Rightfully so, much of the Texas A&M faithful’s focus has been directed toward the exciting conclusion of the 2015 recruiting cycle. Engaged in a no holds barred, knock-down, drag-out fight with the Texas Longhorns for the signature of 2015 prized jewel prospect, defensive tackle Daylon Mack, Aggies haven’t had much time to focus on anything else–including Coach Kevin Sumlin’s stellar string of recent coaching hires.
To put it simply-Sumlin didn’t just hit a homerun at filling A&M’s open coaching vacancies at wide receiver, defensive coordinator, and offensive line, rather he hit a bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, two outs, full count grand slam.
In my next couple of posts I want to dig in and examine two of our new coaches in particular, offensive line coach Dave Christensen, and wide receiver coach Aaron Moorehead, to more fully understand what they will bring to the table for the Aggies and Coach Sumlin in 2015 and beyond.
Please note-I’m purposefully excluding new defensive coordinator John Chavis since his background has already been discussed ad nauseum by other Aggie insider sites.
Let’s focus first on new offensive line coach Dave Christensen.
While outgoing former offensive line coach, BJ Anderson, did a bang up job on the recruiting trail, Anderson’s on-the-field product at offensive line left much to be desired. Despite inheriting a talented group of “big uglies” personally hand-selected by legendary offensive line guru and ex Aggie head coach, Mike Sherman, Anderson’s offensive line progressively regressed over his three year tenure at Texas A&M. Things finally hit rock bottom on November 1st, 2014 when the MAC conference’s ULM Warhawks ran roughshod through A&M’s line time after time again.
Pundits all over, from TexAgs to GigEm247 to Good Bull Hunting, agreed the line’s woes weren’t due to lack of talent but rather lack of technique and physicality—exactly the type of stuff an offensive line coach is supposed to teach you.
Enter in Dave Christensen, announced on January 6th, 2015 as Texas A&M’s next offensive line coach.
Following the announcement I ventured over to YouTube to skim over some past interview clips of him. While I realize old interviews aren’t exactly the most scientific way to go about evaluating a guy’s coaching chops, I think one can generally get a good barometer on another’s personality via video by observing tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language.
After taking a look at this clip, I ventured over to a like post-practice press conference held by the now ousted Anderson back in August.
While Anderson seems timid, unconfident, a little awkward, and not too thrilled to be there, Christensen is dripping with enthusiasm and “meat-headery.” His facial expressions are animated, words sprite with passion, and answers laser-
focused. This sort of personality is exactly what the Aggies need to rid themselves of the soft culture that had pervaded Texas A&M’s offensive line over the course of Anderson’s tenure.
Another underrated part of this hire is Christensen’s extensive experience coaching offense in the college ranks. A huge issue in 2014 was the lack of battle-tested, offensive minds among Sumlin’s offensive staff when things got tough in October.
Let’s take a look at each Texas A&M offensive staff members’ resumes in 2014:
|2012-||Texas A&M, Assistant Coach/Running Backs|
|2013||Texas A&M, Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs|
|2010-11||Houston, Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator|
|2008-09||Houston, Running Backs|
|2005-07||Yates High School, Head Coach|
|2003-05||North Shore High School, Assistant Coach|
|1997-2003||Booker T. Washington High School, Assistant Coach|
Note- that’s three years of head coaching experience at the high school level followed by four years as a RB coach at a Conference USA school before McKinney made it to College Station in 2012.
|2014-||Texas A&M (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)|
|*2013||Texas A&M (Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)|
|2011-12||West Virginia (Quarterbacks)|
|2010||Oklahoma State (Grad Assistant)|
|2009||Houston (Grad Assistant)|
|2008||Tulsa (Offensive Quality Control)|
|*||Promoted to Offensive Coordinator for the Bowl Game|
Spavital was a graduate assistant only four years ago.
|2012-||Texas A&M, Wide Receivers|
|2011||Kansas, Co-Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers|
|2010||Rice, Offensive Coordinator|
|2008-09||Kansas, Wide Receivers|
|2006-07||Rice, Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers|
|2002-05||Irving MacArthur HS, Head Coach/Athletic Coordinator|
|2001||North Dallas HS, Head Coach/Athletic Director|
|1997-00||Garland HS, Assistant Coach/Special Teams/Wide Receivers|
|1994-96||Naaman Forest HS, Assistant Coach/Wide Receivers/Quarterbacks/Defensive Backs|
Finally, a look at BJ Anderson’s resume:
|2012-||Texas A&M, Offensive Line|
|2009-11||Houston, Offensive Line|
|2005-08||Sam Houston State, Run-Game Coordinator/Offensive Line|
|2002-04||Tarleton State, Offensive Line|
|1999-01||Texas A&M, Graduate Assistant/OL|
|1998||Stephen F. Austin, Tight Ends|
|1997||Stephen F. Austin, Graduate Assistant/OL|
Now that we have a general take-away of the level of offensive experience Sumlin was surrounded around in 2014, lets shift our focus to Dave Christensen and his experience:
- 2015-: Texas A&M (Offensive Line/Running Game Coordinator)
- 2014: Utah (Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends)
- 2009-13: Wyoming (Head Coach)
- 2001-08: Missouri (Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
- 1997-2000: Toledo (Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line)
- 1992-96: Toledo (Offensive Line)
- 1990-91: Idaho State (Offensive Line/Running Backs)
- 1988-89: Washington (Graduate Assistant)
- 1986-87: Eastern Washington (Offensive Line/Defensive Line)
- 1985: Everett (Wash.) HS (Offensive Line/Defensive Line)
- 1984: Sehome (Wash.) HS (Offensive Line/Defensive Line)
- 1983: Western Washington (Running Backs)
By 2005, when most every other member of the Aggie offensive staff was either coaching at the high-school level or still a student in college, Christensen had already been coaching college football for two decades.
It’s no wonder why Texas A&M’s offense took such a nose dive in 2014. There wasn’t anyone on the sidelines with the necessary level of experience able to challenge Sumlin’s strategies and ideas. No checks and balances to Sumlin’s power. Too many “yes men.”
Now with another savvy offensive mind in Dave Christensen on staff, Sumlin has another battle-tested brain to bounce ideas off of and challenge his game plans and assumptions. Hopefully Christensen is the sort of coach that would have veto’ed some of Sumlin’s more head-scratching decisions in 2014, such as:
-Allowing a three-man rotation at running back (thus tragically taking away carries from the ever dynamic and NFL bound Trey Williams)
-Allowing A&M’s practices post August to turn so soft
-Allowing A&M to consistently trot out under performers week after week at wide receiver
All in all I hope Christensen won’t be afraid to share with Sumlin the wealth of knowledge he’s accumulated over his 32 year coaching career. After watching Christensen’s more “vulgar” YouTube clips, I don’t think that will be a problem.
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