Texas A&M Football: Important Takeaways from loss vs. Alabama


By the time the clock hit zero, the four interceptions – three of which were returned for touchdowns – had done the sufficient damage on Texas A&M’s chances in this game, leading to a 41-23 Tide victory. The top-ten matchup had the potential to be a

Oct 17, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin on the sidelines against Alabama the Crimson Tide at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

coming out party for Texas A&M’s 2015 campaign, but in the end, the Aggies couldn’t quite earn a victory in the fourth quarter.

Along with Aggie and Tide fans, this game will be discussed and diagnosed by the national media extensively, so before the talking heads kick in, here are some important takeaways and realizations that are important for us Aggie fans to keep in mind.

1. This is not a repeat of 2014

Last year the Aggies used a 5-0 start to bolt into the top ten, then dropped a disappointing game to a very good SEC opponent before finishing the regular season just 2-5.

That happened in 2014. It is not what is happening today. The message of the A&M team this week was that this team is different than last years’, and that message still remains true. Instead of getting blasted like last year, the Aggies overcame a slow start and worked themselves back into the game, and had their chances to win the game in the second half. Don’t condemn the rest of this season because of a loss to a very, very, good Crimson Tide team. It’s not 2014.

2. The defense is already playing at a very, very high level

John Chavis’ unit isn’t “a year away” from being good. Chief’s defense is already great right now, and while it might not this year that this unit earns the honor to call themselves the Wrecking Crew, it is playing at a high level already. They are playing well enough for the Aggies to beat anyone they play against. The Aggie defense allowed just two Alabama offensive touchdowns, and played lights out in the second half.

Going deeper into the 41 points given up and 258 rushing yards surrendered that seemingly contradict the previous statement, the Tide scored 21 points while no members of the defense were on the field, and were held to just under half of their

Oct 17, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) scores a rushing touchdown during the second quarter against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

total rushing yards in the the final three quarters. While a Wrecking Crew defense wouldn’t give up that many yards to begin with, the importance for this year’s unit is that it stopped Alabama when it mattered most. When the game was on the line, and A&M was fighting their way back in, the defense came up big.

The defensive line had their share of disruptive plays, led by Myles Garrett recording a sack and Daylon Mack blowing a play up, but guys from Alonzo Williams to Zaycoven Henderson made plays. Safeties Armani Watts and Justin Evans played out of their minds in run support. De’Vante Harris and Brandon Williams held up on the edge. AJ Hilliard and Shaan Washington both played great games, and newcomers Richard Moore and Claude George also notched some big plays.

3. Kyle Field is better than ever

I had the genuine pleasure of being one of 105,733 in attendance, and it a truly special and electric venue, especially when the entire 12th Man is waving towels and yelling. The defense was notably energized by the fans, and the 12th Man was in full force for four entire quarters. Kyle Field is no longer a place where opposing teams

Oct 17, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggie fans cheer their team at kickoff between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

should expect to just go in and win, and big home wins are coming. God bless Chancellor John Sharp and everyone who made the new Kyle Field possible. If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch a game there yet, it is an absolute must.

4. The Aggies are still in position for an outstanding season

This loss is going to sting for now, but chances for redemption are coming and coming fast. A big one comes next week in Oxford against a Rebels team that looks shockingly pedestrian after double digit losses at Florida and Memphis. Ole Miss is a team that A&M matches up well with, and it provides a big opportunity for Texas A&M to get immediately back on track.

Speaking of the Ole Miss Rebels, they remain in the drivers’ seat to make it to Atlanta. And that’s where we are in the SEC West right now. Despite their loss

Oct 17, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (1) catches a touchdown pass against Memphis Tigers defensive back Dontrell Nelson (10) during the game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Memphis Tigers beat Mississippi Rebels 37-24. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

today, Hugh Freeze’s bunch still have a win over Alabama, and get LSU and A&M at home. They will be hard pressed to win both of those as well as Arkansas and a road game against in-state rival Mississippi State to close the season.

LSU is the only team in the West with a perfect record, and I am currently watching the Tigers leading Florida 21-7 in Death Valley as I am writing. LSU has a backloaded schedule, though, with Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M in consecutive weeks to close the season.

Alabama has passed their brutal three week stretch, with double-digit wins over Georgia, Arkansas, and Texas A&M. The Tide look like the class of the West right now, but still must beat LSU in a game that always goes down to the wire. Mississippi State will still be a tough out when they play the Tide in Starkville, and the Tide must play Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn looks like they are in a down year, but I’m sure we all remember what happened the last time Auburn played the Iron Bowl at home. This is a rivalry game, and insanity is likely to ensue.

Texas A&M has beaten Ole Miss the last two times in Oxford, and that game is

Oct 17, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) receives the snap from the shotgun and runs for a touchdown against the Florida Gators during the second quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

looking more and more like a game the Aggies can win. The Aggies will then get home dates against South Carolina and Auburn, followed by Western Carolina and Vanderbilt before a big season finale at LSU.

Things are still wide open in the race to Atlanta, and Texas A&M is by no means out of it. They missed a chance to jump ahead, but with a strong finish they can still be contenders when they play LSU.

5. Aggies will live and die with their quarterback play

A&M quarterbacks tossed four interceptions today, all four of which came at awful moments in the game. The first – by Kyle Allen – came on the Aggies’ second drive and was returned for the first points of the game. The defense had kept Alabama off the board, and the pick-six gave the Crimson Tide early momentum.

Oct 17, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen (10) rolls out of the pocket during the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The second came when the Aggies were down 21-6 and were looking to score their first touchdown. Allen overthrew Ricky Seals-Jones and the pass was intercepted and returned for a 93 yard score. The play turned what could’ve been a 21-13 or even 21-9 game into a 28-6 Alabama lead.

The third was the first and only thrown by Kyler Murray to end the third quarter. Murray was looking for fellow freshman-sensation Christian Kirk, and let the ball sail a little too much. It was picked off, and swung all the momentum the Aggies had gained in a solid third quarter.

The final was the game ender, with Kyle Allen trying to get rid of the ball under immense pressure. The ball sailed right to an Alabama defender, who returned it to the house to put the game on ice.

Alabama’s defensive line is as good as it’s been in a while, and their secondary is

Sep 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs with the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

finally coming into it’s own after a few years of poor play. Credit Nick Saban and Kirby Smart for drawing up a remarkable gameplan for beating Texas A&M’s offense, but the Aggies were never going to overcome four interceptions against Alabama.

Despite the mistakes, Kyle Allen made some nice throws, including a perfect strike to Ricky Seals-Jones for the only offensive touchdown of the day. Allen will need to put this game behind him and focus once again on ball security.

There is no need to begin a quarterback controversy: Kyle Allen should be the guy moving forward. Kyler Murray made a few nice plays but it was clear the Crimson Tide were able to rattle the freshman, particularly on a third down sack that ended the Aggies’ first possession of the second half.

Kyle Allen is still one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC, and he likely won’t have to play another defense as good as this one this season – maybe even in his college career. The Aggies will need their young superstar quarterback if they want to win some more big games in 2015, which they absolutely can do.

It was a disappointing game but not a dismal one, as the Aggies showed plenty of life in the loss. This team is still a special one and, even though they can no longer boast an undefeated record, they can still achieve big goals.

Oct 17, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin shakes hands with Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban before a game at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports