Football season is a scant 50 some odd days away and it’s hard to not start thinking about how this season could unfold. Expectations are fairly low this year with A&M being picked to finish fifth in the division. But this year’s team is a totally unknown quantity both in talent and in scheme. Below are 6 critical questions that could either make or break this upcoming football season.
1) Who starts opposite Priest Willis at corner?
A&M received some bad news in the spring when junior CB Nick Harvey went down with injury. Rumors abounded through the beginning part of the summer, but now it’s been confirmed that he’ll miss this entire season.
The main question I have for this year is who start opposite former UCLA transfer Priest Willis at corner? There’s a lot of unproven talent available including Roney Elam, Charles Oliver, recent WR convert Kemah Siverand or maybe JUCO transfer Antonio Howard...but Nick Harvey will be difficult to replace.
2) What kind of pass rush can we expect from our defensive ends?
A&M fans have been spoiled the past couple of years with the tandem of Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett. Now that both are gone to the NFL, our ability to get after the QB/set the edge is a total unknown. Veteran players like Qualen Cunningham and Jarrett Johnson are the likely starters, but newcomer and Cisco College transfer Michael Clemons could be a name to keep in the back of your mind as well.
3) What’s our offensive line going to look like?
Jim Turner is no stranger to a retooled offensive line (or the occasional off color joke). This year he’ll have his hands full shuffling players around to put his best 5 on the field. There are rumors that former center Erik McCoy will be moving to guard and former back up guard Colton Prater will be moving to center. McCoy had some issues with high snaps, but was pretty darn good as an interior lineman. We’ll see how this shakes out.
4) Who steps up to replace Josh Reynolds?
Josh Reynolds might have been the biggest loss from last year—even more so than Myles Garrett. When we needed a big play, he was right there. Christian Kirk is the star WR on this team, but who’s going to be that steady reliable guy to go make a big play when we need one? There’s a ton of talent on the roster to go along with heralded newcomers in Jhamon Ausbon and Hezekiah Jones...but there’s nobody proven.
5) Who starts at QB—and who finishes the season at QB?
Kenny Hill over Kyle Allen. Kyle Allen over Kyler Murray. Trevor Knight over Jake Hubenak. It’s not officially A&M football unless we have some questions about the QB position.
Truthfully I’m not all that worried here. There’s some good talent out there. I think there’s a good chance we could see a starter named for the UCLA game, but also see the competition continue throughout the season.
6) How good is Mark Hocke?
Intangibles aside, you could point to our late season swoons as a product of a flawed strength and conditioning program. Mark Hocke might have been the single most important hire Kevin Sumlin made in the off-season. He’s learned from the best and came up under Alabama legend Scott Cochran...but how good is he? Can he be the be the reason that we maybe dont go 0 for November again?
This season has a ton of question marks, but the above 6 are, in my opinion, the most pressing and important. Did I miss any? Share your thoughts in the comments.