Since I have always considered this football team an extension of the student body here at Texas A&M, I want to give you a mid-season update of your team.
Whether you are a football fan or not, the reality is that Aggie Football has been a big part of Texas A&M history and tradition for a long time. A lot of you came to Aggieland not only because of great professors and academics, but also because of the people and traditions that exist here -- traditions that are so unique to Texas A&M. It goes without saying that football has been part of that history and responsible for many of its traditions.
With that said, I want you to know I feel a huge responsibility to you, the students, to make sure you can take great interest, pride, and ownership of this football team. I do not take that responsibility lightly. You deserve a team that represents you and this University with class, character, and a competitive spirit. I fully understand many of you are disappointed with the way things have gone so far this season, as you should be.
To say I am disappointed with this season would be an understatement, but I want you to know I am far from discouraged.
On the contrary, I must say I am extremely encouraged by the evolving culture, attitude, and accountability of our team. No one is making excuses for our lack of success to this point, and no one is pointing fingers blaming others. We got ourselves into this and only we can get us out.
It is because of total accountability both on and off the field that I believe this team is heading in the right direction, despite its disappointments. It isn't until you become totally honest with yourself and those around you that you can begin to fix what needs to be fixed and then begin to take steps forward. That is where we are as a team and that is a positive.
I have told our team time and time again, even as we have endured much adversity this season, that there is something special out there for us. I have told them that the adversity we are facing as a team and how we handle it internally will not only define us now but for years to come.
I am very confident we will be successful in the future. My confidence comes from the people, the process and the plan we have in place. I have always believed as a coach that you must win now. We have never entered a game this year that I did not fully expect to win, nor will I in the future. We will never make excuses for what we fail to do. With that said, everything we do is not only to win football games this year, but in the coming years. We are in this for the long term. When I came here, I felt Texas A&M could be a top 10 team every year and I still believe that. We have too much to offer recruits, and I do not see why we can't attract the top talent in the State of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma every year as well as national recruits who have an interest in this great University. There are just too many good things in Aggieland to offer recruits for us not to be successful. Our only negative is that we have not won consistently in football in recent years, but I am confident that we will be steady winners again. Look at all our other sports and the championships they have won. Their success excites me and challenges me at the same time.
As I break down our current football team offensively, I believe we are making progress with our passing game. We need to strive for more balance and run the ball more effectively. We have some good young quarterbacks, who will be with us for quite some time, which is a plus. Our offensive line has battled injuries all year. We are hopeful if we can get them healthy again this season, we will continue to progress.
Defensively, we are playing with five true freshmen on defense, including three as starters. Our defense is working toward being more efficient. We want a return to the "Wrecking Crew" days, but that hasn't happened just yet as our players adjust to a new scheme. There have been times we have clicked as a unit and other times when we have struggled. With a new scheme and coaches, it has been a work in progress. With Joe Kines as our defensive coordinator, as well as our defensive staff as a group, I am confident we will get there.
Special Teams is an area which we need to shape up. We have had critical breakdowns in our punt game that resulted in touchdowns the last two games. We must improve there. We need more players to step up and contribute. On a positive note, freshman placekicker Randy Bullock stepped in last week and did some good things. He did miss an extra point, but he kicked well overall. Senior Justin Brantly continues to punt the heck out of the ball. He ranks among the nation's best in punting. He has a chance to do well in the NFL when he leaves Texas A&M.
We can also do better as coaches. For some reason, we have had too many players on the field on defense three times. Part of that is the coaching staff is making sure the players understand the situation and the defense we're using (nickel/base/etc.). Offensively, we have burned too many timeouts, which really bothers me. Most of that is due to communication errors or delays to our quarterback. We have improved that. One coaching move I made that really bothers me was my decision to go for it twice from the two-yard line last week. We should have scored and that was my fault. I should have changed the personnel group on fourth down since we didn't get it in on third down, and either run it in or thrown it. I think if I had put the ball in Jerrod Johnson's hands, he would have gotten us in the end zone. I should have given him that chance.
As far as this week is concerned, I reminded the football team that they did not come to Texas A&M to just play football games; they came to win championships. With five years (including this one) of mediocrity, it is time to do something special. Along these lines, I could use your help. I would ask that when you see one of our players walking across campus this week, or for that matter the remainder of the season and future seasons as well, I encourage you to wish them good luck on the upcoming game and that you expect the Aggies to win. I want them to always feel from you what you expect out of them. They need to hear that. They need to feel a responsibility to represent you with class, character, and the competitive spirit that all Aggies possess.
It goes without saying that beating the Texas Tech Red Raiders this weekend would make Aggieland a fun place to be on Saturday afternoon and for many of you well into the evening and even into the early Sunday morning hours.
I will tell you we have had some of best practices of the year this week. Our players know what is at stake. I am confident Texas Tech will face the very best we have to offer, as I am sure we will see their best. Our players are going to give you and Tech all they have. I always tell them "play to win".
In talking to many of you before the season, I know you all had such high hopes for us and we have not met your expectations thus far. But I appeal to the 12th Man to not give up hope. Aggies do not quit so please do not quit on us. Please hang in there with us. We need you - we need the 12th Man - to be in full force for this game and every game we play.
Thanks for listening to me. I just thought you needed a little insight into your football team. I am sorry we haven't done better for you, but I am fully confident we will.
Gig `em and let's Beat the Hell outta Texas Tech!!