The Mississippi State Bulldogs won the toss and deferred to us, and my first thought was “big mistake”. That very thought seemed prophetic as Kenny Hill orchestrated a 69 yard drive and 13 yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds. The Aggies had made a statement and led the Bulldogs 7-0. Then the Bulldogs scored, and then they scored again. The second quarter started and the Bulldogs added two more touchdowns to take a 28-7 lead. The Aggies would not even sniff a comeback the rest of the game and ultimately lost 31-48.
Defensively, it was another lackluster showing by an uninspired defense. That falls on the coaches and seniors. Deshazor Everett is far from the lockdown corner that he was supposed to be. There is no stability at middle linebacker despite the coaching staff’s praise of Mastrogiovanni in the offseason. The defensive line is largely improved over last season, but there is still a great deal of youthful mistakes being made. Furthermore, the coaching staff has not done its part. Having youth is no longer an excuse. The coaches have had 3 recruiting classes and should be able to field a serviceable defense at this point. Whether it’s the gameplan, execution, or both, something needs to be fixed. What’s worse is that the best players are not even starting. Why is Shaan Washington riding the pine when he is leaps and bounds better than any other linebacker we have? How is our lockdown corner, De’Vante Harris, still starting despite repeatedly getting burned with play action passes? Our coaches have a habit of sticking with starters way past the point that they should be pulled. Roll the dice and plug in true freshman Josh Walker (MLB) and Nick Harvey (DB). Just because fall camp is through, the culture of competition needs to continue. If a player underperforms, he needs to sit. Period.
Despite the defensive woes, they weren’t even the worst of A&M’s problems. The wide receivers tallied 15 drops Saturday. 15! That’s simply unacceptable for any squad, but especially for one as skilled as this group. These players are recruited to catch footballs. You have one job, do it. Yes, it didn’t help that Kenny Hill was off target. That’s a whole other situation that needs to be addressed. Sure, the offensive line allowed too much pressure once again. Maybe the loss of Jake Matthews has had a bigger effect on the line than we imagined. Perhaps there is complacency setting in after the Maroon Goons have proved one of the most dominant units in the country these past few years. Whatever the case, there are issues across the board. Sumlin has brought to Aggieland one of the most exciting offenses the nation has ever seen. We are spoiled when we put up 31 points and 526 yards and it is largely considered one of the worst offensive showings since he’s been head coach. But right now, the offense does not have the luxury of counting on the defense to win games. The Aggies are simply not built to hold teams to only 2 or 3 touchdowns. And unless that changes, the offense absolutely needs to operate at the highest level. Three interceptions and 15 dropped passes are simply inexcusable for Kenny Hill and his band of receivers.
Nevertheless, credit Mississippi State for simply being a better team. They have a senior laden squad that makes very few mistakes and capitalizes on others. They are impressive on offense and led by Heisman candidate Dak Prescott. By all indications, Dan Mullen finally has a team that could do some damage in the SEC West. However, Sumlin should never get blown out by a team. Not anymore. He’s making $5 million a year and is considered by many to be one of the top coaches in college football. Top coaches make sure that their team is prepared and ready to compete in every game. Youth is no longer an excuse. Both offensively and defensively, this team is very capable of producing. They’ll have another chance to prove themselves on Saturday when #3 Ole Miss comes to Kyle Field.