I don't run in Texas A&M fan circles, so I'll admit that it surprised me to see how much hand wringing is going on in regards to the Aggies' offense. Good Bull Hunting has not one but two posts since Saturday's win over Arkansas that debate just how good that unit is.
Then while listening to Fox Sports' The Audible podcast with Stewart Mandel and Bruce Feldman, they took a question from a listener who was concerned that in both the Arizona State and Arkansas games, the Aggies went into the fourth quarter with only 13 points. You can hear how Stew and Bruce handled the question right here.
Since it sounds like this is becoming a meme in some circles, let me take this one: the Aggie offense is mostly just fine. Plenty of other teams in the conference and around the country would love to swap their offenses for Texas A&M's.
Let's talk about the Arizona State and Arkansas games, as they were nothing alike. ASU-A&M was a grand display of inefficiency. At the time, I said it was "like watching two sports car drivers floor it with the parking brake engaged" because both offenses went really fast without going anywhere. It was the first game of the season, so some jitters and inefficiency was to be expected. Few teams ever look their best when playing a non-cupcake in Week 1. Plus Arizona State's defensive strategy is to blitz constantly whether it's recommended to or not, so the nonstop onslaught was a factor as well.
Against Arizona State, 13 points in the first three quarters was a sign of inefficiency. A&M had 13 drives that began before the fourth quarter began in that game. They resulted in three scores, two turnovers, a turnover on downs, and six punts, with the first half clock expiring on them too.
As I covered yesterday, against Arkansas, 13 points before the fourth quarter was a sign that the Aggie defense couldn't get off the field. TAMU had only five drives before the final quarter in that one, and they scored on three of them with two punts. Getting points on 60% of your drives is not a sign of a problem. Not being able to prevent Arkansas from just sitting on the ball for long stretches was the issue there.
That's not to say that the Aggie offense is perfect. The offensive line is down a bit after having lost a first rounder in each of the last three NFL drafts plus a fifth round pick this year. I only say this slightly facetiously: the unit is a little down because it has run out of Mike Sherman recruits. The guy couldn't hold a lead, but he somehow was a savant at evaluating high school O-linemen and developing them in school.
They also don't have a lot of options at running back. Tra Carson is an OK option for carrying the ball, but he's never really wowed me in any of the big games I've seen him in. The only other running back who touched the ball in the ASU and Arkansas games was James White, and he had two carries before going down to injury against the Sun Devils. Kevin Sumlin and Jake Spavital aren't turning to Kyler Murray at times out of a lack of faith in Kyle Allen; they're using him because of a lack of depth for running the ball. A&M's recruiting has been good to the point that the depth issues at running back will probably be gone next year, but they've got who they've got this year.
In any event, the Texas A&M offense is still more than fine. Allen is not having a sophomore slump as the signal caller, and Christian Kirk is one of the most electric players in the country. Plus Josh Reynolds has picked up where he left off last year and is averaging a mere 22 yards per catch, and Murray does supplement the big Carson with speed and elusiveness.
It's not uncommon for teams to be caught with depth or other roster issues in the third or fourth year under a coach thanks to the typically underachieving transitional recruiting class and attrition. Usually those issues happen in the same year. For A&M, it appears the defense went through it last year while the offense is going through a bit of it this year. And through it all, they still have a top-15 offense right now.
Long story short: don't conflate the offense's scoring amount against Arizona State, which was a sign of some legitimate struggle, and its scoring rate against Arkansas, which was a result of just not possessing the ball much. The run game could be better, but you don't hire Kevin Sumlin if you want to rush for 250 yards a game. Despite the Week 1 inefficiency, A&M's offense is probably just fine.