Texas A&M football: Why can't the Aggies play like this all year long?
And there’s the frustrating part of the past 2 seasons. The potential is most definitely there. We’ve seen it. The Aggies beat No. 1 Alabama last year at Kyle Field. On Saturday, they scared the life out of the No. 1 Tide in Tuscaloosa and came within 2 long yards from doing it again before coming out on the short end of a 24-20 score.
Granted, Alabama was playing without its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. But the Tide was a 24.5-point favorite for a reason. Mainly because the Aggies weren’t showing a pulse in a sloppy 42-24 loss at Mississippi State. That coming just 3 short weeks after sleepwalking through a 17-14 home loss to Appalachian State.
That’s not the same team we’ve seen for those 2 games against Alabama, last year and this year. In those games, we’ve seen what the Aggies are capable of. We saw the game plan that head coach Jimbo Fisher is capable of putting together.
On Saturday, we got a glimpse of what quarterback Haynes King is capable of. He showed why he earned QB1 honors 2 years in a row. King threw for 253 yards and 2 TDs. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch, completing just 25 of 46 attempts with 1 interception. But he led the offense. He was a leader on the field, something we haven’t seen all year from this offense. He took charge in a way that put Texas A&M in position to win the game. He fell just 1 play short of pulling off a 2nd major upset of the Crimson Tide.
Even Fisher made the comment after the game that on Saturday, the Aggies showed what they are capable of.
Fisher and the Aggies have teased us the past 2 years, coming off a 9-1 COVID season of 2020. They flashed brilliance against the best since that season, and yet inexplicably fizzled in other games against much lesser competition. You could go ahead and blame that lack of consistency on youth. But the elite teams don’t. Nick Saban laments a youthful team when the Tide wins 13 games instead of 14, not after losses to Appalachian State and Mississippi State in the same season.
It’s one thing if this team is the young and inexperienced squad Fisher tries to convince us it is. It’s another when it can compete at the highest level, but only when it wants to. That’s more than just youth. That’s coaching a group of players to perform at a consistent level.
Where’s that drive over the course of a 12-game schedule? Where’s that determination from September through November? Where’s the sense of urgency in all the games, not just against Alabama?
We saw an offense play on a different level on Saturday, just as we did last year against the same opponent. Fisher turned the offense loose and it produced, or at least as well as it is capable of. There was that sense of urgency throughout. Even as time was running out and the Aggies drove the field to the Tide 2-yard line, it was an offense we hadn’t seen since, well, that last time these 2 teams met.
There’s really no excuse. The Aggies are capable, there’s no doubt. They just haven’t produced. It’s like owning a shiny race car that you keep in the garage with a tarp over it and then uncover it and bring it out only during the biggest race of the season.
It is a head scratcher. No, it’s much worse than that; it’s a headache. You can’t lose to Appalachian State and then come within 6 feet of beating No. 1. It defies logic.
The Aggies, now 3-3 on the season and 1-2 in the SEC at the halfway point, have a bye week to reflect and analyze. The 2nd half of the schedule has no Alabamas on it. There’s no Georgia, no Tennessee. The Aggies play 6 teams they are more than capable of beating, given their performance on Saturday.
A 9-3 season should be the expectation. We will see if Fisher can keep his youthful team pumped for whatever opposition comes its way through October and on into November.