Texas A&M and Adidas, its football apparel partner, have come up with some fresh, unique and eye-catching looks for the Aggies in the Kevin Sumlin era.

From the "Icy whites" to zubaz-inspired accessories to chrome helmets, Texas A&M has made bold choices, but the Aggies' latest uniform trick might be their best.

As a tribute to Texas A&M's 1939 national championship team, the Aggies will don throwback uniforms for Saturday's game against Louisiana-Monroe, complete with "leather" helmets and cleats (No, the helmets are not really leather, but they do sport a leather look).

 

The details are impressive, all the way to the rusted-look on the facemask:

 

 

The helmets were produced in concert with Hydro Graphics Inc. and Riddell, and the leather look is courtesy of a hydro film leather-like texture featuring wing and cross graphics. The design was created using high-resolution photos of the actual helmet the 1939 team wore. They even have "AMC" on the back, which stands for "Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas," which was what Texas A&M was known as in 1939.

 

Here's a look at the cleats:

 

The uniform tops and pants were also inspired by the original '39 Aggies uniform:

 

SEC morning links

October, 29, 2014
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1. The initial College Football Playoff rankings came out on Tuesday night, and the "First Four" was all anyone could talk about, especially after the World Series Game 6 devolved into an old-fashioned Kansas City barbecue. With three teams in the top four, #SECbias was probably trending worldwide. Fans of other conferences were going berserk. Nevermind that voices of reason such as playoff chairman Jeff Long (full disclosure: he's also Arkansas' athletic director) said there's a lot of time for things to change. Heck, look no further than this week's schedule. Two of the top teams in the nation will play this week, as No. 3 Auburn visits No. 4 Ole Miss. Fans of other conferences can delight in knowing the SEC West will bludgeon itself throughout November. And as for No. 6 Alabama getting a so-called snub? Well, this sums up the Tide's plight:



2. As the AJC's Chip Towers said, "Gurley Watch" reached Day 19 on Tuesday and still no update on the Georgia running back's status for Saturday's big game against Florida. The Bulldogs are cautiously optimistic, as Todd Gurley continues to practice. Meanwhile, the Gators' defensive players say they are expecting, preparing and actually hoping to face the Heisman candidate on Saturday. Despite Florida's downward spiral in the past two seasons, the Gators say they're confident. The history of this bitter rivalry suggests the game is usually closely contested. At least one thing that's guaranteed is a good time at the ol' Cocktail Party. It's always cool to see the intermingling of red, black, orange and blue inside and outside the stadium. On Saturday, we'll see it on the field as well. Georgia is the home team, but both teams agreed to wear home jerseys in what should make for a neat visual.

3. Determined to snap its three-game losing streak, Texas A&M underwent a sweeping round of soul-searching during its bye week with a willingness to re-evaluate every position on the team. That includes the quarterback position, where sophomore starter Kenny Hill is now battling with freshman Kyle Allen with a decision to come on Thursday. It's a stunning turn of events for Hill, who started the season with a school-record 511 yards passing in the opener and has thrown for 2,649 yards in eight games. Allen actually went to offensive coordinator Jake Spavital's office to ask if the starting job was really up for grabs. Yes, he was told, this is really happening. The same could be said for the Aggies' tailspin, but at least the bye week came at a perfect time. A&M is still reeling from its last game, a 59-0 loss at Alabama. Saturday's home game against Louisiana-Monroe ought to do wonders in boosting some confidence in Aggieland. Especially for the QB, whoever he is.

Around the SEC

" Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott ditched his walking boot and practiced on Tuesday. He's not sure what all the fuss was about, saying: "I'm sure there's some boots Beyonce or somebody's worn before that people have made a big deal about."

" Ole Miss changed its play-calling terminology after a former intern left in the offseason to join the Auburn staff.

" Michigan native and current Tennessee coach Butch Jones swatted aside speculation that he could be a candidate to be the Wolverines' next coach.

" Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary will be the "lead dog" against Old Dominion, but coach Derek Mason also hopes Patton Robinette will play after being medically cleared last week from a concussion suffered on Sept. 20.

Tweet of the day

SEC bowl projections: Week 9

October, 28, 2014
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Now that the first batch of playoff rankings is out, we can really dive into postseason projections.

Three SEC teams in the top four of the playoff committee's rankings? I actually didn't see that coming. While I do agree that those are three of the four best teams in the country, I figured the committee would lean toward not having three teams from the same conference -- let alone the SEC -- take three slots up top in the first set of rankings.

But that's what happens when you deal with the human element, and that's what is going to make the next few weeks in college football delightful.

So how does that affect our bowl projections for this week? Well, for starters, we can go on ahead and put two SEC teams in the two semifinal games. I think folks below the Mason-Dixon Line were kind of expecting that anyway.

I'm not ready to put three SEC teams in, though. It's just not going to happen. These rankings are fun to look at and make projections with, but let's face it, no conference -- not even the big, bad SEC -- is going to get three teams into the playoff.

So for now, the SEC is left with two teams in the final four. The good news for the conference is that those two teams won't play each other in our fictional first round, making for a possible fictional all-SEC national championship.

Oh, the country would just LOVE that!

I have 10 SEC teams making bowl games this year:

College Football Playoff semifinal (Allstate Sugar Bowl): Mississippi State
College Football Playoff semifinal (Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual): Auburn
Capital One Orange Bowl: Ole Miss
Cotton Bowl: Alabama
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Georgia
Citrus Bowl: LSU
TaxSlayer Bowl: Kentucky
Outback Bowl: Missouri
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Texas A&M
Belk Bowl: South Carolina

Kenny Hill in danger of losing job

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
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[+] EnlargeKenny Hill
Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY SportsAfter a 59-0 drubbing at the hands of Alabama, Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill might lose his starting job.

In August, Texas A&M appeared to have a bright future with its new quarterback. After a record-breaking performance against South Carolina, sophomore Kenny Hill looked like the clear answer to life after Johnny Manziel for the Aggies.

Two months later, the future isn't so clear, with the starting quarterback job wide open heading into the Aggies' final four games.

Texas A&M offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said Tuesday that Hill and true freshman Kyle Allen are competing for the right to start Texas A&M's next game Saturday vs. Louisiana-Monroe.

Spavital opened the competition up between Hill, the Aggies' starter for the first eight games, and Allen, the true freshman who served as Hill's backup during that stretch, during the team's off week last week following a 59-0 loss to Alabama, Texas A&M's third straight defeat.

"We opened it back up," Spavital said. "It's still wide open. We're going to split the [first-team] reps [Tuesday] and possibly on Wednesday and by Thursday we'll probably have a declared starter and they'll take all the reps for that Thursday practice."


(Read full post)


Can A&M recover from Bama blowout?

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
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More than a week has passed since Texas A&M's beatdown at 'Bama.

[+] EnlargeKevin Sumlin
AP Photo/Butch DillKevin Sumlin and the Aggies have four games left in 2014 to turn around a three-game losing streak.
After spending a much-overdue off week meeting, practicing, resting and regrouping, the Aggies are focusing on the future, even if everyone else is zeroed in on their recent past. Life after 59-0 won't officially start until Texas A&M hosts Louisiana-Monroe at noon ET/11 a.m. CT Saturday at Kyle Field, and it may be impossible to completely scrub that embarrassment from the Aggies' collective memories.

Saturday is the start of a crucial season-ending, four-game regular-season stretch for the Aggies, head coach Kevin Sumlin and the current group of players. How they respond to the jaw-dropping loss to Alabama on Oct. 18 will define the 2014 Aggies and perhaps the teams to come in the next year or two.

SEC contenders or pretenders? That's what's at stake moving forward.

The Aggies had more success in their first two seasons as SEC members than most expected. Coming into the league off a disappointing 7-6 campaign in 2011, many wondered if Texas A&M could hold its own in college football's premier league. An 11-2 debut season in 2012 that included an upset of No. 1 Alabama, Johnny Manziel becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and recruiting success charging toward new heights re-calibrated long-term expectations for the program, both internally and externally.

