In many ways the Texas A&M Aggies 2015 season was very similar to their 2014 campaign. They started strongly with a statement win on the opening day of the season, breezed through some non-conference games and beat Arkansas at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Then the games got tougher when SEC competition started and they suffered disappointing losses against the likes of Alabama and Ole Miss which lead to a change at quarterback. A couple of wins provided late season hope before a demoralizing loss against LSU closed out the season.
The above description could apply to either of the last two seasons. The main difference this year was that instead of playing the SEC East champion, Missouri, like last year, they got to play Vanderbilt instead so the Aggies managed eight regular season wins rather than seven. But once again we are left to rue what was a very positive start to the season before being broken by Alabama and struggling to recover against quality opposition.
Starting with the positives, the defense was much improved in 2015. The personnel for the most part had an extra year of experience in playing at this level but it’s clear that John Chavis is behind a lot of the improvements. For the first time in years the defense was able to adjust mid-game to what the opponent was doing on offense, even against Alabama they recovered from Derrick Henry running all over them in the first quarter to keep him relatively quiet for the final three quarters. The defense held Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State offense to just 17 points and they kept the Aggies in games against Ole Miss and LSU on the road while the offense went into complete meltdown mode with turnovers and quick three and outs.
It’s clear that the likes of Myles Garratt and Daeshon Hall are legitimate top tier defensive ends and Daylon Mack has shown flashes of his potential as a disruptive defensive tackle. Elsewhere there have been stellar seasons by players like Armani Watts who have improved each and every week. This defense still has a way to go to be a truly formidable unit but it’s clear they are moving in the right direction now under Chavis.
Unfortunately it is the offense that had problems this year which is so rare to say about an Air Raid style team coached by Kevin Sumlin. In the running game the Aggies struggled to find consistency but Tra Carson managed to battle his way to 1,000 yards. It was clear that the Aggies lacked a speed back for a change of pace, especially to catch the ball out of the backfield. James White was the only other option but he struggled to stay healthy all year.
The passing game which is what this offense so heavily relies on was subpar when it really mattered. The receivers couldn’t create separation against the elite defenses of Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss and Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray struggled to be consistently accurate. The offensive scheme was often criticized as it failed to find the gaps in opposing defenses and create open space for the receivers. Players like Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds were often reliant on their own speed and elusiveness to beat coverage, while Ricky Seals Jones had to use brute strength.
The pressure to fire offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has grown over the year and many fans can’t believe he hasn’t been fired yet. There are reports that he will be replaced but nothing official has come out yet despite the Aggies playing their final game well over a week ago. It is possible they may let him coach the bowl game before making a decision.
After the increased expectations from fans after the impressive victories over Arizona State and Mississippi State, it’s a shame that the season fizzled out to an 8-4 finish. But this is a team loaded with talent going into 2016 season.