The Aggies played a bad ULM team and escaped Kyle Field with a 21-16 win. This game marked the 4th time in 3 consecutive games where Coach Sumlin/Jake Spavital have scored 0 points in a half. Prior to Ole Miss, a Sumlin coached offense has never failed to score in a half. The wheels have completely come off and there are systematic problems throughout the offense. Despite this, there was some actual good that came from Saturday’s game. So for sanity’s sake, let’s address the good first.
Myles Garrett is an absolute beast. He ran wild on his way to 3.5 sacks and obliterated Jadeveon Clowney’s record. Not enough is being made of this accomplishment; but the top defensive talent in the SEC from 2011-2013 and the #1 2014 draft pick no longer holds the SEC Freshman Sack Record. Clowney arrived on the scene in 2011 posting 8 sacks. Garrett now has 11 sacks on the season with 3 regular season games and a bowl game left. When it’s all said and done, Myles might set a record that is never broken again.
Was it just me or did anyone else swear that Kyle Allen was intercepted on that Speedy Noil touchdown pass? After being bobbled by the defensive back Speedy Noil somehow managed to secure it in one of the most impressive concentration plays I have ever seen. This true freshman is special. He’s the type of playmaker that the coaches need to continue to gameplan around. Could it be possible that we might even see him in some packaged plays at QB? In the post-game presser, Sumlin stated that Speedy would get some snaps to help backup Kyle Allen in case of injury. From it, we just might see a rather intriguing wrinkle to the offense.
Myles Garrett and Speedy Noil are the only players that have consistently shown effort these past few weeks. This team desperately needs some leadership and these guys are the real deal. It’s their team now and, true freshmen or not, it’s time that everyone else lines up behind them.
When you have to turn towards two true freshman for your only source of leadership, you know the team is in bad shape. This team started the season with so much promise, but continues to regress each week. Some of this has to do with coaching, which we will address in a moment. But there is a clear lack of ‘want-to’ on this team. The same team that gave up against Alabama, looked lost against a Sun Belt team that is 0-3 in conference play. Spavital opted to line up with 2 tight ends most of the game for increased pass protection. However, it often didn’t matter as ULM pressured Kyle Allen time and time again. The lack of effort, specifically along the offensive line, is just a microcosm of this team’s regression throughout the season. Unless that changes immediately, it won’t matter how well the coaches prepare or call plays.
And with that, we have the coaches. I have to ask, what on earth have they been doing for the past two months? When a team regresses like this team has, the blame falls on the coaches. The Aggies went from blowing out a powder puff team 73-3 [Lamar] to barely escaping another 21-16 [ULM]. Couple that with the 59-0 blowout that capped off 3 consecutive losses, and it is clear that this team is headed in the wrong direction. The defensive players are playing with no confidence or clear direction. Furthermore, there is a fundamental disagreement in philosophy between the defensive back coach and defensive coordinator. Offensively, every major unit has regressed from last season. The quarterback, running backs, offensive line, and wide receivers are all under performing either at different times or altogether. The use of personnel is puzzling to say the least. And finally, the play calling is abysmal. On the Aggies final drive, Spavital opted for 2 passing plays on 1st and 2nd down when we needed to run out the clock. That type of game management and playcalling is simply unacceptable.
How this Aggie team responds will set the foundation for years to come. Recruits are watching and downward declines are often difficult to reverse. The coaching staff needs to figure things out and truly compete against Auburn this weekend. Follow that up with a win over Mizzou and the Ags will have a good chance to close the season out on a strong note with LSU and a bowl game up for grabs. The opportunity is there. Will the effort be?