The 20-6 mark in the Aggies' first two years in the SEC provided a foundation to build from and the Aggies showed no signs of slowing down early this season when new starting quarterback Kenny Hill & Co. bushwhacked South Carolina to start the season. The win looked a lot better then than it does now, with the Gamecocks not living up to high preseason expectations. Three consecutive Texas A&M losses to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama -- all of which have been in convincing fashion -- have brought the Aggies back down to earth and left them searching for the spark that got them to 5-0.

"This program was founded on three things: play hard, play smart, be physical," Sumlin said. "The last couple weeks, that has not been the case and has directly contributed to us losing. Our challenge is to get back to those three things and be the program that we were when we started the season and have been since we've been here."

Losses like the one the Aggies suffered in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, are rare for championship programs. Since the Associated Press poll began in 1936, only six other ranked teams have suffered a shutout loss as bad or worse than the Aggies' 59-0 debacle. Four of the teams on the winning end of those blowouts went on to a national title that season. Championship teams deliver those blows, they don't absorb them.

Since 2000, only one head coach who eventually went on to win a national championship or SEC championship suffered a loss with a margin of defeat in a similar vicinity to the Aggies' 59-point loss: Mack Brown.

While at Texas, Brown's Longhorns lost by 49 points (63-14) to Oklahoma in 2000 and by 52 points (65-13) to the Sooners in 2003. Each time, both teams were ranked in the top 11; but both times the Longhorns responded by winning six consecutive games. The program was able to bounce back and continue moving forward, building toward its eventual 13-0 campaign in 2005 when the Longhorns won the BCS championship.

Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, Les Miles, Jimbo Fisher and Urban Meyer don't have regular-season losses nearly as ugly as 59-0 on their record prior to winning a championship. Yes, there are some convincing losses and blowouts but none of that magnitude for that tier of coaches. Why is that relevant? Because where they've been is where the Aggies want to be and that's why the powers that be at Texas A&M committed to Sumlin to the tune of six years and $30 million, an annually salary of $5 million, last December.

The Aggies can't change the past, they can only salvage the future. Whether the historic loss and the recent three-game losing streak is a mere blip on the radar of otherwise positive progress or the start of a troubling new direction will be largely determined in the next month and next season. It certainly was cause for some soul-searching.

"I don't think there is anything that's off the table [in terms of changes] from a position standpoint in evaluating where we are right now," Sumlin said. "Something like what happened [at Alabama] is an eye-opener and should be an eye-opener to coaches and fans and to players, too."

At first glance: SEC Week 10

October, 27, 2014
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We could be on the verge of another Separation Saturday in the SEC’s respective division races. If division leaders Mississippi State and Georgia successfully dodge upset bids from Arkansas and Florida, they will inch closer toward a meeting in December with a conference championship at stake.

As we move into what should be an incredible November in the SEC, let’s take a quick glance at some of this week’s top storylines:

Game of the week: No. 4 Auburn at No. 7 Ole Miss

LSU’s 10-7 comeback win over Ole Miss last weekend knocked the Rebels from the ranks of the unbeaten, but this game still carries enormous SEC West implications for both one-loss clubs. The loser might not be mathematically eliminated, but it will certainly face an uphill climb -- particularly if Auburn loses since it still must go on the road to face No. 3 Alabama and No. 9 Georgia. The fascinating matchup here will be Nick Marshall, Cameron Artis-Payne and Auburn’s spread running game against a vaunted Ole Miss defense that just surrendered 264 rushing yards to LSU. The Rebels also took some physical lumps against LSU, with key players such as Robert and Denzel Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil and All-America safety Cody Prewitt all missing time against LSU with injuries. If they don’t regroup quickly, the Rebels’ division hopes might be on life support by Sunday.

