realize is the most important thing that came out of Saturday’s game was some serious positive momentum with recruits.  We had a fair number of big names in attendance.  The environment and results didn’t disappoint based on feedback from the recruits that were there.

We take it for granted but 107,000 people in an electric environment is REALLY damn impressive.

We don’t return to Kyle Field until October 29th.  The last major memory in the mind of many recruits will be the environment they experienced at the Miami game.  It’s not as big as last year’s Bama game but it’s a serious positive swing for future recruiting classes.

If you’re bitching just know a bunch of important recruits had a great time.  That’s the most important thing that came out of the Miami game.

I saw D.J. Lagway’s father in the concourse before the game.  D.J. is one of the top quarterbacks in the country from Willis.  I introduced myself and just told him we would love to have his son play for the Aggies.  He told me his son really likes Texas A&M. 

I said, “Well, I sure hope he comes here.” 

He smiled at me and said, “Oh, he loves it here.”

I did my part.  I hope Jimbo can do his part.

But first he needs to get through Arkansas…

Thoughts on the App State Game

I’ve struggled on where to begin with this game.  I’m not totally shocked by what happened.  There were some big questions after the Sam Houston State game. I am a little surprised the Aggies lost to App State. I didn’t expect it at all.

I really thought we’d win this game until about 5 minutes in the 4th quarter.  I really thought at some point our superior athletes would take over and our coaching staff would throw a wrinkle or two at App State they weren’t ready for.

Neither of those things happened an App State walked out of Kyle Field with a victory over a Top 10 team.  It’s been 15 years but they got another.  It’s what App State does.  App State is a decent enough football team but there was no reason for them to walk out of Kyle Field with a win.  Credit to them as they outcoached and DEFINITELY outplayed the Aggie squad.

So what happened?

Two things – No quarterback play and arrogant ignorant coaching.  They were pretty equal in my mind and actually worked hand in hand this game.  Haynes King didn’t make any plays but Jimbo arrogantly and ignorantly kept calling his regular plays over and over with no wrinkles.  He also completely ignored Max Johnson when it was clear Haynes King had nothing.

Before I go any further I feel like I need to state this – Jimbo ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Barring a massive collapse he’s going to be our coach for at least 2-3 more years.  Likely longer.  I’m actually okay with that as he can recruit and I think he’s a pretty good football coach.  His offensive coaching offers PLENTY of questions but I don’t know who we would replace him with.  There’s only one Nick Saban and he’s caused irrational coaching changes along with driving up coaching salaries.  I don’t want a coaching carousel as that’s not going to help anything.

Jimbo is the best overall football coach we’ve had since R.C. Slocum in the mid-90s.  I truly believe for running a big time college football program he’s easily in the Top 20 and likely Top 10 of coaches.  The dude loves to coach football and can run a big-time college football program.  Can we find someone better than him?  It’s possible but not very likely.  To me Jimbo is in that first tier of college coaches that aren’t named Nick Saban.

Ultimately the play calling falls on him and there’s plenty of questions there but I don’t think pulling the trigger on firing Jimbo is very prudent right now.  I’m not going to discuss that because I don’t think it’s productive.

If there’s one positive that came from this game it’s we got our question about Haynes King answered.  He ain’t the answer.  I know Jimbo locks onto his quarterbacks but we’ve seen enough of King.  I don’t know what Max Johnson gives us but it’s time to find out.

Hopefully this game serves like an alcoholic waking up staring in the mirror of a jail cell wondering how they got there.  Maybe Jimbo just goes back to King like an alcoholic to the bottle but hopefully Jimbo looks for some help.  He certainly needs it.

Tossing out the Prairie View game Jimbo hasn’t looked great as an offensive coordinator in his last 5 games.  This goes all the way back to Auburn when we didn’t score a single touchdown.  We then struggled offensively against Ole Miss and LSU to close out the season.

We scored 31 against Sam Houston but looking back that was thanks to busted coverage more than anything.  The Aggie offense certainly didn’t do anything impressive against Sam Houston.  We just had better athletes.

We saw what happened yesterday.  We basically had two great offensive plays against App State.  The long King scramble and then the Achane touchdown run.  That was it.  We didn’t even have 100 yards of passing or 100 yards rushing.  AGAINST APPALACHIN STATE!!!! 

Less.  Than.  200 Yards.  Of.  Offensive.

That’s shameful.

I’ll get to the defense in a bit as they certainly had some issues but let’s not lose sight of the most embarrassing stat from this game – We couldn’t even muster 200 yards of offense against App State.  Mack Brown’s UNC team put up 567 yards of offense the week before.  We couldn’t muster up 200 yards of offense at Kyle Field against a defense that gave up 567 yards of offense the week before.

If that doesn’t signal something is broken then I don’t know what will.  5 straight games of pitiful offensive output.

Jimbo’s in a prison cell looking in a mirror.  Does he see an alcoholic that’s been making bad decisions or does he see a guy that’s just had a string of bad luck?  We’ll find out against Miami.  It ain’t bad luck.  It’s bad decisions.

Coaching:

The biggest issue with the coaching in this game is Jimbo and his staff wanted to win a game against an inferior talent with no wrinkles.  I think the plan was to establish a base they could build from by just overpowering a lesser talented team.  It didn’t work and that’s on the coaching staff.

Meanwhile App State played and coached a perfect game.  They clearly knew what to do.  They simply played mistake free football and let A&M implode on itself.

On offense they simply took what the A&M defense gave them.  They rushed for 208 yards because the A&M defense let them.  We played a 3-man front for much of the first half and App State just chewed up yards and the clock.  I really thought our rotation of defensive lineman would help us out but App State just kept chewing yards and clock.

