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The Big Picture: Aggies showed good effort, but lack cohesion

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What might have been and what can be.

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Football, by definition, is a zero-sum game. There is a winner and there is a loser. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, fans will scan the box score and notice only that A&M lost. They might pick up on the legend that the reason A&M lost was three pick sixes returned by Alabama. What most will not remember is how the A&M defense played. How the team never quit. How they pulled to within one score late in the 3rd quarter after everything had gone against them. There is no line item for "heart" in the box score, and no separate category in the record books for moral victories. This isn't horseshoes, this is football.

I'm not here to pump sunshine. One of the themes for this season is that it takes everybody to beat great teams. Today, individual efforts were there, but everybody didn't play to their potential. Kyle Allen played very poorly. You can't get around it. You can't excuse it. But I'm willing to bet that Kyle Allen wouldn't want you to. He didn't quit when Kenny Hill beat him out. He didn't quit after slow starts against Arizona State and Arkansas. He's not going to quit now. Nevertheless, what he needs to do, and what the A&M offense needs to do, is take a good long look in the mirror and realize that the status quo is not working. It may be the play-calling, it may be the schemes, it may be the timing, it may just be flat out bad luck, but whatever it is, it's not working.  Something needs to change. Today if the offense had done its job victory was possible, if not likely. It didn't, and this loss is on them.The surprising truth is that today, like it has for the better part of this season, the defense carried this team. They played with more effort, made more plays, and created more opportunities and emotion than the offense. They took a lot of punches in the first half, but came out swinging after the break and provided an opportunity for victory. The offense did not take advantage, and the chance to tip the scales of dominance in the SEC West slipped through the Aggies' fingers.

Nevertheless, I remain excited about the prospects for this season going forward. Sumlin has stated that the team has yet to play its best football, and it didn't again today. The effort is there. The belief is there. The talent is there. It just hasn't been unlocked yet, particularly on offense.  If you're looking for something salvageable from today I can offer you a few items. A&M stood toe to toe with Alabama physically until the end of the game, and victory was possible despite the offensive mistakes. Individual efforts were also there: Myles Garrett, Christian Kirk, Daylon Mack, Zaycoven Henderson, Armani Watts, and Tra Carson (when he got the ball) all had good games. De'Vante Harris and Brandon Williams did their jobs. Ricky Seals-Jones also had one of his better games.

Most importantly, while we all claim to have never seen the Aggies quit, in our hearts we know that isn't true.  I've seen them quit.  I saw them quit against Texas in 2002 under R.C. Slocum.  I saw them quit against Oklahoma in 2003, and against Iowa State in 2005 under Franchione. I saw them quit against against Miami in 2008 and in multiple other 2011 games under Mike Sherman. I even saw them quit under Sumlin against this Alabama team a year ago.  However, what I saw today was a team that would never quit on each other or their coaches.  I saw hope.  I saw belief. I saw what could be. I hope you did too.