Player under pressure: Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill

He hasn’t been nearly "trill" enough lately. Nobody has at Texas A&M during an ugly three-game losing streak where the Aggies have lost to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama by a combined 142-51 margin. Hill’s numbers weren’t awful in that stretch -- he was 96-of-141 for 904 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions -- but the Aggies simply were not competitive in any of those games. Hill was a Heisman Trophy contender a month ago, but Kevin Sumlin and Jake Spavital might turn to freshman Kyle Allen if things don’t start turning around quickly. Hill desperately needs to get back on track Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe before the Aggies close the season against a gantlet of Auburn, Missouri and LSU.

Coach under the microscope: Florida’s Will Muschamp

Every indication seems to be that the end is near for Muschamp at Florida. But what happens if his Gators pull a huge upset against hated rival Georgia on Saturday? Is there a scenario where the Gators miraculously look like a different team coming out of their open date and show some progress to end the season? It might require a miracle for Muschamp to return as Florida’s head coach next season -- and that’s pretty much what it would be if the Gators snap their three-game losing streak against Georgia.

Storyline to watch: Todd Gurley and the NCAA

Georgia expects to hear back soon from the NCAA regarding Todd Gurley’s reinstatement request. The Bulldogs’ star sat out during wins against Missouri and Arkansas after accusations that he accepted money for autographing memorabilia jeopardized his eligibility. Gurley remains one of the SEC’s leading rushers with 773 yards in just five games, and Nick Chubb has been an outstanding replacement during Gurley’s absence, but the Bulldogs have to love their chances against Florida if the one-time Heisman Trophy front runner returns to the lineup on Saturday.

Intriguing matchup: Maty Mauk against Kentucky’s secondary

Missouri quarterback Mauk has been awful in SEC play -- he has completed 40 percent of his passes, averaged 98 passing yards per game and tossed two touchdowns against five interceptions in four conference games == which could make things interesting on Saturday. Kentucky doesn’t have the most imposing defense, but it boasts arguably the most improved secondary in the nation this season. The Wildcats have intercepted 13 passes in eight games after picking off just three throws in the entire 2013 season. If Mauk fails to raise his game on Saturday, the Wildcats might give the defending SEC East champs all they can handle.

100 days to signing day

October, 27, 2014
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video

National signing day, Feb. 4, is just 100 days away. Here's a look at 100 things to watch for leading up to the big day.

Questions that will shape signing day

100. Who will coach the Florida Gators next year? The Gators entered the season hoping to rebound on the field with a shot at the No. 1 class. Amid another season of turmoil, Florida is in a fight just to keep committed prospects on board.

99. Will Michigan make a move? With that seeming likely, a number of Wolverines commits are making official visits. Assuming there will be a change, the new coach will have the difficult task of keeping the class together.

98. Can Virginia Tech or Virginia keep the best at home? While a pair of in-state five-stars from the 2014 class chose Virginia, the top four in 2015 remain uncommitted. Only one prospect in the top 10 is committed to an in-state program after eight of the top 15 signed with the Hokies or Cavaliers in 2014.

97. Can UCLA win any big battles late? The Bruins were ranked No. 7 in the preseason Associated Press poll and were a playoff contender. UCLA is 6-2, but the season hasn't lived up to those lofty expectations. That has provided rival USC the opportunity to have more success selling Steve Sarkisian's vision without the Bruins taking the headlines and winning the perception battle.

96. How many prospects will flip? To date, over 35 prospects in the ESPN 300 have decommitted or flipped their commitments. With more than 30 committed prospects still making official visits or planning to make visits, that number could reach as high as 70, considering both the Florida and Michigan jobs may open, which could start a chain reaction depending on future hires. There is no doubt that 2015 is the class of flips, and it has only just begun.


(Read full post)


SEC Power Rankings: Week 9

October, 26, 2014
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Good luck making sense of the SEC now. Mississippi State is the clear No. 1, but after that? Ole Miss beat Alabama, but would the Rebels be favored over the Tide now on a neutral field? And how does a suddenly surging LSU squad figure into all of this? Luckily, there's more than a month left to sort this all out.

