The most pivotal season in Kevin Sumlin's tenure at Texas A&M starts with UCLA, who are in the most pivotal season of Jim Mora's tenure. Both seats are hot, so how can A&M cool their coaches backside.
Make Life Easier on the Quarterback
We assume Jake Hubenak will take the first Aggie snap when things kick off on Sunday night, but regardless, A&M has to give their quarterbacks help. The best way to help is with a solid running game. A&M's reconfigured offensive line will carry a lot of the burden in opening holes. They'll also be without the benefit of Trevor Knight who did as much to help the rushing attack as anyone last year.
Look for UCLA to take away Christian Kirk and force one or more of the Aggie's other receivers to step up and make plays. A powerful rushing attack gives the Aggie's young receivers a better chance as well.
Keep UCLA one dimensional
Last season UCLA was historically awful running the football. The bad news is they were trying to run the ball. With social justice warrior Josh Rosen returning at quarterback, the Aggie defense needs to see that he bears the burden of UCLA's offense by suffocating the UCLA rushing attack. Bruin back Soso Jamabo spent all offseason hearing about how disappointing his production was last season, expect UCLA to try and get him involved early and often.
Be Aggressive Early
The key to winning on the road, even in laid back LA is to take the crowd out early. Bruin fans are skeptical about their team's prospects generally, and if A&M can jump on UCLA first, they've got a great chance of coming out with a win. Look for UCLA to try and make a statement early as well. Jim Mora knows he's on a short leash. A win over A&M can give him some breathing room.
Without Josh Rosen, UCLA's passing offense lacked efficiency. Even though the Bruins finished 19th in passing yards per game, UCLA quarterbacks finished 84th in QB rating and 96th in completion percentage.
UCLA finished 127th in the FBS in rushing offense last season.
A&M's Trayveon Williams averaged almost seven yards per carry as a true freshman.
Christian Kirk averaged 23 yards per punt return in 2016 and returned three punts for touchdowns.