We don’t get to interact too often with our friends from Good Bull Hunting because of when this game has been falling on the calendar the past couple of years. What with our real life obligations around Thanksgiving sometimes its tricky for me to reach out to them or them reach out to me, but this year I made it a point to catch GBH early enough in the week to not interfere with the holiday. So this Thanksgiving make room for our pal Robert from Good Bull Hunting and offer him up a plate.
1. Is there one specific thing you can point to as the ultimate undoing of Jimbo Fisher? And how will his tenure be remembered?
If I’m picking one thing that cost Jimbo Fisher, it’s been the inability to develop a functional offensive line. It’s been the team’s weakness each of the past three seasons, is the primary reason the A&M QB position has been a revolving door of injuries and has hamstrung much of what they have tried to do offensively. It’s not unreasonable to think that with a good offensive line, this A&M team could be 10-1 right now (winning one score games against Alabama, Tennessee and Ole Miss).
Regarding how the tenure will be remembered, I think it will be looked back on as wasted potential. Fisher came to A&M and recruited on the level of Alabama, Georgia, LSU, etc. That was supposed to be the hard part of turning this program around, and he did it. To then turnaround and grossly mismanage that talent and underachieve drastically will always be a point of frustration as we look back on his tenure. The only silver lining is that hopefully that talent that Jimbo amassed can fasttrack the next coach’s path to success.
2. Where does Texas A&M look next for its head coach? Do they try to make another splash hire?
A&M AD Ross Bjork is already on record that A&M will hire a “sitting head coach,” so no coordinators or currently unemployed retreads. He’s also said that the contract this time around will be much more incentive-based. Given that, I think it will limit the Aggies’ ability to make the really big splash hire, because they aren’t looking to moneywhip someone into saying yes this time around. While I have no inside information, the popular named bandied around have been UTSA’s Jeff Traylor, Arizona’s Jedd Fisch, Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith, Washington’s Kalen DeBoer, Kansas’ Lance Leipold and Duke’s Mike Elko.
3. Okay one last question about Texas A&M the program: how good of a job is this? Can this program really reach the heights it aspires to?
Obviously A&M has never consistently won at the levels it aspires to. But there’s a difference in “has not” and “cannot.” If you asked an elite college football coach what he needs from a program to win at the highest level, there’s nothing he’d ask for that A&M doesn’t provide in abundance (assistant coach pool, NIL, facilities, fan support, conference affiliation, recruiting geography, etc.). I totally get why other fanbases don’t view A&M as a top program, because we haven’t been. But the ingredients are all there, and I think there truly are only a handful of other jobs in college football that can say that.
4. Now for the on the field questions. The Aggies come into Saturday on a two-game winning streak. They scored 51 in what wound up being Jimbo’s last game, and 38 in Elijah Robinson’s first game as interim. Has A&M found something offensively?
The offensive line continues to limit what this offense is capable of, especially in pass protection. The 51 points against Mississippi State was a bit of fool’s gold, as it was aided by a defensive touchdown and three other turnovers (two INTs and a fourth down stop) that gave the Aggies the ball deep in MSU territory. The optimist in me hopes that maybe Bobby Petrino has a few new wrinkles up his sleeve in his first post-Jimbo SEC game, but as an Aggie, it’s difficult to muster a ton of optimism at this point.
5. Texas A&M is probably the best defense LSU has faced all season but nobody’s been able to figure out Jayden Daniels. How confident are you that A&M can crack the code that is this high-powered LSU offense?
The A&M defense is a bit of a conundrum. The front seven might just be the best in the country, with a star-studded defensive line backed up by LBs Edgerrin Cooper and Taurean York. But the Aggie secondary has been exploited several other times this season by the likes of Miami, Alabama and Ole Miss. The LSU offense will be an even tougher test than any of those. I do think the A&M will wreak havoc in the backfield, make some drive-killing plays and potentially even force a couple of turnovers, but I also think Daniels will find ways to beat them through the air to find his fair share of points.
6. I think it’s fair to say LSU overlooked A&M going into last season’s game and their reward was a pretty humiliating defeat. If Texas A&M is to make it two upsets in a row over LSU, what does that path look like?
The A&M offense needs to have a pulse and sustain drives, and the defense needs to force some turnovers to tilt the field in the Aggies’ advantage. We are also clinging to the hope that this game being played at 11 a.m. rather than at night will prove to be a meaningful difference, as Death Valley has been a house of horrors for the Aggies since joining the SEC.
7. And finally: it is Thanksgiving after all so tell me what are we eating over at your house?
We stick to pretty traditional fare, nothing groundbreaking. But I’ll give my favorite dish from each course:
Appetizer: sausage balls
Main course: smoked turkey
Side dish: hashbrown casserole/green bean casserole (tie)
Dessert: pumpkin pie