Here's this week's edition of the AggieYell Mailbag...
Q: Why did it take near disaster for the coaching staff to put in Hubenak? (Meislu)
A: They're absolutely sold (probably rightly) that Kellen Mond has the most upside of the quarterbacks and is the QB of the future. After Nick Starkel went down, they wanted to get him as much experience as possible to see how he'd respond. They know now: he's inconsistent, holds onto the ball too long and makes life tough on his linemen. Those are all fixable, but not overnight. Right now, Hubenak is the better option and Mond will have to really step it up fast for that not to be the case.
Q: 1. How are things post-Harvey?
2.. What position has been a pleasant surprise so far? A disappointment?
2. Why did they change up the OL after UCLA? I thought the unit was reasonably successful.
3. The pass defense in the middle of the field. Is the weekly torching due to bad safety play, linebackers who are not good in coverage, or Chavis calling poor coverage schemes? (aggieluke04)
A: 1) Frankly, they suck. But as bad as it is for us, a lot of other folks have it worse.
2) Surprise: The linebackers. Disappointment: the safeties.
3) At some point, you have to adjust and pull the linebackers off a tight end if he's doing what UCLA was doing and put a safety or nickel on him. A&M never did. As far as I'm concerned, that was a schematic failure.
Q: What did Koda Martin do to ride the pine and then come back? (sassy06)
A: It sounds like he ticked Jim Turner off by doing something wrong. But Turner was forced to get over it and put him back in because, as we saw last weekend, Martin's better than any other option you can put out there.
Q: 1. Is the OL 'experiment' over?
2. Do you see enough of practices to determine how snaps are divided among 1st/2nd/3rd team at each position? Are starters getting enough practice snaps? Trying to figure out why we almost always seem to be a bit out of synch on both sides of the ball...for the past 3 seasons.
3. Durham seems to be more active than Cunningham at DE. And haven't seen much of Clemons. Your thoughts regarding the DE position? (Pebbycree)
A: 1) I sure hope so. They need to get cohesive and consistent.
2) No, but the vast majority of the snaps always go to the 1s.
3) Jarrett Johnson only has two tackles, but I'm really impressed by how he's held the edge and has gotten consistent pressure. He looks really good. Durham, as I said in my Talking Points (gratuitous plug) has been much better than I expected. Cunningham played a little bit last week and was pretty good; I don't know if he's nicked up or what, but Durham's getting a lot more snaps. Clemons has hardly played.
Q: Is Ryan McCollom a scholarship player or a walk-on? (jessexy)
A: McCollum is a scholarship player and a member of the 2016 recruiting class. He was originally committed to Oklahoma State and flipped (which is actually fairly common for linemen of late).
Q: If the team continues to suck will Sumlin be let go during the season? (WhartonBones)
A: Right now, I think the anger level is at fire him at the end of the year. It's got to get even worse for him to be canned now. That's a fairly infrequent in college football.
Q: How is it that after both spring and fall camps the OL is still not settled? (WLake_Ag)
A: Darned good question, because this is the second consecutive year they've used the same grouping through the spring and most of the summer, only to scrap it with less than 20 days before the opener.
Q: My douchebag tu neighbor has been an insufferable prick the last 2 1/2 weeks. Hullabaloo on the truck horn and flipping him off while driving by his house just isn't having the same effect enjoyed the last 5+ years. Any (legal) ideas that don't depend on Aggie football actually winning games to shut this motherf*cker up? (saheat)
A: What's he got to be arrogant about? His team got flattened by a mediocre Maryland team on their home turf. A&M blew their game; Texas was never in theirs. And USC is going to blow their doors off. I'd just get a copy of the Trojan fight song and play it as you go back and forth in front of his house. Only one of the Texas flagship schools will have a winning record Sunday morning, and it won't be the one in Austin.
Q: How fvcked is this season? Should I even watch? (MexAg05)
A: If the first half UCLA team shows up, they're still going to win 8 games. If it's the second half or Nicholls team, stick around for people to ripped on national TV.
Q: any chance Sumlin begins burning shirts either out of desperation or spite for the next regime? (Rooster77)
A: Hell, they've already burned 13 and two others probably would be playing if they could (Marchiol and Tucker). Who's left?
Q: How dinged up are Williams and Ford, enough that they sit while Bussey plays? Is there anyone behind Bussey with any pop? Why haven't we seen Etwi this year? (h273)
A: 1) They may play some, but they would like them to be ready for Arkansas more than anything.
2) Jacob Kibodi.
3) Bussey and Kibodi.
Q: If either Hubenak or Mond get injured, who would be the next backup? Will they burn Blumrick's redshirt? (justamirage)
A: Blumrick would be the next guy up.
Q: What's it going to take to transform our program into a winning program like OU's, what are the steps from the 10,000 ft. POV and steps from the ground up POV? (Big Smoothie)
A: The first thing it's going to take is everyone being on the same page. A lot of Aggies feel it is sacrilegious to criticize anything that has to do with their beloved university and won't demand excellence. They're happy when the "boys" try hard and the band does well. At this point, with all the money that's being doled out, everyone should want what's commensurate for what they're paying for: the best.
Q: Interested in Justin Dunning and Michael Clemons.
Are they getting much playing time and how are they playing? (dwcmd)
A: They haven't played much and haven't done much, either.
Q: In 2 years will we have a mediocre OL Coach coaching five All Americans and be talking about the good ol Jim Turner days like 2012?
Best chance to bring in a championship first? Astros? Texans? Or our beloved Aggies?(monte jr)
A: 1) Right now, I see two guys who could be All-Americans: Erik McCoy and Connor Lanfear. The rest I'm not nearly as impressed with. Turner is starting to get "his" guys to stock the two-deep, so maybe he can work his magic again.
