The quarterback position at Texas A&M has been many things since the departure of Johnny Manziel, but predictable is most certainly not one of them. From Kenny Hill, Kyle Allen, Kyler Murray and Trevor Knight to the current trio of Jake Hubenak, Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond, seven quarterbacks have started a game for the Aggies over the past four seasons, and who the best man for the job is has never been more in doubt.
Following what looks to be a season-ending ankle injury for redshirt freshman Nick Starkel, true freshman Kellen Mond was handed the reins against UCLA with less than inspiring results. After completing only three of 17 pass attempts in A&M’s meltdown at the Rose Bowl, Kevin Sumlin again turned to Mond in the Aggies home opener against Nicholls State. While he led the offense on two early touchdown drives, and his completion percentage was a much more respectable 57.1 percent, four of the seven drives he led lasted less than five plays, and he was replaced by the veteran Hubenak early in the third quarter. Hubenak would complete 80 percent of his passes, leading drives of 8, 14, 11 and 15 plays each, moving the ball into Colonels’ territory each time and sealing the victory for the Aggies.
As they enter yet another non-conference matchup, this time at home against Louisiana-Lafayette, debate rages about who gives A&M the best chance to salvage their season, and at least according to coach Sumlin, the answer is: both.
With Sumlin reaffirming his commitment to playing both quarterbacks, the debate will most certainly continue. This seems to send a message that, despite his struggles, the coaching staff feels Mond is the more talented quarterback, and they want to give him as much game experience as possible to get him ready for SEC play. But in an offense that has a lot of question marks even beyond the quarterback position, is a more steady hand the better option? Each has their merits, and this is yet another critical decision in a season that will likely determine Kevin Sumlin’s fate at A&M.
The case for Kellen Mond
Kellen Mond is raw, like most freshmen, but definitely has talent. Most notably, he has a dual-threat capability that Jake Hubenak does not have, and that extra dimension could help cover up a lot of freshman mistakes. While he struggled against UCLA, there were a lot of things that went wrong in that game that had nothing to do with him. Against Nicholls State, it certainly appeared that he either chose not to run (to focus on developing his passing game) or was instructed not to. So while the offense struggling against the Colonels is concerning, that could also be attributed to coaches limiting what he could do or not making the full playbook available to him.
Mond is a good athlete, but not a polished passer, and appears to have a long way to go before he’s ready to lead an offense through an SEC schedule. The question is, how quickly can he get there?
The case for Jake Hubenak
Jake Hubenak is now in his third season at Texas A&M, and his second with offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. He knows the playbook better, and as a senior, has much more experience. When he came in the game against Nicholls State, the difference was marked. The tempo picked up, the ball was out quickly, and most notably, they drove down the field and scored points when they needed them most.
In just under 200 pass attempts in his A&M career, Hubenak has a 58.2 percent completion rate, thrown for 1,376 yards, nine touchdowns and only three interceptions. That completion percentage and TD/INT radio is better than Trevor Knight’s in 2016 or Kyle Allen’s in 2015. While what he does may never jump off the page, he makes a lot of good decisions, and is a lot less likely to make the catastrophic mistake. With a team that is already suffering from a shuffling offensive line and an extremely young and inexperience receiving corps, a steady hand at the quarterback position may be just what they need to have a shot at winning games.
Ultimately there is no easy answer here, and whatever decision Kevin Sumlin does make will likely be roundly criticized by fans the next time the Aggies lose a game. A&M fans have seen the perils of trying to rotate quarterbacks, but with each of their options having limitations, don’t expect the revolving door behind center to stop twirling any time soon.
So, who you got?
This poll is closed