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Grading the Aggies at the bye

How are we doing at the halfway point?

NCAA Football: Sam Houston State at Texas A&M Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Painfully, the college football regular season is already halfway over. Texas A&M now sit at 3-3 after an excruciatingly narrow 24-20 loss to the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, and have the bye week to heal up and prepare for the second half of their schedule.

So how are the Aggies doing at the halfway point? We’ll look back at the preseason grades we gave each position, and compare that to how I feel they’ve fared so far.

DISCLAIMER: I’m no Xs and Os expert, just a fan who loves watching Aggie football. You’re allowed to disagree with my grades/thoughts, and are probably correct in doing so in some cases. If you have additional thoughts, leave ‘em in the comments.


NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports


Preseason Grade: INC.
Mid-season Grade: C-

I tend to be the last person to lay all of a team’s problems at the feet of a QB. As Jimbo says, they often get too much of the credit and too much of the blame. But in an offense that is seemingly predicated on excellent QB play, A&M simply hasn’t gotten it, whether it’s from Max Johnson or Haynes King. QB is not the only thing going wrong with this offense, but it’s also something that hasn’t gone right often enough in the first six games of the year.

Running Back

Preseason Grade: B+
Midseason Grade: A

At least on the field, the running back position has come down almost solely to Devon Achane, and I refuse to give him anything other than an A. He’s an electric runner who seems to make something happen any time he’s given even a sliver of running room, and we’ll miss him dearly when he almost certainly leaves for the NFL this offseason. The fumble against Mississippi State is the only thing keeping him from an A+.

Offensive Line

Preseason Grade: B
Midseason Grade: F

I generally hate being harsh, but this is a unit most people had high hopes for this season that quite simply has been an Achilles heel for this offense all season. A&M has struggled to open up running lanes consistently for Achane, and has struggled even more to protect their struggling quarterbacks. Bryce Foster even struggled with low snaps against Mississippi State when the coaching staff reportedly tried to change his snap style (they reverted back to his previous style for the Bama game).

There are reasons you can find why this unit has underperformed, the biggest being injuries (Bryce Foster missed two games and probably still isn’t fully recovered from mono, Jordan Moko and Trey Zuhn both missed the Alabama game), but it’s safe to say the early returns on the Steve Adazzio hire are not good. His guys are NOT being dudes. The bottom line is that this offense, no matter what the scheme is or who is calling the plays, isn’t going to look very good if the offensive line can’t improve.

Tight Ends

Preseason Grade: C+
Midseason Grade: C+

This is the unit I struggled the most to grade, which is part of why I maintained their preseason grade. For whatever reason, tight end has not been the integral part of our passing game that we’ve grown accustomed to in Jimbo’s first four years at A&M. It’s unclear if that’s an intentional focus to get balls to wide receivers, or a reflection of the guys we have at tight end. Max Wright’s injury opened the door for freshman Donovan Green, who has stepped in nicely, but it still feels like there’s a lot of untapped potential there. Fellow freshman Jake Johnson dressed out for the first time in a few weeks against Alabama, so it will be interesting to see if he is worked in at all after the bye week.

Wide Receivers

Preseason Grade: B
Midseason Grade: B-

Jimbo’s offense sometimes appears to do the receivers no favors, but we’ve still seen flashes from this talented group. Losing Ainias Smith for the season hurt, but it’s allowed guys like Moose Muhammed, Evan Stewart and Chris Marshall step into larger roles. Each has flashed play-making ability, but the group has also had some errors in critical moments in multiple games (fumbles/drops) that keep them from having a higher grade.

It’s certainly not all their fault, but A&M’s downfield passing game has yet again underwhelmed in 2022.


NCAA Football: Miami at Texas A&M Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

Preseason Grade: B-
Midseason Grade: C+

This is the one grade that I acknowledge may be appropriate based on results, but a bit unfair to the position group as a whole. Throughout the first five games, this group struggled to generate a consistent pass rush while also being one of the worst rush defenses in the SEC. There are several factors playing into this, including scheme, injuries and youth. The Ags have been without veterans McKinnley Jackson (who returned against Alabama) and Tunmise Adileye for most of the year, which has led to a bevy of true freshmen receiving ample playing time. While these freshman are studs, they’re still freshmen, who don’t have the experience and development of guys several years ahead of them. In addition, DJ Durkin seemed determined to make the three-man front work, but I think it’s safe to say that experiment failed (at least on a full-time basis). The Aggies implemented a four-man front against Alabama and we saw a greatly improved defensive performance. If the four-man front becomes a thing again, and the Ags get healthy along the line, this grade could look very different by the end of the season.


Preseason Grade: B-
Midseason Grade: B+

This is one of the few groups that has been a pleasant surprise to me this season. Edgerrin Cooper appears to have taken that next step we all hoped to see, and Chris Russell has been more than adequate after stepping in following an injury to senior Andre White. I’m no defensive expert, but for the most part the linebackers have appeared to tackle well, take good angles, and cover receivers adequately when called upon. Not perfect, but the group as a whole seems to have played well.


Preseason Grade: A
Midseason Grade: A-

The Mississippi State game notwithstanding, A&M has been one of the best pass defenses in the country, and they’ve done that without a formidable pass rush. That’s mostly thanks to this group. What they’ve done is particularly impressive considering that they’ve only had one game (Arkansas) with their full complement of players they’d like to use in Antonio Johnson, Jaylon Jones, Tyreek Chappell and Denver Harris. Jones has missed several games due to injury, Chappell missed the Alabama game with an injury, and Harris was suspended for the Miami game. The secondary’s play should continue to limit the big play ability of other teams, keeping A&M in almost every game they play.


Preseason Grade: A
Midseason Grade: B+

To be fair, when we gave this grade in early July, we thought Antonio Johnson would be moving from nickel corner to safety (which did not happen). The group has still played well, but hasn’t been the dominant unit we thought they might be in the preseason. Demani Richardson is everything we expected him to be, but it feels like Jardin Gilbert too often gets noticed for negative reasons rather than positive ones. The upside is that Gilbert is still young (true sophomore), and true freshmen Bryce Anderson and Jared Kerr have both flashed in their limited opportunities, so the position appears to be in good hands moving forward, even with Richardson running out of eligibility after this season.


NCAA Football: Miami at Texas A&M Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to find fault with the recruiting success this staff has had, but just as important as that is turning that talent into a cohesive team. With the team sitting at 3-3, and the Appalachian State loss still seemingly to cast a pall over this season, there’s no way to argue that this coaching staff has done their job effectively, especially on the offensive side of the ball. A coach’s job is to put their players in the best position to succeed, and the schemes implemented on both sides of the ball simply have not done that.

They still have opportunities to turn the season around, but so far, Jimbo Fisher and his staff have not held up their end of the bargain.


NCAA Football: Miami at Texas A&M Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody at this site enjoys bagging on players. They’re college students busting their butts to entertain us all each Saturday. But I’m sure all of them would agree that 3-3 is not where they wanted to be, or thought they’d be, at the midpoint of this season. This team has the potential to be better, and still has time to get there. But a myriad of small issues have led to a majorly dysfunctional team for the first six games of 2022.

Here’s to a better second half of the season.


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