Edward Aschoff, Jeff Barlis, David Ching, Sam Khan Jr., Chris Low, Greg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough contributed to these rankings.

Who is the best in the West?

October, 25, 2014
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video

Greg and Booger break down the SEC West on SEC Now

How the SEC West became so dominant

October, 24, 2014
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The SEC West has been the center of power in the conference for several years now, but never has the gap been greater than now. By placing a historic four teams in the top five of the AP poll, the West is stronger than ever. That's due in large part to the rise of Mississippi State and Ole Miss, while the likes of Alabama and Auburn remain strong. How has it gotten to this point? Here are five key decisions -- coaching hires, recruiting classes and more -- that made the SEC West what it is today.

Gus Malzahn's return to Auburn
Auburn fans might blame Gene Chizik for the program’s collapse in 2012, but give him credit for what he accomplished. And more importantly, give him credit for hiring Gus Malzahn as his offensive coordinator in 2009. If not for that hire, Malzahn would likely not be the Tigers' coach today. In turn, the Tigers wouldn’t have executed one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history last season, nearly winning a national championship, and there’s a good chance they wouldn’t be top five in the polls this fall. People questioned athletic director Jay Jacobs when he brought Malzahn back to Auburn, but the former high school coach has always been a winner. He’s proving that now. -- Greg Ostendorf

Mullen builds up Mississippi State
He wasn't kind or understanding about the low expectations and the low sense of worth he felt around Mississippi State. Mullen, the former offensive coordinator at Florida, took over as the head coach in Starkville, Mississippi, determined to break down that imaginary wall separating State from becoming a contender.

It started with simply reaching bowl games, but after six seasons, it's turned into championship aspirations. Mullen and his staff have developed overlooked talents into NFL prospects. If you don't think so, just look at QB Dak Prescott or linebacker Benardrick McKinney. Neither was highly sought after in high school, but now they're among the best in the country. -- Alex Scarborough

Hugh Freeze and his 2013 recruiting class
The hire of Hugh Freeze didn’t exactly set off fireworks in Oxford, Mississippi, but he made waves throughout the conference when he took an Ole Miss team that had lost 16 consecutive SEC games to two consecutive bowl wins. But what really had people buzzing was that historic 2013 recruiting class. Freeze signed the No. 1 player in the country, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, and the No. 1 offensive tackle (Laremy Tunsil) and receiver (Laquon Treadwell).

That class put the Rebels on the map in early February of 2013, and its on-field contribution has been tremendous, with those three becoming stars in the SEC and tight end Evan Engram transforming into one of the league’s best at his position. As a result, Ole Miss is 7-0 and looking for a playoff berth. -- Edward Aschoff

Dominance on the recruiting trail
Alabama’s run over the past four years has been nothing short of amazing. The Crimson Tide are on pace for their fourth consecutive recruiting title and currently have 21 2015 commitments, including 17 ranked in the ESPN 300. The reputation of the SEC West alone is a compelling recruiting pitch to the top prospects in the country, and Alabama is at the forefront of the dominant division. LSU and Auburn have also done very well, and Mississippi and Mississippi State have made huge strides under Freeze and Mullen, respectively. -- Derek Tyson

Texas A&M joins as Manziel, Sumlin enter
Many felt Texas A&M would take it on the chin upon entering the conference in 2012. The Aggies didn't exactly light it up in their final Big 12 season (7-6), and there were a ton of question marks. Enter Johnny Manziel and Kevin Sumlin. Manziel went on to become the first freshman to win a Heisman Trophy, Sumlin leveraged the team's success to consecutive top-10 recruiting classes, and the Aggies went 20-6 in their first two SEC seasons, including an 11-2 debut in 2012 that included a win over eventual champion Alabama. Some of the struggles expected in Year 1 seem to be surfacing now, though, as the Aggies endure a three-game losing streak. -- Sam Khan Jr.

