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Analyzing the Chief

At the end of last season I was utterly confused on what to think about John Chavis.  I’m the Chief’s biggest fan but I was questioning if I was fan because he fits the mold of defensive coordinator from Central Casting or if it was because he was an effective defensive coordinator.  During the 2015 season I felt I saw a defense that was the best since 2012 and likely back to Von Miller’s senior season with Cody Hodges.  I felt in the early part of the 2016 season we were seeing the return of the Wrecking Crew after great defensive efforts against Auburn and Arkansas.  Tennessee was questionable with the 4th quarter collapse but at the end of the season it was clear this defense was different than 2015 and the first half of 2016.  This defense appeared to be a shell of what it had been since Chief started.

To help figure out what was real and wasn’t I went back and looked at every loss with Chavis as our DC.  There were lots of games I felt our defense played well enough to win but our offense let us down.  We’ve lost 10 games in the two years Chief has been handling our defense.  I went and made a chart that showed the score of the game, how many points the defense gave up, second half points, total yards, and rushing yards.  I then came up with a purely arbitrary grade called GETW which stands for Good Enough to Win.  I wanted a feel for if the defense played well enough for us to win the game.

Here’s the chart and I’ll go down game by game analyzing each one.

Bama – 2015:

This is one of the most maddening games of the Sumlin era that nobody talks about.  The final score wound up being 41-23 so it looks like a blowout but everyone forgets our offense threw THREE pick sixes in this game.  That’s right, the offense gave up almost as many points as our defense.  It’s not a  simple exercise to remove 21 points and say the Aggies win 23-20 as it doesn’t work that way.  It is a simple exercise though to think the defense did everything they could that day for the Aggies to win.

Derrick Henry gashed the Aggie defense in the first quarter and a half but after that the Aggie defense really did shut him down along with the Bama offense.  So much so that Bama only scored 2 field goals in the second half outside of the interception returns for touchdowns.  I don’t care if Bama was in lead protection mode as to still hold Bama’s offense to only field goals in the second half is impressive.  The most impressive statistic of that day was that Bama was only 4 of 16 on third down conversions.  25 percent.  That is DAMN impressive to have that Bama offense only convert 25% of their third down conversions.  The defense was getting off the field when they had to.  The defense definitely played good enough to win this game and the offense just pissed it away.

Ole Miss – 2015:

This game makes me want to pull out my hair because it was the most inept offensive performance I’ve ever seen.  It was maddening being in the stands watching an offense just spit and sputter.  The statistics make it look like the defense didn’t play well enough but they absolutely did.  They gave up 23 overall but just 7 in the second half which shows John Chavis has the ability to make in game adjustments.  In addition the defense got 4 turnovers while the offense had 3.  The defense responded EVERY time the offense turned the ball and yet the offense did NOTHING with those gifts from the defense.

Statistically this game looks bad for the defense and it’s not great but they played their hearts out that night.  Meanwhile Jake Spavital struggled just to keep his note cards in some order so he could get plays signaled in that wouldn’t amount to anything.  I don’t even want to write anymore on this game because I want to go find Jake Spavital and choke him.  He really should have been relieved of his duties after this game.  He absolutely should have.

Auburn – 2015:

This is a very confusing game for me to analyze from a defensive standpoint.  First off, our stupid offense only scored 10 points against a suspect Auburn defense.  That 10 points was the lowest Auburn held an opponent to all season where the next lowest was 17 and every other game their opponent scored at least 20 points.  Boy Wonder Spavital mustered 10 points against this defense at Kyle Field.  Unreal.

Defensively we got gashed this game.  Auburn ripped off 311 yards on the ground and just gashed us all night.  We couldn’t slow them down at all on the ground.  Malzahn is a run game genius but they were just running willy nilly against us.  They were pretty balanced scoring 14 points in the first half and 12 points in the second half.  This is a game that on the surface the defense didn’t play well enough to win but our offense was so anemic I think they could have played well enough to win with some kind of support from our offense.  I don’t put this one solely on our defense.

LSU – 2015:

Another maddening game thanks to our offense.  Even though this game was in Tiger Stadium and they scored 19 points there’s no doubt in my mind the defense played well enough to win this game.  They gave up 14 points in the second half but our offense was doing nothing yet again as they only scored 7 total points.  I know LSU has a damn good defense but there were holes the offense could have exploited to score 20 points but they didn’t.

Statistically the Aggie defense held the LSU offense to 327 yards which his amazing.  They held the LSU offense in total yards to basically what Auburn did on the ground against us a few weeks before.  I don’t like the 19 points but our offense turned the ball over 3 times to LSU’s once so once again our offense did nothing to help our defense.  It’s a little questionable but I’d say our defense definitely played well enough to win this game as our offense was once again just putrid with Spav wearing the headset.

Louisville – 2015:

I’m torn on this game as well.  My main issue here is we gave up too much too early to Lamar Jackson.  This was his coming out party and we weren’t prepared.  We gave up 537 total yards and 307 on the ground as Jackson just ran silly in the first half.  In the second half our defense tightened up holding them to 7 points but once again our offense couldn’t muster anything at all this game.  Despite scoring 21 points most of it was in the second half and it was too little too late.

I think this was a winnable game but the defense game up too many yards and points to Lamar Jackson in the first half while the offense spit and sputtered yet again so by the time things got working for both the offense and defense in the second half it was too little, too late.  This wasn’t a terrible showing by the defense as it was definitely a winnable game based on their effort but they’re not without faults this game.

Bama – 2016:

This is a semi-tough game to analyze because the defense played well enough to win for the first half and first series of the second half until Shaan Washington shoved Jalen Hurts to the ground on a 3rd down Bama was not converting.  The offense had opened up the second half scoring on it’s first drive to make it a 14-13 lead.  The defense had held on a 3rd down but a stupid penalty gave Bama the first down to which they then went on to score putting Bama back in a lead situation they would never relinquish.  The defense would give up another score in the second half and the offense would also give up a score like the previous year.

Maybe if Shaan Washington doesn’t push Hurts the outcome of the game is different but in my mind this is equal parts offense and defense and the reality is the defense didn’t play well enough in the second half to win this game so I can’t give them a great grade here.

Mississippi St – 2016:

This is the ultimate tale of two halves for the Aggie defense.  In the first half they gave up 28 points to a suspect Mississippi State offense and in the second half they only gave up 7 points but did get some key turnovers when it looked like Mississippi State would score in the second half.  The defense held until Mississippi State’s final possession where they scored a touchdown to go up 35-21 and put the game out of reach.  Credit to the defense for holding as long as they could to let the offense get back into it but they broke giving up that TD late in the 4th quarter that put the game out of reach.

The most frustrating part about this game is Mississippi State had 574 yards of total offense and 365 rushing yards.  I mean no dis-respect to the Bulldogs but that’s TERRIBLE for an Aggie defense to give up to a team like Mississippi State.  I still don’t know how that happened.  Still, the Aggie defense held for the second half except that final possession so I do have to give credit for trying to make up for an atrocious first half but they just couldn’t hold MSU out of the end zone in the second half and that caused the loss.

Ole Miss – 2016:

This game is a total head scratcher from a defensive standpoint because in this game our defense COMPLETELY fell apart in the fourth quarter.  This defense gave up 23 points to a true freshman starting his first game ever.  Now, he looks like a pretty special quarterback but you can’t give up 23 points at Kyle Field in the 4th quarter.

Even if the offense had put up more points the Aggie defense giving up 23 points in the fourth quarter is unacceptable and not like a Chavis lead defense at all.  So despite this being a 1 point game and the defense held Ole Miss to 6 points through 3 quarters you can’t collapse like that and expect anything positive.  It’s like never cheating for 15 years of your marriage and then the last 5 you start cheating and when you get caught thinking you get some credit for the first 15.  The first 15 years were wiped up by your failure in the last 5.  Ironically enough does anybody know Hugh Freeze’s marriage stats?  It might be similar.

LSU – 2016:

The worst game of Chavis’ time at A&M.  There is not one redeeming quality of this game from a defensive standpoint.  Not a single one.  LSU was led by Danny Etlinger who hadn’t done much all season for LSU.  Well, he walked into Kyle Field and lit us up.  Our defense gave up 54 points and 622 total yards of offense with 298 on the ground so they basically equally shredded us on the ground and through the air.

This is the game that got me questioning everything I believed about Chief.  I don’t even want to talk about it because it was so bad defensively.

KSU – 2016:

We “only” gave up 413 yards but we gave up 33 points to a VERY pedestrian KSU offense.  This is another head scratcher.  We gave up a 79 yard touchdown pass and a 52 yard touchdown run in the first half which is 131 yards and almost 33% of their total offense on two plays.  If you take away those two plays this is a very respectable defensive effort and we likely win but in reality the defense gave up those two plays so they don’t get any credit.

This game is just the perfect capper for a defense that flat out fell apart in the second half of the season.  They didn’t play well enough to win.  No way should KSU have scored 33 points on us.  I think most Aggie fans were numb for this loss because it’s part of yet another season collapse for a Sumlin lead team but this really is an EMBARASSING loss for the Aggie defense.

Summary:

In analyzing this I have no clue what to think.  In 2015 our defense was EXTREMELY consistent in every game all season except maybe the Auburn and Louisville games but our offense did it no favors in those games.  Despite losing, the defense played well enough to beat Bama, Ole Miss, and LSU so that’s damn impressive.  The effort and results of the 2015 defense is very respectable.