It wasn’t fancy or flashy but they just chewed up 3-4 yards a play.  Lots of patience and faith it would work out for them.  The App State coaching staff never panicked and it paid off.

The App State coaching staff obviously realized the Aggie offense was in a complete funk.  They smartly decided to limit touches so it couldn’t get on track.  It worked beautifully as App State ran 82 plays to A&M’s 38.

Read that again – 82 plays to 38.  How the hell did we only lose by 3?  That’s a testament to our talent on defense as a whole.  Schematically we were weak but we should have gotten stomped when their offense ran 44 additional plays against our defense.

As you can imagine time of possession went App State’s way by a LARGE margin.  They held the ball for 41:20 to A&M’s 18:31.  App State held the ball for twice as long as A&M.  Once again, it’s pretty remarkable we only lost by 3 points in looking at the number of plays and time of possession.

The A&M coaching staff completely lost this game.  I have to imagine the App State coaching staff was talking bewildered in their headsets.  The Aggies were letting them get away with a very vanilla game plan because they were just taking what the Aggie defense giving them while their defense did just enough to confuse the Aggie offense.  That ain’t hard to do if you look at our last 5 games.

Just run some basic twists, stunts and delayed blitzes.  It’ll confuse our offensive line and quarterback.  Mostly our quarterback.

The App State coaching staff just called a game to let the Aggie team implode.  It worked perfectly.

I’m going to get to Haynes King next but this game is COMPLETELY on Jimbo.  He couldn’t see his team imploding and didn’t add any wrinkles.  He spent the entire game trying string together an offensive drive and it cost him in seeing other aspects of his team failing.

Haynes King was failing on the field and his defense was scared to give up a big play.  Jimbo either didn’t see this or completely ignored all of it.

App State just played into it perfectly.  Jimbo never called a wrinkle on offense or defense.  He was simply a kid playing Madden convinced if he could get 3-4 plays together his offense would take off and his team would win.  It never happened.

He blinded himself and nobody on his coaching staff said anything to him.  Or if they did he completely ignored it.  Either way it’s a terrible look for Jimbo.

He let his team down with terrible coaching.

Haynes King:

I hate to single this kid out but it needs to be done.  I know the offensive line is struggling and not helping him but King did NOTHING in this game other than that one long run.  He looks lost and shows no since of urgency or desire to create a spark.

He now has 3 full games against non-Power 5 football programs and you can count on one hand the plays that have truly been impressive.  The sample set has gotten bigger and the results have been virtually the same.  They actually regressed against App State which is concerning.

King hasn’t shown us anything to make us believe he’s the guy to be under center.  He’s not even pedestrian.  He’s in his third year in Jimbo’s program and he’s confused.

I’ll point to two plays in the 4th quarter.

The first was a zone read with Achane.  For those of you not familiar with a zone read it’s where the quarterback hands off to the running back while reading a defender.  Generally it’s the defensive end but on occasion it’s someone else.  The point of the play is for the quarterback to pull the ball back out if the defender sells out to the run and leaves the edge open for the quarterback.  It has to be a pretty quick read but it’s a play that’s been around for two decades from high school to college.

I promise you this wasn’t King’s first time to run a zone read.

On this particular play King held onto the ball entirely too long holding up Achane.  I don’t know if King was trying to pull the ball back out or was just making a slow decision.  Either way Achane had the ball and wasn’t giving it back.  It was completely botched by King.  That decision must be made pretty quickly.  If Achane has the ball King must let it go.  Instead King help up Achane and we got no yards on the play.  We might have even lost a yard.

The other play was the option play.  This is a play that’s been around for 50 years.  Any quarterback with his salt knows how to run this play even if it goes nowhere.  Especially a quarterback that’s supposed to be a running quarterback.

On this particular play King took the snap and ran to the right with Achane leading down the line with him.  It became apparent REALLY quickly the Aggies were running an option.  App State read it perfectly sealing the edge.  King had a decision to make to either cut up or pitch. He actually did neither and continued trying to stretch the play running into the defender.

I’d be okay with that decision if he pitched in time but instead he held on to the ball for too long not pitching until the defender made contact.  That caused him to have a bad pitch to Achane.  Achane missed the pitch but luckily fell on the ball for just a 7 yard loss.  It could have been a catastrophic turnover but luckily Achane fell on it.

It was the 4th quarter when the Aggies needed a massive spark and King couldn’t make quick and smart decisions.  That’s the sign of someone that’s overwhelmed and not confident.  I don’t want that in my quarterback.  Jimbo has to see this.

King got his shot and has done nothing with it.

Should Jimbo Name Max Johnson the Starter?:

Jimbo is a damn fool if he doesn’t.  I know he’s deeply invested in Haynes King and believes in him but tape don’t lie.  Haynes King hasn’t done ANYTHING of substance against non Power 5 opponents.  What’s going to happen against Power 5 opponents and especially the SEC?  The sample set says it ain’t gonna be good.

Jimbo is a stubborn fool if he runs King out against Miami.  There’s nothing that says he should do that.

