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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #35 Texas A&M

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 11, 2016

#35 Texas A&M Aggies

2015 Recap:
The Aggies finished with a mediocre 8-5 record for the campaign. Many programs would be happy with an 8-5 record but the Aggies were just 4-4 in the SEC and seen as a second tier team from America's power conference. The Aggies have seemed to stall with the momentum they were building after making their SEC transition a few years back. The days of Johhny Manziel are long gone and head coach Kevin Sumlin, once a hot name in many coaching circles, may be cooling off a bit in talk of the "hot young coach" at the NCAA level.


Coaching:
We just spoke about Kevin Sumlin who owns a 36-16 record in four years leading the Aggies, a 9-4 average record finish. The Aggies have some important new components in offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone who comes over from UCLA and defensive coordinator John Chavis who comes from SEC rival LSU. The biggest task may be in front of offensive line coach Jim Turner as he tries to correct the offensive line problems that plagued the Aggies all of last season.


Offense

A quick look at the quarterback and running back starting combo for Texas A&M may have you thinking you are watching the Oklahoma Sooners. Quarterback Trevor Knight has transferred to College Station after Baker Mayfield seized the Sooners job a season ago (after transferring from Texas Tech). Running back Keith Ford was not able to find sufficient time in the Sooners crowded backfield and he too is now a member of the Aggies. While Knight experienced long bouts of inconsistency nobody has ever questioned his talent or love of Katy Perry (OK...maybe she called him out first). Knight certainly has a bevy of receivers to throw to making life a little easier. With Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones leading the way the Aggies have a great blend of reliable hands and big play ability. The key will be having time to throw as the Aggies finished -3 in the sacks department as they registered 34 while opponents brought down Aggies quarterbacks 37 times. Not only sacks but having the quarterback under durress as Texas A&M was second last in the conference allowing quarterback pressures.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Ricky Seals-Jones WR 2nd/3rd Round 2017 (underclassman                                            who would have to declare for the draft).

                                       Josh Reynolds WR UFA 2017.


Defense

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what makes Texas A&M go and virtually the whole SEC...the pass rush. Texas A&M has the benefit of having perhaps the best starting defensive end combination in the country. Myles Garrett may be the best prospect period at any position but he would need to declare as he is a junior this season. Garrett set a SEC Freshman sack record in 2014. Last year Garrett followed up his sensational freshman campaign with 19.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. Daeshon Hall is not merely playing off of Garrett and his skill, he has plenty of his own. Hall contributed another 14.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks in his own right. The starting duo of Garrett and Hall had over 57% of the teams sack total between them. The secondary and linebackers have a few potential holes but the Aggies do return leading tackler Armani Watts at free safety.

Best Draft Prospects: Myles Garrett DE 1st Round 2017 (if he declares,                                                                  currently the #1 overall prospect for the 2017 Draft).

                                      Daeshon Hall DE 3rd Round 2017.


Special Teams:

Drew Kaser was the first punter off the board in the 2016 draft so Braden Mann has some huge shoes to fill. Daniel LaCamera saw limited action at kicker a season ago on kickoff duty.  Lacamera does not have the leg strength that departed kicker Taylor Bertolet displayed but he should be very accurate from 40 yards and under. Christian Kirk and Speedy Noil have to be special in the return game as many questions already exist with the special teams. The coverage units a season ago were middle of the road but they didn't allow a return touchdown against themselves.


Schedule:

A home date with UCLA to start the season is crucial, especially with offensive coordinator Mazzone coming over to from UCLA. The games on November 5th and 12th with Mississippi State and Ole Miss look like they will be very curcial. The SEC schedules are alweays tough and Texas A&M will face 6 opponents that at the end of last season were ranked.



Draft and Overall Outlook:

Texas A&M will be a huge player even if another player aside from Myles Garrett does not declare or is drafted. Seeing how teams view the production of Daeshon Hall with be very exciting. Texas A&M needs to keep winning to ensure they keep getting quality prospects and maintaining national attention.

 

DJ Boyer