However, 2016 was a total Jekyll and Hyde performance.  Against UCLA and Tennessee the defense played damn good except for 5 minutes in the fourth quarter where they gave up 15 points both times but we still won in OT.  Against Auburn and Arkansas they were flat out dominant.

For a half against Bama they played well enough to win but the wheels came off in the second half and Chavis never got them put back on or left them in Tuscaloosa.  I can’t explain it.  I really can’t.  His first year he had a damn solid and consistent defense that was honestly good enough to win 10 games with a decent offense.  The next year in 2016 the performances accurately reflect the scores.  The defense didn’t play well enough to win any games that were lost.  It’s odd.  Two seasons and two totally different results.

I hate saying it because I love everything about the man from a coaching standpoint but Chief is in the same boat as Sumlin.  Chief needs to prove he still knows how to coach a defense because the second half of 2016 puts it in major question.  Sure, Sumlin’s fate will ultimately decide Chief’s fate but Chief has a lot of questions to answer himself.  I like to think he’s an elite level defensive coordinator but the results from the second half of the 2016 season say that’s in question.

Only the 2017 season will tell.

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When Aggie Football Was Great

As the Founder, President, and main client of the Make Aggie Football Great Again Movement I often get asked when Aggie Football was ever great.  Obviously it was great in 1939 when the Aggies won their only official National Championship.  In addition there was the 1956 team that went 9-0-1 and finished 5th in the AP poll, the 1976 team that went 10-2 and finished 7th in the AP poll, and of course in recent memory the 2012 team that went 11-2 finishing 5th in the AP poll.  Those are four isolated seasons where one was definitely great and three others that were really good bordering on great.

For me there was a decade of Aggie Football in recent memory that was borderline great that I think Aggie Football can get back to with the right head coach.  College football is cyclical but there’s a decade of Aggie Football that should the standard by which Aggie Football is judged.  That decade is from 1985 to 1995.  20-30 years ago seems like a distant memory now but it should be a reminder of what’s possible.

In those 11 seasons Aggie Football finished outside of the Top 20 only once.  They finished in the Top 10 in five of those seasons.  They finished with 10 wins in six of those seasons in a period when only 11 games where the norm as opposed to the 12 games that are played now.  There were some 12 game seasons back then but the majority of those seasons were 11 game seasons so 10 wins is a big milestone.  There were three 9 win seasons and only one season of 8 wins and one season of 7 wins.  That’s pretty damn impressive from a win standpoint.  That’s a combined record of 104-27-2 for those 11 seasons for a winning percentage of .782.  That is an outstanding winning percentage over a decade.

Here’s a chart that summarizes each season:

There’s a lot to digest but there’s no doubt that’s a decade of REALLY good football bordering on great.  Win one national championship in there and that’s absolutely a great decade of football.  There were legitimate chances to win it all in 1985, 1992, and 1994.

1985 was a lot like the 2012 season where they opened up with a tough loss to a ranked Alabama team on the road, lost to a ranked Baylor team in the middle of the season, and then got hot and just rolled everyone they played absolutely thrashing their final three opponents in TCU, Texas, and Auburn that included Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson in the Cotton Bowl.  Had they not lost one of those early season losses they might have had an outside chance to get Penn St to the Cotton Bowl instead of OU getting them in the Orange Bowl which is how OU won the national championship that year.  Early season losses set this team back just like in 2012.  There’s no doubt though at the end of the season this was one of the best teams in the country.

1992 was an undefeated regular season but like the modern day Big 12, Texas A&M was playing in a wretched Southwest Conference.  So wretched there wasn’t one team in the Southwest Conference that was ranked when they played.  A&M’s only win over a ranked opponent was to open the season against Stanford who was ranked 20th at the time.  At the same time both Alabama and Miami went undefeated beating more ranked opponents than A&M so Miami went to the Sugar Bowl instead of the Cotton Bowl.  Had Bama lost a game that season there’s an outside chance Miami and A&M would have matched up in the Cotton Bowl for the national championship but that’s still a stretch as Miami might have played Florida State in a re-match.  The Southwest Conference did A&M no favors that season because the teams were crap much like what top Big 12 teams face today.  Of course A&M losing to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl makes talk of a national championship that season moot but that was a damn good Notre Dame team.  However, A&M didn’t help itself for that game having to suspend Greg Hill for receiving improper benefits.  As it was A&M belonged in the conversation of Alabama, Miami, Florida State, and Notre Dame teams that were just loaded with talent.  That was a great team.  Probably the greatest of that decade for Aggie Football.

The 1994 team technically went undefeated but thanks to Greg Hill not going to his cush job for Warren Gilbert at a Dallas apartment complex they were on NCAA probation.  A&M was banned both from the post season and television that year.  A&M had no chance to win a national championship that season but if Greg Hill goes to his job or doesn’t take the money this potentially could have been a championship team.  The reality is this team wasn’t really all that close as even if they weren’t on probation and hadn’t tied SMU in one of the worst games I’ve ever witnessed as an Aggie fan, an undefeated Texas A&M likely wouldn’t have climbed over undefeated Nebraska and Penn St who had better regular season opponents and impressive bowl victories to remain undefeated.  Playing in the Southwest Conference was just not going to position a team for a National Championship unless a bunch of other teams lost in their better conferences.  That didn’t happen in 1994 but if A&M goes undefeated in 1992 and isn’t on probation it’s not a total stretch to think this team is playing for a national championship assuming they beat SMU that season.

While the Southwest Conference was pretty bad for the most part the statistic that stands out to me during that decade is the record at Kyle Field.  63-5-1 is just flat out amazing.  That’s partially where the mystique of Kyle Field came from in recent memory.  In 11 seasons Texas A&M only lost FIVE games at Kyle Field.  FIVE games in 11 seasons.  That’s unreal.  In 7 seasons Texas A&M never lost a game at home.  There was one tie which is kind of losing but it’s not a loss so we won’t count it that way.  Only one season did A&M lose 2 games and that was easily the worst team of that decade.  A&M never lost more than 1 game at Kyle in any other season and had a five year run where a fan at Kyle Field never saw a loss with just one tie.  That is flat out amazing at defending Kyle Field.  That my friends is absolutely great Aggie Football at home.  I don’t care how bad the Southwest Conference was as there were some big wins over non conference opponents and some solid Southwest Conference teams along the way.  Five losses in 11 seasons.  That’s amazing.

I won’t classify that entire decade as truly great because of the struggle in bowl games and key road losses but it’s not far from it and it’s what Aggie Football expectations should be.  With A&M’s resources there’s no reason why we can’t return to a decade of Aggie football like this and make it even better.  Make the right hire and we can get back there.

The most interesting part of this decade is a conversation I had with Dr. Loftin in 2010 after Nebraska and Colorado announced they were leaving for the Pac 12 and we had flirted with the SEC but didn’t pull the trigger.  This was prior to the Longhorn Network being announced.  Dr. Loftin told me the support for going to the SEC wasn’t as large as it seemed.  He said it was actually divided more to staying as there was a silent majority that was fearful of the SEC.  He told me he had basically divided support for the SEC between two major groups.  One was the recent graduates who were enamored with the SEC because of all the publicity it was getting at the time and the other was those Aggies that had graduated during this decade of Aggie Football and more specifically those that had been in school when Jackie was coach.  Those Aggies didn’t fear the SEC like those that didn’t attend school during that decade.

Dr. Loftin didn’t say this but there’s no doubt those Aggies during that period remember dominating football teams and most importantly dominating Kyle Field.  They weren’t scared at all of the SEC as they know Aggie football can compete at the highest level with the right coach.  This decade of Aggie Football should be the minimum standard of expectations going forward.  If those results aren’t being achieved then we need to be doing a serious study of what’s going wrong and what change is needed.  Shift the mindset that this decade is what Aggie Football should be.  We’re not there from a mental standpoint.  We really aren’t.

If you didn’t experience that decade as a student or fan you don’t know what you’re missing out on.  Kyle Field rocked every game and the biggest reason was the Wrecking Crew.  Defense was the staple of that decade and a coach needs to focus on bringing the Wrecking Crew mentality back.  It won’t be easy in this new era of high powered offenses but A&M needs a head coach that makes recruiting and preparing defensive players to thrash opponents a top priority.  Easier said than done but offense just wins games and the Wrecking Crew can win championships.  If a coach doesn’t understand the importance of bringing the Wrecking Crew back then we stand no chance of ever being great again.

There is no doubt with the right mindset a head coach can absolutely Make Aggie Football Great Again.  There’s a decade that says it’s possible.

#MAFGA

The Curious Case of Lane Kiffin

I actually planned on writing this blog entry for a while and decided last week to write it.  In researching this blog I learned the day I’d post the link would be Lane Kiffin’s 42nd birthday.  Happy birthday, Coach Kiffin.  I hope you’re on a Florida beach with a beer bottle in hand soaking in your 42 years.  I’d be disappointed if you weren’t.

Everything about Lane Kiffin intrigues me.  The dude has a genius football mind but he can’t seem to keep focus or have any kind of drive to want to be great.  Something I talk about all the time in what I think drives people to be great is channeling losing to get better but losing doesn’t seem to bother him.  He just seems like a frat guy that doesn’t take anything too serious.  He’s extremely gifted for his profession but he doesn’t seem to really care.  He was definitely too young to be named head coach of the Raiders at 31 but in a decade of having major responsibilities as a coach he hasn’t appeared to have grown up or developed any kind of drive to be great.  He’s just living life.

