Today we review the sixth SEC team in our series, the Texas A&M Aggies. Other reviews so far:
Ryan Tannehill. The wide receiver-turned-QB managed to parlay a modest season into a personal windfall when he was taken 8th in the draft this spring. Despite a stat line that barely finished in the top half of the league, Kevin Sumlin would sure like to have his experience back this year when he introduces an offense that will be pass-heavy even by Big 12 standards.
Most Important Returning Player
Christine Michael. As much as the Aggies will throw this year, they know as well as anyone that if you can’t run in the SEC, you’re basically just setting yourself up for some entertaining losses. Michael is certainly capable of doing damage on the ground if he’s healthy. In the nine games before his injury, he averaged 5.0 or more yards per carry in all but one.
Highest Ranked Recruit
Trey Williams. Williams is considered an all-purpose back by 247sports.com, who rate him as a five star player ranked number two at his position. Small and quick, he’s the type of back that has seen some success in this league in the past. Think Dexter McCluster. Sorry, Vols fans.
Most Important Off-Season Acquisition
Coach Kevin Sumlin. Question the quality of defenses he racked up numbers against, but don’t question the consistency. In two years as offensive coordinator of Oklahoma and four seasons at the helm of the Houston Cougars, only once did his offense finish outside the top 15 in the country — his first with the Sooners. Two of his past three offenses led the nation. It won’t be immediate, but it’s not hard to envision Sumlin putting A&M on the same path Bobby Petrino set Arkansas on.
Given the fact that this is a team with a new coaching staff entering their first season in the toughest division in the country, they need to get a win that proves they’ll be competitive in the West. It doesn’t have to be LSU or Alabama (though that certainly would be quite a statement), but Arkansas is possible. The Razorbacks will be good enough that a win over them will be a tremendous indicator of potential future success, and more importantly, good enough that the Ags will be underdogs. Failing to get that win means the Ags will likely have to spend another year listening to their in-state rivals mock them for joining the SEC. A win over Florida in week two is also a possibility given the changes to Florida’s offense, but it’s a lot to ask of them to win their first ever SEC game and only the second game with their new staff against a team that will likely once again have a top ten defense.
@ La Tech Bulldogs – W
Florida Gators – L
@Southern Methodist Mustangs (TWO road trips against non-BCS schools?)- W
South Carolina State- W
Arkansas Razorbacks – L
@Ole Miss Rebels – W
LSU Tigers- L
@Auburn Tigers- W
@ Mississippi State Bulldogs – L
@ Alabama Crimson Tide- L
Sam Houston State – W
Missouri – L
Final Record – 6-6*
* This year, that 6-6 record is tricky. Because they play two FCS teams, only one of those wins counts towards bowl eligibility, which effectively gives them a 5-6 record (should this play out this way). In most seasons, that would mean they can’t go to a bowl game. This year, however, there is a need for 70 bowl eligible teams out of a total of 124. When you realize that at least four teams who would likely be bowl eligible have been banned from the post season (Ohio State, Penn State, UCF and UNC) with at least one more possibly out as well before the season ends(Miami), reaching 70 bowl-eligible teams by previous standards isn’t very likely. As such, the NCAA has revised bowl eligibility standards this year, making a losing record viable for a bowl bid if all teams with better records have already been selected.