2) Having watched one of those teams twice and watching the other two right now, there's no doubt: the Astros are by far the best hope to win. That could come this year, even though that would mean someone beat Cleveland.
Q: When the SEC TV contract comes up for renewal/placement, who will be the bidders? Will we see the same kind of stupid money that ESPN paid for the current contract? (Rick77)
A: I think it'll be ESPN and Fox Sports, but I don't see anything really changing -- but we're in a period of massive upheaval and who knows? Netflix or Amazon may get involved. Either way, I would be stunned if they got the same numbers they're getting now. Live TV contracts are one of the things that are strangling ESPN right now.
Q: Who is our starting left tackle and why? (Superag1000)
A: Keaton Sutherland, because Jim Turner put him there.
Q: Who moved Chief from the press box to the sideline and why?
How is your wife's recovery coming along? (BoxterBoy72)
A: 1) I'm sure Sumlin had something to do with it, probably to get a better feel for things on the field and to be able to talk to his players directly.
2) It's coming along ok. She's got a couple more weeks before she can put any real weight on her leg, but there's been no setbacks.
Q: Back to another Jake question. I read in the DMN this past Sunday that Hubenek was healthy to go against UCLA if needed. I don't know what to believe anymore with Sumlin's secrets. If he could have gone, then I get even more pissed about the UCLA game and him not going in and changing the momentum for us. Officially Mark, healthy or hurt???? (Johnkur)
A: I'll tell you what I saw. A guy who warmed up very little a couple hours before the game and never threw a ball or put his helmet on during real warmups. Normally, the first three (sometimes four) quarterbacks take part in the process. He should have been at least been warming up the threes and he didn't. Was he healthy? Sumlin says he was. He also said Kyle Allen was when he clearly was not and everyone knew it.
Q: A week or so ago, you mentioned regarding Chavis, "I don't think he trusts his players." I'm not certain what that means. Could you elaborate? (TMGLouisiana)
A: This is what I mean: repeatedly, over the past two years, the Aggies have had big leads that they have gotten to at least in part due to aggressive playcalling. Then those leads evaporated as the defense went vanilla and went into an exchange of time for yardage. That's backfired repeatedly. I think Chavis doesn't think his guys are capable of going four quarters playing aggressive defense without getting burned for big plays that consume little time.
Q: Do the coaches honestly think Mond gives us the best chance to win? Why not start Hubenak and let Mond sub in instead of watching him flail around for two quarters? Why in the hell would you pull your defensive starters in the UCLA game? Why cant we find a coach that will keep applying pressure both defensively and on offensive instead of playing prevent defense and taking the foot off the gas offensively? (AustinAg2001)
A: 1) Yes, they do.
2) Got me. I would have started Hubenak.
3) It's not necessarily pulling the starters, it's changing the scheme. They should know better by now.
4) It's the mystery of the age.
Q: Do you still believe Ausbon is the next Dez Bryant?
How would you grade the results of the new Strength and & Conditioning Coach thus far? (Shintodachin)
A: 1) I didn't say he's the next Dez. I said he's as big as Dez. But I still have massive expectations for him.
2) Way too early to judge.
Q: 1. Turner almost seems to be a double edged sword. I believe most agree he is a substantial upgrade from Christianson (sic?), but he seems to be hard headed and holds a grudge (Koda?) Discuss what you find good and bad about him.
2. Will they ever throw an average of two passes a game to a TE? Does anyone in the country other than Boise State do that?
3. Injuries aside, I believe you will see more and more freshmen play as Sumlin ties to save his job. Reason? Can tell BMAs his recent talent is better and there is more coming.... Agree or disagree? (teh80)
A: 1) Good: He's an elite, one of the very best, line coaches in college football. Bad: He does hold grudges, in my opinion and if you do something he doesn't like, you're done. Look at Shep Klinke and Joe Cheek. It looks like Kellen Diesch is in that boat now too. If he had an option to not play Koda Martin, he might not have.
2) Probably not.
3) I don't think he cares, he's just trying to win. He'll work about the opinions of BMA's later. With the exception of Derrick Tucker and Santino Marchiol, the guys who can contribute have already played.
Q: Mark, it appears several red-shirts were burned unexpectedly over the last two games. Who on your list of probable players you expected to red-shirt this season? Your thoughts on how this helps the team going forward? Your sensing of the coaching staffs' morale knowing the pendulum is swinging closer and closer as the season progresses? I guessing ambivalent since they'll get paid no matter what. How's your wife's rehab coming along? Thanks, Mark. (Chuck70)
A: 1) I thought Carson Green, Jared Hocker, Jayden Peevy, Debione Renfro, Jacob Kibodi and Camron Buckley were going to redshirt. Peevy has already shown he was ready to play, but I'm still out on the rest of them. One way or the other, they're adding depth at key positions. I like that they're getting used, but only a couple are being needed as more than supplementary guys.
2) I think they're going to keep going as hard as they can and look up at the end of the season and see where they are. If you get a reputation as a quitter, that's almost unshakable as a coach or player.
3) I wish it would go faster, because I'm getting tired of having get everything for her.
Q: Assuming we get our RBs back and the rest of the team stays mostly healthy and that we start Jake and only bring in Mond when/if the game is clinched and with good game planing and a coaching staff capable of making adjustments, (whew, lot's of supposing, I know) how many games do you think we could win this season? (hogtide)
A: Is it the first half UCLA team? They can still win 8.
Q: In your recent memory can you were recall a coaching staff that has done less with the talent they have on campus? Also do you recall a highly paid staff at a big school being this in competent, not in recruiting but in game preparation, schemes, and game management. (maroon1)
A: See Franchione, Dennis