On his 42nd birthday Lane Kiffin will have had the following titles:

  • Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders
  • Head Coach of the Tennessee Volunteers
  • Head Coach of the USC Trojans
  • Offensive Coordinator at Alabama with three straight berths in the College Football Playoffs winning one national championship.
  • Head Coach of Florida Atlantic University

There are coaches in their 60s that would die to have just one of those titles.  Lane Kiffin has done this by his 42nd birthday.  It’s remarkable.  And he hasn’t been terrible at each stop other than Oakland but who hasn’t been terrible in Oakland.  His main issue is he never lived up to the expectations put on him at USC but he was working with a stacked deck against him with postseason bans and scholarship restrictions.

I really didn’t watch much of Lane Kiffin while he was at Tennessee or USC to know what kind of coach he truly was when it came to games.  I remember the remarks he made at Tennessee that pissed off Urban Meyer and some of the shenanigans he had at USC like claiming he didn’t know the ball boy was deflating footballs or whatever it was.  There was some other stuff at USC that I remember thinking he wasn’t taking things seriously as a head coach.

Where I really started paying attention to Lane Kiffin was as OC at Bama.  With A&M playing Bama every year and Bama being the bell cow of college football I started watching a lot of their games.  To me Kiffin has hands down been the best play caller in the country over the last three years.  Sure, he’s working with a ton of talent but the reality is he jump started a Bama offensive that was pretty bland and vanilla before he got there.  Bama started putting a lot more points on the board.  I don’t think Kiffin gets enough credit for it because everyone just points to Bama’s talent and thinks anyone could have done it.

For people that make that argument let me make a counter argument in that Kiffin won the SEC three years in a row with Blake Sims, Jake Coker, and true freshman Jalen Hurts as his QB.  Look at that list again.  I don’t think there’s another OC in the country that even with Bama’s other offensive talent would have won the SEC and been to the College Football Playoff three years in a row with that string of quarterbacks.  The only consistent in Bama’s offensive output in those three seasons is Lane Kiffin.  The dude has been a magnificent play caller in his three seasons as Bama’s OC.

The only game I can recall where I thought Kiffin was questionable was the 2014 CFP Semi Final against Ohio State.  Ohio State took the lead in the third quarter and then Sims threw a pick six which put Ohio State up by two scores.  Bama was able to score and get the game within six and then both teams punted back and forth a little.  On one particular punt the Bama defense pushed Ohio St back to the goal line and Ohio St botched the punt giving it to Bama at the 23 yard line.  That is opportunity pounding on the door if I ever saw it.

Considering Sims had thrown the pick six three series ago I felt Bama should have pounded it down Ohio State’s throat with Derrick Henry.  Lean on their defense and at worst get three points out of the deal while giving the defense some rest.  What does Kiffin do?  On the very first play of getting the ball on the Ohio State 23 he calls a pass play to the goal line.  Ohio State picks it off at the one yard line and returns it to the 8.  Bama had a chance to gain all the momentum back but Kiffin gave it right back to Ohio State.  He trusted his play calling over Sims ability.  Kiffin got greedy instead of being smart and it cost Bama the national championship with that playcall because to me Bama never recovered from that call.  There’s little doubt in my mind they would have beaten Oregon just like Ohio State did had they beat Ohio State that game.  Had Kiffin made a different set of play calls there and then coached the national championship game this year there’s a good chance Nick Saban has three national championships in a row.  I’m dead serious.  If that’s Kiffin’s only blemish that’s still REALLY damn good for his three years at Bama.

Midway through last season Kiffin started getting mentioned as a head coaching candidate again.  Had we fired Sumlin last season I thought the combination of Kiffin running the offense and John Chavis running the defense would be a pretty salty staff.  Kiffin’s actions at the end of the season have given me major pause that he’s matured and is driven to be a great head coach.

Kiffin wasn’t in line for any major coaching jobs it seemed.  I think the best opportunity he had was for the UH job and the rumor is he turned that down because of the restrictions and buyout they wanted to prevent him from leaving after a year or two.  I get him not wanting the restrictions but UH is a good program where he could have spent 3-4 years and then stepped up.  They were going to pay pretty well but instead he took the Florida Atlantic coaching job for less money than he was making as OC at Bama.

There’s no doubt his time at Bama had run its course and he had to move on.  I just don’t understand why he took the FAU job for less money than he made at Bama and much less money than he would have made at UH.  FAU is a crappy job.  They haven’t won a damn thing and as great as I think Kiffin is as an OC he’s not going to turn FAU around overnight.  He’ll need to spend 4-5 years there I believe.  He would have been better off going to UH for more money even with the restrictions.  If he won at UH like Briles, Sumlin, and Herman before him there’s no doubt he’d be set up for a solid head coaching gig in a Power 5 conference.  I don’t know that there’s anything more he could accomplish at FAU over UH and he’s taking probably 1/3 of the money to do it with more risk.  It makes no sense if he’s matured and truly driven to be a national championship winning head coach.  The FAU job is a real head scratcher from a coaching standpoint.

In addition to the UH job there’s another clear better option than FAU.  Kiffin could have gone to LSU to be OC for his buddy Ed Ogeron.   LSU would have likely paid Kiffin $2 million a year to run their offense and there’s enough talent at LSU to beat Bama and win a national championship.  If Kiffin had at minimum beaten Bama just once in two years then SEC schools would have backed up dump truck piles of cash to give him their head coaching job.  There’s no doubt in my mind about that.  I actually think taking the LSU OC job would have been his best move as he would have made twice the money he’s making at FAU and he could have beaten Bama with LSU’s talent.  LSU has every bit of talent as Bama but just doesn’t have the coaching.  With a Bama win under his belt at LSU he could have the pick of SEC jobs.  SEC schools would have fired their coach not named Saban or Coach O to hire Kiffin.  Hell, LSU might have fired or demoted Coach O if Kiffin actually beat Saban.  I’m dead serious.

What I really think happened is he took the FAU gig solely to chase women.  He got divorced a year or two ago and outside of coeds on the Bama campus I can’t imagine there were any single women in Tuscaloosa up to his standards.  He knew Bama coeds were off limits or Saban would actually castrate him.  He thought with the wrong head and headed to Boca Raton where the women for his standards are plentiful and nobody cares about the social life of Lane Kiffin because he’s basically a nobody in South Florida.  I really think that was the main factor for his taking the FAU job.

At USC he made $3.4 million in his last year which was 2013 and he had two years left on his deal so he also made $3.4 million in 2014 and 2015 between USC and Bama.  In 2016 he made $1.4 million which is $2 million less a year from his previous salary.  Then he took a gig for $1 million a year while turning down better opportunities for at least twice the money.  Plus, he’s paying child support and alimony to his ex wife so it’s not like that money is going directly to him so he’s taking a SIGNIFICANT pay cut to coach at FAU.  I really think he just moved to Boca Rotan for the women because he doesn’t care about coaching all that much.  There’s no doubt money isn’t everything but I just wonder if he’s driven to be great.  It doesn’t seem like it’s a driver for him right now.

The other thing that makes me pause for his true drive to be great is how things went down at Bama.  When he accepted the FAU job it was stated he would finish with Bama including the national championship game if they got there.  After beating Washington to get in the national championship game two to three days later it’s announced Kiffin would not be coaching in the national championship game.  That was out of the blue and my guess is Saban told him to pack his stuff because he wasn’t focused anymore.  A guy driven for success would have been so focused to win that game knowing it would help his recruiting at FAU even more by being able to show off back to back championship rings.  If he’s suffering burnout at 41 for being just the OC at Bama it gets much worse trying to be a national championship head coach.

Maybe I’m wrong about Kiffin.  Maybe he has a plan in place for achieving greatness which to me is winning national championships.  Maybe he doesn’t care and just wants to live an easy life away from the stresses of big time college football.  If he truly wants to be great there are better paths to take than the one he’s taking now.  He just turned 42 today so maybe there’s time for him to mature but I believe this is about the time he should really mature and change his focus.  Based on his actions in the last 6-9 months he’s definitely not ready to be head coach at an SEC program competing for national championships in my mind.

Either way he’s accomplished more than most head coaches at the age of 42 so maybe he’s just on the beach with a cold beer in his hand smiling that he figured out the world before it figured him out.

Happy Birthday Coach Kiffin.

Thoughts from the Tennessee Game

trayveon-vs-tenn

First off, something VERY major happened with that Tennessee win.  Kevin Sumlin confirmed his spot as Aggie head coach for one more season.  It was trending he was off the hot seat but if the Aggies collapsed like the last two seasons and he lost to Tenn, Bama, Ole Miss, and LSU there’s a slight chance Sumlin could have lost his job.  With this win we’re a 9-3 regular season team and will play in a damn good bowl game.  Kevin is gonna win at least nine so with that Tennessee victory on Saturday night he guaranteed he’s fine for 2017.  Congrats Coach.

Secondly, I’m TIRED of all the hand wringing about the Wrecking Crew.  Yes it’s frustrating and statistically it doesn’t look good at times but the reality is this Wrecking Crew while not dominant responds and makes plays when it has to.  The offense is still a work in progress but for 90% of the game our defense is playing their assess off and making plays.  I get the frustration of the 10% when they’re not dominant but don’t ever forget what those guys are doing for almost the entire game.  Tennessee is a damn good football team and dialed up some great plays and made some second half adjustments we were late to adjust to.  Still, that defense played their ass off on Saturday night and they’re the reason we won.  While our offense was sputtering our defense was holding their own for most of the game.