I wrote a blog this summer about King and Johnson.

https://rcwouldhavegonefor2.com/2022/05/24/who-will-quarterback-the-2022-aggies/

This is what I wrote over the summer:

Here’s What We Know From Games:

  • Haynes King has started 2 football games.  None of them in the SEC and only played one full game.
  • Haynes King’s one full game was against Kent State where he was a 64% passer with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
  • Max Johnson has started 14 games with 10 of those being SEC games.  He’s played in 3 other SEC games.
  • Max Johnson is a 60% career passer at LSU.  He’s 58% in the SEC.  57% in SEC starts.
  • Max Johnson has thrown 35 career touchdowns and 7 interceptions.  That’s an outstanding 5 to 1 ratio.  In career SEC games he’s thrown 22 touchdowns to 5 interceptions.  In SEC starts it’s 20 touchdowns to 5 interceptions.  That’s still an outstanding 4 to 1 ratio.
  • Max Johnson has played significant snaps in these stadiums – Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama.

We now have 2 more games for King and his resume hasn’t improved one lick.  We’re about to hit a serious run of 4 games against Miami, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Alabama.

Based on those bullet points above with the addition of the last two games I have no clue how you can hand the keys to King for another game.  Jimbo is damn stubborn fool if he runs King out there against Miami.

I don’t know if Max Johnson is the ultimate answer but I do know his experience and resume is INFINITELY better than King’s at this point.  I want to at least try him against this four-game stretch we’ve got coming up.  It ain’t gonna hurt.

We’re seriously staring down the barrel of a 1-5 record if you keep doing the same thing that isn’t working.  At least offensively.

If you’d rather have King going into the Miami game over Johnson you’re a damn arrogant stubborn fool.  Or you’re just a terrible coach that doesn’t know how to utilize the experience and ability of Max Johnson.

We’ll see what Jimbo is.  I don’t have faith he gets help but instead just goes back to the bottle expecting a different result.  I fully expect to see King trot out as the starting quarterback against Miami.

The Rest of the Offense:

We all know the offensive line is struggling.  Fatheree got flat out run over which led to King fumbling a ball.  I was floored when I saw that.  They did a nice job of blocking on Achane’s touchdown run as he wasn’t touched.

I don’t think this offensive line is the biggest issue with this offense right now.  They ABSOLUTELY need to play better but there’s a bigger issue at play.  It’s the play calling by the head coach and execution by the trigger man.

Supposedly Bryce Foster is coming back this week.  There’s no doubt he’s going to be a little rusty but even rusty Bryce Foster should be a boost to this offensive line.

Achane was the sole savior of this game.  He was responsible for our only two touchdowns with one being on special teams.  The dude is a damn weapon.

He averaged 6.6 yards a carry with his long touchdown run being 26 yards.  He averaged 4.5 yards on his other 9 carries so he was pretty productive all things considered.  He was at 5.25 yards a carry if you take away the idiotic zone read error by King and the long touchdown.

That’s damn productive so that tells me the offensive line had some level of success if Achane is getting 5.25 yards a carry when you take away his longest and shortest run.

We’re completely wasting Achane’s talent right now.

Jimbo needs to figure this out.

The Defense:

I feel bad for these guys as they were out there all damn day.  It’s pretty remarkable what they did for the amount of time they had to play.

They had some really costly penalties in the first half but I don’t know how much it really mattered in the grand scheme.  I feel like App State was destined to win this game because the offense was inept.

The Aggie defense gave up 342 yards of offense and 17 points in over 40 minutes.  App State just chewed up this defense on the ground.  For whatever reason it seemed like Durkin and Jimbo were afraid to give up a big play through the air.

They really didn’t gamble much but when they did it seemed to work.  Case in point the blitz that was initially ruled a scoop and score by Fadill Diggs.  It was correctly overturned as an incomplete pass.  It was a beautiful blitz that caused the quarterback to make an errant throw under pressure.

For whatever reason Durkin just thought he could get off the field with his base defense but it didn’t work.

App State converted 9 of 20 third downs which is pretty decent but the kicker was they converted 3 of 5 fourth downs.  That’s the killer stat as there were 5 times App State felt confident enough to attempt a 4th down conversion due to the game situation and field position.  3 times they converted.  I don’t know if one of those was the defensive offsides but either way they converted 3 of 5 fourth downs and that was the difference defensively.

I like to hope this game was a perfect storm of an inept offense, new defensive coordinator, and inexperienced players.

Durkin’s body of work is pretty solid and this defense is loaded with talent.  I’m not too worried about the defense just yet.  The defense certainly dug their own hole a time or two but unfortunately Jimbo and King decided to jump in and make that hole MUCH bigger.

Special Teams:

What a kick return by Achane.

What a botched kick by Davis.  Pressure moment and the dude didn’t even hit it clean grounding his foot before kicking the ball.  We didn’t even get a chance to see if he can be accurate.

Kind of appropriate for the game.  Just ineptness all around for anyone without the last name of Achane.

Going Forward:

I’m not worried beyond Miami right now.  I just want to see what happens next Saturday.

Believe it or not this season can still be “salvaged”.  By “salvaged” I mean an 8-4 record.  That would be remarkable based on our first two games.

I think the ceiling is 10 wins and that’s a pretty big stretch unless 2020 can be repeated.  It’s always possible.

It’s all going to depend on what Jimbo wants to do.  He’s currently in a prison cell with no clue how he got there.  Everyone else knows how he got there.  Bad decisions and a lot of denial.

What’s it gonna be Jimbo?  You gonna go back to that bottle that got you there or do something different and get some help?

We’re all waiting…

Thoughts from the Sam Houston Game

To say the 2022 debut of the Texas Aggies was frustrating is an understatement.  The performance of some key units to the weather was not what everyone wanted.  I think it’s safe to say we wanted an impressive performance over an inferior opponent.  We didn’t even want dominant.  Just a sign this team was ready to compete for a College Football Playoff spot.

