Holy hell, it’s already November.
Kevin Sumlin has quietly and methodically turned offseason turmoil and chaos into a steady, fundamentally-sound, very good football team. The Aggies are near the top of the SEC in all phases of offense, and are allowing fewer than 20 points a game after eight contests. Sumlin is one of 18 coaches who has been named to the midseason Dodd Award watchlist. This is an award given yearly to a coach whose team excels “on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.” In short, rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated.
Early bowl predictions are leaning towards the Ags in the Sugar Bowl. The home stretch of the schedule is surprisingly favorable: three straight home games after this weekend, including the two toughest remaining SEC foes. A non-con match against UTSA thrown in between Ole Miss and LSU, both of whom have not enjoyed the seasons they’d hoped for a couple of months ago.
But winning out is not a gimme. Ole Miss is a total wild card, and LSU is playing for an interim coach and faces both Alabama and Florida before coming to Kyle Field. They will be shooting from the hip with nothing to lose and even with possibly everything to gain as well. That’s college football: last year they beat us to save their coach’s job. This year they might be playing for the exact same stakes, only with a different man at the helm.
The offense has been for the most part efficient and reliable, at least compared to the last couple of seasons. The defense has continued to improve, and although they’ve given up big yardage this year, they’ve also been good at getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but the team has done just enough at times to finish business. Holding on against Tennessee. Stuffing Arkansas to shift the tide of the game. It also feels like the best complete game this team has in them is still out on the table, and that’s an encouraging notion this late in the year.
It’s fun to watch, because there are playmakers all over the field: Knight, Williams, and any number of the wide receivers each have the ability to break a long touchdown anytime they have the ball. And both defensive ends and all three safeties on the other side of the line of scrimmage are dynamic playmakers with a nose for the ball.
It’s fun to watch because now we don’t have to worry about scoring on every single drive, because we finally have a defense dependable enough to bail out the offense.
It’s fun to watch because of where everyone had this team over the months leading up to this season, after the transfers and the coaching changes and high school players decommitting and all the rest of the assorted stupid things that happen in the off-season. And where the team is now after all that.
It’s fun to watch because it’s November and the team has a real shot at finishing 11-1, and they’re out there having a blast doing it.