Presenting: my first post. I had grand visions of presenting some info about formations and X's and O's and what to expect from A&M regarding those things this year, but our very own @Ranger222 has already done a fantastic job of that, so I will merely give you three formations to watch for and then focus more on statistical trends.
First, my qualifications. I consider myself to be sort of the Brian Fellow of Aggie football. While fictional Jack Hannah wannabe Brian Fellow "is not an accredited zoologist, nor does he hold an advanced degree in any environmental science," he is "an enthusiastic young man with a sixth grade education and abiding love for all of God's creatures." Similarly, while I am not an accredited football coach or analyst, nor have I played at a level higher than Lutheran private school junior high flag football, I have an abiding love for both Texas A&M football and for extracting relevance from statistics.
So, what to expect from A&M's offense this year? We all know, in a broad sense. Tons of yards, tons of points, tons of big plays (A&M led the nation last year in plays of 20+ yards), great quarterback play, etc. Our offense will still follow many of the same basic tenets as it did last year.
The two most-used formations by A&M last year, and it wasn't even close, were a basic four-wide (2x2) formation with one running back, and another four wide receiver look out of a 3x1 formation with one running back. (We also like to run a three wide receiver set (2x1) with two running backs, but not nearly as much.) I expect that to generally be true in 2013 as well, but what we may see a lot more of is the "diamond" formation. The QB is in a pistol position (halfway between under center and shotgun), and has a running back behind him along with running backs on either side. This gives a power aspect to the shotgun offenses of today while still allowing a lot of flexibility in the passing game.
The reason I and others expect to see that this year is because of Jake Spavital, A&M's new quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator. Spavital was at West Virginia for the last two years and prior to that spent a year at Oklahoma State. Both of those teams used quite a bit of the diamond formation and it stands to reason that A&M would add that wrinkle now that one of the leading minds is on our side. Conintue to check this site and smartfootball.com and others for more specifics about what type of plays and personnel groups can be used out of those formations. And when A&M lines up tomorrow in those three formations, try to decipher what different things are happening and why they're working. It makes watching football a lot more fun, in my opinion.
As for statistical trends, consider this a good faith promise on my part. I will beat you over the head with statistics each week starting next week. I am going to attempt to chart A&M's entire season in the same way a coaching staff would. I will then pull out the most interesting and/or relevant trends I can find. But right now there are zero statistics.
I considered looking back to 2012 and presenting some stats from last year, but with so much turnover in the college game, I just don't think they're relevant. If you do want a broad idea of the teams though, I'll just point out that in basically every metric available, A&M's offense was undeniably one of the best and most efficient in the country, while Rice's offense was the very definition of average. Ranked in the 60s or 70s in pretty much all of the categories I believe are meaningful. Defensively, A&M was good but not great, and Rice was fairly bad.
If you want one trend to watch, I'll give you this: Rice's run defense versus A&M's run offense. Rice was 101st in the nation last year in yards per carry allowed. A&M was #2 in the nation offensively in yards per carry. A&M expects to be better than they were last year running the ball. A&M should be able to run with no trouble.