Chalk up another chapter in the Texas A&M and Alabama saga. It all started when Aggie kicker Seth Small hit a game-winning field goal to upset the Crimson Tide at Kyle Field in College Station last October. Then, this past offseason, Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban verbally sparred in which Saban said A&M "buys" players and Fisher called Saban a "narcissist" in response.
Call me crazy for saying there was no love lost entering the 2022 matchup. Just look at this warm greeting between two lifelong friends before the game.
Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher shared a pre-game handshake prior to kickoff. pic.twitter.com/iWOfBI6Sd6
— SEC on CBS ? (@SEConCBS) October 9, 2022
With tension that could be cut with a butter knife, it's no wonder this one came down to a final play call that will keep Jimbo Fisher up at night.
Texas A&M's Final Play vs. Alabama
ALABAMA SURVIVES TEXAS A&M ? pic.twitter.com/Gu52alAVo8
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 9, 2022
Down 24-20, Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King executed a two-minute drill to setup the Aggies for the game-winning score at Alabama's 2-yard line with three seconds left. He lined up in shotgun with three receivers to his left, running back Devon Achane beside him in the backfield and freshman wideout Evan Stewart on the short side of the field to his right. King took the snap and threw an incomplete pass over Stewart's left shoulder.
In a matter of seconds, A&M fans went from tasting another upset victory to questioning King's decision, and more directly, Fisher's play call.
Stewart was having himself a game, but a forced throw to the short side of the field when Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold was all over him and safety DeMarcco Hellams was shadowing was a setup for failure.
King's had struggles this season, and you're asking him to make a throw that has hardly any margin for error. The best quarterbacks in the country would have a hard time completing it. Yet, Fisher defended the call and King's decision.
"We were in one-on-one right in the corner," Fisher said in his postgame press conference. "We had three options on the front side and he read it. It was the same play we had scored on earlier. They changed the coverage and he went back and made the perfect read to where we were going to. They played it off the first time and we knew when we did it we had a one-on-one backside and if they did it the other way we had our two looks on the front side, which we wanted."
Let's not forget Nick Saban was on the other sideline. He's going to make adjustments if his team was beat earlier in the game.
Here's him breaking down the coverage:
— Alabama Athletics (@UA_Athletics) October 9, 2022
I'm a believer in Occam's razor in these situations. Don't get cute. How about rolling King out and giving him the option to run if his receivers are blanketed? The call we saw shows Fisher doesn't have the confidence in King to make the right decision. He was going Stewart's way the entire time regardless of how the defense was lined up.
Fisher's offensive scheme has caught flack for being overly-complicated and outdated. We saw it on display against Appalachian State, and we saw it again here.
There have been talks of Fisher's seat catching fire, too, which is insane to me considering he has a $95 million buyout, but it's clear he needs to go back to the drawing board on the offensive side of the ball. He's recruiting some of the nation's best players — let them make plays.
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