Uh-oh. This is not how the 2021 season was supposed to go for the Texas A&M Aggies.
By Matt Zemek
Yes, Haynes King getting hurt and Zach Calzada having to replace him was not part of the plan, but let’s be honest: At Texas A&M, with all the money and resources invested in football, it shouldn’t be a death sentence for a team or an offense to have to go from QB1 to QB2. At the University of New Mexico or the University of Arizona, the loss of a starting quarterback should generally matter more, given the inability (or unlikelihood) of those smaller programs to accumulate quality depth.
At Texas A&M, however, a second-string quarterback should be competent – not dynamic, but competent enough to make the offense reasonably functional against beatable opposition.
Last weekend, we saw yet again that the Aggie offense just isn’t working against opponents A&M ought to beat.
Texas A&M should be able to score 30 points at home against Mississippi State, but that did not happen. The Aggies were held to 22 points in a brutal 26-22 loss which sent a cold wave of terror and a chilling thought through the fan base: A&M might be the worst team in the SEC West this year.
No one saw this coming… but that’s part of the point about the quarterback room: QB1 getting hurt and giving way to QB2 should not bring about this kind of a collapse. The QB2 should be reasonably effective, able to do what it takes to keep the offense flowing. No, the offense shouldn’t be expected to max out, but it certainly should be able to keep the train on the tracks, and that’s not happening.
Now Alabama comes to town.
1 – Lane Kiffin, only with better results
Yes, A&M’s offense is nowhere near as good as Ole Miss’s offense, but much as Lane Kiffin kept going for it on fourth down, A&M has to do the same. Sure, the results could get ugly, but let’s remember that you play to win the game, as opposed to playing to cover the 18-point spread in Las Vegas.
So many coaches coach so that the scoreboard looks respectable, NOT so that they can win the game. Making conservative decisions will result in a 14-point A&M loss with the Aggies never having a realistic chance to actually win.
If A&M goes for it, however, the Aggies might actually give themselves a real shot at pulling off the upset. Of course, the downside is that a series of fourth-down failures might lead to a 28-0 halftime deficit and a lot of TV channels turning to other games… but it’s better to go for the win and get blown out than to play scared, never have a chance to win, and lose by a more modest margin.
A&M can’t beat Bama in a shootout. It has to hold the ball for over 40 minutes. That can only happen with several fourth-down conversions. If Jimbo Fisher is interested in winning, he won’t hold back, even with the limitations of his offense.
2 – Pressure Bryce Young
File this one under “easy to say, hard to do,” but everyone at Kyle Field and everyone watching on television knows that defensive coordinator Mike Elko has to figure out a way to make this happen. If he can’t, there’s no path to victory for the Aggies.
3 – Something special
Special teams plays – a return or a blocked kick for a touchdown – have to be part of the mix. Something wild to get the crowd riled up and make Alabama squirm will be an essential part of a winning A&M performance.