If Trayveon Williams doesn’t fumble out of the back of the end zone there’s a good chance we win that game 42-28.  I’m not sure Tennessee would have scored knowing they had to come back two scores down with under 2 minutes.  If he’s tackled it’s a 35-28 game that we kneel out.  That changes the perception of things big time.  I’m not putting this on Trayveon directly but the odds of that play happening are miniscule and yet totally changed the perception of the game from a defensive standpoint.  In overtime the Wrecking Crew showed up and held Tennessee to only 5 plays including the field goal.  When they had to, the Wrecking Crew has shown up twice in overtime games.  I don’t like the stats either but the point is this defense has shown they can show up and make plays when it’s needed most.  We haven’t had this trait in a LONG time.  Like I’ve been saying this defense won’t be this good next year so quit with the hand wringing on this defense and enjoy it because you’re going to be doing lots of hand wringing next season.

Before I get into the analysis can we PLEASE stop assuming when a defensive player goes down he’s faking it?  Every time a Tennessee player went down someone in my section was yelling they were faking.  Even before they carted their guy off people were yelling he was faking.  Uh, he went off on a stretcher.  That’s one hell of a fake.  We’re not even running a true up tempo offense right now so Tennessee had ZERO incentive to fake injuries because they were already missing three starters on defense.  When you’re injured you have to sit out a play.  They weren’t faking.  The rules allow a defense time to make substitutions based on offensive substitutions so you don’t see the amount of faking you used to see.  The worst was I heard an impromptu yell while a Tennessee player was on the ground.  That’s completely classless.  I would love to think Aggie fans are better than that but maybe not.  The MOST important thing that should come out of every game is every player leaves without any kind of injury.  Please have some respect when people are down on the field.  If we’re running true up tempo and an opponent’s player goes down repeatedly then it can be questioned.  But please don’t boo or yell at a player down on the field just because you think they’re faking it.  I don’t want Kyle Field turning into a place that’s not respectful of the opposing players when they’re injured and it sure got close on Saturday.  We’re not the idiots in Austin.  At least I hope not.

The Wrecking Crew:

I’m starting with the defense this time mainly to drive home the work these guys did.  Statistically at the end of the game they look liked crap.  I mean utter crap.  Evidently we witnessed the defense that gave up the most yards ever in an Aggie football game.  That’s insane because for the 3 quarters and then in 2 overtimes I saw a damn dominant defense.  At the end of the first half we were up 21-7 and at the end of the 3rd quarter the score was 28-14.  I mean that’s REALLY respectable.  Damn respectable.  That’s where I wrestle with Tennessee played better than A&M and we got lucky to get a win.  For 3 quarters we soundly beat Tennessee mainly thanks to our defense.   We really did.

Tennessee was 0-7 on third down conversions to start the game.  They didn’t convert one third down the entire first half.  Say what you want but that’s DAMN impressive.  They wound being 6-17 for the game which means they were 6-10 in the second half which isn’t so impressive.  I don’t know the exact stats but I’m assuming at least 4 of those came in the 4th quarter.

We clearly melted down in the 4th quarter giving up 21 points and everybody forgets what this defense did for 3 quarters.  We won 3 quarters and OT and Tennessee won the 4th quarter.  So did Tennessee really play better than us?  I don’t think so.  I think Tennessee just got really hot in the 4th with some REALLY great play calls and our defense was too slow to adjust.  Most of those play calls were screens that took advantage of aggressiveness and pressure along with crossing routes that took advantage of the pressure our linebackers and safeties were applying. We were leaving the middle of the field wide open for crossing routes.  It was some really great play calls by Tennessee.  We probably should have gone to a much more conservative defense but that’s not how Chavis rolls.  He likes to bring pressure.  I don’t like what happened in the 4th at all but it’s hard to fault these guys for how they played for 3 quarters and the overtime.  They were truly dominant for 45 minutes of the game and then the same thing in overtime.  I can’t fully explain the 4th quarter melt down other than solid play calling by Tennessee and execution by a pretty talented team.

There are two things I can fault this defense for and the first time I’ve seen it all season.  The tackling was TERRIBLE.  I mean just terrible.  I don’t know if it was because Tennessee is the best team we’ve played athletically all year or something else but this defense was not bringing Tennessee players down like we’ve done with other teams.  It was really noticeable.  The other terrible thing by this defense was the defensive ends playing in place of Myles Garrett were biting on the zone read really bad.  So much so Dobbs got some pretty nice runs when there shouldn’t have been anything there.  On the zone read the defensive end is left alone and the QB makes the decision to leave the ball with the running back or pull it and run outside if the defensive end is crashing.  Usually there’s not much help out there so if the QB sees the defensive end crash and pulls the ball he’ll get a decent gain.  Dobbs was doing that repeatedly so I don’t know why our defensive ends kept crashing as they need to stay home and be disciplined.  I think it was just a case of those back-up defensive ends being excited to make plays and forgetting what should have been disciplined football.

Speaking of defensive ends I have no clue what was going on with Myles Garrett. Early in the game he was playing on passing downs but then he kind of went away for the most part and then showed up in the 4th quarter and played basically the rest of the game.  He was even in on a punt return in the 4th quarter.  If he was hurt why was he in a punt return?  I don’t get why we’d even expose him to special teams.  Either way I’m not sure why they handled him like they did.  Maybe they realized they finally needed him in there later in the game but it’s kind of head scratching how he was handled.  I will say when he finally did go full time in the 4th quarter he looked solid.  He wasn’t his normal dominant self but Tennessee was focused on him and Myles was  pushing their tackle around.  In VERY limited action he still got 1 sack and a tackle for a loss.  I hope he’s fully healthy going into the Bama game as he’s a flat out game changer.  Even injured he helped stabilize a defense late in the game.

As for the rest of the defense the guy who stood out the most was Armani Watts.  Watts is such a baller.  I mean flat out baller.  The dude took the ball away from a guy that was about to walk into the end zone again.  He just clean stripped it from the guy and held it.  He just does that time and time again.  It’s amazing.  Obviously he got the game saving interception which looks like a bad throw by Dobbs but if you watch Watts on that play he had great anticipation knowing where it was going.  He was playing the ball and not the receiver because he knew where it was going.  His instincts are uncanny.  I questioned if he was going pro after this season but there’s no doubt in my mind he’s gone.  I think he’s a first round draft pick.  He should be an All-American based on how he plays.  I once thought Evans was better but Watts is the better all-around safety and it’s not even close at this point.  That’s not a knock on Evans at all but Watts is just better.

The other guy that stood out the most was Shaan Washington.  That dude seems to be coming into his own right now.  I really feel like he’s gotten better each week where he’s now a legit SEC linebacker.  Alaka looked decent but Washington is clearly our best linebacker right now and I don’t think it’s close.  I’m not sure how many plays Tyrel Dodson got but he had some really solid plays.  He’s a true freshman but I think he’s going to be a really solid contributor the next 2-3 seasons.  I doubt he goes pro early but the kid looks like a baller as a true freshman.  Nobody really stood out from the linebacker position as the lack of tackling was really bad.

The defensive line didn’t get as much pressure as it usually does but it wasn’t bad at all.  Dobbs wasn’t holding on to the ball very long but we still wound up with 4 sacks and 5 QB hurries on 47 pass attempts.  Keke, Henderson, Walker, Mack, and even Chevis did they usual thing of just consuming blocks for a big part of the game.  Henderson and Mack each got ½ a sack each.  Hall had a pretty solid game bringing pressure from his side as he wound up with ½ sack but most importantly he had 4 QB hurries.  Even though I griped about the other defensive ends biting on the zone read when they shouldn’t have, Dobbs only wound up with 57 yards of rushing with a long run of 33 so he wasn’t gashing us on the zone read.  As usual the defensive line was the strongest part of our defensive effort.

Not much more to say about Watts and Evans as they wound up being the leading tacklers on the team along with each having an interception.  I don’t know what more you could want out of these two.  Donovan Wilson was tied for 4th on the team in tackles so all our safeties do is produce.   At corner I actually thought Harvey and Willis played really well.  Probably their best game yet.  Dobbs threw for 400 yards but 160 of them were to their running back so I can’t fault our corners for those yards.  I mean that’s 40% of their passing yards right there.  They didn’t get burned deep as the longest pass was for 43 yards and the rest were under 27.  All of the passing yards just seemed to be screen plays to the running back and then crossing routes late in the game.  As much as I love Chief that’s really on him for not adjusting to a Tennessee OC that was clearly calling great plays against an overly aggressive defense that wasn’t watching for certain plays.

I know people want to rail on the Wrecking Crew for the total yards and the defense at the end but I just can’t.  For three quarters they played stellar football and I contend had our offense taken better advantage of the turnovers the defense got then everyone is talking about what an amazing game the Wrecking Crew played.  I’m not totally putting it on the offense but the offense did need to do more in the second half when the defense was giving them the ball.  I know Tennessee had 7 turnovers but a lot of those were caused by us and most importantly we got to the ball.  There was one fumble late in the game where the running back fumbled it and Dobbs tried to pick it up rather than run with it to which he bobbled it and we jumped on it.  We have to give credit to our defense for being around the ball and jumping on it rather than trying to be a hero.  Just jump on the ball.  Fundamentals.  The Wrecking Crew just makes plays when they have to.  It doesn’t look like the Wrecking Crew of old but like I’ve said time and time again this ain’t the Southwest Conference.  We need to clean up our tackling but these guys play their asses off and make plays when they have to.  We now have two 2 OT wins where the defense held the offense to a field goal in the first OT and then didn’t let the other team score a TD when they had to in the second overtime.  That’s pretty damn solid.

