Texas A&M has had some favorable results this season. A shootout win against Arkansas, grinding wins against South Carolina and Florida, losing to Alabama by eight points.
But have the Aggies been successful? Head coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t convinced.
“We’re just mid-season,” he said. “I don’t know that we’ve been successful yet. I know that we handled the first loss pretty well. There’s a lot of football to go.”
Next up for the Aggies, fresh off their bye week, is a home game Saturday at 6:15 p.m. against Mississippi State, a team riding a two-game win streak.
The offense has been clicking for the Bulldogs, having scored 80 points in wins against Kentucky and BYU in the last two weeks. Dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is the catalyst, having thrown for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 561 yards and nine scores.
The junior has been rolling the last two games, eclipsing 100 yards in both categories in back-to-back weeks. He threw for 155 yards and a touchdown and ran for 115 and two more last Saturday.
“We try to give our team the best picture we can give them,” Sumlin said. “That’s tough to do with a guy like Fitzgerald. They can run the ball and create explosive plays through that and they started to throw it well last week coming into this week.”
Sumlin added that Fitzgerald and Alabama starter Jalen Hurts, who the Aggies held to the second lowest QBR of the season, are different kinds of running quarterbacks. Hurts is a powerful runner, while Fitzgerald is reliant more on his speed.
Mississippi State quarterbacks have been sacked just three times this season, while Texas A&M has 28 sacks on the season. Both marks are best in the SEC.
One of the goals for the Aggies before the season was to get the plethora of new players so playing time so that downtime stretch, older veteran players can take the field when their experience is needed.
With the 20 hour rule, the coaches can’t always be in the gym with the team. So the responsibility to train those younger guys is passed off to the older players on the team.
“When you have 29 newcomers, the energy level in the room was different,” Sumlin said. “It can go one of two way. It didn’t start off well at UCLA, but how they’ve handled it, the leadership of our older players, the energy is different.”
Of all the things Sumlin can relate to, it’s the Houston Astros.
A fan of the team after spending three years coaching at Houston, he went to Game 7 of the ALCS last Saturday.
“They’ve done a heck of a job,” Sumlin said. “From where they were a year ago to this season and playing those young guys, you see the energy level and how hard they play. I’m rooting for them.”