Texas A&M is going to be without quarterback Nick Starkel for quite some time.
Starkel, who started Sunday night’s game vs. UCLA, suffered a broken left ankle in A&M’s 45-44 loss to the Bruins. UCLA’s comeback started after Starkel was injured with the Aggies up 41-10 in the third quarter.
Sumlin said on radio show Nick Starkel had surgery on broken ankle & Donovan Wilson had foot surgery. Don't know if will return this season.
— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) September 5, 2017
You’ll notice Donovan Wilson is listed in that tweet too. The senior defensive back is one of A&M’s best defensive players. He had 57 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss in 2016. If both he and Starkel are out for an extended period of time, the UCLA game will have some serious long-lasting ramifications.
And it sure sounds like they will be. Sumlin said the two would be out for a “long time.”
There can be no excuses made for the Texas A&M defense giving up 34 points in the final 19 minutes of the game. But it’s also pretty easy to assume that Starkel’s presence in the game would have blunted a UCLA comeback.
After Kellen Mond took over for Starkel, A&M kicked a field goal for a 44-10 lead. The Aggies’ next drives ended with three punts, a missed field goal and then a turnover on downs in the final seconds. Meanwhile, UCLA scored five touchdowns.
Mond, a true freshman, was the team’s quarterback over Jake Hubenak, who has a shoulder injury. Unless Hubenak makes a quick recovery, it reasons that Mond will be the team’s starter in Week 2.
Assuming Starkel is out for the season, it’s reasonable to wonder if his absence is more season changing and program changing for Texas A&M than QB Deondre Francois’ knee injury is for Florida State. The Seminoles have a ton of offensive and defensive talent to still go after a nine or 10-win season without their sophomore QB.
After A&M’s collapse on Sunday night, it’s hard to see Texas A&M getting to eight wins this season. After all, that’s the baseline minimum established by A&M’s athletic director earlier this year. After three-straight 8-5 seasons, Scott Woodward said in May that Sumlin “knows he has to win and win this year and we have to do better than we’ve done in the past.”
Starkel’s injury should change the parameters of what’s a successful season for the Aggies. We’ll see if it actually does.
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