ARLINGTON TX - JANUARY 07: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Texas A&M Aggies throws against the LSU Tigers during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7 2011 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Additional Previews | Just couldn't find another preview.
2010 Record | 9-4 (6-2 in Big 12)
Returning Starters | 18 (10 on offense, 8 on defense)
Key Losses | I guess its questionable as if you could include QB Jerrod Johnson in this list. I think that shoulder surgery hurt him more than he let on, although a lot of you last year told me I was crazy for thinking so highly of Johnson and you ended up being right. WR Terrence McCoy graduates, but he only had 9 catches. Not a big loss. C Matt Allen is the only player that graduates along a very good offensive line. The defense was hit hard as DE Lucas Patterson, LB Von Miller and LB Michael Hodges all graduated. That's a lot of production from your defense. Miller was obviously the star, but Hodges may have been the glue to that defense that should have gotten more credit than he did last year and Patterson was no slouch.
Key Additions | I normally go through the recent commitment list and look for JUCO players and there had been talk that LaMarc Strahan was going to be the guy that would be able to make an impact at noseguard (6-3/341). Strahan didn't qualify. The other JUCO's in the 2011 signing class, there is defensive back Johntel Franklin (6-2/210) and linebacker Steven Jenkins (6-1/200). And yes, the DB is bigger than the LB and if I had to bet who would make the bigger impact, give me Franklin based on absolutely nothing at all.
Impact Offensive Player | You can really take your pick. You could go with QB Ryan Tannehill, who just lit up Texas Tech last year. Thanks in part to WR Jeff Fuller, who was one of the more dominating receivers in the country. And don't forget RB Cyrus Gray, who is one of, if not the best, running backs in the Big 12. It would also be appropriate to give a shout-out to left tackle Luke Joeckel who was pretty darned good as a freshman last year.
Impact Defensive Player | It should be OLB Damontre Moore, who was slated to step in and take over where Von Miller left off. Unfortunately for Moore, he was arrested in June with for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana. Last year, two Baylor players had a similar offense, one was kicked off the team (I think), the other started the next game, which happened to be against Texas Tech. Moore obviously needs to get his head right with football if he's going to take over such an important position for the Aggies and from what I can recall, Sherman has not stated what, if any, sort of punishment that Moore will receive going into the season.
|Texas St. Bobcats||9/3/2011||Done|
|@ New Mexico Lobos||9/17/2011||Done|
|@ Kansas Jayhawks||10/1/2011||Done|
|Texas A&M Aggies||10/8/2011||Done|
|Kansas St. Wildcats||10/15/2011||Pending|
|@ Oklahoma Sooners||10/22/2011||Pending|
|Iowa St. Cyclones||10/29/2011||Pending|
|@ Texas Longhorns||11/5/2011||Pending|
|Oklahoma St. Cowboys||11/12/2011||Pending|
|@ Missouri Tigers||11/19/2011||Pending|
vs. Texas Tech | That's not a typo. Yes, the Aggies return 10 starters on offense from last year. Almost the entire offense will be back and be back in full force. It's really a bit scary to be honest. The Aggies were 46th in the country in rushing offense, 20th in the country in passing offense and 23rd in the nation in total offense. And to just lose one starter means that there's a greater than zero chance that the Aggie offense will be even better. And I'd also add that those numbers are slightly skewed as Johnson had less than stellar numbers as a starter for a handful of games. Just take your pick as to who's going to star on offense. WR Jeff Fuller was just outstanding last year, catching 72 passes for 1,066 yards and 12 touchdowns and WR Ryan Swope also caught 72 passes for 825 yards and 4 touchdowns. That's not a bad 1-2 punch. Add in RB Cyrus Gray, who rushed for 1,180 yards and 12 touchdowns and RB Christine Michael, 653 yards and 4 touchdowns, and you've got another excellent combination. And you'd expect that Tannehill would progress rather than regress after just having the opportunity to start and now devoting all of his time at quarterback.
Add to that mix an offensive line that returns four starters, including sophomores OT Luke Joeckel and OT Jake Matthews and juniors OG Brian Thomas and OG Patrick Lewis. Yes, at the very least, the same four players will return next year too.
I know, you're probably saying to yourself that Seth C needs to stop heaping so much praise on those Aggies. I get it. The Aggies are really good and offensively, they're a team that returns so many pieces and will likely trend up this year. I don't necessarily like it, but I really try to be honest with I look at opposing teams. They're going to be scary offensively.
However, on defense there are questions. I've always maintained that losing starters are tough, but losing playmaking starters isn't an easy thing to replace. No matter if said player has potential. It's not the same. It's just not. Still, there's some good returning talent for the Aggies, led by ILB Garrick Williams, who had 112 tackles on the team (only 3 behind Hodges) and OLB Sean Porter, who had 74 tackles, goood for 3rd on the team. That's a lot of production returning. The entire defensive backfield returns. A secondary that wasn't the greatest, 89th in the nation and 57th in passing efficiency. Still, those players are a year older and more experienced. Cornerbacks Terrence Fredrick (57 tackles, 1 INT) and Coryell Judie (57 tackles, 4 INT) are your starters. CB Dustin Harris (4 INT) is your nickel back (I think). SS Steven Campbell (33 tackles) and FS Trent Hunter (63 tackles, 2 INT) are your starting safeties.
The wildcard, as mentioned in the impact returning player, is OLB Damontre Moore. If he can get past his legal troubles and be the player that the Aggies expect, then maybe there's not that big of a drop-off defensively. I should also mention that the line returns two starters as well, DE Tony Jerod-Eddie and DT Jonathan Mathis. Both are good players and will help anchor that line. I have mad-respect for Tim DeRuyter as a defensive coordinator as he's done a good job of turning around the Aggie defense.
This is where it gets tough to predict. On paper, the Aggies are clearly better from a preseason perspective. However, before facing Texas Tech the Aggies will have played Oklahoma St. (at home) and Arkansas (in Dallas), two tough games that might have a significant impact on how the Aggies perform in traveling to Lubbock. I'm hopeful. I'm always hopeful, but right now, this is a tough game to think that Texas Tech is going to win, especially considering how far the Texas Tech defense has to go in terms of improvement and the star power that the Aggies have on offense. So tell me where or why I should be hopeful, other than the fact that Texas Tech will play the Aggies in Lubbock? Anything I'm missing? Being too tough on the defense, too complimentary of the TAMU offense?