Texas A&M locked up head football coach Kevin Sumlin with a six-year contract extension. Now Sumlin needs to demote offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney.
Sumlin has had prolific offenses everywhere he has been a coach. When injuries forced Sumlin to start third-string quarterback David Piland at Houston in 2010, the Cougars offense still averaged 462.5 yards per game. Piland was a true freshman and averaged 330 yards passing per game.
When Sumlin had a healthy Case Keenum under center in 2011, the Cougars had the No. 1 offense in the country averaging 599 yards per game. In Sumlin’s first season at Texas A&M, the Aggies led the SEC in total offense with 558.5 yards per game. They led the SEC in rushing offense with an average of 242.1 yards per game.
The offensive coordinator on the 2012 was Kliff Kingbury. He took the head coaching job at Texas Tech following the 2012 season, and Texas A&M running back coach Clarence McKinney was promoted to offensive coordinator. Under McKinney, the Aggies again led the SEC in total offense averaging 538.2 yards per game. The rushing yardage dropped to only 187.3 yards per game.
The season averages do not tell the whole story, however. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is such a dominant playmaker that he can cover up for weaknesses in other areas. When Manziel was limited by a broken thumb, sore shoulder and an injured knee at the end of the year, the offense struggled. Manziel’s injuries made him a mere mortal the last two games of the season. In those contests against LSU and Missouri, the offense averaged 15.5 points and 339 total yards per game.
McKinney was unable to scheme around Manziel’s injuries. With a starting quarterback who had a broken thumb, McKinney had the Aggies pass the ball 41 times and run the ball only 18 times. The Aggie running backs only had six carries against LSU.
McKinney’s inability to change the game plan against LSU to de-emphasize Manziel, called into question his ability as a play-caller. If you cannot find a way to get the ball into your playmakers hands without Manziel being a magician, then you do not need to be calling plays in FBS football.
Against Missouri, the Aggie running backs had 24 carries. The Aggies averaged 5.3 yards per carry against Missouri but abandoned the run when it mattered most. After the Aggie running backs accounted for 54 rushing yards in a 98 yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, McKinney only called two hand-offs during the next three series in a 28-21 loss.
In 2012 with Kingsbury calling the plays, the Aggie running backs carried the ball 322 times. In 2013, with McKinney in charge of the running backs, the Aggie running attack had 293 rushing attempts. It is ironic that when given the opportunity, McKinney chose not to put the ball into the hands of the players that he coaches every day in practice.
McKinney’s play-calling has been too predictable and ineffective in 2013. He needs to be demoted, and Sumlin needs to find a better option for offensive coordinator in 2014. The Aggies are not always going to have the best offensive player in college football taking snaps for them. They need to make a change so their offense will continue their prolific ways for years to come.
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