We didn’t get that on the field and the weather delay at half made it that much more frustrating. 

I left about an hour into the delay.  Things were looking bleak for a start so I headed back to Houston.  I made a 4-hour drive from Uvalde that morning where I had been dove hunting the previous couple of days.  I was tired and ready to head home.  I wanted my couch. 

I don’t think I missed a whole lot in the second half based on what I read and saw.

Defense:

I’m starting with the defense because they were by far the best unit on the field.  It wasn’t even close.  Sam is an inferior opponent but they’ve been pretty good at their level with an offense that can score points.  They did absolutely nothing against the Aggie defense.

I normally break down the units but since I’m only doing a half of football I’m going to talk about the whole defensive unit.

The thing I thought was the most impressive was the rotation of players.  D.J. Durkin played the vaunted true freshman and they did not disappoint.  I was having trouble keeping up with everyone because there was so much rotating going on.  It was clear they wanted to get as many people as possible real game experience to see what we have.

We seem to have plenty of talent.  It needs experience but the raw talent and numbers are clearly there.  That’s a great place to start when you’re talking about defense.

We ran a basic defense where we just mauled Sam’s offensive line with 4 guys and let everyone else fly around to the ball.  We didn’t need to do much because we had so much talent on the field.  I’m assuming we’ll get a little more complex so I’m fine with what we did defensively on Saturday.

From a participation standpoint Walter Nolen, Shemar Stewart, Lebbeus Overton, Denver Harris, and Anthony Lucas saw a significant amount of snaps.  These are all true freshman. 

All 5 of these guys were 5 star recruits.  It shouldn’t be any surprise they got the most snaps of the true freshman.  I thought they all looked impressive.  I thought Harris had some great moments as he looks like a difference making corner which we’ve been lacking.

Overton should be a senior in high school right now.  People forget he was in line to be the top recruit for 2023 but he re-classified.  Crazy that he’s on the field looking the part when he should be in high school.

As for the “older guys” I thought Fadil Diggs was the game’s MVP.  Dude seemed to be in on most of the plays and was all over the field.  He’s a redshirt sophomore so this is his third year in Aggieland.  Based on one game he looks ready to break out.

I thought our experienced safety duo of Demani Richardson and Antonio Johnson looked great.  They really look like two of the best safeties in the country.  Jardin Gilbert looked great as the other safety. 

Our corners really didn’t get tested thanks to the pressure from our defensive line.  Sam only completed 14 passes in 28 attempts for 98 yards.  A lot of those were just short little routes because their QB spent a lot of time running from pressure.

We were missing two experienced guys in Jaylon Jones and McKinnley Jackson.  Jaylon is a third year corner and McKinnley is a third year defensive tackle.  Both of those guys have next level talent but have played a little inconsistent over the last couple of years.  In prior years I’d say you DEFINITELY miss guys like that.  We didn’t really miss them at all.  That’s not really a knock on them but more of a testament to how much talent Jimbo and his staff have been stacking on defense.  It’s damn impressive.

Getting those two guys back will only make this defense better.

This defense has a long way to go as these young guys need to get more experience.  They’re going to play much more talented offenses than this one so we’ll have to get by on more than raw talent.  Raw talent is a great place to start when you’re talking about defenses though.

There’s going to be hiccups along the way but I think this will be a better defensive unit from last season simply because there’s more talent.  This is the level of talent you need to win national championships. 

I’m excited to see how this side of the ball develops.  Based on early returns we gonna defense like it’s the early 90s.

Offense:

Wide Receiver:

I’m going to start with the most impressive offensive unit on Saturday and it wasn’t even close.  I’ve been adamant the issue with our receiving units in Jimbo’s first four years was a talent issue.  We simply didn’t have the talent.

Based on a short sample set from a half of football we don’t have that issue anymore.

The biggest benefactor sems to be Ainias Smith as he turned 6 receptions on 9 targets into 164 yards with two touchdowns including a 63-yard touchdown.  Smith is back for his 4th season and I’m hoping this game isn’t an anomaly.  I don’t think it will be.  We finally have some talent to go with his talent.

As for the rest of the receiving unit Evan Stewart certainly showed why he was a 5 star recruit.  He “only” went for 57 yards on 5 receptions but he was a receiver getting separation and getting yards after the catch.  He looks like the real deal.  I haven’t seen a true freshman look like him since Christian Kirk.

Yulkeith Brown is a sophomore that had a beautiful touchdown catch and even more beautiful block to spring Ainias on his long touchdown catch.  Chris Marshall “quietly” had 4 catches for 41 yards and I thought he looked great.  He’s a true freshman and looks like he can contribute this season.

Chase Lane started at receiver but he didn’t do much only catching 2 balls for 25 yards.  I think Chase is going to get passed by Brown and Marshall.  Just proof it’s been a talent issue.

Jimbo ran four wide for a reason I’ll get to later but the most interesting thing was the long touchdown passes came from slot receivers.  It appeared they used deep crossing routes to confuse the safeties and corners and it worked.  It’s a hopeful sign we finally have both the awareness and ability to attack teams downfield with multiple receivers. 

That will pay huge dividends down the road if we can work out the issues with the other parts of our offense.  For the first time in five years I’m hopeful for production from Jimbo’s receiving unit.

Running Back:

Poor Devon Achane.  Poor.  Devon.  Achane.

The dude had nowhere to run but he kept plugging away. 

The reason is our next group.