SEC morning links

October, 24, 2014
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1. Who is the best one-loss team in the country? That is the most intriguing debate in college football right now. With four teams in the top 5, it has to be somebody from the SEC, right? Well, the rest of the nation might disagree and claim SEC bias. On Thursday, ESPN Insider Brad Edwards used a metric called Game Score to rank the losses of each playoff contender. The best loss, with a score of 72, was Alabama's loss at Ole Miss. The worst (27) was Ohio State losing at home to Virginia Tech. That seems fair. What I don't agree with is putting Auburn's loss to Mississippi State among the worst losses with a score of 46. Sure, the Tigers lost by double digits, but it was on the road against the No. 1 team in the country. And they overcame a 21-0 deficit to make it a one-score game in the second half.

1a. On the same scale, Notre Dame's recent loss to Florida State was among the best losses, but it still might have cost the Fighting Irish a shot at the playoff according to Gregg Doyel. The new Indianapolis Star columnist writes that while it was a good loss, the Irish are lacking any good wins. I tend to agree. I figured SEC fans would, too. Read the full piece here.

2. So I was going to call out Texas A&M for backing out of its home-and-home series with Oregon in 2018 and 2019, but then the Aggies went and scheduled a home-and-home with Clemson those same years. Now personally, I would have loved to have seen the Aggies and the Ducks and all the points that would have ensued. But who knows where those two programs will be in four years? All I know is that there are some enticing non-conference matchups on the slate for 2019. Check these games out:
  • Texas A&M at Clemson
  • Notre Dame at Georgia
  • LSU at Texas
  • Kansas State at Mississippi State
  • Michigan at Arkansas

Even that last game could be intriguing assuming Michigan has hired a new coach and that Bret Bielema has the Razorbacks among the SEC contenders by then. And they haven't yet, but you can go ahead and count on both Alabama and Auburn scheduling a quality non-conference that year.

3. I've done a couple stories this season on SEC players showing support for cancer patients, so naturally it caught my attention when I saw a similar piece on Patrick Towles. The Kentucky quarterback has lent support to high school freshman Brady Walz, the nephew of Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz, and even invited him to attend the Wildcats' win over Vanderbilt last month. No, it's not the Iron Bowl, but the Kentucky-Louisville can get pretty heated in the Bluegrass State. This seems to be a growing trend in college football, and there are probably more stories like this that never get told. Kudos to you Mr. Towles. Kentucky hosts No. 1 Mississippi State on Saturday.

Tweet of the day

 

Texas A&M has replaced Oregon with Clemson as a high-profile home-and-home opponent for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the schools announced Thursday night.

The Aggies will host the Tigers on Sept. 8, 2018, before traveling to Death Valley on Sept. 7, 2019.

"We are excited to play the Clemson Tigers, who have been on Texas A&M's non-conference schedule previously," Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement. "As a fellow land-grant institution, Clemson is very similar to Texas A&M with a great football tradition and passionate fans. This will be a great non-conference series for both schools."

The Aggies hold the all-time series lead 3-1, with the Tigers winning the most recent meeting 25-24 in 2005.

"We are looking forward to playing Texas A&M as the two schools share a rich military heritage and of course passionate fan bases," Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. "We know our fans make Clemson a great game day experience and the Aggie fans make Kyle Field also one of the great venues in all of college football."

Clemson had already announced earlier this year that it would face Auburn in 2016 and 2017. Clemson also faces in-state rival South Carolina annually, and the ACC announced this week that the Tigers would face Notre Dame in 2020, 2022 and 2023. (The two already had been scheduled to meet in 2015 as well.)

Fox Sports reported earlier Thursday that Texas A&M had opted out of a home-and-home with Oregon that was scheduled for 2018 and 2019, with Hyman exercising a clause from the series' 2009 contract that said the Aggies could get out of the deal if they changed conferences. Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC in 2012.


(Read full post)


video

Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray, the nation's top dual-threat quarterback, recently visited Oklahoma. National recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton discusses Murray's status with the Aggies and which programs have the best chance to flip him.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M has had a rough stretch in October, going from No. 6 in the country to unranked after its most recent loss, a 59-0 whipping from Alabama.

