Aggie Football – UCLA

Recap of the Texas A&M vs UCLA Game 2017

In 1979 The Charlie Daniels’ Band released The Devil Went Down to Georgia on the Epic label.

The song is about the Devil’s failed attempt to “steal” a young man’s soul through a fiddle- playing contest that involved enticing the young man’s participation using a worldly prize. The song begins with a disappointed Devil arriving in Georgia, having stolen far fewer souls  than expected, when he comes upon a fiddle-playing young man named Johnny. At that moment, Johnny happens to be playing his fiddle impressively “hot.” Out of desperation, the Devil, who as it turns out also plays the fiddle, offers Johnny the wager which involves challenging the young man to a fiddle-playing contest. The Devil offers to give Johnny a golden fiddle if the young man plays better than he does; otherwise, the Devil will gain Johnny’s soul. Although Johnny believes taking the Devil’s bet might be a “sin,” he wagers his soul without fear, confidently boasting he is “the best that’s ever been.”

In the end, Johnny walks away with the golden fiddle and the Devil heads home empty-handed wondering “what happened?”

How does this related to my Aggies?

Well, had the Devil showed up in Texas needing a soul while my Aggies were leading UCLA by 34 points late in the 3rd quarter and the Devil carried an offer of a FBS National Championship if the Aggies won, well, I just might have made the bet. As it is I still have my soul but woke up wondering “what happened?”

Good thing the Devil was busy elsewhere.

Going on forty-two minutes of a sixty minute contest the Aggies were men playing against boys; unstoppable. Even when A&M’s starting QB went to the sidelines, and soon to be on crutches, a UCLA victory seemed as unlikely as winning a golden fiddle from the Devil but just then, all Hell broke loose.

My Takeaway:

The Bad:

During the Franchione and Sherman years, 8-5 seasons and a Bowl Game might have kept either of them around but this is a different day and, in large part, due to Johnny Football the Aggie Faithful got a taste of real National Respect and nothing short of that is acceptable any longer. It matters little that A&M plays in the SEC, West which is the single toughest Division of the single toughest Conference in D-1 football.

Now, I like Kevin Sumlin as a man; he does not make excuses, he is not whiney and passes blame, he has upheld and embraced that “extra” the University expects about being a gentleman to his players, fans and the press among many other attributes he has. However, if he is not the guy who will make the Aggies, long-term, competitors on College Football’s “Western Front” then the sooner we know that and the sooner we find “that guy” the better.

So, if an “I can’t believe it loss” to UCLA helps that, then so be it because we have a very capable group of young players that need, and deserve, a great coach and a great coach does not go 8-5 (and middle of the pack in conference) every year.

In fact, one just needs to look back to last year where the Aggies blew big leads to UCLA & Tennessee late in the game only to have to win in O/T this year looks, very much, like an old theme with Sumlin teams.

Now, am I saying fire Sumlin today? No, but it would not surprise me if some Regents from the University and high-impact donars are not, at this very moment, meeting to discuss questions like “does anyone know Bob Stoops cell number?”

Having said the above, I do believe if A&M is 2-2 after four games it is likely Kevin Sumlin will be let go mid-season; if for no other reason than to send a message. As Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) said in The Big Lebowski: “Dude, I am talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude, across this line you do not cross.”

I believe a record of 2-2 after four games is a line Kevin Sumlin cannot cross.

Money will be no object, of that, I am positive.

In order to offer some legitimate perspective, I watched the game again………and as painful as it was the first time, the second viewing was worse.

THE GOOD:

  • The comeback was epic but everything, everything had to go right for UCLA to pull it off; if one out of ten things that should have happened would have In fact, when the ball went through Deshawn Capers-Smith’s hands I though “Oh, no, something magic is coming.” That was one of seven plays that, had they not happened, the Aggies come home with a win. My point? The Aggies did not fall apart as much as UCLA made a handful of plays late in the game that, statistically, are only made once in a season and these happened in twenty minutes of football.
  • The Aggie running game and O-Line played very well. This should allow them to control the clock and take pressure off the defense which will become very critical when we start facing much more physical teams in the SEC.
  • Quarterback Nick Starkel looked very good but there is now a major concern regarding his injured left foot.
  • Replacement, Kellen Mond has a ton of potential but is far from having the ability to lead the team in the short-term (possibly not until late in the year) so Jake Hubenek had better start warming up. (So, I guess this is good & bad news.)
  • Christian Kirk is everything The Faithful were hoping he would be and has the potential of being a game-changer any time he touches the ball.
  • The interior of our D-Line looked very good.
  • (DB) Armani Watts is an NFL player facing college kids and until late in the game the entire Secondary played very well.
  • For most of the game our LB’s filled the gaps very well and if they keep growing and improving will be difference makers when we start playing good running teams.

 

Dumb Call of the Game (and the one that likely was the play that would have sealed a win for A&M.)

 

Late in the 4th Quarter, up by 13 points and facing a 3rd down and one yard to go why in the world would you call upon a questionable passing freshman QB into a straight drop back pass? This is especially true when Kellen Mond is known for his running ability and an option would have offered one of three players the ball: Mond, Keith Ford or Traveon Williams…………it was a stupid call.

The result was a QB sack on the play and a much longer field-goal attempt (which was deflected. If that FG is made, the game is over.)

 

Question for the Future

Why not put Kirk in a Wildcat formation on third & short situations and run an option? Running one way either Kirk or Ford gets the ball and the other direction Kirk or Williams gets the ball.

It is hard to imagine not being able to pick up a couple of yards with this trio in the backfield.