Kyler Murray did little to impress in his three-touchdown, two-interception soiree against Western Carolina last Saturday. That led Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin to open the Aggies’ quarterback competition Tuesday.
Murray completed 56.4 percent of his passes and threw for only 191 yards on 39 attempts. That was a week after he threw three picks against Auburn on 56.5 percent passing and two weeks removed from a win over South Carolina where the freshman completed more than 71 percent of his passes.
To call Murray’s recent performances up and down is a huge understatement.
“Some have had good moments and some have had some not so good moments,” Sumlin said in a conversation about his quarterbacks. “We’re looking for consistency out of the position, and that’s what this week of practice will be about. We’ll name a starter as we get closer to game time.”
Consistency? Sure, that’s probably the goal of every coach. But what is Sumlin, and the rest of his coaching staff, really getting at by reopening the battle for starting quarterback?
“It’s something that we’ve put an emphasis on, our turnover margin,” Sumlin said. “We’re minus-3 for the year. … There’s no secret, with the exception of Saturday, the games that we’ve won we’ve been in the plus category in turnover ratio. The games that we’ve lost, we’ve been on the bottom end of that. That has a lot to do with people who touch the ball.”
Sumlin wants his quarterbacks to stop turning the ball over.
Murray has seven interceptions compared to five touchdown passes on 121 passing attempts this season. Five of those interceptions have come over his most recent two games.
Kyle Allen has 15 touchdown passes to only six picks in 2015, but four of those picks came in games versus Alabama and then Ole Miss. He went 6-for-6 in a backup role versus Western Carolina after missing two games, but that sample size isn’t large.
Texas A&M’s offense is ranked fourth in the SEC, and Sumlin admitted that his team doesn’t have a problem moving the ball. But the Aggies are ranked 11th in turnover margin and have fallen into the cellar (minus-5) in November.
For normalcy to return to Texas A&M — and that means the same starter at quarterback from week to week — forget about touchdowns and moving the chains. That’s not the issue. The first guy to limit turnovers while driving this offense will be the guy listed first on the depth chart.