If there was a team that needed some positive momentum heading into 2016, it was Texas A&M. Unfortunately, the Aggies will only enter the new year with more questions after losing, 27-21, to Louisville in the Music City Bowl.
Texas A&M hung around with quarterback Jake Hubenak making his first career start, but Louisville’s dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson proved to be too much for the Aggies.
The final report card is in and it was much of the same for the embattled Aggies.
Hubenak was forced into action after quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray transferred earlier in the month. Considering the circumstances, Hubenak did fine. He completed 28-of-48 passes for 307 yards, threw two touchdown passes and committed two turnovers. Hubenak gave the Aggies a chance at the end, but the drive was ended by a turnover on downs.
Texas A&M’s running game didn’t help Hubenak much. The Aggies ran 39 times for 138 yards, which comes out to a menial 3.5 yards per carry.
Hubenak also dialed into two receivers for most of the night. Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds combined for 21 receptions, 271 yards and a touchdown on Wednesday night.
Don’t let the scoreboard fool you, the Aggies were gouged all night by the Cardinals. Louisville racked up 534 yards in Nashville, Tenn. and let Louisville run for 307 yards alone.
Jackson did it all for the Cardinals. He completed 12-of-26 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 22 times for 226 yards and another two scores. That’s right, one player accounted for 85 percent of Louisville’s total yardage.
The Aggies could not catch Jackson along the perimeter and Louisville capitalized by constantly utilizing the zone-read option run.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Punter Drew Kaser had a busy night with seven punts on the evening. Kaser did a good job of flipping field position and averaged 43.8 yards per punt. Taylor Bertolet’s missed 39-yard field goal ultimately changed the game, as Texas A&M could’ve tied the game up with a field goal on the final drive. Instead, the Aggies were forced to go for a touchdown and came up short.
Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital had a hard time getting the running game going on a consistent basis for his inexperienced quarterback. The Aggies could not give Hubenak much help and put him in numerous difficult situations. Defensively, the Aggies could not contain Louisville’s speed and weren’t really put in a great position to do so by defensive coordinator John Chavis.
All bowl games are must wins, but this game felt extra important to Texas A&M given the turmoil the program has gone through over the past few weeks leading up to the Music City Bowl. It will be an intriguing offseason in College Station, Texas.