Texas A&M football: After App. State disaster, there’s no place to go but up
In the process of building a program, the progress of head coaches is oftentimes measured in what we call signature wins. Jimbo Fisher had his last year when the Aggies upset No. 1 Alabama at Kyle Field.
But what do we call the 17-14 loss that Fisher and Texas A&M suffered on that same field last Saturday at the hands of Sun Belt Conference member Appalachian State?
If a signature loss is a thing, then that’s what it was. It was a historical marker planted in the heart of the program; a program headed in the wrong direction.
That was the initial feel anyway when the final whistle sounded on Saturday as a shocked Kyle Field crowd filed out, wondering exactly what they had witnessed. Had they just experienced the beginning of the end of a dream? A dream that brought a national championship-winning coach to College Station, cost be damned.
Or is that simply an overreaction to a devastating loss, one that took everyone completely by surprise? An unacceptable gut punch in Fisher’s 5th year as head coach.
It’s a 12-game schedule and that was only Game 2 of it. There are 10 games left on the docket, an eternity in the college football world. SEC play is still a couple of weeks away for an Aggies team that won’t raise the curtain until a Sept. 24 encounter with Arkansas at Jerry World in Arlington.
Let’s take a breath, step back and understand that victories over their next 2 opponents — Miami and Arkansas, both ranked in the top 15 — would put the Aggies right back on track to the ultimate goal: a championship.
Granted, based on Saturday’s performance, the prospect of beating 2 highly regarded programs back-to-back seems absurdly laughable at this point. But that’s where the Aggies find themselves. They can either choose to fight back or fold.
“Nothing is ever as good as it seems; nothing is ever as bad as it seems,” Fisher said following the deflating loss. “It’s about what you make of it. You talk to guys, guys in the huddle, in the locker room, we had a good talk with them. They understand. We’re not blaming them.
“It’s on us to get them ready to play and put them in position to do it. And I don’t fear that. I really don’t. Always, as a coach, you’re always trying to make sure guys understand what you want. But I think we have a good group of guys and good locker room.”
Unlike the rest of us, Fisher isn’t pushing the panic button.
“It’s one day,” he said. “Depends on what we do. How we accept this and what we do from here and how the things will go forward. And we still have a chance to have a very good football team; got to face down, lock in and coach the heck out of them and get them to play well. We still have a chance to have a really good team and the program is still there.”
Devon Achane said he isn’t seeing any quit in this team. The junior running back, who scored both of the Aggies’ touchdowns on Saturday — one on a sparkling 26-yard run from scrimmage, the other on an electrifying 95-yard kick return — is looking forward, not backward.
“There’s no frustration,” Achane claimed. “I see (the team) working every day. We’re getting better and better every week. So, no frustration. I can see that we are getting better. Just keep going one day at a time.”
Still, it’s a defining loss that could send the program reeling if Fisher can’t get it turned around.
“Basically, we’re going to see who wants to play football,” Achane said. “See how we respond. There’s a lot of football to play. You can’t just define us by one game.”