10 Things for Tuesday, sponsored by Ekdahl Nelson Real Estate
1. Elko will likely wipe out the offensive staff, save maybe one
This is not exactly a surprise and should have even been anticipated. New coach Mike Elko has not worked with any of the offensive staff, save tight ends coach James Coley, who may be the only one to stay. Offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, offensive line coach Steve Addazio and wide receiver coach Dameyune Craig have all been informed they won't be back. And why should they? Petrino did a good job given the circumstances he had to deal with, but you can't say that about the other two. They're also not going to be familiar with what Elko likely wants to implement.
2. Craig's tenure a prolonged disappointment
Dameyune Craig spent five of his six seasons at A&M as the wide receivers coach. And the track record of his players is subpar, to be generous. Part of that could have been the offensive scheme, but when you go through two classes worth of players and have nobody drafted, it's more than scheme.
No Aggie receiver reached 1,000 yards during Craig's time at A&M. No receiver reached 900 yards. The leading receiver during Craig and Jimbo Fisher's tenure was Jhamon Ausbon, who had 872 yards in 2019. The only other one to break 800 yards -- though Ainias Smith likely will in the bowl game -- was Jace Sternberger, a tight end.
The Aggies also had some massive busts at receiver. Demond Demas couldn't figure things out, then got himself kicked off the team. Chris Marshall was a letdown from the moment he walked on campus. Yulkeith Brown got escorted to the door. Jalen Preston never lived up to his billing. Chase Lane didn't do much before he transferred.
This year, the Aggies should have had a strong receiver corps with Evan Stewart, Moose Muhammad, Smith and Noah Thomas. AInias has 795 yards receiving; Stewart has the second-most, 250 yards behind him. Muhammad has basically been wasted all year. The longest reception of the year is 51 yards -- by tight end Max Wright.
The receivers ran sloppy routes -- sometimes the wrong ones -- and dropped too many passes. They didn't work for extra yards needed to get first downs. They were undisciplined. A lot of that goes directly on their position coach.
3. Addazio's time a total disaster
Let's not beat around the bush here: Steve Addazio took some serious talent, a good portion of which had been tested, and ran it into the ground. Because Jimbo Fisher couldn't admit he made a terrible hire, he turned around and did it again.
Addazio is one of the two worst position coaches I have seen during my time covering Aggie football. He may be the worst, but Dave Christensen gives him a bigtime run for his money.
But Christensen's linemen didn't get four starting quarterbacks knocked out, including three for the season, during his time at A&M. Over the past two years, Aggie quarterbacks have been hit 76 times, more than any other team in the FBS. And that's with two freshman All-SEC players, a freshman All-American and a 2021 second-team All-SEC selection on his front line.
All of them got worse. It's not even debatable.
In 2021, with terrible quarterback play, A&M still averaged 5.3 yards a carry. Last year, it fell to 4.6. This year, it dropped to 3.9.
There was a clear disconnect between Addazio and his players. They didn't play as a cohesive group. They didn't play with any joy. Frankly, it looked like they didn't like him and he didn't like them.
Maybe that's an overstatement. Maybe it's not. But the results, with 4-stars and 5-stars, some of whom had been previously successful, were utter garbage.
Kevin Sumlin did few things I agreed with, especially during the second half of his tenure. But he had the good sense to fire Christensen after a season. Addazio got two, and he had no business doing so. His group was inexcusably bad, and some very good quarterbacks and running backs suffered as a result.
Addazio, like Craig, is gone immediately. You can't say that it wasn't deserved.
4. What about the defense?
I could see a few more guys being kept here. Obviously, Elijah Robinson could stay. Elko could bring back Tyler Santucci, but I don't think it would be as the defensive coordinator. That will probably be E-Rod's job. Tony Jerod-Eddie worked with Elko and has quickly earned the players' respect; TJ Rushing was here under Elko as well. For its flaws at corner, the Aggie defense is still a top-10 group and that may merit more coaches staying.
5. More sympathy for Petrino
Bobby Petrino did the best he could with a tough hand dealt to him. I'm not even got sure he got to hold the hand. He got to call plays, all right -- in a scheme that wasn't his and in a gameplan that Jimbo still messed with.
All the same, the productivity of the offense skyrocketed this season compared to last. Even with the inability to protect the quarterback, A&M averaged 34.2 points per game this season -- 3 points more than their offensive high total in 2022.
The offense averaged 11.4 points per game more year-over-year. The passing game improved by more than 500 yards, while the running game only had a difference of 4 yards from 2022 to 2023. With a third string quarterback, they outgained LSU and put up 30 points in Baton Rouge.
Petrino did a good job. I think he enjoyed his role as a coordinator and Aggies should appreciate his work. They may not appreciate it this fall when he's back at Arkansas, but he did well here.
6. Lack of portal activity surprising
With A&M bringing in a new coach and the obvious wipeout of assistants coming, it would seem like the perfect time for a lot of Aggies to jump in the portal. And yet, only two have. Raymond Cottrell's move was a surprise and a disappointment; Max Johnson's move made perfect sense and was clearly a business decision. Evan Stewart, who I expected to jump in, hasn't moved yet (and there's a chance he won't with the change of receivers coach).
The players, as well as the recruits, seem willing to give A&M a chance to get their staff together before making a decision. That bodes well for them.
7. Elko can get a big name OC if he wants one
With an $11 million salary pool to work with, Mike Elko should be able to afford just about any assistant out there. It seems to be reasonable to think that, if he wants an explosive offense, he's going to go after someone who has proven they can put one on the field. He certainly will have the financial wherewithal to do it.
8. Big mission already accomplished
I've heard that Elko has already met with QB Conner Weigman 1-on-1 and Weigman is on board with the new regime. That, clearly, is huge. If the Aggies can improve their offensive line play next year, they're already dangerous. Keeping Weigman and Jaylen Henderson to go with Marcel Reed, Anthony Maddox Jr. and Miles O'Neill gives A&M deep depth at quarterback -- for a change.
9. Areas where A&M should go portal shopping
2. Cornerback. Not amused? Fine. Safety.
3. Offensive tackle
4. Wide receiver, depending on how the class ends
5. Running back
10. Status of Boots, Coleman uncertain
Henry Coleman III and Boots Radford both missed Sunday's win over Iowa State with injuries. A&M plays at Virginia tomorrow night, but we don't know if they'll play or not. Buzz WIlliams has implemented a no-discussion of injuries rule, so it's anyone's guess. I am personally skeptical that they'll play, but would love to be wrong. A&M putting the hammer down at UVa would be huge for their tournament resume.