A lot is being thrown around right now about the scheme and the youth of this Texas A&M football team. Only one of those things can really be switched up right now, the other comes with time. So how can we address the youth and experience of this team after a crushing loss and the Alabama Crimson Tide looming? It’s time to sink or swim and become the aggressor.
To start, this is a 3-2 football team that is a couple of good breaks in our favor from being 1-4. If Miami never fumbles the punt or recovers our muffed punt, that game could’ve ended differently. If KJ Jefferson protects the ball on the one yard line or Arkansas makes the FG, that easily could’ve been a loss. The same could be said for us having bad breaks against Appalachian State and Mississippi State that could’ve led to us winning those games. Obviously, a couple of plays can swing an entire game, but it feels like we’re too comfortable just hoping those plays go in our favor. In these first five games we have yet to go on the attack for an extended period of time and instead have gone to an extremely conservative approach. Why? To try and protect our youth and inexperience.
Enough is enough and it’s time to take the floaties off and let these guys go. I can think of multiple occasions on Saturday that you saw guys struggle, but come back and prove that they deserve to be out on that field and compete with the best. The most obvious to me was Moose Muhammad. He had about as a bad of a game that a receiver could have against Arkansas and he clearly didn’t let it define him and was our top offensive performer this past weekend. Denver Harris had a couple of tough plays with a pass interference and a touchdown given up, but he later made an incredible play in the end zone breaking up a sure touchdown. Evan Stewart dropped a touchdown that ultimately could’ve made a difference in the game, but he still responded and had some nice plays moving forward. The only way these guys will learn is to be in the fire and experience it, but if you handcuff them on both sides of the ball, they won’t grow and progress.
Clearly this team needs a confidence boost and what better way to get one than your coaches believing in you and giving you opportunities to succeed. Right now, it seems like every player is playing so uptight like they are afraid to make a mistake and we are playing more not to lose, rather than playing to win. Achane is our best player and has to be a big part of the game plan, but we need other guys involved to win. It’s hard to not see a ball for an extended period of time and then have your number called on 3rd down and have to make a play. The same goes for the defense, we’re putting equal pressure on all three levels right now. The three-man rush is making our defensive line go three on five to get to the quarterback, the offensive line is also able to get to the second level pretty easily and block our LBs, and our DBs have to cover for an extended period of time because there’s no pressure on the QB. There’s a time and place for everything, but right now our coaches refuse to put our players in positions to be successful.
The best coaches are able to adapt to the players they have and also adjust to what they see in the game. Instead, we’re making our players adapt to the system and have little to no adjustments. Mike Leach is a perfect example this past weekend. He’s famous for his air raid system, but ran for 144 yards and six yards per carry because it was there for the taking. Nick Saban couldn’t stand the spread offense and the tempo and RPOs, but that offense has been the driving force of their team the past couple of years. Mike Elko lived and died by pressuring the QB and sometimes we got hit for big plays, but we also were on the winning side of those plays the majority of the time. As a QB, when you’ve been hit and see those blitzes coming, your internal clock speeds up and even if the defense shows blitz and rushes three, you still feel the need to get the ball out quick. Offensively, once we got down two scores, we looked like a completely different team. There was urgency, the ball was moving, and we changed the pace a little bit. Blocking up front has to get better, but Jimbo needs to do a better job of molding his offense with the group he has in there. Allow the players to get in a rhythm and help the younger players get comfortable. We have speed all over the place and he just needs to let them go.
Win or lose, moving forward this coaching staff needs to open things up. Let your players know that you are playing to win and you trust them to make the plays. Don’t be afraid to take chances and learn from the mistakes. We recently became the aggressor in recruiting and look where it led us, it’s time to do the same thing on the field.