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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Designed run
- 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.
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…