Earlier today, Sumlin announced at the weekly press conference that they will be evaluating all three quarterbacks and choosing a starter for South Carolina on Friday.
With Allen struggling the past two games, this news came with little surprise. But the direction that Sumlin chooses will be critical for A&M this season and moving forward.
For the second straight season, the Aggies will potentially make a mid-season quarterback change. This brings into question the coaching staffs ability to develop young quarterbacks and have them improve throughout the season. As we saw last year with Kenny Hill and now this season with Kyle Allen, the exact opposite has taken place.
So who should start for South Carolina and potentially the rest of the season? Let’s dive into the three options.
So. Kyle Allen
Passing Yards – 2,947
Passing Touchdowns – 30
Interceptions – 13
Adjusted QBR – 61.3 (2015) and 77.8 (2014)
He’s the most experienced and has the best understanding of the offense. Over his past 12 starts, he is 8-4 with wins over (then) #3 Auburn, #15 Arizona State, and #21 Mississippi St. He has shown composure throughout his two seasons and has been often talked about as “steady” and “level-headed”.
Of his 13 interceptions, 4 of them have come in the past two games with 3 getting returned for touchdowns. Against Ole Miss, he was his worst yet going 12-34 including a 0-13 stretch in the 3rd quarter. Today at the press conference, the coaches insisted that he is healthy. However, he hasn’t seemed the same ever since he took a big hit in the 2nd half of the Mississippi State game. But with the coaches convinced that he’s physically good to go, one has to wonder about his mental fortitude.
Fr. Kyler Murray
Passing Yards – 167
Passing Touchdowns – 1
Interceptions – 2
Adjusted QBR – 73.0 (2015)
He is the only dual-threat quarterback of the three. Utilized correctly, his speed can help alleviate many of the offensive line woes and add a whole new dimension to this offense. In high school, he was a cool 43-0 as a starter with 3 state championships to boot. The kid knows how to win, it’s all he’s ever done.
With all due respect to TXHS football, the SEC is a whole different animal. The defensive line is bigger and faster; the secondary reacts much more quickly; and quarterbacks can seldom get away with raw athletic talent alone. Additionally, Murray reportedly had some choice words with Jake Spavital following his interception in the Bama game which led to him sitting out against Ole Miss. Kyler would need to show in practice that he can make accurate throws, take care of the football, and have a level head in heated situations.
So. Jake Hubenak
Passing Yards – 4,112
Passing Touchdowns – 47
Interceptions – 9
Jake’s career stats come almost entirely from 2014 when he was at Blinn C.C. And although they came at the JUCO level, they are the most impressive of the group. Jake was inserted into the Ole Miss game late in relief of Kyle Allen. And in his limited time, he gave the offense some spark and demonstrated his ability to effectively distribute the ball. Given Allen’s recent struggles, he appears to have the best arm of the three quarterbacks at this time.
Jake is the least mobile of the three quarterbacks. If the offensive line continues to have issues, he will be burdened with making all the right throws with little room for error. As we’ve seen with Kyle Allen, the offense comes to a screeching halt when those throws aren’t on target. But most of all, he has the smallest sample size of playing time in an Aggie jersey. Elevating a player from 3rd string to QB1 seems like a pretty tall hill to climb.
As mentioned before, this is a defining moment for Sumlin.
Although Kyle Allen is listed as a contender, it would be quite unusual for a coach to announce that he is opening the competition back up and stick with the original starter. When the competition was reopened last year, a new quarterback was named. Expect the same this go around.
If Sumlin chooses the safe route, he will start Jake Hubenak who should be more than capable of leading this team to wins over South Carolina, Auburn, Western Carolina, and Vanderbilt. This would also provide the best chance that no one transfers at the end of the season. They could simply plan to reopen the competition for all three quarterbacks in the spring.
But if Sumlin rolls the dice with Kyler Murray and Kyler succeeds, there will be no turning back. Everyone has seen how exciting this offense can be with a dual-threat quarterback. And giving Murray the full playbook and an entire game to showcase his skills, could be just what this offense needs to get rolling again.
Sumlin has a big choice to make – one that will alter the very future of this offense, program, and personnel.