The preseason predictions for Texas A&M are dire. Already, Kevin Sumlin’s on the hotseat, and people are calling for a 6-6, 7-5 season.
But actually, things might not be that bad – and the Aggies could be the surprise team in the SEC West.
The SEC Blog previews the Aggies….
The Aggies started the season 5-0 – including a crazy OT win over Arkansas in JerryWorld, but then lost 41-23 at home to Alabama….and it wasn’t that close. They followed that crippling loss by getting spanked by 20 at Ole Miss, just beating South Carolina and losing by 16 at home to world-beaters Auburn. Two wins over Western Carolina and Vanderbilt hardly kept the haters at bay, and then a season-ending loss to LSU on Les Miles Farewell Game and then a 27-21 loss to Louisville in the Music City Bowl finished the season with a 8-5 record….with the only wins of any note were the Arizona State game to start the season (ASU was ranked No.18 at the time – although by the end, the Sun Devils were pretty terrible) and the Arkansas win.
The offseason wasn’t helped by two of its star quarterbacks – Kyle Allen and Khyler Murray – taking the decision to leave College Station, alongside linesman Germain Ifeldi, who was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks. Elsewhere CB Brandon Williams was taken third round by the Cardinals, and Drew Kaser’s going to be the next best punter in the NFL (taken sixth round by the Chargers). Oh, and as undrafted free agents go, Tra Carson is a Cincinnati Bengal, OG Joseph Cheek and CB De’Vante Harris are Saints, and C Mike Matthews is a Cleveland Brown.
Recruiting-wise, Texas A&M was ranked 18th nationally but 8th in the SEC, which is already meaning the fires are burning in College Station, since winning the recruiting war – especially against Texas – is more important than life itself. Still, signing EIGHT four-star players ain’t bad, including DE Justin Madubuike, who’s going to be awesome for The Chief either this year or next.
The Aggies also brought in Trevor Knight from Oklahoma to play QB in January, which could be a steadying influence if he finds the excellence of his Sugar Bowl-winning performance against Alabama. He’s certainly going to have a very big cheerleader in the stands. Things aren’t highly expected of him, so he could well deliver. There’s also the arrival of RB Keith Ford from the same school- although everybody will be watching out for his off-the-field antics probably more than what they are like on the grass.
WHY IS EVERYONE SAYING TEXAS A&M’S GONNA BE TERRIBLE?
OK, so ‘terrible’ is a strong word, but people have already warmed up Kevin Sumlin’s seat going into 2016. The departure of the quarterbacks was definitely a big hit to Sumlin’s ego as well as his personnel, but the big issue for us isn’t even that – it’s the offensive line. Three starters are gone from a unit which sucked last year, and I’m sorry, but Brit right guard Jermaine Eluemunor doesn’t convince us either. This could be a horror show. A lot will be expected of the incredibly-named Kalvin Cline – who played in 23 games for Virginia Tech but none as a starter since 2016 – at tight end.
BUT CAN’T YOU LISTEN TO THE REASONS WHY THEY ARE GOING TO BE GOOD?
Listen haters, if Trevor Knight can get the ball out to his receiving corps, there’s gonna be hell to pay for defenses. Josh Reynolds, Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones are all ultra-talented gamebreakers. Speaking of gamebreakers, Kirk’s one of the best return men in the land, so he should set the Aggies up in good field position. Oh, and I’ve got more confidence in Trevor Knight than I did in either Allen or Murray. You should do.
Oh, and defensively, they might struggle at linebacker, but they’ve got a future first-rounder in Myles Garrett at defensive end, and nickel back Donovan Wilson’s pretty useful, too. And the defensive co-ordinator is exceptional in John Chavis.
This team could be 6-6, if you think they’ll lose to UCLA, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU and beat Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Prairie View, UTSA and New Mexico State. We think that they’ll beat UCLA and Arkansas and be a tidy 8-4. That’s pretty good.