To put it lightly, this year’s going to be interesting. We’re coming off of three straight 8-5 records, we lost a ton to the draft last year, and overall it just feels like we’re in this strange purgatory status where we’ve not hit our floor but are incapable of hitting our ceiling under the current regime.
But football brings strange things (not really, it’s normally fairly predictable) and there is a chance this team could jump out and surprise some folks. There’s also a chance that this year could be a disaster. (Odds are, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle but just go with me.)
PREPARE YOURSELF EMOTIONALLY FOR INTERNAL STRIFE
Last year A&M finished 36th in the S&P defensive rankings, which to tell you the truth isn’t too terrible. It’s hard to wipe away memories of Derrius Guice running for all the damn yards against us, but our defense wasn’t atrocious, it was middle of the pack.
And being middle of the pack is fine...except when you’re playing with NFL caliber talent at both defensive end spots and safety…not to mention linebackers who are getting a look at the next level too. When you take away those players, and add the recent transfers of Richard Moore and Reggie Chevis…well that’s concerning. You can’t replace Myles and Daeshon…and we just have to hope that our scheme can somehow make up for losing two disruptive forces.
Still feel good? Let me fix that…we have 8 scholarship linebackers…three of whom are true freshmen, and one of whom is a converted safety. Cornerback is also a bit concerning especially if Nick Harvey misses any amount of significant time.
We have talent, but do we have the talent to run the RPO heavy scheme that Mazzone wants to run? Is Mazzone capable of tweaking his system to fit the needs of the his personnel (specifically the fairly different skillsets of our three QBs)?
Moreover, we have Christian Kirk, but who’s our second receiver? How do you replace the consistency of Josh Reynolds? Who is our outside guy? There’s lots of potential, but not much production outside of one guy.
Last but not least, who exactly is going to play center for us? Erik McCoy did pretty dang good job last year, but he did have a few issues with high snaps…and might be better served at one of the guard positions—especially since we lost the Jermaine Eluemunor. Who are our starting 5 on OL?
Ok. So now that you’re completely depressed, let’s talk a little bit about why we could surprise folks this year.
WHY THIS YEAR COULD BE SURPRISINGLY AND PLEASANTLY GOOD
The Patrick Ewing Theory
The Patrick Ewing Theory basically says that often times when a star leaves a team, the team performs better without the star, because everyone’s level of play has to elevate in the absence of that star.
And I can see that this year. Truth is that the defense relied a lot on Myles last year. The defense was predicated on the DE getting to the QB and disrupting…to the point where when Myles went out with injury we had no idea how to cope.
I think Myles got better against the run his senior year, but it’s no real revelation that our DEs would run themselves out of a play trying to get to the QB. Qualen Cunnigham and Jarett Johnson aren’t Myles, but perhaps their skill set might be better suited to the teams we’re going to play.
And let’s not get it twisted—there is talent on this defense. Zaycoven Henderson is the most underrated player on this team…and our DT rotation of Henderson, Keke, Mack, Moton, and Madubuike might be the most talented group we’ve had at that position in a while.
We lack depth at LB, but our most likely starting three of Alaka, Dodson, and Hines might be the most talent we’ve had at those three spots since 2012…and we’ve got three guys that are going to be playing at their best suited positions. Forget the backups, the starting three are pretty dang solid.
And lastly, we have two NFL caliber safeties. Watts and Wilson will roam the middle, and Wilson has the ability to roll out to corner to help make up for any deficiencies we might have there. Maybe we’ll see the Patrick Ewing theory in action.
Our running back group might be the best that Sumlin has had here at A&M. Trayveon Williams seems poised to follow up his 1000 yard freshman year with a solid season…and backing him up is Keith Ford who brings a totally different and powerful dynamic to the roster.
Yes we lost Josh Reynolds, but there is ample talent behind him on the roster. The WR roster is oozing with talent/stars and guys like Jhamon Ausbon and Hezekiah Jones could very very easily provide that outside threat and let All American Christian Kirk operate in space.
Despite not having a clear cut starting QB, we’ve got promise. Jake Hubenak is better than most people give him credit for. Combine him with Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond and we’ve got talent there…and when you combine that talent with the RBs we have, we don’t necessarily need a Trevor Knight to be the center point of the offense, rather we can just let them distribute.
Lastly the offensive line gets another year under Jim Turner. Case in point—in 2008 the A&M offense ranked 89th in Rushing S&P in Jim Turner’s first year as OL coach…in 2009 we jumped all the way up to 11th. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to think that we’ll see a significant improvement this year in Turner’s second year.
So there you have it. Both sides of the coin. I know that the answer is pretty squarely in the middle that we won’t be nearly as bad as many think, but might not be as good as we hope...but I think there are convincing arguments to be made for either side here. What do you think?
How good will the Aggies be this year?
This poll is closed
Gonna break through the fleiling (floor/ceiling) and finally get more than 8 wins!
We’ll be lucky to get 8