Offense:

Not sure where to begin here.  Do I start with Knight or Williams?  I’ll start with Williams.  Except for ONE play this guy was amazing.  I mean flat out amazing.  217 yards on 28 carries averaging almost 8 yards a carry.  That’s unreal for a true freshman that wasn’t touted like an Adrian Peterson, Fournette, or any of those Georgia running backs.  This dude has essentially been carrying this offense since the Auburn game.  He really has.  He’s the biggest difference maker on this offense and it’s not even close.  He’s come so far since his first game when I honestly thought Keith Ford was the better back.  Williams’ vision is his secret.  The dude is so good at anticipating things and adjusting before it happens.  He knows when to cut and when to be patient.  This was his 4th SEC game and he hasn’t been denied the end zone in any of them.  When he gets to the second level he’s really dangerous but watching him he’s so good at getting beyond the line.  He sees the whole develop and knows to accelerate or do a jump cut and go.  Then when he’s on the second level he doesn’t go down with contact and constantly adjusting while going forward.  I don’t know who he looks like to be honest.  It’s a rare combination I haven’t seen in a long time.  Maybe more like Ladanian Tomlinson more than anyone but I think Williams is bigger.  He’s just amazingly fluid in doing it that it looks effortless.  He obviously had the fumble at the end of the game.  If he scores or gets tackled that game is over and never goes to overtime.  It’s hard to fault him for what happened because of his effort the entire game but hopefully he learned a lesson you don’t ever give up until you cross the goal line including protect the ball.  Still, this guy has carried this offense to 4 straight SEC victories so I’m not going to get on him about anything.  He’s going to be a BIG reason why we win 10 or 11 games in the regular season as opposed to just 9 if we wound up with 10 or 11.

Good ol’ Trevie Knight.  At this point he is who he is.  He was a dead flat 50% passer with 2 TDs and 2 INTs.  That’s about as half good and half bad as it gets.  But the damn kid can flat out run.  I mean flat out run like you wouldn’t expect.  If he didn’t have his legs I think we’d be miserable with him as our quarterback but if he gets a seam up the middle on the zone read and into the secondary the kid has amazing top end speed.  It’s actually really amazing to watch as he’ll frustrate you with his passing and decision making through the air but then the next thing you know he found a seam up the middle and he’s prancing untouched into the end zone because no one could catch him.  He sucked everyone into being frustrated and then next thing you know he’s in open field showing off his wheels no one expects him to have.  All you can do is smile as he crosses the goal line and gives everybody the double gigs.  Kid doesn’t get down and just keeps grinding waiting on opportunity to strike.  That’s actually a very admirable trait as a quarterback has got to have confidence and persistence.

Watching him pass is just really remarkable because he’s so inconsistent.  He’ll have some flat out amazing passes and then have some head scratchers on how the same guy can be so inconsistent.  The pass I do like the most although I don’t always agree when it’s called is the deep sideline ball.  He’s obviously inconsistent but he hits it enough it’s worth trying and with our receivers it’s likely to not be intercepted.  I love that it keeps the defense honest because if they don’t account for it and Knight hits it then it’s a big play.  Mazzone tends to do it on second downs where I’m wanting to string along a more consistent drive but it’s worked enough I’m okay with it.  Mazzone is trying to hide it between 1st and 3rd downs to keep defenses on their toes and to give us another down if it doesn’t hit.  It’s worked enough that I can’t really complain but there’s been a drive or two where I just wanted to keep the ball on the ground and move the chain that way.  The biggest problem with Knight passing is that his bad passes are so frustrating they outshine the good passes.  After every game I can remember a lot more bad passes than I can his good passes but that’s just the way it goes.  I’ve also gotten so used to his passes being bad I thought the pass to Kirk in the second overtime was actually picked off the way people dove for it.  I was shocked when it was actually caught by Kirk.  Sorry for ever doubting you Trevor as I don’t know if it went where it was supposed to but it was between two defenders where only Kirk could catch it.  Keep doing what you’re doing as you have more confidence in yourself than any fan does.  More often than not it’s worked in everyone’s favor so just be you and we’ll enjoy this ride with you.

I thought the offensive line did fine as usual.  Tennessee slowed down our running game it seemed in the late 3rd and early 4th quarters but when it mattered most they made holes for Williams to run through and gave Knight time in the pocket late in the game.  They weren’t really dominant at all but they only gave up one sack and we had almost 600 yards of total offense so we clearly had time and holes most of the game.  I don’t remember any WTF moments like we tended to have 2-3 times last year in a game which is a big positive.  There were a couple of penalties that need to get cleaned up and only one high snap on a play I thought we were going to fumble but Knight was able to get into Williams hands for a touchdown.  I’d obviously like to see this line keep getting better and better but the end results are about as much as you can ask for considering we had no clue what to expect coming into the seasons.  Jim Turner has just done a tremendous job with this group considering this was a major question coming into the season.

As far as receiver goes I still stand by the fact Josh Reynolds is the best receiver on this team and the most underrated receiver in the country.  I’m not sure if he plays at the next level but he’s got the speed with decent size that some NFL scout and GM has to watch some film and be giddy at the fact they could take a flier on this guy late in the draft at this point because no one talks about him.  He had a tremendous one handed catch that went for over 30 yards.  It was just an amazing catch with a defender draped all over him.  He had a 15ish yard catch that would have been a clutch 3rd down conversion but we had a lineman downfield so it came back.  That would have pushed him to over 100 yards on the day.  He’s not Mike Evans so you can’t just lean on him like we did with Evans but I firmly believe we should use him more often.

Kirk had a nice day as well catching 7 balls for 80 yards and a score.  I’m not sure what to think about Kirk at this point.  I love the guy and we all know he’s amazingly talented but I’m not sure Mazzone is using him the best way he can.  He seems to be using him mainly on the edges on the bubble screens.  Kirk is an amazing talent so it seems like we should be using him more in space.  I know defenses are keying on him but it just seems we’re not exploiting him as best we can.  We love to run him in all kinds of motion but we don’t ever use him in the motion.  I keep waiting for us to flip the ball to Kirk as a diversion but we haven’t done it these last few games.  Maybe it’s being done to keep defenses honest and read coverage but we’ve never used him of all the times we’ve run Kirk in motion and snapped the ball with him in the backfield.  We did do it against UCLA I think but nothing in SEC games.  I’d love to see him and Reynolds lined up in a stack and run routes downfield off each other.  It just seems he could be much more productive.  I’m not down on Kirk at all as he’s producing but I’m just not sure Mazzone is really using him like he should be.

As for the rest of the receivers they didn’t do too much which is pretty disappointing considering Tennessee’s secondary isn’t one of the best we’ll face all year.  I know RSJ was out but with the way Tabuyo played last week I was hoping he might be a factor and wasn’t.  Speedy had a 27 yard catch but he also dropped a 3rd down conversion that hit his hands so that was a little disappointing.  I know Trevor is an inconsistent passer but this whole squad of receivers except for Reynolds and Kirk just seems to be inconsistent as well.  There’s plenty of talent there but they just seem to underachieve.  I don’t know if that’s on the receivers themselves or Moorehead as their coach.  If he wasn’t our receivers coach next season I wouldn’t be too disappointed as I haven’t see anything come out of that guy in the time he’s been here other than late night Twitter battles.

As for the play calling I’m still not sure what I think of Mazzone.  I still believe he’s a play picker and not a true play caller.  To me a true play caller is someone that is always setting plays up or sequencing plays to keep drives alive.  We were 5-16 on third downs which isn’t great by any stretch and how we’ve been all season.  We have to get better at that.  I mean it’s actually really terrible as we could be sniffing 50%.  The offense is a little too sporadic for me to think he’s always thinking 2-3 plays ahead or knows the perfect time to call a play based on what he anticipates the defense is going to do.  He’s not horrible by any stretch as we saw horrible the last two years but we just seem to stall out for periods at a time and can’t sustain drives.  We’re a big play offense more than anything else and at some point we’re going to run into a defense that doesn’t allow big plays.  I’m looking mainly at LSU and Bama in that regard.  It’s why I don’t think this is a playoff caliber team.  I do think it’s a borderline Top 10 team because we can hit the big plays but we need more consistency from our offense to sustain drives to truly be an elite level team.   This is a really good football team but it’s not elite mainly because our offense can’t sustain consistent drives.  That’s on Mazzone.

Special Teams:

Man what a cluster this whole day was.  My theory on special teams is unless you truly practice it or are fully dedicated to it like Frank Beamer used to be then it just shouldn’t be noticeable.  That wasn’t the case for us on Saturday.  We all know about the missed potential game winning kick but there was PLENTY of other issues during the game.  Tripucka shanked 3 punts and all in the second half I think.  He had some nice points but midway through the game he just seemed to hit a funk where he didn’t connect cleanly on 3 or maybe even 4 punts.  He did pin 6 punts inside the 20 so he’s actually really good at that but he can’t be shanking balls.  Braden Mann who is our kickoff specialist kicked a ball out of bounds in the 4th quarter.  It wound up not hurting us as I don’t think Tennessee scored on that possession but he can’t be kicking the balls out of bounds.  He just can’t.  Boom it out of the back of the end zone and be done.  The 12th Man did make an awesome hit on a kickoff to cause a fumble we recovered so that was solid.  According to the stat sheet on 12th Man.com we didn’t return one punt or kickoff which I guess is right but Tennessee punted 6 times so I guess we just fair caught each one that didn’t get downed or go in the end zone.

