Following a 59-0 thrashing by Alabama, Aggie Football's coaches opened up the QB competition in practice. Some Aggies are clamoring for backup quarterback Kyle Allen to get a shot after Kenny Hill struggled in blowout losses to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Alabama.
|KENNY HILL STATISTICS||CMP||ATT||PCT||YDS||TD||INT|
|First Four Games (USC, Lamar, Rice, SMU)||97||139||69.8%||1359||13||1|
|Last Four Games (Ark, Miss St, Miss, Ala)||117||182||64.3%||1290||10||7|
In this week's press conference, Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital said backup Kyle Allen asked him whether the open competition was for real. Following assurance from Spavital, Allen said, "Good, because I'm going to try to go get it." The Aggies are expected to name the starting QB on Thursday.
In this edition of Point/Counterpoint we'll look at arguments for starting Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen this Saturday vs. ULM.
Kenny Hill should keep his job
It's easy to look at the recent Aggie Football performances and want change. Like, change everything. It's a natural reaction when you've just gotten your doors blown off for three straight games. But to quote Kevin Sumlin: "Change for change’s sake is impractical. You have to have a reason to change." While it might be therapeutic for fans to see the coaches hand over the offensive reins to Kyle Allen, emotional decisions don't win football games.
I'm not here to tell you how great Kenny Hill has been. His accuracy is an ongoing concern, and his decision making over the past month has been questionable. Quarterbacks tend to receive too much of the blame and too much of the credit, and Kenny Hill has experienced both ends of that spectrum this season. But the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I have not seen anything from Kyle Allen to make me think he will improve this offense. Against Alabama, the offense looked as inept with Allen at the helm as it did under Hill. And we saw Allen turn the ball over and struggle in garbage time against the inferior competition that Hill torched in September. As talented as Kyle Allen may be, he has not looked ready to lead a team through an SEC schedule.
In the end, those who think a different quarterback will solve our offensive problems are fooling themselves. Putting in Kyle Allen won't make our receivers catch the ball. It won't help our linemen block. It won't change the playcalling. The A&M offense needs across-the-board improvement from game planning to execution. But improvement doesn't necessarily mean change. Change, however good it may feel, is not always change for the better.
Unless that change is throwback uniforms, which I assume will solve everything.
It's Kyle Allen's turn
Before stating my case for why Kyle Allen should start, let me first explain that I am NEVER the guy who falls in love with the idea of benching the starting QB in favor of the backup. I stood in the student section at Kyle Field in 2002, as excited about Reggie McNeal as anyone, but refused to join in any "let him play" chants. I know the coaches are smarter than me, more invested than me, and privy to more information than me. That's generally my mindset. I was the last person in Aggieland to call for Ryan Tannehill to replace Jerrod Johnson.
Yet here I am, calling for the backup. Why? I'll give you just a couple big reasons. For the record, I am not blaming all of our struggles on Kenny Hill. It is fair to say that A&M's offensive collapse has been a team effort. Reason #1 to give Kyle Allen a shot is the actual production we are seeing. The real, tangible things like yards and points have steadily fallen over the last month culminating in a zero point effort against Alabama. Aggie Football has gone two straight games without scoring a single point in the first half. When you have a stretch like that, you just have to make changes. And making changes while sticking with the quarterback doesn't seem to make sense. Hill has accuracy issues that are causing problems with this offense. People love to talk about his issues throwing down the field, and I believe they are right, but even on the short screens and quick passes, his accuracy problems are causing timing problems. And again, we scored zero points. Goose egg. You literally can't do worse. At this point, you just have to see what Kyle Allen has. I don't even care if Hill is outplaying Allen in practice. We have seen Hill in the game situations. We haven't truly seen Allen yet. Mop-up duty doesn't count.
When things get this ugly, you have to at least test the other guy in a starting role. It's what we do with every other position, right? Armani Watts was benched. Should Kenny Hill be untouchable? Don't give me the "it will ruin him psychologically" argument. That's a cop out. These guys know that performance matters. Benching someone won't ruin them. Maybe it will light a fire under them. In the meantime, maybe you will find that the guy you put in the game is, you know, better. And maybe he isn't but you have to find out. If A&M was competitive in the SEC, I wouldn't be saying this. But we aren't. We are the offense that breaks records and puts up points no matter what. Right? Well... we were. But now we are the offense that averaged just 17 points over the last three games. Coach Spavital made a comment earlier in the season about not wanting to shoot all your bullets early in the season. Well, now that the season has gone south, you better be prepared to shoot every last bullet possible. If we were to stick with Hill and go 6-6 without giving Allen a shot, that wouldn't make sense.
Besides, if there were ever a time do give Allen a shot, it's now. He's had two weeks to prepare for his first start against an "easy" team. He gets to learn from mistakes and go into the Auburn game with a little seasoning and confidence. If you miss the opportunity to start him now, there isn't another good opportunity to do it until next season. And if you don't start him now, will he be around next year? It's reasonable to think that a backup quarterback will consider transferring if he continues riding the pine while the starter regresses week after week. I realize that Sumlin IS smarter, more invested, and privy to more information than me. Rest assured, I am all in and will support the coaches and the team no matter who trots out there on Saturday. Still, I think it would be crazy to not give Allen a shot now. Gig'em, and beat the hell outta ULM!