There are countless issues to address for the Aggies (5-3, 2-3 SEC). What are some potential ways to address the issues and turn things around? Here are some suggestions and thoughts from the Aggies’ coaches.

Making a quarterback change

[+] EnlargeKyle Allen
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsWill the Aggies look for a spark from true freshman quarterback Kyle Allen in their next game on Nov. 1 against Louisiana-Monroe?
It doesn’t take an expert to see that sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill's play hasn’t been as good in the last three games as it was in the first five. The first-year starter saw his name discussed in the Heisman Trophy race after the Aggies’ 5-0 start, but in the last three weeks, Hill has thrown six interceptions and also lost a fumble. He isn’t the only one struggling – there has been poor play from the offensive line and receivers – but it’s a wonder if simply having a fresh face behind center might provide a spark. The Aggies have a highly-touted freshman as Hill’s backup: Kyle Allen, the nation’s No. 1-ranked pocket passer in the 2014 recruiting class.

Could a change happen? The coaching staff didn’t rule it out this week.

“I'm going to open every position this week,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said. “I want to find the 11 guys who want to fight and be physical and go out there and play. When it comes down to it, it's a physical sport and you've got to out there and fight. We're going to have a lot of discussions this week and see who the best 11 players are that want to go out and compete for it.”

Reshuffling the offensive line

The running game has been unable to get started in recent weeks (the Aggies had a horrid 1.5 yards-per-carry average on Oct. 11 vs. Ole Miss) and Hill hasn’t had much time to throw (he was sacked five times vs. Alabama). The lack of time in the pocket for Hill has also affected the downfield passing game. Changes could be on the horizon for the offensive line, once considered the strength of Texas A&M’s program but now simply another question mark.

"When you go into the season and that's the strength of your team and you see them getting beat, that’s obviously tough and makes it tough on your other players,” Spavital said. “They’ve got to know the truth and see it. The film is not going to lie. I think some of them see how their performance is out there. They've got to fix it or they’re going to be replaced.”

Improving tackling

Tackling has been an issue for the Aggies and it was painfully apparent against Alabama. For evidence, just see how quarterback Blake Sims evaded defender after defender en route to a 43-yard touchdown run or how easily T.J. Yeldon sliced through the middle of the Aggies’ defense.

It is the No. 1 issue on defensive coordinator Mark Snyder’s fix-it list.

“Mistakes are tackling. There's your mistakes, it's tackling people,” Snyder said. “You go out and tackle people. We've got a bye week this week, and we're going to tackle this week.”

Injecting more fresh faces on defense

The results on defense the last four weeks have been poor. The Aggies have allowed 42.5 points per game, 495.8 yards per game, 255.7 rushing yards per game, 8.89 yards per pass attempt and are tied for worst nationally in red-zone efficiency in that stretch (86.7 percent). We might see some players on the field who haven’t played as much as others, perhaps true freshmen such as linebacker Otaro Alaka, cornerback Nick Harvey or defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson, couldn’t hurt the results at this point.

“You can get beat 59-0 with anybody on the field,” Sumlin said. “So the guys who are going to play to the standard we've set, I think we got away from that and it's our job to get back to that.”

Coaching staff changes

This is something that some fans have called for in the wake of the recent losing streak and the embarrassment on Saturday. Sumlin made it clear that making a change to the coaching staff, whether it is Snyder, Spavital or anyone else, is not something he’s considering at this moment.

“There's nobody who's working harder at coaching technique, game-planning, all that kind of stuff than our guys in this building,” Sumlin said. “We've got to get the right pieces of the puzzle on the field and do a better job. Don't get it confused; that starts with me. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed. It's not one player, it's not one coach, it's not one thing, when you have a situation like what happened Saturday.”

In his seven-year head coaching career, Sumlin has never made a midseason coaching change, so don’t expect that to happen now. If he is to consider changes, the timing would more likely be after the regular season is complete.

