Texas A&M hosts New Mexico with Sumlin's future in question
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HOUSTON -- Instead of talking about Texas A&M's upcoming game against New Mexico when he met with the media this week, coach Kevin Sumlin spent a big chunk of his time discussing his future as rumors continue to swirl that his days at the school are numbered.
After this season, the 53-year-old Sumlin has two years and $10 million remaining on his contract, but another disappointing season for the Aggies has many thinking that this year will be his last in College Station.
He insists that he isn't worried about his future.
"What I do is focus on what we have to do this week to win games, and the big picture will take care of itself," he said. "What we can do, is the best we can do. From that standpoint it keeps you focused on what's going on right now ... that's how I'm going to continue to approach it, and that's not going to change."
A win on Saturday will make Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) bowl eligible for the ninth straight season. But after dropping consecutive home games to Mississippi State and Auburn, the best the Aggies could finish with is eight wins. If they do, it would be the fourth straight year where they've had eight wins, raising questions about why they haven't been able to take the next step under Sumlin.
"You understand what this is about from day one," Sumlin said when pressed on his job security. "You know what you signed up for."
When they host New Mexico on Saturday the Aggies will try to get back on track with Nick Starkel at quarterback. Starkel opened the season as the starter before breaking his ankle in the opener. He's played the last two weeks after recovering from the injury but freshman Kellen Mond, who filled in while he was injured, has started those two games.
Sumlin said that Starkel earned the job back after throwing for 184 yards and two touchdowns after Sumlin benched Mond in the second quarter against Auburn after he went 5 of 11 for just 16 yards.
Some things to know about the New Mexico-Texas A&M game.
The New Mexico staff is full of coaches who spent time at Texas A&M, led by coach Bob Davie, who spent nine seasons with the Aggies as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator under Jackie Sherrill and later R.C. Slocum.
"I owe a lot to Texas A&M, I owe a lot to R.C. Slocum," Davie said. "College Station made me a better coach and a better person. A lot of memories there, it's a great place, and they are a heck of a football team."
Offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse coached A&M's receivers from 2006-07, defensive line coach Stan Eggen coached the defensive line from 2003-07, safeties coach Jordan Peterson played for the Aggies from 2006-09 and was a graduate assistant at the school and graduate assistant coach Ben Sherman is the son of Mike Sherman, who coached the Aggies from 2008-11.
"Quality people (who) have been around football a long time," Sumlin said. "(They're) a well-coached football team with guys that know what they're doing, and who are probably going to be pretty excited about being back at Kyle Field."
Texas A&M has won 27 straight games at home against non-conference foes. The Aggies' last loss at home against an opponent out of their conference came in a 41-23 loss to Miami in 2008.
The Lobos have the third-most turnovers in the nation with 25 this season. Fifteen of those are fumbles, which is second in the nation behind San Jose State which has 19. The problem been particularly bad in this four-game losing streak where they've had 14 turnovers, including four fumbles in a 24-10 loss to Utah State last week and five interceptions in a defeat by Wyoming two weeks ago.
"Not that that is our only issue, but particularly the last two weeks, you just have no chance to win," Davie said.
BLOCKS ON BLOCKS
The Aggies are tied for the Football Bowl Subdivision lead with five blocked kicks this season. They've blocked three punts and two field goals this season. But Texas A&M had some trouble of its own in that area last week when Auburn blocked a punt by the Aggies and returned it for a touchdown.
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