Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M Aggies
Every game during the regular season will be played in a bubble for the Aggies and coach Kevin Sumlin. It would seem hat, even during the Johnny Manziel years, that the Aggies have always found ways to fall short of goals, even when they managed to beat Alabama. That will not cut it this season, and so every game, starting with the opener, will be watched in every excruciating detail. Will the Aggies be able to do enough to save Sumlin from the chopping block in 2017?
What To be Excited About: Offense
The combo punch at RB is back in Treyveon Williams and Keith Ford. Williams rushed for 1057 yards and eight TDs last season, while averaging 6.78 yards per carry, and is one of the more explosive backs in the nation. Keith Ford added 669 yards and six scores, while averaging 5.31 yards per carry. Sophomore Kendall Bussey only carried 20 times last fall, but was extremely explosive, averaging 8.6 yards per carry.
Christian Kirk caught 83 passes last fall, and scored nine times, and is now the undisputed leader at WR for the Aggies, but we will talk about the rest of the receiving unit in a moment.
Daniel LaCamera was decent at PK last fall, hitting 17/24 FG attemps, but more should be expected from him this fall.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Jake Hubenak got some time in under center at QB last fall when Trevor Knight was down for a stint. He passed for 884 yards with six scores and two INTs, but completed just 58.7% of his passes. He never looked truly comfortable in the offense, and will have to show what he can do in camp as the full time starter. Depth behind him is thin, at best.
Other than Kirk, the receiving corps is loaded with unknowns and limited producers. Jhamon Ausbon is a freshman, while Damion Ratley caught just two passes last season, and they are both projected as starters. Overall depth is negligible.
The line is fairly young as well, with not one senior projected to start as we head into camp. The unit will be composed of two sophomores and three juniors, so again, it's time to see what this group can do.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The Aggies are in solid shape at DT, where both Zaycoven Henderson and Kingsley Keke both return. They combined for 17 TFLs, and should be one of the better middle line breakers in the SEC in 2017. Jarrett Johnson will also start at DE, and recorded 6.5 TFLs last season.
Otara Alaka is back at OLB this fall, and will be greatly depended on to mentor a seriously inexperienced group at LB, which will be discussed in the next section. Alaka finished last season with 74 tackles, good for third on the team.
Priest Willis is back at CB, and made a strong impression last fall after transferring from UCLA. He has become an NFL caliber CB after finishing last season with eight PBUs and 33 tackles. Armani Watts and Donovan Wilson are back at the Safety spots. Watts finished with 56 tackles last season, while Wilson finished with 59.
Shane Tripuca is back at Punter, and averaged 42.83 yards per punt last fall.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
Qualen Cunningham is moving into a starting DE spot where Myles Garrett used to roam, but he has little in the way of production to make anyone believe that the production level a that spot won't take a big dip there. He recorded just 17 tackles and one TFL last season as a junior.
Other than Alaka at LB, the other two spots are open for a battle this fall.Sophomore Tyrel Dodson is projected to start at MLB, while freshman Anthony Hines III is projected at the open OLB spot. Junior Dwayne Thomas is the only other LB on the current two deep that is poised to challenge, and that is at the OLB spot. Depth will be an issue at LB for the Aggies.
Charles Oliver showed some grit at CB in nine games as a freshman last season, and is projected to start at the open CB spot, but he has much to prove yet, and may be targeted early as teams try to avoid Willis. Roney Elam, a RS sophomore, could give him a push in fall camp.
2017 Schedule: 9/3 at UCLA, 9/9 Nicholls State, 9/16 UL-Lafayette, 9/23 at Arkansas (Arlington, TX), 9/30 South Carolina, 10/7 Alabama, 10/14 at Florida, 10/28 Mississippi State, 11/4 Auburn, 11/11 New Mexico, 11/18 at Ole Miss, 11/25 at LSU
The worst kept secret in college football is the degree of heat as it is applied to the seat of Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin is a credible coach, but the pressures of coaching in the SEC West, especially with Alabama running away from the pack, have gotten to extreme measures. There have certainly been gaffes under Sumlin, and there have been disenfranchised players in the program, which has led to losses, and all of that falls squarely on Sumlin. Looking at the schedule, it would be expected that the best one could absolutely expect would be eight wins. In my analysis, I do not believe that eight wins, again, would not be enough to save his job.