At some point it’s time to blame Jimbo Fisher.
That time is now.
The quarterback guru with a national championship on his resume sure doesn’t look the part after Texas A&M suffered its second consecutive embarrassing loss. The No. 15 Aggies were beaten at Kyle Field 26-22 by a pedestrian Mississippi State squad Saturday night.
Actually, it’s Fisher’s team that looks ordinary right now.
Texas A&M started the season ranked fifth in the land, with designs on competing for a SEC title and playoff berth. Now the Aggies are 3-2 and 0-2 in conference, and deserve to fall out of the top 25.
Much has been said and written about a rebuilt offensive line and a backup quarterback taking the reins. Those facts remain true, but it doesn’t account for lackluster play calling, an uninspired group and the failure to creatively scheme.
Fisher alluded after the 20-10 loss to Arkansas that he needed to coach better.
“I’m disappointed in the outcome,” Fisher said Saturday night. “We’ve got to play better. In those games where every possession matters, every play matters, every situation matters, and we’ve got to play better, execute better, and we’ve got to coach better and find ways to help them just find their plays.”
That’s where Fisher is supposed to come in and make a difference. A $9 million-a-year coach ought to count for something.
Zach Calzada now has three starts under his belt. He’s also been on campus going on three years. He’s not some newbie being thrown to the wolves without an idea of what to do and how to do it.
Yet, Calzada has failed to progress, especially in his last two outings. He was ineffective against Arkansas and even worse at home against the Bulldogs. (By the way, that Arkansas loss looks even worse now after the Hogs were demolished by Georgia.)
Calzada missed open receivers in a game that somehow the Aggies could have pulled out. His overthrow of Ainias Smith late in the fourth quarter would have given A&M the lead. Instead, the Aggies settled for a field goal to get within 24-22, forcing the defense to get another stop.
That happened, but the Aggies imploded on the ensuing drive. Staring on their own 11-yard line with 2 1/2 minutes, a run was called to Isaiah Spiller on first down. The play lost a yard and immediately put A&M behind the chains.
Calzada badly missed Smith in coverage on second down before being sacked in the end zone for a game-clinching safety on the following play.
With the game on the line, Fisher dialed up the same unimaginative sequence of plays that didn’t work for much of the evening. To make matters worse, this wasn’t the Georgia or Alabama defense.
It was Mississippi State. Mike Leach doesn’t always know the names of his defensive players.
Fisher’s offense – and, yes, it’s his – can’t seem to find any rhythm. Calzada passed for just 135 yards, averaging a paltry 6.8 yards per throw. His best play didn’t even come through the air; it a was a 25-yard touchdown scramble in the third quarter.
The Aggies didn’t even reach 300 yards in offense. Spiller ran for 100 yards on 16 carries and Devon Achane added another 69, but it mattered little. Fisher’s offense, which thrived last season in controlling the tempo, had the ball for less than 25 minutes against MSU.
The defense did fail to make timely stops, but A&M had its chances with the ball. Settling for field goals and being ineffective on third down (4-11) doomed the Aggies once again.
Don't solely pin the struggles on the o-line and quarterback. Fisher still has Spiller and Smith and Achane and Jaden Wydermyer at his disposal. Coach them up, Coach.
“We’ve got to help them,” Fisher said. “They’ve got to play better.”
That’s your job.