SQ College Football Top-25 Preview: #21 Texas A&M
The 2015 college football season is almost a month away, which means we're getting closer to figuring out who the king of the crop will be. We've assembled our own list of the NCAA's best teams here at SQ in anticipation of the new season. Today, we take a look at #21 Texas A&M.
Team: Texas A&M
SQ Ranking: 21
2014 Record: 8-5
Finish in AP Poll: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin (4th year)
Key Arrivals: DT Daylon Mack, QB Kyler Murray, WR Christian Kirk, DE James Lockhart, S Justin Evans
Key Departures: OT Cedric Ogbuehi, OG Jarvis Harrison, RB Trey Williams, CB Deshazor Everett, K Josh Lambo
Previewing the Texas A&M Offense: The Texas A&M offense will start and end with sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen. Due to the inconsistency at the position last year, Allen was thrown into the mix quite a lot, and performed well. In the last 4 games of the season (Auburn, Missouri, LSU, and West Virginia), he averaged 20 completions on 31 attempts (good for a 65% completion percentage), 3 touchdowns, and only 1 interception. Allen was able to find success at the end of last season and now that he has an entire offseason under his belt, I expect his efficiency will only go up.
The offensive line has been a bright spot for the Aggies throughout the past couple of seasons. Although they lost key pieces in Ogbuehi and Harrison, look for guys like Germain Ifedi and Mike Matthews to step up and become leaders in the trenches.
Allen's favorite receiver from last year, Josh Reynolds, is back for another season. He was significantly productive in 2014, finishing 4th in the nation last year in receiving touchdowns. But, the two x-factors for the Aggies will be the other two returning receivers: Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones.
Both wideouts showed flashes of greatness in 2014, but nothing much outside of that. Each guy possesses a ton of talent athletically, but neither has been able to transfer that to consistency on the football field. Seals-Jones is a freak of nature, a prototypical NFL-like number one receiver. He's 6'5 220 lbs., surprisingly fast and aggressive. Noil is a playmaker, a ball of energy just waiting to explode. He's capable of scoring every time he touches the ball. If these two receivers can turn potential into production, the Aggie offense could reach an elite level. If they falter, the talented freshman Christian Kirk will be breathing down their necks for that starting spot.
Previewing the Texas A&M Defense: Texas A&M has a superstar on their hands. Sophomore DE Myles Garrett may be the best defensive player to put on an Aggie uniform when it's all said and done. For now, he's the greatest thing to happen since Von Miller.
Garrett broke the SEC freshman record for sacks with 11 (previously held by Jadeveon Clowney), received All-SEC Second Team honors and was named a freshman All-American. He is a pass-rush specialist and a leader of the defense.
Along with Garrett, freshmen recruits Daylon Mack and James Lockhart will look to make immediate contributions. The Aggies will have not only the youngest, but arguably the most talented defensive front in the SEC, something that they have been craving for in College Station for quite a while.
The most underrated, and arguably most important, addition to this Texas A&M defense won't ever see the field. That is because he is Defensive Coordinator John Chavis. The Aggies have been able to recruit top talent the past couple years, and now they have found their ring leader. Chavis spent 6 years at LSU, shaping them into one of the best defenses in the nation year in and year out. The Aggies will need Chavis to do the same thing for them if they wish to compete in the SEC.
Three Key Games:
1. Texas A&M vs. Alabama, October 17th - Simply put, in order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Alabama is the unquestioned best team in the SEC entering 2015. This young and upcoming Aggie team is going to have its work cut out for them, but if they are able to pull out an upset at home, there's no reason to say why they can't win the conference.
2. Texas A&M at LSU, November 28th - Every year Texas A&M is able to compete with the Tigers, yet they can never seem to pull out a win. This game will most likely be a one-sided battle between the Aggie offense and the Tiger defense. Whoever cracks first will end up losing.
3. Texas A&M vs. South Carolina, October 31st - Every team has a trap game in their schedule. Well, this is Texas A&M's trap game. The Aggies shocked the world on opening day last year when they blew out South Carolina by 24 points. There's no reason to doubt that an improved Gamecock squad would want nothing more than to come into College Station and return the favor.
Final Analysis: This is going to be a statement year for Texas A&M in one way or another. The Aggies have all of the pieces necessary for a great 2015 campaign. However, they fell way below expectations last year, which still leaves room for doubt.
We already know that the offense will be one of the top in the country, especially considering the fact that they have one of the deepest receiving cores in football. This team is Kyle Allen's to lose, and I think that he will be able to take the helm and run with it.
The Aggies' weakness has always been the defense. But with guys like Myles Garrett, Daylon Mack, JUCO transfer Justin Evans and new coordinator John Chavis, this defense has a chance to make a big change for the better.
If all of the pieces come together, this team has New Year's Six Bowl written all over it. If they don't, then we'll see the same thing as last year: flashes here and there, but only 8 or 9 wins at best. Texas A&M is one of the hardest teams to predict, so only time will tell if this squad is ready to make the jump to greatness.