Preview 2017: Texas A&M Aggies

Preview 2017: Texas A&M Aggies


Preview 2017: Texas A&M Aggies


Preview 2017: Texas A&M Aggies

Previewing and looking ahead at the Texas A&M Aggies season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

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2017 Texas A&M Preview: A&M Won’t Win SEC, And Then…?
2017 Texas A&M Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Texas A&M Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Texas A&M Offense

There’s a ton of work to do, but the offense should be just fine if the passing game comes together in a hurry.

All eyes will be on the quarterback situation, with Jake Hubenak a trusted veteran, but almost certainly knocked out of the spot by Nick Starkel or super-recruit Kellen Mond, but the Aggies will be likely be trying to figure it out right up until the opener at UCLA.

Fortunately, the running backs should be able to take the pressure off thanks to the wonderful 1-2 punch of Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford after combining for well over 1,700 yards with 14 scores, averaging close to six yards per carry.

Paving the way is a good-looking line, even without Avery Gennesy at left tackle and Jermaine Eluemunor on the right. The interior gets three starters back, but it’ll be played around with – C Erik McCoy might kick out to guard and Colton Prater could move to the middle.

The problem area is a receiving corps that loses just about everyone except do-it-all star Christian Kirk. It’s Texas A&M, so there are talented young players ready to show what they can do, but …

Biggest Key To The Texas A&M Offense

Can the receivers rise up to help out the new starting quarterback? Kirk might be a good one, but to lose Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones, Speedy Noil and Jeremy Tauyo is a killer – four of the top five receivers are done.

Again, there’s talent, but as good as Jhamon Ausbon is, he’s still a true freshman, and hoping for former JUCO transfer Damion Ratley to rise up and rock after making just two catches last season is asking a whole lot.

It would be nice to have a veteran quarterback help make all the new targets better, but that’s not going to happen – it’ll be trial by fire for the passing game.

What You Need To Know About The Texas A&M Defense

It slipped. It wasn’t great in 2015, but it sputtered last year, especially in SEC play before having problems in the bowl loss to Kansas State. A&M finished the season 90th in the nation in total defense allowing 442 yards and 24.5 points per game.

Can defensive coordinator John Chavis and the Aggies fill in the gaps on the ends? The pass rush was fine with Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall, but now they’re gone – the top three playmakers in the backfield are done from a D that came up with a whopping 111 tackles for loss.

The linebacking corps has two good veterans in Otaro Alaka in the middle and Richard Moore on the outside, while the secondary should be a plus with just about everyone back. Justin Evans is done at strong safety, but Armani Watts is a great playmaker who returned for his senior year and both corners are back.

Biggest Key To The Texas A&M Defense

At some point, the run defense has to be stronger. It was better than it was in 2015, but it was still a massive problem in key games, especially late in the season giving up 365 yards to Mississippi State, 298 to LSU and 218 to Kansas State – all losses.

The Aggies allowed more than 200 rushing yards six times, and now they have to try improving without the stars on the line, along with the top two tacklers. The most damaging blows weren’t just from the running backs, which is why …

Texas A&M Will Be Far Better If …

The defense can figure out running quarterbacks. Stopping the ground game was a problem last year all the way around, but keeping mobile quarterbacks from tearing off yards in chunks was a huge problem.

Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz ran for an effective 67 yards in the bowl win. Shea Patterson ran for 64 yards – Ole Miss win. Nick Fitzgerald ripped off 182 yards and two scores – Mississippi State win. Jalen Hurts took over with 93 yards and a score – Alabama win. All four losses were against quarterbacks who couldn’t be contained.

And that fifth defeat? Nothing came from LSU QB Danny Etling, but RB Derrius Guice sauntered for just 285 yards and four touchdowns.

Best Texas A&M Offensive Player

WR Christian Kirk, Jr. – One of the most electrifying players in college football, he’s now going to have the pressure of carrying the passing game for a while as one of the lone holdovers in the receiving corps.

The 5-11, 200-pounder caught 83 passes for 928 yards and nine scores, ran for 35 yards, averaged over 11 yards per punt return and 29 yards per kickoff return. The coaching staff will get the ball in his hands on the move in every way possible.

2. RB Trayveon Williams, Soph.
3. QB Kellen Mond, Fr.
4. OT Koda Martin, Jr.
5. RB Keith Ford, Sr.

Best Texas A&M Defensive Player

S Armani Watts, Sr. – One of the team’s top tacklers over the last three seasons, he broke up 12 passes as a freshman, came up with 126 tackles as a sophomore, and last year did a little of everything with 56 tackles in nine games before getting knocked out with a knee injury.

The 5-11, 205-pound size and fantastic speed are there – he’s a former wide receiver – with the instincts, smarts and toughness to always be around the ball. He’s good in pass coverage, but he’s at his best saving the day in the open field when the front seven is leaking.

2. LB Otaro Alaka, Jr.
3. DE Jarrett Johnson, Sr.
4. LB Anthony Hines, Fr.
5. S Donovan Wilson, Sr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Kellen Mond, Fr. – Fine, so 6-3, 205-pound redshirt freshman Nick Starkel is probably the main man when the Aggies run out on the field in the Rose Bowl to face UCLA – and there’s a chance Mond might redshirt – but that would be a massive call.

Starkel is a big talent with a live arm and Ivy-level smarts, but if he’s not the guy, then Mond needs to immediately rise up and play like the superstar prospect he is – or else there might be a bit of a coaching change going into next year.

If Mond starts as a true freshman, and Starkel sits, then what? Sumlin hasn’t exactly had the best of luck with the too-many-great-young-quarterback problem.

Jake Hubenak is the most experienced quarterbacking option, but he’s the safe choice. To have any hope of making any noise in the SEC, the Aggies need a star under center, and that’s Mond. The 6-2, 200-pounder is a scary runner with a live arm, but does A&M really want to deal with breaking in a mostly-new receiving corps with a true freshman quarterback?

The Texas A&M Season Will Be A Success If …

The Aggies win ten games. Of course, A&M is overdue to come close to winning the West under Sumlin, but after last year’s meltdown in the second half of the season, and after a third straight eight-win season, improving to ten would be fantastic.

It won’t be a breeze with road games at Florida, Ole Miss and LSU, but there’s a magnificent run of five home games in six dates – including the Alabama battle – to help the cause. How good is the schedule? There’s only one true road game over a nine game stretch after the opener …

Key Game To The Texas A&M Season

Sept. 3 at UCLA Okay, so beating UCLA last year didn’t turn out to matter once the meat of the SEC season kicked in. This time around, it’s on the road, and the Bruins are a lot better – it’s the type of game the Aggies need to win to show just how good they might be.

As always, the SEC schedule is going to be hard enough, but take down UCLA, and A&M will be 3-0 going into the conference opener against Arkansas in Arlington. The showdown in the Rose Bowl should be a wild and fun shootout, but the Aggies are equipped to keep up. And again – to keep pushing the point – after this, there’s only one true road game after this until November 18th.

2016 Texas A&M Fun Stats

– Opponent 3rd Quarter Scoring: 43 – Opponent 4th Quarter Scoring: 123
– Punt Return Average: Texas A&M 25.4 yards – Opponents 5.2 yards
– Field Goals: Opponents 19-of-27 – Texas A&M 17-of-24

2017 Texas A&M Preview: A&M Won’t Win SEC, And Then…?
2017 Texas A&M Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Texas A&M Previews: 2016 | 2015


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