10 Takes for Tuesday

Mark Passwaters, Publisher
Aggie Yell

Here are a few things I didn't get to Monday that should still be touched on...

1. One reason the hurdle for Kevin Sumlin to keep his job is he is running out of friends. If you hadn't noticed over the past half-decade, Sumlin runs hot and cold with people and can be very arrogant and stand-offish. That's not just with the media, but with people he needs on his side. Losing to UCLA and being less than honest with the quarterback situation for a second time is not sitting well. As is the case in any high-profile job, if you're not friendly with the right people, it can cost you dearly when you need support. And that's where Sumlin is. It's going to take a whole lot of on-field success for him to survive, and that's on him.

2. Sumlin has his enemies wrong. Let's face it: Sumlin doesn't like the guys who cover the Aggie beat. He doesn't like me, Brent Zwerneman, Ben Baby -- maybe he likes Sam Khan, but Sam's not around much these days. I've said this before, he thinks we're some kind of enemy, trying to squeeze out every ounce of classified info we can. He's cut us off from talking to Noel Mazzone and John Chavis, for example, but will give full access to the national media. He won't tell us anything about which quarterbacks are practicing, but will tell folks on satellite radio.

Here's the deal: we're not the enemy. We're not hostile. If he wants hostile, we can just get out of the way and not attempt to let a furious fan base know what the mindset is inside the Bright Building. If he thinks ESPN or Sports Illustrated or Sirius/XM will be there to support him when the seat gets white hot, he's mistaken. They'll be the first to turn on him, because they have no reason to give him any benefit of the doubt. Again, that's on him.

3. I get the idea. I just don't agree with it. The Aggies did a whole lot of mass substituting last weekend, pulling the entire offensive line several times to let the backups play. They did the same with receivers. The idea was to get them real game playing time in case they're needed later. It's a valid concept, but I don't think the starters -- especially on the offensive line -- have shown enough to merit being replaced so the backups can get some snaps. Honestly, they need all the snaps and playing time they can get.

4. Maybe this IS different. At the moment, the Aggies are 6th in the nation in rush defense, giving up just 79.7 yards a game. That's 2.7 YPC. Now, they haven't played an LSU or Mississippi State, to be sure, but that's on an average of more than 28 carries a game. Two key reasons, in my estimation: the ends are doing a much better job holding the edge and the linebackers are making plays when they're supposed to. Missed tackles have not been an issue -- yet.

5. The "where'd you come from?" award goes to... Landis Durham. A guy who has moved from linebacker to defensive end and seemed buried on the depth chart has forced his way into the equation. He has 9 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He's also making Qualen Cunningham play at a higher level to fight for playing time.

6. One major difference in 2017 is time of possession. The team that didn't about such things is now dominating the clock by an average of 33:53 to 26:07 per game so far. That could be helping the defense, since they're not on the field as much.

7. Screwing up one recruiting class can be devastating for a long time. In this case, A&M's 2013 class continues to haunt, even though its members are gone. But signing 31 and ending up with 5 last year shows why the Aggies had to force younger players onto the field, which caused injuries, frustration and in some cases transfers. The last couple of classes still look really good, but upperclassmen are lacking because they're gone (2013 should still have some redshirt seniors) or were pushed into action and have moved on. The Aggies had a class of similar size this time, and they need to keep it together to prevent another mess from occurring.

8. This should be A&M's front line. Martin/Prater/McCoy/Lanfear/Sutherland. Connor Lanfear and Erik McCoy have become the best of the bunch, but this gives them the best chance to win. McCoy's intelligence and quick thinking make him indispensable at center, and the guy I'd be most likely to pull would be Colton Prater in favor of Ryan McCollum.

9. +8 and 30.23%. That's A&M's turnover +/- and their third down conversions allowed percentage. That's stout no matter the competition. Looking at the stat sheet, you'd think A&M has looked much better.

10. Something to consider on Kellen Mond. He completed 61.7% of his passes Saturday. Trevor Knight topped that completion percentage twice last year, and once was the bowl game. The other was New Mexico State. Knight, of course, wasn't the most accurate, but it is a solid indication that Mond is, indeed, progressing.


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