Kenny Hill. Kyle Allen.
Two starters, highly recruited to play quarterback at Texas A&M, both gone. Kyler Murray, with all his promise and drama, needs to be the man or this could get really bad, very quickly for Kevin Sumlin.
Even if Murray is the second coming of Johnny Football or Corey Pullig or his old man, A&M’s offense has been rotting from the inside out. Go back to Thanksgiving weekend, A&M went to Baton Rouge to play the wounded Tigers, losers of three straight with a coach on the way out. A&M managed 7 points and never threatened. Les Miles owes the Ags a thank you card.
Address is specifically to Jake Spavital, the architect of the a failing offense. A&M ran as many plays as it has since the heyday of Johnny Football, but produced less yards and points for the third year in a row.
A&M’s high powered attack has been neutered against the upper echelon of the SEC. Last year one could clearly point to a porous defense as the issue. But even then, A&M’s offense was failing, and with significant skill position upgrades.
So what now? What do you do with Spavital and the offensive system that floundered in the closing months of the 2015 season? How do you tell recruits, particularly at the quarterback position, that you’re offense is squared away? How do you compete with ‘Bama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, and now Arkansas?
Great questions, glad I asked. Perhaps an overarching question needs asking: What is your identity? Simply stated, what do you do well? Ohio State and Alabama use crushing run attacks to set up knock out big plays. Baylor spreads the field to batter you with a between the tackles run game, then bombs you out with deep vertical passing. Clemson utilizes a dynamic running quarterback to help establish a running attack. OU has found a way to use two very good running backs to offset a spread scheme.
Every elite team in college football has this in common: when they want to, they can impose their will with a powerful run game. On 3rd and three, they make you honor the run because they know they can get those three yards on the ground. A&M, in spite of Dave Christiansen’s hire and emphasis on the run, has been unable to consistently deploy a power running attack. Teams don’t honor the run game because they don’t have to and because A&M rarely threatens teams vertically, the field is condensed. A&M cannot deliver knockout blow consistently because they cannot deliver the necessary body blows.
Regardless of A&M’s next move(s), the Aggies need to continue to work to become a more physical offensive football team, between the tackles, where tough yards are made and spirits are broken. The power running game must become part of the Aggies’ identity.
Now back to Kyle Allen.
Allen’s transfer speaks to the fact that the issues with the A&M offense are no longer hidden in meeting rooms. A kid like Allen wants someone to prepare him for the next level, something he no longer has faith the A&M staff can do. He’s going elsewhere, even sitting out to do so. Allen was the number one pocket passer in the 2014 recruiting class. His signing was a coup for A&M, now his leaving leads to questions that Sumlin and his staff must answer in living rooms across the state and the around the country. The offense has fallen off a cliff and continues to trend down. A&M needs answers or better, an identity.