The Aggies started off a season-defining four game stretch on a good note. It wasn't easy and it wasn't exactly fun to watch at times, but a win is a win. The squad is 6-2, bowl eligible, and seems to have figured out the QB position. Let's break this down.
Kyler Murray finished today 20/28 for 223 yards with 156 yards rushing. That's a helluva debut for the young man. He ran the offense well and didn't try to do too much... which is something I worried about prior to this start. It seemed like every time Kyler had been inserted into games earlier in the year, he tried to do way too much because he didn't know when he would be back in. This time, Kyler made good throws and most importantly he took care of the ball. Good for him.
The dual threat element opened up the middle of the field (or maybe we just saw it better) and A&M's slant game was solid as well. Ricky Seals-Jones has come on in the second half of the season to become a gamebreaker... 6 tough catches for 88 yards with good physical runs after the catch. Really proud of that kid.
OL and RBs played well also... again remarkable what solid/great QB play can do to make everyone look better. Tra Carson finished the day with 122 yards and averaged 5.8 yards a carry. That's really, really good.
One thing about Spav. I don't think he called a bad game. He called a consistent game for him. Some good calls, mixed with a few bad calls. My issue is that his play calling doesn't make A&M's talent look better. There's no synergy between play caller and talent.
Today was a bad day. Not much more to say than that. In the first half, the Aggies gave up 253 yards... 111 through the air and 142 on the ground for 21 points. A&M gave up 81 yards passing and 111 yards rushing in the second half... but only 7 points along with two interceptions. So some improvement, but this kind of performance is not good enough. Not at all. Fortunately, the Aggies played that "bend but don't break" role to perfection and managed to get stops to end the game on a positive note.
The defensive line is fine and disruptive. The secondary is solid as well. A&M's issue is at linebacker. The linebackers had a really bad day, which is pretty concerning given the teams left on the schedule. Linebacker play has been an issue all season long, but South Carolina managed to take advantage of it by creatively getting the ball to the edge. What's the answer here? Was today just an anomalously bad day? I don't really know, but this game felt like 2013 all over again... offense playing well enough to win handily, but defense struggling to play sound fundamental football. Seeing gaps/hitting gaps. Keeping contain. Things like that.
For my own sanity, I'm going to say that this was just a bad day and that things will get fixed.
Take the win. Enjoy the win. And a win with a true freshman starting his first game at QB is even sweeter. I feel confident in saying that the Kyler Murray era at Texas A&M has started... and started about as well as it possibly could.
The Aggies have a lot to clean up before playing a resurgent Auburn team next week, but that's why the coaches get paid the big bucks. Heal up, watch film, and get back to work.