Offensive Line:

The offensive line looked like garbage on Saturday.  They couldn’t get any push against an inferior opponent.  Most notably the left side of the line.  We lost time of possession in the first half against Sam Houston State.  That’s because our offensive line struggled to block Sam Houston State’s defense.

I’ll get to Haynes King and his issues but losing the time of possession battle in the first half is my biggest concern from this game.  Time of possession is generally the best indicator of who won in the trenches.  Not always but 9 out of 10 times I believe it’s the truest indicator of who pushed who around.  Offenses that stay on the field chew clock and defenses that get off the field don’t.

Based on the time of possession in the first half we didn’t push same around.  Our defense obviously did their job so that means our offensive line didn’t do it’s job. 

Trey Zuhn and Aki Ogunbiyi spent most of the first half confused by pretty basic twists and stunts.  Sam defenders were routinely disrupting runs to the left side of the line.

These two did better pass blocking than run blocking but they need to step up in a big way.  If these guys don’t develop we’re in big trouble.

Bryce Foster had been suspiciously limited during much of Fall Camp.  It came out late last week that he has/had mono.   This is actually decent news.  I was worried he dropped off talent wise or there was some nagging injury holding him back.  It’s not good in the short term but hopefully Foster can get back out there to starting at the center position.  Just his coming back will be a big boost to this line.

Matthew Wykoff started at center and did decent enough but had some issues with snaps.  That’s not uncommon for a center starting in their first few games.  I remember both Erik McCoy and Bryce Foster had issues with their snaps during their early starts.  Either way, let’s just get Foster back.

Layden Robinson was getting substituted for by Jordan Moko.  Apparently Robinson has a nagging injury but not serious.  Robinson is easily our best offensive lineman so we don’t need issues with him.  We don’t have much depth so we need Foster and Robinson to be healthy.

Fatheree had a penalty but I’m not worried about him.  He’s going to be fine so it looks we don’t have to worry about one guy on our offensive line.

If we get Foster back and get some development out of Zuhn and Ogunbiyi or Moko we should be fine.  This is the unit to watch the most in my mind.  If we have a line like 2019 this is an 8-4 football team even if we get improved quarterback decision making.  We need a 2020 offensive line if we truly want a shot at the College Football Playoff.

Hopefully we see a massive improvement against Appalachian State on Saturday.

Tight End:

This is probably a bigger issue than is getting discussed from Saturday.  Something happened to Max Wright where he wasn’t available to play.  He was on crutches with a leg brace on.  I know a lot of people aren’t high on Max Wright but the reality is he has more experience than anyone else at playing tight end in Jimbo’s offense.  I think he would have improved a lot of blocking issues when it came to the left side of the line.

Dametrius Crownover is a back up tackle and was wearing 89 on Saturday.  He’s a converted tight end but spent most of the spring and fall camp as a backup tackle.  He seemed lost at times blocking on Saturday.  Not sure what’s going on with Wright but my guess is Crownover was thrown into tight end duties at the last minute. 

You may not like Wright as a receiver but he’s our best blocking option as a tight end.  That’s been pretty critical for Jimbo to establish the running game.  That likely created some of the blocking issues.

It’ll be interesting to see what Jimbo does with the tight end position.  It’s been a key component of his passing game with Sternberger and Wydemeyer but that seems like it might not be necessary with our young receiving talent.

He’s got two great true freshman receiving talents in Donovan Green and Jake Johnson but we might not need to lean on them like he leaned on Sternberger and Wydermeyer.  Maybe these guys need to get their feet thrown to the fire to see if they can block.  If so, that could really help the left side of the offensive line.

No idea what Jimbo does with the tight end position based on what we saw on Saturday.  There’s some massive unknowns here with the receiving talent and lack of experience at this position.

It would be REALLY nice if one of Green or Johnson proves themselves as both an adequate blocker and receiver.  I think that will help a ton with the blocking issue we saw on Saturday but don’t know how capable of blockers those two are.

Quarterback:

This is clearly the most frustrating part of Saturday’s game.  This is Haynes King third year in Jimbo’s system.  I think I speak for everyone when I say we finally wanted to see some excitement from Haynes King.

We didn’t.

We simply saw more of what we’ve seen in his limited sample set.  He’s wildly inconsistent from a passing standpoint.  In addition, he doesn’t appear to be super elusive as a runner despite reports he’s one of the fastest guys on the team.  Just because he’s fast doesn’t mean he can allude defenders. 

Based on what I’ve seen I think Kellen Mond and Trevor Knight are better runners than King.  Knight for sure.  Mond wasn’t super elusive but he was pretty productive with his legs.  I haven’t seen that from King yet.  I think we can put to rest he’s the true dual threat quarterback he’s been made out to be.  He’s simply a guy with decent mobility that if he ever hits open field can run away from everyone.  Getting to open field appears to be a challenge though.

As for his passing in 5 career games King has 6 touchdown passes and 6 interceptions.  That’s not good.  He throws some great passes from time to time but then he throws some complete stinkers missing wide open guys along with struggling to see defenders throwing interceptions.  He also didn’t see a couple guys that were open choosing to throw to guys that were covered.  It’s a lot easier to complete passes to guys who aren’t covered.

Quarterbacks are going to miss passes from time to time but King threw two REALLY bad interceptions this game.  It really makes me question his decision making because he shouldn’t be throwing interceptions against an opponent like Sam.  In two starts he’s thrown 5 interceptions in 6 quarters of football against Kent State and Sam Houston State.  He also threw an interception in his debut against Bama.  The small sample set says he’s prone to throwing interceptions.

He must stop turning the ball over through the air.  There’s no reason for that.