My take on our special teams right now is we’re not going to win any games with special teams so we need to make sure we don’t lose any games because of special teams.  No shanked punts, no kickoffs out of bounds, or mis-handling of the ball.  I do have to give LaCamera credit as he was perfect with extra points and after missing the 38 yarder to win the game he hit the 34 yarder to tie the game and send it to the second overtime.  It’s good to see a kid put a major miss behind him and come back with confidence.  Still, hit the field goals in regulation and let’s avoid overtime all together!

 

Make no mistake that was a damn fine win on Saturday.  Any of the Aggie teams in the last 3 years would have lost that game.  There’s no doubt in my mind.  That win puts as at 9 wins minimum and I think we actually win 10 games splitting one of the Ole Miss or LSU game.  It’s possible we win both of those but I still need to see more of each of those teams to figure out who they are.  It’s possible we go into Bama and win that game but we’re going to need lots of help or Trevor to channel the Trevor that beat Bama in the Sugar Bowl.  In fact now that I think about it I’d love for Sumlin to tell Mazzone to roll the dice and create some plays we haven’t ran all season.  We have two weeks to prepare and nothing would excite me more than to see us come out with stuff Bama hasn’t seen all season.  It’s what I wanted Spav to do last year which he clearly didn’t.

I might do a more in depth analysis of us vs Bama next week after watching Bama and Tennessee this weekend.  It really couldn’t set up any better for us to have a common opponent take on Bama while we take the week off.  Ole Miss put up 43 on Bama and Arkansas put up 30 on them so they’re not invincible.    Bama scored 48 and 49 points in those games but our defense is clearly better than those teams.  I’m not saying we beat Bama but if Sumlin, Mazzone, and Knight realize we’re essentially playing with house money we stand a real chance.

As it is let’s just enjoy this victory over Tennessee and being 6-0 for the first time since 1994.  We’ll worry about Bama next week.  Oh and if there was a Gameday curse we finally got the sucker off our back!  Good job Ags!

Chief vs. Gus

chief-vs-gus

For the upcoming matchup with Auburn I got to wondering how Chief and Gus have matched up over the years as DC vs OC/Head Coach.  Even as head coach there’s no doubt Gus has his hand on how Auburn runs their offense.  Make no mistake Gus likes to run.

I went and looked at their matchups between LSU/A&M and Auburn with Chief and Gus at the helm.  I didn’t go back and dig into statistics for each game.  I just wanted to see if there was a general pattern and if anyone got the better of the other for the most part.

Here’s the summary of the matchups:

chief-vs-gus-chart

Based on this I’m not sure what to think.  Early on it looked like Chief owned Gus with the exception of the year Gus had Cam Newton and even then Chief held that offense to 24 points and LSU only lost by 7.  It also appears the home team had an advantage until last season where Gus came in and ran over Chief’s first Aggie defense.  All I can really glean from that is Chief got the better of Gus the first four years including Gus’ national championship year as head coach but not the year Gus had Cam.  But, Gus has owned Chief their last two match-ups so they’re dead even at 3 to 3.

I like the results the first four times they matched up but man the last two times really make you scratch your head if Chief now struggles against Gus.  Is that what we should expect this Saturday?  I honestly don’t know.  I like to think based on this defense Chief can shut down Gus’ desire to run which you know Gus is going to want to do.

In looking at Auburn’s two games this year they struggled to run against Clemson only getting 87 total rush yards and then blew it open against Arkie St. rushing for 462 yards.  They threw for 244 passing yards against Arkie St for a total of 706 total yards with 1 fumble.  Surprisingly enough they passed for 178 yards against Clemson but 262 total yards is pretty anemic.

Looking at the Clemson game in more detail Clemson’s defense definitely shut down Auburn’s offense.   In addition to the anemic total yards Auburn also had 3 turnovers with one interception and fumble being on failed 4th down conversions.  Gus was swapping QBs in and out this game which he didn’t do against Arkie S.  That seemed to make the offense take off against Arkie St. so maybe their performance against the Clemson D isn’t an indicator of what a strong defense can do to this offense.

I just don’t know what to think of all that Chief vs Gus so let’s look at some other stuff.  Offensively Clemson rushed for 151 yards with 248 passing for a total of 399 total yards but turned the ball over twice.  Still, comparing yards and turnovers for that game I’m scratching my head how it was a 19-13 game with Auburn firing at the endzone at the end of the game to potentially win.  Clemson should have walked away with that game.

Making it even more head scratching Auburn was 3-17 on 3rd down conversions against Clemson.  That’s an EIGHTEEN percent conversion rate.  EIGHTEEN percent.  Now, they were 3-5 on 4th down conversions which is pretty impressive so basically that means they were 6-17 on those third down conversions but that’s still only 35% which is pretty bad.  Crazy enough if Gus had kicked field goals on the 4th downs they didn’t convert the game likely goes to overtime if they don’t win it in regulation.

In looking at the drive charts it looks like Auburn had field position for much of the game.  Gus was gambling on those 4th downs as I’m guessing he felt he needed a TD and couldn’t rely on field goals to win the game.  I guess he didn’t trust his defense.  Odd choices that ultimately cost him a chance at a Top 10 win to open the season.  Still, it’s a head scratching game because I don’t know if Auburn played smart considering their competition keeping it close or Clemson just couldn’t get it going.

With that, my thoughts are Kevin Sumlin needs to channel his inner RC Slocum and rely on the run and his defense.  I’m not sure if Sumlin has this in him to be honest.  Sumlin loves receiving the ball to open up the game but if I’m him I want Auburn to have the ball first.  I want to see what my defense can do against Auburn to dictate what I do offensively.  If the Aggie defense can hold Auburn to a punt and even better a straight three and out on the first series then I can go conservative on offense.  I tell Chief and the D to focus on stopping the run and let Auburn try to pass.  Don’t over pursue and hold your lanes and assignments.  Have seven guys holding the line of scrimmage and not worried about sacks or tackles for a loss.

Tell the safeties play smart on play actions and movement as we’ll need them to help our corners this game.  Auburn will throw the ball at some point so don’t suck up too soon.  It goes against what our safeties are best at in supporting the run but we’ll need them to be real safeties against the pass.  They’ll still need to do their normal thing of bringing the wood if runners do get beyond the linebackers.  Evans and Watts are going to be a big key to what we do diagnosing run or pass correctly.  Basically our safeties better not be moving forward unless the ball is beyond the line of scrimmage or it’s a designed blitz obviously.  We need to see if our front 7 can slow down or even stop Auburn’s running attack as when the safeties start cheating forward to defend the run Auburn will pop a big pass and we can’t have that.  They have to stay disciplined to look to help our corners and not let anyone deep on a play action pass.

Now if Auburn wants to go pass over run and we need to get in a track meet then we’ll get in a track meet with our receivers but I’ll be damned if Auburn is going to run on us like they did last year.  Gus likes to run and we’re not going to let them.  I don’t trust his QBs against our secondary without establishing the run.  Give them some yards through the air but don’t let them rip off long runs against us because that’s what Gus lives for.  If Gus gets that you’re dead as he’ll punish you with play action for over compensating against the run.  Focus on shutting down the run by staying in lanes and not over pursuing and make Auburn pass in true passing situations.  They’re going to get yards but let’s keep them contained on the ground.

Offensively assuming our defense can do what I think they can against the run then I give Auburn a taste of their own medicine.  I want to establish the run between the tackles.  It’ll be pretty boring and unlike what Sumlin likes to do but it’s what I’d do.  It may take a while but I want to show Auburn we’re fully committed between the tackles.  Once that’s established then use a lot of play action in the second half to open it up assuming Auburn starts committing to the run.  With our interior line I think we can establish the same 3.4 yards per carry that Clemson got against Auburn if not better.  If we do that and Chief’s defense holds against Auburns desire to run then we’ll walk away with this game in the second half thanks to play action.

Keep the first half fairly ugly from an offensive and scoring standpoint letting the defenses slug it out.  There’s no need to get in a track meet this game unless Auburn dictates that.  Maybe Gus opens it up from the get go but I don’t see that happening.  He’s going to want to establish the run and pass off that.  If we need to adjust then we’ve shown we can apply pressure on the QB but we need to go in focused on shutting down the run through discipline and establishing the run ourselves.  Sumlin needs to be having breakfast with RC every morning this week getting advice.   Don’t let Knight make any mistakes in the first half and if the flow of the game allows it then let him make plays in the second half to see if we can pull away.

Basically this game is going to come down to head coaching.  Gus is going to do what Gus does trying to establish the run and hoping Sumlin wants a semi track meet.  Gus’ defense will get off the field if we’re continually looking at 3rd and 6s because we missed passes on 1st and 2nd down.  If that happens it works in Gus’ favor based on the Clemson game.

Sumlin needs to do what Mike Sherman didn’t do against Texas in 2011 by trusting his defense and not let his QB make mistakes by keeping the ball on the ground.  If Sumlin sees this whole game with his defense and offense working to complement each other then I think this is A&M’s game no doubt.  If Sumlin allows his offense and defense to work independently then Gus will own Sumlin this game.  It’ll come down to players making plays but it’s up to the head coach to decide the scheme and flow for the game.  The loser of this game will be coaching for his life for the rest of the season which makes it hard to predict to a degree.  One dog might be crazy enough to try something different and if the other coach is not expecting it then that other coach could be hosed.

