Texas A&M interim head coach Jeff Banks, left, reacts to an apparent touchdown against Wake Forest during the second half of the Belk Bowl NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. The player was ruled down before the goal line. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Texas A&M probably beats Wake Forest if strong free safety Armani Watts plays – and is fully healthy. Watts would have made double-digit tackles in that track meet and been disruptive.

A&M certainly wins if Watts and free safety Derrick Tucker play the entire game. Tucker missed the first half because of a targeting call in the second half in the regular-season finale against LSU, and he still led the team with 12 tackles in 30 minutes.

A&M lost at least 20 tackles with those two missing six quarters. If they play eight quarters that would have allowed for the other to have more quality snaps in the depleted secondary that also had Charles Oliver helped off. Also remember, Watts also led the team in interceptions and blocked kicks. You just don’t replace a senior All-American on an average unit.

That’s not even taking into account the loss of defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson who had 35 tackles, third most among the lineman. Henderson, though, was suspended. Injuries are one thing, self-inflicted wounds are another.

The bottom line is defensive coordinator John Chavis was missing way too many pieces against a pretty good Wake Forest defense.

A&M had to defend 97 plays. Add in all the special teams plays and the Aggie D was an Aggie F by game’s end.

If A&M had managed to hit a game-tying field goal on the final drive and send the game into overtime, the Aggies couldn’t have stopped Wake Forest because the Demon Deacons could run the ball so well.

Other than the mistakes – and A&M made too many to win a close game – the biggest drawback was the inability for the Aggies to consistently run the ball in the first half.

A&M seemed to iron things out by halftime as it kept tinkering with the offensive line to find a group that could move bodies. Then, running back Trayveon Williams left with a head injury late in the third quarter after picking up 65 yards on seven carries.

A&M might have won if Williams had been healthy for the fourth quarter.

OK, who many iffs is that? That though, sums up the last four years under Kevin Sumlin. What if? What if Myles Garrett had been healthy for three years? What if Trevor Knight hadn’t got hurt? What if A&M scored late and beat Louisville in the Music City Bowl? What if…..?

The bottom line is A&M needs a fresh start. You feel for the players and interim coach Jeff Banks who did a great job considering all the obstacles. Banks will be a better coach because of the trial run.


Chavis is expected to be hired by Arkansas’ Chad Morris, according to and others.

Morris, who graduated from Texas A&M, had been mentioned as a possibility for the Aggies if they couldn’t have landed Jimbo Fisher.

That’s going to just add to the spice of the A&M-Arkansas series.

Chavis, who never was able to beat former employer LSU in three tries at A&M, now has more to prove against a second employer.

A&M allowed 1,247 yards in the last two games, but also had to defend 184 plays.

I thought that Chavis and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone would be a good combination, but was wrong.


A&M strength and conditioning coach Mark Hocke has been hired at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The announcement was made by ULL during the Belk Bowl with Hocke on the sidelines cheering like heck for the Aggies.

Some thought Hocke might stay at A&M since Hocke spent last season with Fisher at Florida State as the co-associate head football strength and conditioning coach.


The temperature at kickoff was 41 degrees with just slight wind – 3-7 mph. It was clear and cool, much better than was predicted two weeks ago.

But only 32,784 showed – the lowest in the history of the bowl which started as the Continental Tire Bowl I in 2002. The previous low was 41,122 in 2010 when South Florida grabbed a 31-26 victory over Clemson.


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