After a strong start to the 2015 season, the Texas A&M Aggies have faltered, losing back-to-back games in SEC play in part because of the poor play of their offense. Their struggles prompted head coach Kevin Sumlin to re-open the quarterback competition this week, leading to true freshman Kyler Murray being named the starter headed in to the Aggies’ matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks this weekend. Will a change under center help A&M get back on track?
Murray came to College Station with a great deal of hype after an illustrious prep career where he went 42-0 at Allen (Texas) High. He was named the 2014 Gatorade High School Football Player of the Year and threw for 4,713 yards and 54 touchdowns while rushing for 1,485 yards and 25 touchdowns during his senior season. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound playmaker was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback recruit in the 2015 class and has generated nothing but excitement since arriving on campus.
In limited action this season, Murray has flashed some of the ability that made him such a highly coveted recruit last year. Over five games, the freshman has completed 54.8 percent of his passes (17-for-31) with a touchdown and two interceptions while rushing for 92 yards on 18 carries. Now we will see what he can do as the full-time starter as the Aggies look to their third starting quarterback since the start of the 2014 season. The quarterback Murray is supplanting, Kyle Allen, did the same thing the Kenny Hill after eight games last year.
Over the final five games of the 2014 season after he became the starter, Allen showed a strong grasp of the Aggie offense, throwing for 1,058 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. That production helped him secure the starting job for the first seven games of this season, which started out very strong before sliding in recent weeks. In A&M’s first five games (all wins), Allen threw for 1,274 yards with 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions as he threw for at least two scores every game. But over the last two games in losses to the Alabama Crimson Tide and Ole Miss Rebels, Allen has struggled, throwing for just 351 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions.
His struggles got put on full display last week against Ole Miss when Allen completed just 35.3 percent of his throws (12-for-34) for 88 yards with an interception as the Aggies lost 23-3. That listless performance opened up the QB job this week in practice where the talent of Kyler Murray separated him from the pack.
As Murray prepares to make his first collegiate start, will he be able to bring the same playmaking ability that made him a prep star to the Aggies offense and provide a much-needed spark for A&M in conference play?