Does Gus have tricks up his sleeve?  I don’t think so.  I think Gus plays Gus hoping Sumlin plays Sumlin  so it’s basically a repeat of the Clemson game but Gus doesn’t make the same mistakes on his side rotating QBs and gambling on 4th downs when a field goal can be had.  I hope Sumlin plays a little more RC like and gives Gus a taste of his own medicine on the ground believing his defense contains Auburn running game.  We’ll see what kind of coach Sumlin is this week as he walks in with the better overall team.  Coaching makes the difference here.

I like to think Chief is going to get the best of Gus and with that the Aggies are going to win a close 23-19 game.  That seems odd as Gus doesn’t like kicking field goals but if it’s a close game I think he doesn’t repeat his mistake against Clemson.  I expect to see something like a 10-6 Aggie lead at half time where A&M scores on a play action deep ball to Reynolds or Kirk and the other points are just field goals due to a defensive battle.  If that’s the score at half then the Aggies will prevail.  If a semi track meet has broken out and Auburn is grinding yards on the ground then I’m not so hopeful.

For now, I’m hoping those morning breakfasts with RC make Sumlin see the light for this game.  Speaking of, our hotel is next to a Waffle House this weekend.  It doesn’t get any more SEC than that!

Thoughts From the UCLA Game

myles-on-rosen

First off, despite the Aggies blowing a 15 point fourth quarter lead, that was a damn solid win.  As we saw on Saturday a lot of good teams lost games they probably shouldn’t have.  You hate the minor collapse but you have to love the fact a win was had.  That’s a really good UCLA team and probably the best team A&M has opened against since Florida in 2012.  Lots of areas to work on but a win is a win.  Take it and move on down the road.

Offense:

I like a LOT of what I saw on the offense on Saturday except for two things – the QB play and play calling.  I’ll get to those two negativess in a bit as I want to hit on the positives first.  I thought the offensive line played pretty solid.  Not great but they looked better than last year as a unit.  The interior of the line looked MUCH better than last year.  It’s only one game but I think this line can be serviceable.  This line appears much better than last year.  We lost our starting left tackle but Koda Martin actually looked pretty decent in Gennesy’s place.  He wasn’t dominant by any stretch but he did a decent job of engaging and staying with their defensive end much of the time he was in there.  I was worried when Gennesy went out but Martin did okay and held his own.  With Turner as their coach I have faith this unit gets better and better along with having some depth.

I LOVED our running back tandem of Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams.  I don’t want to diss Tra Carson as that dude was all heart last year but this tandem is a BIG step up.  Those two guys have a burst and run angry not shying away from contact.  They’re not the top RBs in the country by any stretch but they’re very serviceable and better than what we had last year.  I’ll take that.

Our receivers are exactly the same as last year and that’s not a bad thing.  Josh Reynolds is probably the most underrated receiver in the country.  I’m not kidding.  He might be the best receiver on this squad including Kirk.  RSJ still has issues with his hands at times.  Kirk didn’t see the ball enough in my book but we know how good he can be.  He’ll get his at some point.  Speedy comes back next week and can’t wait to see if he’s progressed like has been said.  No issues here at all but would like to see these guys utilized a lot more.

Now for the negatives – I know everybody loves Trevor Knight because he looks and talks the part but in this game he reminded me of another Aggie quarterback in Stephen McGee.  I know everyone loves McGee because he looks and talks like Aggieland Central Casting would want in a quarterback but McGee really wasn’t all that productive if you watched him objectively.  McGee had horrible pocket awareness and I saw a LOT of that from Knight on Saturday.  There were at least 5 times where a pocket was forming for Knight to step up into but instead he kept going backwards.  I’ve always felt pocket presence is something that’s either there or not and can’t really be coached.  For a 5th year senior in college I’m not sure if Knight is going to develop it at this point.  It’s really important he have faith in his pocket, step up, and find an open receiver quickly.  He’s athletic but he’s not athletic enough to be a great scramble QB when the pocket breaks down.  He needs to step up with his eyes down field and find the open man and hit him or run for whatever gain he can get.  Going backwards is never a good thing.

In the end Knight was very serviceable on Saturday and helped us get the win but if his play had been a little more stellar we would have won walking away.  Some of that is on Mazzone as I’ll get to in a bit.  I still contend Trevor Knight is not going to win us any ball games.  The best he can do is not let us lose any games.  He’s got to be careful with the ball and most importantly aware of his limitations as a pocket passer.  He wasn’t terrible at all but he was the Trevor Knight that got beat out by Baker Mayfield last season.  I hope he can improve but once again he’s a 5th year senior so you really wonder how much improvement is there.  Even just a little bit would likely mean another win on the season.

As for the play calling, 2 quarters I loved and 2 quarters I didn’t.  The first four series seemed to basically focus on pass, run, pass, run.  We did nothing on any of those series and I was wondering if Mazzone was just trying to figure out what he had as on the fifth series he started combining pass and run and we moved the ball down the field.  In the second and third quarter we moved the ball up and down the field and then in the 4th quarter we just went stagnant with conservative and predictable play calling.  The proverbial taking the foot off the gas if you will.  I don’t know if that was an order by Sumlin or he was just trying to protect Knight from making a mistake.  At least it’s better than Spav as I hated his play calling for all 4 quarters.  Hopefully after watching the film and realizing what he has from an actual game he’ll make some adjustments.  I loved the up tempo stuff so hopefully we keep developing that.

The two stats I HATED from an offensive standpoint were we only converted 4 or 5 third downs in 15 attempts.  That’s pathetic.  Absolutely pathetic.  The other is UCLA won time of possession by a pretty wide margin.  With our defense that shouldn’t happen.  Our defense has shown they can get off the field so our offense has to do a better job of staying on the field via third down conversions.  We improve third down conversion and our time of possession goes up and we limit the other offense’s opportunities which results in more wins.  It’s really as simple as that.

Defense:

For 3.5 quarters and an overtime period our defense was flat out nails.  That’s a great UCLA offense and we held them in check for 3.5 quarters.  We did so with our offense turning the ball over twice and not being able to sustain drives to stay on the field.  Our defense was on the field more than our offense and that always put your defense in a bind.  Had our offense done more in the first and fourth quarter our defense likely doesn’t let UCLA score 15 points to tie the game in the final half of the 4th quarter.  We all want perfection and the Wrecking Crew but in the current college game that was a solid defensive effort due to our offense not being able to stay on the field and score more points.

The defensive line and specifically Mr. Myles Garret brought pressure all game long.  Garret’s stats might not have been as gaudy as we want but if you watched him all game that was Garret’s best game by far.  For the entire game he brought pressure from where lined up.  He played pass and run extremely well and his technique was outstanding.  He mixed up edge rushing, bull rushing, and interior spin moves which I don’t recall him doing an entire game last season.  Let’s cherish it because I think he’s about to have a Von Miller type final season in Aggieland where it’ll be a while before we have someone like him again.  That was also a pretty good left tackle he was going up against.

The rest of the defensive line was solid as well.  Hall was bringing pressure from the other side and the interior was bringing pressure all day as well.  Most impressive was the stunting and twisting we were doing along the front with the other the DLinemen thanks to Garret commanding so much attention.  Our DTs weren’t just firing straight up the field but attacking the UCLA line with multiple looks so they never knew exactly what was going to happen.  Lots of athleticism along that defensive line which should prove to be really big as the season wears on.

The linebackers looked solid as well.  What was most impressive to me was the amount of playing time they all got and how effective they were for the most part.  Alaka, George, Washington, and Dodson all got plenty of PT and to be honest they all looked the same.  That’s not a bad thing as we need depth at linebacker more than anything so no one is too burdened.   I wouldn’t say anyone truly stood out but they worked well with the defensive line and safeties to bring pressure from all over and maintain their assignments.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this crew against a run first team like Auburn in a couple of weeks because we were more about pinning our ears back to apply pressure.  That’s my only concern of this crew for now.

The secondary outside of a couple of botched plays late in the 4th looked really good.  Watts and Evans brought it all game long along with Wilson when he was in there.  The corners looked really serviceable but they’re not lock down corners at this point.  If our pressure doesn’t get to the QB they can’t hold all that long.  It’s just part of how this defense is built though.  I’ll take what I saw as if last year is any indication this crew gets better with each game.

The defensive unit as a whole basically picked up where they left off last season.  I’m not kidding in that if I was the Athletic Director I’d go guarantee John Chavis two more years of his salary no matter what Kevin Sumlin thinks.  Chief is one of if not the best defensive coordinators in the country and I don’t want him going anywhere.

Special Teams:

Nothing special here other than our punter looked solid.  Placekicking is in question.  I didn’t really like Evans returning kicks as I want someone with some wiggle.  Maybe with Speedy back that changes.

 

Looking forward I don’t want to get too high or too low after one game.  It’s the best opening game win we’ve ever had with Sumlin but lots of work to go.  I’m still just really uncertain on Knight.  Heart and leadership are not in question but he really was the weakest link of our offense in my mind.  What happens when he gets pressured or we can’t establish a running game?  I really would like to see the pocket moved with him more or him being more confident in the pocket and looking downfield.  His drop back pocket awareness just scares me based on this game and his time at OU.

Mazzone did say in his press conference it’s like a first date where they have to get to know each other.  Hopefully that’s true and they both adapt and grow together.  If that’s the case then I really like this team.

To be clear this is not a playoff team.  At best this is a 10-2 and maybe 11-1 team.  I just don’t see us getting past Alabama.  I’m not sure Bama goes undefeated in the SEC but after Week 1 it’s very possible they do.  They looked that good and the rest of the SEC showed major holes.  Bama will likely lose to someone but we’ll lose to Bama and then someone else in a best case scenario.  I’m totally okay with 10-2 though.  Totally okay with 10 wins.

