Texas A&M (4-0, 1-0 SEC) Season Results
|vs Arizona State (2-2)||W||38-17|
|vs Ball State (2-2)||W||56-23|
|vs Nevada (2-2)||W||44-27|
|vs Arkansas (1-3)||W||28-21 (OT)|
Texas A&M National Statistical Rankings
|3rd Down Conversion||0.434||42nd|
|Passing Yards Allowed||187.8||39th|
|Rushing Yards Allowed||179.3||81st|
|3rd Down Defense||0.281||22nd|
|Penalty Yards Per Game||54.0||50th|
Texas A&M Advanced Stats Rankings
The S&P+ rating system is a rating system for college football, determined on a play-by-play basis, and takes into account five factors -- 1) efficiency or success rate, explosiveness, as well as factors related to starting field position and the finishing of the drive.
Source: Football Outsiders
Where They Stand
With a third of the 2015 season completed (crazy, right?), the Texas A&M Aggies find themselves at a perfect 4-0 record and in the middle of contention for the SEC West. Interestingly, the stats kind of point to the team we expected to see in 2015: in the upper half of most offensive statistics, and near the national average or a tad worse in most defensive statistics. Now, you have to take some of these statistics with a grain of salt thanks to the second half of both the Ball State and Nevada games. Another thing that stands out is that Texas A&M has been able to pressure the quarterback almost better than anyone in the entire country, yet the turnover margin is at 0. The Aggies should be creating more turnovers.
There has been quite a bit of talk about offensive inefficiency, yet according to the S&P+ rating system, the Texas A&M offense ranks 13th in the country. However the Aggies have several areas in which they can improve, including turnovers lost (3 fumbles, 3 interceptions, tied for 69th), sacks allowed (12, tied for 107th-!), and opponents tackles for loss (23 for 104 total yards, tied for 68th nationally).
In terms of the great "Kyle Allen or Kyler Murray" debate, Allen currently ranks 8th nationally among all quarterbacks in passing efficiency at 179.9.
SEC Conference Outlook
After defeating Arkansas in OT on Saturday night, the Aggies stand at 1-0 in the SEC entering the meat of the conference schedule. Three teams look to be at the bottom tier of the SEC West: Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State. Auburn cannot find any sort of offense and are a rotating door at QB. Will Muschamp's defense has also put up little resistance to opposing offenses. Arkansas has dealt with numerous injuries that have derailed their season, yet I don't believe losses to Toledo or Texas Tech are as bad as they seem on paper. Many expected a lot out of Mississippi State, but they are replacing numerous players who got them off to a strong start last season, lack explosiveness in all areas, and Dak Prescott has been contained on the ground, taking away part of his magic from last season.
The other four teams in the SEC West will battle each other at the top. The weakest of the bunch, if you can believe it, seems to be Alabama. Aside from their ground game, their offense will be an enigma all season long under Lane Kiffin. They are shaky at QB. Ole Miss seems to have found their QB in Chad Kelly, but as Vanderbilt showed on Saturday night, the vaunted offense can be limited at times given the right personnel and scheme. I see that as a strong matchup for Texas A&M when they get there. Then there is LSU, led by Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette. LSU looks to be the team that will stick around until the end, just as long as they get some production from Brandon Harris and their passing game.
The Next Four
vs. Mississippi State
at Ole Miss
vs. South Carolina
The next four games will be absolutely pivotal for the Aggies, with three coming at Kyle Field. This is the stretch that could lead to Aggies' regaining their home edge, or continuing their streak of big home game disappointments. The Aggies are more talented than their next opponent Mississippi State, but the legs of Dak Prescott will be a new challenge for the defense, and as long as the offensive line continues to play the way they are (which is below average, to put it nicely), anything can happen. This would be a great place for Texas A&M to utilize their speed on the roster, and could be another break-out game for Christian Kirk.
Alabama could be a bad matchup for the Aggie defense facing Derrick Henry. The Aggie run defense will surely be tested, as well as the health and development at the linebacker position. The good news for Texas A&M is that a bye week comes before Alabama, allowing them to rest up and get healthy. If there was ever a "Kyler Murray package" game, Alabama would be it.
Ole Miss might be the toughest opponent for Texas A&M this season, but weird things happen in Oxford. I think the Aggie defense will actually match up well with the Ole Miss offense, but the fast Ole Miss defense could end up giving the offense fits, much like Arizona State did in the opener.
And then there is South Carolina. They honestly might be the worst team in the SEC. After the Mississippi State - Alabama - Ole Miss stretch, the Aggies will get to face South Carolina, Auburn, Western Carolina, and Vanderbilt which will turn out to be one of the easiest stretches in the conference.
Are the Aggies Better than Last Season?
This is an interesting question that I have wrestled with since the ending of the Arkansas game. There is no doubt the talent and depth around the roster have increased. Christian Kirk and Daylon Mack have been the 5 star players that were advertised when they signed. Other players in the program have gotten better as well, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But the issues we identified coming in -- offensive line and health of the linebackers -- have reared their ugly head already four games into the season. I will say I do not believe the Aggie offense is playing with a full deck. It truly is amazing how this offense seems to be barely hanging on given their deficiencies, but are getting the job done on the Kyle Allen-to-Christian Kirk connection alone. The defense is way more solid than last season, as seen by their jump to the national average in most statistics. That alone is a win. But they still will have issues with run heavy offenses like Alabama and LSU, which will test their physicality up front along with the linebackers in the run game.
So is Texas A&M better than last year's 7-5 team? Yes, but they aren't ready to make the dramatic 10-2 or 11-1 jump as some saw. This roster still has holes that will limit our upside. This is really an 8-4 team but should finish 9-3 based on schedule alone.
Season Record Floor -- 8-4 (Wins of South Carolina, Auburn, West Carolina, and Vanderbilt)
Toss-up games -- Mississippi State, Alabama (both at Kyle Field)
Looking Like Ls -- Ole Miss, LSU (both on the road)
Most likely finish -- 9-3