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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Sophomore LHP Shane Sdao (38) reacts after a strikeout during Texas A&Ms game against Texas at Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

All on Sumlin

Kevin+Sumlin
Photo By: Jenna Rabel
Kevin Sumlin

The finger can be pointed at many for the Aggie offense’s ineptitude, but at the end of the day the problem is not Kyle Allen. It’s not even the popular candidate Jake Spavital. The issue resides with the head coach, Kevin Sumlin.

The Aggies have everything they could want offensively, but the past couple games would suggest they do not. On the defensive side, John Chavis entered the season with the exact opposite — personnel issues and a slew of injuries — but was able to turn the once unsuccessful defense around. 

It is difficult to understand how the A&M attack can be so horrendous. The Aggies grabbed two 5-star quarterbacks and three 5-star receivers, which excludes Josh Reynolds.

Allen was the best quarterback in the SEC before the Alabama game — SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy said it himself. Now he ranks near the bottom. Kyler Murray, who has also struggled, led his high school to an undefeated record for three straight seasons and capped each with a state title. The duo’s below-average performances can’t be pinned on them.

Spavital insists on running the zone read and sometimes speed options despite comparing Allen earlier this year to NFL quarterback Matt Ryan — a strict pocket passer — and having two bruisers at the running back position. Some plays call for Allen to roll out to one side, forcing him to throw across his body and relinquish his forte between the tackles.

Earlier in the season, Murray was only included in packages that had him rushing. Recently he received the green light to air it out, but he is often let loose too abruptly. Instead of building his confidence with short, high-percentage passes, Spavital allows Murray to throw deep with a cold arm. The freshman went long on the first play of a drive in the Alabama game concluding the third quarter, and it led to an interception.

Every offensive position is either underachieving or inconsistent. There are also problems off the field, as Sumlin confirmed that Murray had a verbal dispute with Spavital on the sideline during the Alabama game.

When there are multiple positions and players that can be blamed, it has to be all on the coaching. While the team is young, it is full of talented players. However, they will never succeed without the proper leadership.

More specifically, Sumlin refuses to address the recurrent issue of play calling. In Tuesday’s press conference, Sumlin said Spavital retains the majority of the play calling duties. Instead of taking it upon himself Sumlin has taken a back seat to the reckless driver that is Jake Spavital.

Looking at his tenure with A&M, Sumlin really hasn’t done anything worth merit since 2013. Even in his most successful seasons Sumlin only captured two non-BCS bowl wins and garnered an 8-4 regular season with the likes of Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans.

This year, Sumlin does not have the luxury of Mike Sherman’s remarkable recruits. Instead, Sumlin’s roster contains players he went after himself. After a few seasons there has not been much individual development in the Aggie attack, and each year many of the starters are underclassmen.

When looking at Spavital, he fit nicely in the quarterback coach role years ago, but he lacks the experience for full responsibility over this kind of offense. However, the scrutiny on him can be somewhat justified.

Before the season, A&M saw two of its top running backs vanish. Trey Williams left for the NFL while Brandon Williams moved to cornerback. Tra Carson and James White are primarily in the backfield, but they are more appropriate in a complementary role and in goal line situations. Also, Speedy Noil and White have not been 100 percent all season.

Even with the injuries and unexpected departures, A&M has the ingredients for a team that can rack up points. If A&M does not improve offensively Chavis very well could leave for the same reason he left LSU, who ironically now ranks first in the SEC in yards per play. 

Moreover, it could cause a frustrated Kyler Murray to transfer if he continues to be poorly utilized. Lastly, lack of improvement could cause major ramifications on the recruiting trail. 

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for the Aggies to find their permanent starter at quarterback and find rhythm through him. While these last five games are meaningless on paper since A&M is virtually out of Playoff contention, the remainder of the season establishes the precedent for the future of Aggie football.

Sumlin placed the Aggies on a path for success long ago and exceeded initial expectations. However, a new quota has been set and he is in jeopardy of remaining stagnant and yielding nothing meaningful to the program.

Carter Karels is a journalism sophomore and sports editor for The Battalion.

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