As the Aggies headed to the locker room, a visibly frustrated Sumlin fielded questions from the halftime reporter. Asked what they needed to fix, Sumlin simply stated that the Aggies “just got whipped, and it’s hard to fix that.”
And while his comment seems generic, it is absolutely spot-on. There is no easy fix. It’s not like we can point to the wide receivers dropping passes like we did last week. We can’t key in on just the linebacker play from Rice or Arkansas. There are fundamental problems throughout the offense and defense. And if Sumlin means what he said in the post-game presser, change is coming.
Following the absolute beatdown that Ole Miss delivered, Sumlin delivered a message of his own to the players and coaches. He understands that the buck stops with him. He knows that he is the face of the program. He recognizes that when his team gets embarrassed on national television in front of 110,633 fans and countless recruits, that he is responsible for fixing it.
The Aggies were held scoreless in the first half for the first time in Sumlin’s head coaching career. Needless to say, it’s unacceptable for him. And you could tell that he was at a loss for words going into half time. The offense failed to spread the field with any deep threat, and the play-calling continued to look disjointed for yet another week. Why are we running sweep plays against the nation’s fastest defense? When the defense cheats up, is it really smart to run bubble screens and 5 yard curl routes? These changes that Sumlin is speaking of appear to be targeted towards the offense. Will Sumlin himself take over play calling? Will they make a change at quarterback?
Defensively, the Aggies got hit in the mouth in the first quarter. They allowed scoring drives of 69 and 99 yards, with each being capped off by a Bo Wallace touchdown run. To say that the linebackers looked lost would be an understatement. And the head scratching play call of Snyder running a 3-3-5 with Ole Miss on their own 1-yard line continues to baffle me. But after the first quarter, the defense seemed to buck up and create some stops. Whether this was a byproduct of conservative play-calling by Ole Miss or an actual improved defensive effort remains to be seen. But the one thing that is certain is the offense never capitalized.
The reality is this: the Aggies are in a rebuilding year. That was the assumption when the season started. But after the South Carolina win, expectations changed. The team never did. This is still a very young and inexperienced team. They will take their lumps this season, as evidenced by the last 2 weeks. But to assume that Sumlin is not leading the program to new heights is asinine. It took Franchione and Sherman just one year to notch 8 losses. Sumlin finally hit that mark after 2 and a half seasons.
Sumlin is the right man to lead A&M. He will keep selling this program to the nation’s top recruits. He will continue to coach up the players that he has. And when needed, he will make the hard decisions regarding coaches and personnel.