There have been a lot of issues with the Texas A&M football program this year. Whether on or off the field, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing that has led to the preseason No. 6 team in the country to fall to 3-7 and miss out on a bowl game. Injuries, youth and even officiating all get brought up, but to an extent those things are out of Jimbo’s control. But Jimbo does have complete control over how he adjusts in game, to problems off the field and his coaching responsibilities and that is much more concerning at the moment.
There hasn’t been a game this year that this team didn’t have a chance to win. Jimbo always talks about “finding the inches” and “execution” but time and time again this season we have been on the wrong side of a close game. Jimbo has hung his hat on controlling the time of possession on offense and trusting his defense to make big stops. This team is 3/10 this year on winning time of possession and seems to not get off the field when it matters the most. We all wanted to write off the Appalachian State game as a fluke or blame it on inexperience, but it should’ve been a sign of things to come for a group of five team to come to Kyle field and more than double our time of possession and convert nearly 50% of their 3rd downs and convert 3 additional 4th downs. But just like every game this year, we had our chance to get a stop on defense and didn’t make the adjustments to stop the run. We had the chance to go down and score on offense, but we got away from our strengths and didn’t convert. The list can go on and on about how poorly we have seemed to play in the 2nd half of games and in the crucial moments and that doesn’t have as much to do with the players on the field as it has to do with coaches not putting players in a position to be successful and either poor or no adjustments.
Off the field
The hits coming off the field have just added insult to injury this season. There is plenty of blame to put on the players in all of the suspensions that have taken place this year, but once again I see a lack of adjustment on Jimbo’s end from putting a stop to it. From the players leaving the team hotel, to the locker room incident, to “sleevegate”, it seems like there is a clear disconnect from the coaching staff and the players on the standard that is expected to be maintained. Especially with such a young team, you would think there would be overcommunication about rules and policies to ensure you don’t run into these issues. Go back to 2014 when Jameis Winston was suspended against Clemson and showed up on the field in pregame in full uniform. Jimbo said that it was a miscommunication and that he never saw the uniform in Winston’s locker. The pattern here seems to be poor communication and Jimbo missing things that he shouldn’t. You can’t expect him to stop every bad thing from happening, but he is spread so thin right now trying to be the offensive coordinator as well as the head coach that these things will continue to happen until he adjusts.
It all comes back to this. It’s been discussed for most of the season, but Jimbo has to reevaluate his staff at the end of the season to find coaches he trusts and he needs to add an offensive coordinator to take over play calling duties. It couldn’t have been more evident than on Saturday night when he’s yelling at all of the different receivers to get lined up on a 2nd and 5 play while trailing 7-0 in the 2nd half. Instead of individual coaches getting their players in the right position, Jimbo is trying to coordinate every little thing going on while also calling the play. Unfortunately, he missed one detail and what would’ve been a first down and could’ve potentially got the offense moving in the right direction, resulted in a five yard penalty for an illegal formation and started a string of six consecutive three-and-outs. What is the purpose of even having position coaches on the field if they can’t coach up their players during the action? The perception is that Jimbo doesn’t have any trust in the current offensive staff to do their job. He is also so caught up in his offensive duties that he doesn’t realize that we consistently have 5 players in the box on defense against a six-man front and are giving up over 300 yards per game rushing over the last three games against offenses that are run first teams. If he took a step away from play calling duties, he could assist in making adjustments for the defense as well and putting his team in a better situation to win.
Jimbo has definitely lost his fair share of supporters, but I still believe he can take this program where it needs to go. I have referenced Nick Saban plenty of times this year and the adjustments he has made in his coaching style and philosophy over the past couple of years. You may say, well it must be easy to win when you have all the best players on your team, but this team is living proof that that’s not always the case. Not only does he win, but he is able to convince his young players to stick it out when they aren’t playing and he convinces his upperclassmen to come back for another year if they won’t be a first round draft pick. Clearly, guys want to play for Jimbo or he wouldn’t have the success on the recruiting trail that he’s had, but if he stepped into the CEO role he could do a better job of keeping players around and he wouldn’t run into the depth issues he’s had this year. We live in a different world than when he won a National Championship in 2013. NIL and the transfer portal make it a lot harder for a coach to be able to be a play caller and also worry about the daily needs of your team. Jimbo’s offense in 2013 was littered with 3rd and 4th year players, similar to what we saw in 2020, which is clearly a key ingredient to success for his system. Unfortunately, if he continues in his role as offensive coordinator, I don’t think he will ever be able to keep guys around long enough to see that success. Jimbo can still be the guy to lead Texas A&M to their first SEC Championship and first National Championship since 1939, but it’s time to adjust in a major way.