The Biggest Disappointments for Texas A&M in 2014
The Texas A&M football team had a disappointing regular season in 2014, with a 7-5 record overall and a 3-5 record in the SEC. There were multiple issues on this team that led to such a disappointing record.
The Aggies were a very young team in 2014. That youth was a major reason why they lost five games. The Aggies should be an improved team in 2015 if they address some of the issues that plagued them this season.
Building a football program is a fluid process. The Aggies and head coach Kevin Sumlin are three years into that process. They have enough talent in place at every position to compete in the SEC, but they need to continue to add talent at certain positions to be an elite program in the SEC.
They also need to make some changes on the coaching staff. This is a look at some of the biggest disappointments during the 2014 season for the Texas A&M football team.
The single biggest disappointment for Texas A&M during the 2014 season had to be the play from the linebacker position. That one unit held the Aggies back from being competitive in the SEC.
The issues at linebacker began before the season started when starting outside linebacker Darian Claiborne was kicked off the team. Fellow starting outside linebacker Shaan Washington was injured during preseason practice and missed a few games.
Outside linebacker A.J. Hilliard was injured during the season-opening win over South Carolina and lost for the year. That left the Aggies starting Jordan Mastrogiovanni and Justin Bass at linebacker for much of the season.
Mastrogiovanni and Bass are simply not decent SEC linebackers. They struggled all year, and as a result, the Aggies defense could not stop the run.
There was some hope when true freshmen Otaro Alaka and Josh Walker started against Louisiana-Monroe and Auburn, but Walker got injured against the Tigers and missed the rest of the regular season. Alaka is arguably the best linebacker on the team. He, Walker, Hilliard and Washington should give Aggie fans some hope at the position in 2015.
The Texas A&M offense had the least productive regular season since Kevin Sumlin arrived in Aggieland in 2012. The Aggies averaged 449.2 yards and 34.4 points per game.
Texas A&M was young on offense at the skill positions, but the biggest culprit in its struggles was the play-calling by new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.
It is easy to stop an offense when the offense is predictable, and Spavital was very predictable. He ignored the middle of the field in the passing game and rarely ran misdirection plays.
Spavital insisted on giving a majority of the snaps at running back to Brandon Williams. Of the running backs who had 10 or more carries in 2014, Williams had the lowest average per carry at 4.3 yards. It would be hard for anyone to make a valid argument that Williams was anything better than the third-best running back on the roster, yet Spavital insisted on starting him.
The offense slowed down its tempo significantly in 2014. This may have been to protect the defense, but the result was an offense that did not resemble the high-flying attack that Aggie fans became used to during the first two year of Sumlin's tenure in Aggieland. Spavital needs to make great strides when it comes to calling plays, or the Aggies will again struggle to win games in 2015.
The 2014 Texas A&M defense allowed 449 yards and 27.3 points per game. Compare that to 2013 when they allowed 475.8 yards and 32.2 points per game. The Aggie defense ranked No. 103 in the nation in 2014, compared to No. 109 in 2013.
When you look at those numbers, you understand why Mark Snyder was fired the day after the regular season ended on Thanksgiving. The Aggies are allowing opposing teams to rush for 223.1 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry.
Those are very poor results. There is no reason for a defense to be unable to stop the run when it has access to the kind of recruits the Aggies bring in on a yearly basis.
The Aggie defense has been a sieve for the past two seasons. It is the reason they were 7-5 in 2014 instead of competing for a conference title.
No Leadership from Seniors
The 2014 Texas A&M football team started out the season with a 5-0 record but only won two of its last seven games. The Aggies looked disinterested at times and appeared to be a rudderless ship as a team.
There was a lack of leadership on the 2014 squad, and that falls on the shoulders of the seniors. There are impact players on the team like offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and wide receiver Malcome Kennedy who should have taken control of this unit.
The failure of the seniors to step up and be leaders resulted in games like the 59-0 loss to Alabama. No Kevin Sumlin-coached team had ever gone scoreless for a half. The 2014 Aggies accomplished that feat three games in a row against Ole Miss, Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe.
The best players on the team in 2014 were true freshmen. Texas A&M fans will have to hope that those freshmen take a leadership role on the team as sophomores in 2015. The Aggies are talented enough to compete with any team in the nation. They will need better coaching and more leadership from the players in order to reach their potential in 2015.