Texas A&M faced a lot of team challenges in their 48-31 loss to to Mississippi State, both offensively and defensively. The most glaring issues were undoubtedly the volume of passes dropped by wide receivers and lack of any running game while the team played catch-up.
On Dropped Passes and Kenny Hill
Kevin Sumlin put the number of dropped passes at 11, or 15 if we're "being too salty about it." The blame falls primarily on the receivers, but Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital attributed it to quarterback play as well.
There's a lot of times I'll tell Kenny, 'You've got to be more accurate with the ball,' then go to the receiver on the same play and say, 'You've got to make that catch.' You've got to play both sides. - Jake Spavital
He (Hill) has been up and down, but completion percentage, as we just talked about, isn't entirely to do with the quarterback. - Kevin Sumlin
Kenny Hill's performance and accuracy have fallen off in the past few weeks. Coach Spavital says that "competition is probably the biggest thing" affecting Kenny's performance, but also implies that it's partially to do with Kenny's youth at the postion as Kenny needs to be "accurate and smart with your decision-making" going forward.
Another challenge that Hill faced during the game (as documented by Ranger this week) was checking the ball down when he was beat in coverage:
...Kenny's got to get to that checkdown, for sure. A lot of quarterbacks have trouble with that. That's important against teams that drop eight into coverage or just try to match routes and run with them. So we've definitely got to be better at checking down to our running backs. -Jake Spavital
Jake Spavital is also growing in his first year as Offensive Co-ordinator at A&M, and spoke about adjusting his play calling during passing droughts:
If we're having drops, you need to run the ball more and I've got to figure it out. - Jake Spavital
On the Run Game
Texas A&M was down 28-10 to MSU by the half, and Coach Spavital spoke about the team "pressing a bit because we were down 21 points", although none of the coaches specifically attributed the drop off in running to that. Another point of concern is the offense not leaving running backs in the game long enough to develop a rhythm. Sumlin attributes this primarily to the team being banged up after the game with Arkansas:
I think they've been utilized. The Arkansas game was probably more physical than you think. We've got some guys limping around a bit, a bit nicked up, and they appreciate the fact that they've been able to rotate. Our rushing numbers over the year, from a statistical standpoint, are pretty good. Just because we don't have one guy at 100 a game doesn't mean we're under-utilizing them. They appreciate the rotation. - Kevin Sumlin
Preparing for Ole Miss
Mark Snyder's defense was challenged significantly last weekend by Dak Prescott's dual-threat abilities and the play-action game MSU played. Even though Ole Miss doesn't play as much play action, Snyder knows he'll have to give Ole Miss a lot of different looks, as they've played well after adjusting late in games this season:
That's a good point. They do a good job of adjusting. You see that as you watch the game films. If you give them something, you better not give them a steady dose of it. Because Hugh's gonna get it fixed. And then they'll attack that weakness.
"Everything," is how Kevin Sumlin was asked what it is about Ole Miss that specifically scares him the most, and he praised their play on all sides:
Last week (Wallace) made plays to win the game. They've surrounded him with talented players who are explosive. They've done everything they need to do to be where they are right now. They lead the league in interceptions. Is that enough for you to be worried about? - Kevin Sumlin
Kevin Sumlin announced that Malcome Kennedy is probable for the Ole Miss game. Another player that has been in the game, although no one would know it based on his lack of involvement in the offensive schemes, is Cam Clear. Although Spavital may just be trying to float some false information before Ole Miss, he says we should plan on seeing him contribute this week:
He's still banged up and we're trying to ease him into it. I had a small package for him this game, mostly trying to ease him in and get him good reps. You've got to put your best runners out there and that's what we went with. He's going to keep getting healthier and you'll see his role grow. I'd expect to see him a lot in this game. - Spavital
Check out the press conference videos for more discussion about last week's MSU game and the upcoming Ole Miss game:
Football Weekly Press Conference | Kevin Sumlin 10.7
Football Weekly Press Conference | Mark Snyder 10.7
Football Weekly Press Conference | Jake Spavital 10.7
Football Weekly Press Conference | Kenny Hill 10.7
Football Weekly Press Conference | Malcome Kennedy 10.7