SEC Week 9 predictions

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
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There's not much disagreement among our reporters this week. OK, there's not any disagreement among our reporters. But they don't necessarily agree on how competitive those games will be. And as everyone knows, the weeks that look boring are always anything but. Let's get on with the picks:



Why Mississippi State wins big: Kentucky’s defense has already surrendered 282 rushing yards to South Carolina and 303 to LSU last week. That doesn’t bode well for Saturday’s game, when Mississippi State will bring the SEC’s top offense (and No. 2 rushing offense at 264.3 yards per game) to Lexington. The Wildcats are improving, but they don’t have the firepower to hang around in this one. Mississippi State 42, Kentucky 17 -- David Ching

Why Kentucky keeps it close: Mississippi State should be rested after having last week off, while Kentucky is still smarting from its 41-3 loss at LSU. The Bulldogs should roll, but it won't be easy. The Wildcats have been a different team at home and have the firepower at defensive end to keep Dak Prescott on his toes. Mark Stoops has instilled the right kind of pride in his team, which means the Wildcats will bounce back and make this a second-half game. Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 27 -- Chris Low



Why Ole Miss wins big: Anthony Jennings has struggled enough throwing the football for LSU, and he'll find it even more difficult against Ole Miss' vaunted secondary. If Jennings turns the ball over and makes Cam Cameron's game plan too one-dimensional, the Rebels will feast. Ole Miss 31, LSU 17 -- Alex Scarborough

Why LSU keeps it close: Ever since getting blown out by Auburn, the Tigers have steadily improved. From barely surviving a trip to Florida to handling upstart Kentucky, LSU's offense and defense have gotten better. Ole Miss' defense presents a supreme challenge, but with senior Terrence Magee and true freshman Leonard Fournette, LSU has the backs to establish a running game and battle the Rebels to the end. Ole Miss 23, LSU 20 -- Jeff Barlis



Why Alabama wins big: This game screams blowout. Alabama’s defense is on fire and the offense just exploded, hanging nearly 60 on Texas A&M. Tennessee hasn’t hit 400 yards since the end of September. Hey, Lane Kiffin is back in Knoxville, so I can only imagine what he has cooked up for Tennessee’s defense -- and those Vols fans. I bet there are more anti-Kiffin signs than Tennessee points in Knoxville on Saturday. Alabama 41, Tennessee 10 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Tennessee keeps it close: Lane Kiffin would love nothing more than to put up a big number on his former team, but this Alabama offense has struggled on the road this season. In their two road games, the Tide have failed to break 20 points. They might reach that number Saturday, but it won’t be easy against a Vols defense that looked inspired in the first half last week. Alabama 24, Tennessee 14 -- Greg Ostendorf

More unanimous picks:

Auburn over South Carolina: Auburn is 12-0 at home under Gus Malzahn and won those by an average of more than 23 points per game. Interesting side note: South Carolina hasn't beaten Auburn since 1933 (though the teams didn't play each other again until 1996); Auburn is 7-0 since then. Auburn 42, South Carolina 21 -- Sam Khan Jr.

Arkansas over UAB: UAB can move the ball (had 548 yards against Mississippi State and kept it close at the half), but slowing down the Razorbacks' elite rushing attack is a tall task. Arkansas 45, UAB 20 -- Sam Khan Jr.

Missouri over Vanderbilt: Mizzou has actually been better on the road than at home, but Vanderbilt has yet to win away from home or an SEC game, period. The Tigers' defense and special teams are coming off great performances at Florida. The offense will join in on the fun Saturday. Missouri 41, Vanderbilt 10 -- Sam Khan Jr.

Standings:
Edward Aschoff: 59-10
Greg Ostendorf: 59-10
Jeff Barlis: 58-11
Chris Low: 58-11
David Ching: 57-12
Alex Scarborough: 56-13
Sam Khan Jr.: 52-17

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SEC SCOREBOARD

Monday, 12/22
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