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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

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Back to the basics

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Bryan Johnson — THE BATTALION

My freshman year was probably the best and worst thing to happen to me as an Aggie football fan. Though I suffered through letdown after letdown in 2011, the heartbreaking year galvanized my fandom and made 2012 that much sweeter.
That said, these last two losses weren’t heartbreakers — they were just plain disappointing. It’s one thing to have a tough loss after fighting all game. It’s another to not even be competitive. We looked like we weren’t ready for the level of competition we faced.
Especially in front of 110,000 Aggies, that’s a letdown.
But the past is the past, and while many would disagree the sky is not falling and all is not lost. A&M has a legitimate chance to match last year’s record after losing three first-round draft picks while simultaneously navigating the toughest version of the SEC West we’ve ever seen.
I’m not saying what the Aggies put on the field the last two weeks was good or even acceptable. I’m just saying that perspective is important.
The solution for this team going forward is simple — get back to basics. Get back to blocking, catching and executing the fundamentals. For a team loaded with underclassmen, that’s the key to success. Keep it simple. Do the little things right.
People have been quick to cry for Kyle Allen, but let’s consider the load that’s been placed on Kenny Hill, who leads the SEC in passing yards and has 295 passing attempts this season. The next closest SEC quarterback behind Hill in attempts is Tennessee’s Justin Worley, a senior, with 218. Fellow sophomore starters Maty Mauk of Missouri and Patrick Towles of Kentucky have attempted just 180 and 192 passes, respectively. Hill has a greater burden as a passer than any other quarterback in the conference and more than 100 more attempts than his sophomore peers. That’s a lot to take on for a first year starter in a pass-happy offense in a conference known for relentless defenses.
The solution, I think, is to protect Hill more — literally, mentally and schematically. The last thing A&M wants is Hill to keep being pressured, continue throwing picks, lose even more confidence and stunt his development by putting too much on his shoulders.
A&M tried to help Hill settle in last week by running the football against the Rebels, but couldn’t execute that strategy. Again, that’s why the fix for this offense is to improve its fundamentals. Sumlin and his staff recognize that, which is at least step one. Time will tell if the problems can be fixed in only a week’s time, or if this team will continue its offensive regression.
Giving up a 99-yard touchdown drive to Ole Miss at home was also cringe-worthy, but the unit has shown some improvement. The tackling is better and the defensive line is playing pretty well. They’ve made enough stops to keep A&M in the last two games, but the offense hasn’t lived up to its end. They could force more turnovers, but this unit has still improved from last year despite some unfortunate attrition.
As for the impending showdown with Bama, hopefully we see a simplified offense that takes some of the thinking out of Hill’s hands. No more checks to the sidelines. Call the play, run the play, see what happens. Adjust based on the result, but make the game plan simple: Block, catch, run, tackle.

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