He really reminds me of Kellen Mond prior to the 2020 Florida game where you can see all the tools but the decision making and consistency are in major question.  I defended Mond because I felt he was the best quarterback option for Jimbo’s offense.  There was nobody else on the roster.

I don’t feel that way with King.  Max Johnson and Conner Weigman have plenty of talent.  In Johnson’s case he has plenty of experience starting in the SEC.  If King is going to keep throwing interceptions there’s better options on the bench.

Jimbo has proven to be very stubborn with his quarterbacks.  He seems to pick a guy and stick with him through thick and thin.  Based on the snaps on Saturday it appears he’s fully prepared to ride King.  Max Johnson didn’t see snaps until the 4th quarter. 

I’m not feeling great about the Haynes King decision right now.  Maybe he turns the corner but he really doesn’t offer much from a running standpoint and he throws interceptions at a regular rate.  You can’t have your starting quarterback having a 1:1 ratio for touchdowns and interceptions.  2:1 really isn’t great either.  That just seems like the mark of a bad decision maker.

Max Johnson has a 4:1 ratio in SEC starts.  At some that ratio has to matter in who plays quarterback for the Aggies.

If Haynes is throwing 5-6 touchdowns a game I can handle a couple interceptions.  He’s not doing that so I have some real concerns.  A 1:1 or even 2:1 ratio isn’t going to cut it in the SEC.  That’s a sign of bad decision making.

You can’t have a bad decision maker at quarterback. 

We’ll see what King does against Appalachian State.  I think he should be on a short chain if he throws an interception.  If he throws 2 interceptions on Saturday he needs to be pulled and give Max Johnson some snaps.  You can’t consistently turn the ball over and expect to win in the SEC.

Hopefully Jimbo doesn’t have blinders on when it comes to Haynes King actual game performance. I don’t care what he looks like in practice.  Live bullets matter infinitely more than practice bullets.  King’s live bullets show he’s got issues when it comes to decision making.

Overall:

We have two main things we need to clean up in the left side of the line and interceptions.  If we get those two things cleaned up we’re going to be just fine. 

By fine I mean a 10-win team.  If not, we’ll be a 8-4 or even 7-5 win team. 

I don’t see us as a College Football Playoff team right now even with improvement to those two areas I mentioned.  It’s a big leap from 10 wins to the CFP and I just don’t think we have the experience and talent right now to get there.  I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see it.

Our defense is going to keep us in games.  However, at some point our offense has to exert it’s will on the ground and not give up passes to the defense.  You’re gonna lose football games if you can’t run and throw interceptions.  I don’t care how much talent you have.  You must run and protect the ball in the SEC if you want to win football games.

The good news is based on a half of football all those millions we spent on the 2022 recruiting class appear to be money well spent.

Jimbo might be stubborn when it comes to his quarterback decisions but he’s pretty astute at spending our booster’s NIL money.

For that we should be thankful even if it pisses off Nick Saban.

Let’s just hope there’s improvement on the field from Week 1 to Week 2.

2022 Aggie Football Season Prediction

Time for my annual season record prediction.  I’m hoping 2021 was an anomaly due to a season ending injury to our quarterback early in our second game.  That coupled with a young offensive line and still no receiving threats created a disastrous 2021 season.  If you call 8-4 disastrous.  That’s still a pretty good season by most accounts.  Aggie football just has higher expectations going into Jimbo’s fifth year.

I’ve mentioned it in my other blogs but I think this 2022 Aggie team will be more talented than the 2021 Aggie team.  It won’t have the experience the 2021 team had but I do think overall it will be much more talented.  If we keep a few key players healthy and the young guys develop this is going to be a damn good football team.

I’m basis my predictions on three key things:

  1. Improved quarterback play
  2. Improved offensive line play
  3. Improved production from receivers

I feel good about the defense.  Especially as the season wears on.  I think Durkin and the talented are going to be one of the top defenses in the country by the end of the year.  We just need to get some level of offensive production early on as the defense find it’s legs.  If we get offensive production from the start we’re all going to be pretty happy at the end of the 2022 season.

I don’t know who’s going to be quarterback but I do feel good about whoever gets the nod.  We’re either going to have someone in their third year of Jimbo’s system or someone in their third year of taking SEC snaps.  I tend to lean Max Johnson as the starter but I have no issues if Haynes King is the starter.  I certainly think it’ll be better than last year’s quarterback play.

Let’s get to the 2022 games.

Sam Houston:

This shouldn’t be a contest.  The only intriguing thing about this game will be who gets what snaps.  Mainly at the QB position.  I’m not talking about who takes the first snaps.  I’m talking about when the second quarterback takes snaps.  If someone else besides the starter takes snaps in the first half or starting the second half we’ve got a quarterback battle.  If the starter takes all the first half snaps and opens up the second half then that QB will be the clear front runner.  It’s their position to lose.

Ags Win: 1-0

Appalachian State:

This will be a tougher game than Sam Houston but I think we’ll prevail.  The most intrigue will be who takes snaps when.  Will a quarterback front runner have emerged?

Ags Win: 2-0

Miami:

Miami didn’t have a great win-loss record last season which is why they have a new coach.  They were playing well at the end of the season though.  Especially their quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.

They went 2-3 before their bye week and then were 5-2 after.  They didn’t play their bowl game due to COVID issues.  Sound familiar?

Mario Cristobal seems to be a great fit since he’s from Miami and played at “The U.”  He gets a lot of hype but his head coaching record is just okay.  He wasn’t that successful at Florida International and he didn’t exactly set the world on fire at Oregon.

