What Kevin Sumlin Meant When He Talked About Offensive Changes at SEC Media Day

Michael Taglienti@@miketag98Featured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

USA Today

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin dropped a bombshell at the end of his press conference at SEC Media Days when he mentioned that once the Aggies have the talent in place, they will change the offense. Texas A&M will eventually evolve into more of a traditional type of offense than what you have seen from the Aggies during their first two years in the league.

What we have done is given our program the best chance to win over the course of the last two years with what we have done offensively and maybe in the kicking game also. As we become more of a complete team, we might evolve into a little bit different offense and a little bit different defense. Does that mean we are going to huddle and do that? Probably not. We might change up a little bit as time goes on.

Sumlin has always been a proponent of the one-back or spread offense. He learned it from Joe Tiller at Washington State and Purdue then took the offense with him to A&M and Oklahoma. When he became the head coach at Houston, he installed his version of the spread and had great success

He then installed the hurry-up spread offense at A&M when he took over as head coach in 2012, and it has helped the Aggies lead the SEC in offense during his first two seasons. That kind of offense was necessary to win games in the SEC.

The Aggies did not have the talent and depth on both lines needed to line up and compete head-to-head with the elite teams in the SEC. They were not going to be able to line up and run the ball 40 times per game against Alabama and come out victorious.

In order to win those kind of contests, you need to have an elite defense, and the Aggies simply did not have that kind of talent on the defensive side of the ball. That is changing, as the Aggies have reeled in consecutive top-10 recruiting classes.

They have a lot of young talent on the defensive side of the ball, specifically in the front seven. As that talent develops, the defense will improve and will allow the coaches to stop treating every game like it is a shootout.

Sumlin and his staff signed the No. 1 recruit in the country in the 2014 class, per 247Sports, in defensive end Myles Garrett. If he is able to help the defense generate more of a pass rush from the front seven in 2014, then it will allow the offense to be more traditional in nature.

The Aggies have three very talented running backs returning in 2014. Trey Williams, Tra Carson and Brandon Williams have all shown they are capable of making plays in the SEC.

If Garrett and his teammates can make more stops, the Aggies will be able to feed the ball to the running backs more often and take some pressure off of the quarterback. If the defense cannot get off the field in 2014, then the Aggies' young quarterback is going to be asked to throw the ball 40-50 times per game.

Texas A&M Junior Running Backs 2013 Stats
Trey Williams5840767.0
Tra Carson6232975.3
Brandon Williams4426916.1

What Sumlin was referencing during the press conference was being capable of running when you want to run and not be so reliant on the quarterback. College football fans have seen this phenomenon before at Oklahoma when Bob Stoops took over as the head coach.

During his inaugural season in 1999, the Sooners ran Mike Leach's spread offense and ran the ball 291 times in 12 games while allowing 315.7 yards per game on defense. During the 2000 season, the defense improved and only allowed 278.9 yards per game.

The Sooners still used the spread offense but ran the ball 436 times in 13 games. They went undefeated and won the national championship. Aggies fans should expect Sumlin to follow a similar path.

The spread offense is a great equalizer in football. You can spread a defense out and get favorable matchups for your offense when you run the spread. The trade-off is that when you throw the ball that many times in a game, you are more susceptible to turnovers.

What Sumlin wants to do at A&M is build a defense that is good enough to where he can afford to get into a defensive struggle with an elite opponent. If a football team minimizes the opportunities for the opponent to beat you, then they increase their odds of winning.

As long as Sumlin is at Texas A&M, you will not see the Aggies huddle, and they will try to quicken the pace of the game. However, it is not likely that you will ever see a repeat of the 2013 LSU game when the running backs only carried the ball seven times. 

Sumlin has recognized that a great defense and an offense that employs more of the running game is what is needed in order to be an elite program in college football today. As the Aggies continue to add talent to their roster and build depth on both sides of the ball, they are getting closer to that vision. 


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