Auburn looked MUCH better than I ever expected.  I’m not as confident about that game anymore.  Their defense and their penchant to run the ball will prove to be a major test for us.  Tennessee, Ole Miss, and LSU all look like much more winnable games after Week 1 but there’s lots of football to be played.  Let’s wait and see what happens between now and when we play them before moving the needle to a win on those game.  For now I’m sticking with 8-4 but I see us trending to more wins than less right now which means we’ll keep Sumlin another year as if he wins nine he’s fine.

Who Controls The Heat on Sumlin’s Seat?

12th Man Flag

As we enter the 2016 Aggie football season there’s lots of questions if Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat.  There is no correct answer at the current moment.  The reality is the heat of Sumlin’s seat is controlled SOLELY by him and will be decided this season.  If the Aggies win 9 game this season there is no heat.  If he wins 7 games then he’s gone and if he wins 8 games it’ll depend on the number of home games he wins.  More than likely the LSU game will be the most important.  If he loses to Bama, UCLA, Tennessee, and LSU I don’t see how he can survive that but it’s still possible.  As long as Sumlin doesn’t get to 4 losses there’s not an ounce of heat but once he hits 4 games then that seat will be hot.  It’ll all because of his head coaching ability and nothing else.  I’ll do a season prediction as we get closer to the season but this is my analysis of Sumlin and where he stands right now.

Coming into his fifth season at A&M it’s crystal clear what kind of coach Kevin Sumlin is.  He’s a CEO coach that’s not going to grind things out.  He’s hands off when it comes to the decisions his staff makes for in game preparation and even in game.  I have a ton of specific examples but I won’t bore you with them.  Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you in great detail.  Kevin Sumlin is in the style of coaches like Les Miles, Mack Brown, and Bobby Bowden.  They clap a lot and hope to give great speeches but if you ask them exactly what’s going on during the game he’s just watching like me and you.  You better hope he can hire a great staff and recruit because he’s not going to have much effect on the actual games himself.  That’s not a bad thing but it’s not a great thing either.  It’s possible Sumlin can win a National Championship but he’s only as good as his staff and recruiting momentum.  I’d actually be fine if he turned into Miles, Brown, and especially Bowden as all of those guys have a National Title to their name and I want that feeling just once before I die.  Just once.

He’s not in the class of coaches like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Gary Patterson who are guys that flat out grind it out during the season making decisions that influence his coaching staff in weekly preparation and in game decisions.  I think Jim Harbaugh will join this group as well but let’s give him one more year at Michigan to make sure.  I also think Tom Herman will join this class one day but let’s also give him one more year and see where he goes next.  If Sumlin falters and Herman has another great season at UH I’d love to see Herman in maroon but let’s not worry about that right now.

Sumlin will never join that list of elite names because it’s not who he is.  He’s not interested in the details of the day to day grind for game planning and in game coaching.  He wants to be popular and celebrate leaving it up to those below him to make things happen.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but if he doesn’t hire right or loses recruiting momentum then he’s toast because he doesn’t have the ability to directly reverse course by himself.

Sumlin got to this whole make or break season because of hiring decisions he made.  When Kingsbury left he promoted someone with no experience calling plays in Clarence McKinney.  When McKinney didn’t work out he repeated the process in hiring Jake Spavital.  Don’t even get me started on Jake Spavital.  When year 1 of Jake Spavital didn’t work out Sumlin fired his offensive line coach and brought in Dave Christensen.  That went even worse as Christensen was a HORRIBLE offensive line coach and Spavital was his usual horrible self.  A decision made by Sumlin made things WORSE.  So in the 3 years post Kingsbury Sumlin just TOTALLY botched his offensive staff.  I mean just TOTALLY botched it.  He made $5 million a year to make these stupid decisions.  $5 million a year and he’s hiring inexperienced offensive coordinators.  That’s on him.

While Sumlin was promoting Boy Wonder Jake Spavital, Nick Saban lost two games in a row to go 11-2 in 2013 and sent his offensive coordinator away.  Seriously.  He told his OC in an 11-2 season to get lost.  He then hired Lane Kiffin as his OC and won the SEC two years in a row including a National Championship.  He had no real relationship with Kiffin but remembered how tough it was to coach against his offenses despite the reputation of Kiffin at the time.  See the differences in how these coaches operate?  Saban isn’t about relationships.  He’s about results on the field because he knows if he wins everything takes care of itself.  Saban is focused on the field.  Sumlin is focused on the lights off the field.

On the defensive side of the ball Sumlin held on to Mark Snyder one year too long. He probably shouldn’t have hired Snyder in the first place but Snyder wasn’t really as bad as Aggies fans made him out to be.  Snyder was an above average coach but when paired with Sumlin’s below average OC hires after Kingsbury it made him look that much worse.  Snyder was a tremendous DC his first year getting the most out of a lot of guys that weren’t the most talented but had a ton of heart.  Snyder deserves credit for that 2012 defense but when the guys with heart left then Snyder was hosed.  He made some HORRIBLE personnel decisions two years ago and I really feel Sumlin should have stepped in and guided him.  I won’t name player names but there’s a certain position in the middle of the field that clearly wasn’t able to perform in the position but he kept getting run out there until it was painfully obvious.  Sumlin then had to pull the old “every position will be evaluated” technique in the middle of the season.  A great coach NEVER says that because they anticipate that coming before it gets there and makes adjustments.  $5 million a year to make those decisions when it’s painfully obvious what’s going on.  FIVE MILLION AMERICAN DOLLARS and midway through the season we have to re-evaluate everything because we’re getting our ass kicked.  $5 million to reshuffle the cards.

As much as I’d love to see Tom Herman in maroon because I do think he’s going to join the likes of Saban and Meyer I REALLY want to see Sumlin win 9 games or more this year and keep his job.  I absolutely LOVE the current staff he has for a guy like Kevin Sumlin.  I mean LOVE.  I’ll take John Chavis over any defensive coordinator in the country.  Hands down without a doubt.  That dude is a grinder.

I know Aggie fans felt we gave up too many yards on the ground last season but the reality is our defense played well enough to win EVERY game last year.  I’m not kidding.  Even against Alabama we held them to 20 points on offense.  They didn’t score a touchdown beyond 5 minutes in the second quarter.  Derrick Henry gashed us for 20 minutes but Chavis made adjustments and kept him contained.  Chavis’ in game adjustments were just remarkable all season.  Go back and watch the games and while we did give up some big runs on occasion for the most part our defense stopped opposing offenses when it mattered.  Boy Wonder Spavital just couldn’t get his stuff together to respond when the defense gave the offense an opportunity to win the game.  I don’t put that on Chavis.  I hate Jake Spavital.  Seriously.  What a failure.

The Wrecking Crew is never coming back.  Football has evolved where offenses are going to score points.  Even Nick Saban has learned this which is why he’s adapted.  If you think we can field a defense that holds quality opponents under 300 yards and 14 points you’re fooling yourself.  It ain’t happening anymore.  John Chavis coaches a defense that attacks and adjusts to make stops when it counts.  That’s all you can ask for and he’s better than anyone in the college game in my mind.  Most importantly he’s not going anywhere.  As long as Sumlin is coaching A&M so is Chavis as long as we keep paying him.  I don’t want to lose that so I want Sumlin to succeed this season.  Think Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips.

Offensively it took 3 years but Sumlin seems to have finally gotten it right.  We’ll have to see how this season goes for Noel Mazzone but I like his experience.  If we win 9 games that tells me he’s a solid enough offensive coordinator to compete at an elite level year in and year out.  Even more than Mazzone I absolutely LOVE the hire of Jim Turner.  This guy is a flat out grinder when it comes to the offensive line.  He consumes himself when it comes to the offensive line in recruiting, technique, and motivation.  It’s no surprise what’s happened to our Oline recruiting since he got hired.  I think he’s the best offensive line coach in the country.  He loves Aggieland and likely never leaves if he has anything to do with it.  Offensive success begins and ends on the offensive line and I love having Turner handling that component of our offense.  He and Mazzone should combine to be a really good offensive tandem.

More than likely this will be Mazzone and Turner’s toughest year on offense.  Our QB is unproven and our offensive line has some holes.  Yes, Trevor Knight is unproven.  If Mazzone and Turner can get 9 wins or more things get easier next season as Turner adds talent and depth on the offensive line.  QB will once again be in question next year but year 2 with an offensive coordinator and better line makes things a lot easier to manage.  And just like Chavis, Mazzone and Turner are lifers at their positions so they’re not going anywhere as long as Sumlin is successful and we keep paying them.

I’d love to see nothing more than a band of Sumlin on vocals, Chavis on lead guitar, Mazzone on bass, and Turner banging the drums rocking Aggieland for years.  It’s very possible but it’s going to take 9 wins to do it or 8 wins with major wins at Kyle to keep these guys around.  7 wins or less and some of them are going to have to find a new band to get gigs.  They won’t be booked in Aggieland next season.

If Sumlin only wins 7 games then buy him out and head down Highway 6 to 290 and get Tom Herman and be done.  If Sumlin isn’t the answer then I’d love to see Herman, Chavis, and Turner rocking in a new band in Aggieland.  If not Herman then I’d be fine with Chad Morris to rock out with Chavis and Turner.  All I know is for the first time in 4 years Sumlin has a staff he can win with and I want him to.  If he can’t croon some chart toppers this year it won’t be because of the guys behind him.  It’ll all be on his high dollar vocals not making it and he’ll never figure it out.

So who controls the heat on Sumlin’s seat?  He does!  He does!