He did okay in 2019 winning the Pac 12 and the Rose Bowl but his other four seasons he had at least 3 losses including 2020 where they only played 7 total games.  Cristobal even took over the team from Willie Taggart.  Cristobal didn’t come into a new situation where everyone had to adjust.  He probably should have had more success in Oregon considering the circumstances.

Miami is different as this is his first year.  First year coaches tend to struggle unless they’re Ryan Day or Lincoln Reilley where their dad gave them the key to the Ferrari while it was still in pristine shape.

The biggest question in this game will be if the quarterback situation is settled.  I think Jimbo knows it must be by this time and it will be.  I think you’ll see this as a close game through 3 quarters but the Ags finally pull away in the 4th quarter.  I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s very similar to the 2020 Orange Bowl.

Ags Win: 3-0

Arkansas:

Obviously this game caught us by surprise last year.  You had an Arkansas team with a ton of confidence after beating Texas.  Most importantly, you had an Arkansas team that wanted it more than the A&M team.  In addition, the Aggies had a few key positions that underperformed and a coaching staff that was completely confused by the Arkansas defensive scheme.

The Aggies were the more talented team last year but Arkansas was the better team executing a great game plan.  I won’t call it the perfect storm but I do believe Arkansas got the brakes their way because they were better prepared and played better.  Last year’s game was the perfect example that talent doesn’t always win.

The 2022 Arkansas is going to be a similar team but I don’t think quite as good.  They have wonderful coordinators with Kendall Briles and Barry Odom. These guys can coach and it’s their third season.  Arkansas is going to be a tough team for anyone.

I think where Arkansas takes a slight step back is with their defense.  Arkansas returns 3 of their defensive starters from last year’s team.  They return 11 other guys that played defense for last year’s team.  That’s decent experience for a defensive unit but I think it’ll be a different look than what we saw in 2021.  I think we’ll be better offensively (I hope we can’t be worse) and they’ll be slightly worse defensively.  That’s an advantage for the Aggies.

On offense the Hogs return KJ Jefferson.  He’s a dynamic QB and perfect for Kendall Briles’ system but I don’t think he’s a true polished passer.  He can throw but they’ll want to use his mobility to open up the passing game.  If you can control him on the ground without selling out the run you can limit him through the air.  I think the Aggie defense can do that.

It’ll be a tough fought battle like always but I think the Aggies pull this one out after last year’s stinker.

Ags Win: 4-0

Mississippi State:

The 2021 Mississippi State game at Kyle Field is Jimbo’s worse game as the Aggie head coach.  There was no reason to lose it.  We were coming off the loss to Arkansas and it’s painfully obvious there was no clear leader on this team.  We didn’t make enough plays and found ourselves limping off Kyle with a loss that should have never have happened.

I think 2022 will be different for a host of reasons.  I think we’ll have better quarterback play and D.J. Durkin knows how to defend Leach’s system.  For some reason Elko sat back last year giving Will Rogers time to throw and let their receivers work in space.  Huge mistake by Elko.

Will Rogers is going to get yards but you don’t want to give him time to throw.  Durkin knows that and I don’t think he’ll let Rogers pick the defense apart.  He’ll force him to make quick obvious throws which are easier to defend.

Offensively I think we’ll establish the ground game and control time of possession. We won’t dominate but I think we’ll win convincingly enough.

Ags Win: 5-0

Alabama:

The Aggies will roll into Tuscaloosa with five wins and no losses while the Crimson Tide have four wins and one loss.  That loss of course will come in Austin during the third of the week season.  Just kidding.  Bama will be undefeated.  I just hope we are.

We all know how big this matchup is.  It was going to be big after last season.  Then Jimbo decided to take on Saban during the off season yet again.  It worked last season but I don’t see it working this season.

Do I think the Aggies can beat Bama?  Absolutely.  I just don’t think they will.

Not much else to say about this game as we know the stakes and the teams.  We just wait for the results.

Here’s something interesting – each of Saban’s last three starting quarterbacks are projected starters in the NFL this season.  Bryce Young will likely be a first round draft pick and start in the NFL.  He’s already won a Heisman.  Gone are the days of Saban having a game managing quarterback with an elite defense and running game.  He’s got high level quarterbacks running his offenses now.  Saban’s the greatest because he evolves.

Here’s something else that’s interesting.  Those three quarterbacks tie Bama as the school with the most 2022 NFL starting quarterbacks having started for a college team.  This assumes Baker Mayfield wins the Carolina job.  The really interesting part?  Jalen Hurts gives both OU and Bama three former starters as 2022 NFL starters.  Even more interesting is that not one of OU’s quarterbacks starting in the NFL was recruited by OU.  They all transferred to become the starter.

OU doesn’t have a single starting quarterback in the NFL if Kyler stays in Aggieland, Baker stays in Lubbock, and Jalen stays in Tuscaloosa.  OU got two Heisman trophies because Sumlin couldn’t manage multiple quarterbacks, Kliff wouldn’t give Baker a scholarship, and Saban recruited a better quarterback than Jalen.

Enough of that diversion.  Bama beats the Aggies in Tuscaloosa.

Ags Lose: 5-1

South Carolina:

If there’s a trap game on this schedule this is it.  We get a week off after Bama and go on the road to South Carolina.  In addition, we’ve won the eight Bonham Trophy showdowns.  We’ve never lost a game in this series.  Kenny Trill set the tone in 2014 and we’ve never looked back.

There’s no reason we lose this game but this feels like a loss to me.

Shane Beamer has some nice momentum, Spencer Rattler is a talented quarterback, and South Carolina pulls off an upset from time to time.  This is purely a hunch because there’s no football reason.  Upsets happen in football and this feels like one right now.

Ags Lose: 5-2

Ole Miss:

While everyone is focused on the Bama game I think this is a game that Jimbo really wants more than anything.  He wants to embarrass Lane Kiffin at Kyle Field.  He’s got the team to do it along with Kiffin’s old defensive coordinator.  Couple those two things along with Kyle Field and I think Jimbo mops the floor with Ole Miss.

Ole Miss is still a decent football team but they lost a lot from last season.  Kiffin is still one of the best offensive coordinators in college football but I think Durkin understands how to defend what he likes to do.

Ole Miss did well in the transfer portal but they were non competitive in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor.  They need a talent infusion. Even with that infusion I think Ole Miss takes a step back while the Aggies take a step forward.  Couple that with Jimbo wanting to make a point against Kiffin’s NIL comments and the Aggies run the Rebels out of Kyle Field.

Ags Win: 6-2

Florida:

Hard to believe it was 2 years ago that a win over Florida at Kyle Field COMPLETELY changed the trajectory of the 2020 season.  I still remember walking into a 25% capacity Kyle Field at 11:00 a.m. with very little hope of winning.  Florida was #4 in the country and we were barely a Top 25 team after not competing against Bama.

A kick as the time expired had Kyle Field rocking with a victory over the number four team in the country.  The Aggies wouldn’t lose the rest of the season winding up as Orange Bowl Champs and ironically enough the #4 team in the country.

Florida would rebound from that loss to win 6 straight games and solidify themselves as a Top 10 team.  Then their defensive back threw that shoe against LSU and it’s been a straight spiral down from there.  Seriously.  Everything about Florida football went south real quick when that show went flying.  The irony is Max Johnson was the LSU quarterback in that game.

Dan Mullen lost his job last season and now Florida has Billy Napier as coach.  I like Napier a lot and think he’s going to do a great job at Florida but he’s going to have his struggles in 2022.  Mullen basically quit recruiting last season so Florida is not nearly as talented as they’ve been in years past.

This won’t be a cake walk of a game but I don’t see why the Aggies will struggle.

Ags Win: 7-2

Auburn:

They don’t get enough attention but Auburn is the most fascinating program in college football.  They’re completely schizophrenic.  Much of it is due to Nick Saban being in state but damn this is a program that’s all over the place.

They won the national title in 2010 and then played for it again in 2013.  That’s not that long ago and something only a handful of teams have done in that time.

They ran off Tommy Tuberville who had beat Bama six years in a row.  They ran off Gene Chizik who won them a national championship.  They ran off Gus Malzahn who’s had more wins over Nick Saban than any other coach in college football. 

They replaced Malzahn with Bryan Harsin who was never a good fit.  Someone from Auburn spent the offseason baking up a story that Harsin had an affair with a staffer.  They were hoping to fire him without paying him.  Apparently none of that was true so Harsin walks into the 2022 season like his predecessors waiting to get the word he’s no longer the coach with a big check to go away.

What a damn mess Auburn is.  I have no idea how Harsin finds the motivation to have a successful season this year.  Couple that with there’s a strong chance Zach Calzada is his starting quarterback and I like the Aggies chances in this one.

Ags Win: 8-2

UMass:

I can’t wait for that 9 game SEC schedule so we don’t have these weird games in November.  I get why it hits the schedule like this but I don’t like it.  I suppose it’s good for the players to a degree as it’s a glorified practice towards the end of the season but I don’t like it.  I’m on an SEC high by this point and don’t want to come down.

Ags Win: 9-1

LSU:

Hard to believe Texas A&M is the better program after LSU’s magical 2019 season.  That was one of the best teams in college football and now they’re in shambles.  It’s only been 3 years.

I don’t think Brian Kelly was the right hire.  I think he’s a pretty good coach but I think when push comes to shove and LSU isn’t winning an automatic 10 wins in the SEC he’s going to get eaten alive by the LSU faithful.

Kelly made his name at the marquee program in the country but really didn’t do all that much when you look at things.  He feasted off a questionable schedule.  He never showed up in a BCS or College Football Playoff game.  He’s never won a NY6 Bowl Game only playing in two of those.  Notre Dame has a TON of advantages and Kelly really didn’t do much with them.  I get the academic requirements but Notre Dame never showed up against better competition.

He has the perception he’s a successful coach.  However, when you look under the hood he’s good but by no means great.  I don’t see him lasting past his third season at LSU.  He’ll have made a ton of money but I don’t think his time at LSU is what people think it’s going to be.  I think he’s gonna wish he’d never gotten on that plane from South Bend from a football standpoint.  His bank account will say otherwise though.

Assuming the Aggies look more like the 2020 Aggies if not better I think the Aggies win here.

Ags Win: 10-2

Summary:

I hate saying the Aggies are a year away from winning it all but there’s so much youth and uncertainty at key positions.  If that youth grows and that uncertainty solidifies I truly believe this is a team that can compete for the College Football Playoff.

Even if we lose to Bama and go 11-1 I think we’re knocking on the door of the CFP depending on how things shake out.  I think it’s clear Bama, Georgia, and Ohio State are the class of college football.  The fourth best team is a major question mark. 

Our biggest challenge could be SEC fatigue if Bama and Georgia show up in Atlanta undefeated.  Even at 11-1 with just a loss to Bama I expect some “interesting” positioning to keep a third SEC team out of the playoffs.

Either way, let’s just get back 2020 production and let the chips fall where they may.