The Aggies Are Coming! The Aggies Are Coming!
The 2014 season was a disaster for Texas A&M, and I phrase that generously. No other team in the country had as big of a roller coaster year.
They began the year attempting to fill the hole left by Johnny Manziel. Coach Kevin Sumlin went with sophomore Kenny Hill, and right off the bat it seemed like the correct decision, as Hill went on to beat Manziel’s Aggie record for single-game passing yards by going 44-60 for 511 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Hill continued to get the job done against subpar competition. However, once conference play started, he struggled along with the rest of the team. After three straight losses, Hill was benched and freshman Kyle Allen was put in.
They eventually finished the year 8-5 with a win over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl. The team showed a lot of promise throughout the year, but was never able to fully put together all the pieces. They relied on their offense (particularly the passing offense) too much and their defense was one of their worst in recent years.
That being said, don’t be surprised when you see the Aggies make a comeback to relevance in 2015. In fact, don’t be surprised if they come out of the SEC West on top. Bold statements, yes I know. Yet, they may not be so crazy by the end of this article.
The Aggies rely heavily on their passing game. Everybody knows that. It especially showed last year when they lacked consistency at quarterback and experience at receiver.
With a full offseason under his belt, Kyle Allen will go into the new campaign with a better sense of the offensive system and a lot of confidence. Allen is a gunslinger who possesses a ton of potential to develop into something great. The best thing that he has going for him is that he gets to work with one of the best receiving groups in the nation.
Three of their top four receivers from last year return in Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil, and Ricky Seals-Jones. Reynolds was one of the more productive wideouts in the nation last year, as he reached the end zone 13 times, good for 4th in the country. The other two guys are who I believe will take this team from good to great.
Speedy Noil entered his freshman season holding arguably the highest expectations behind Leonard Fournette. Noil is a dynamic player, one who is capable of scoring every time he touches the ball. If he is able to see more action as a sophomore, there is no stopping him from becoming one of the most explosive players in college football.
Ricky Seals-Jones is everything you want from a number one receiver. He stands at 6’5 and weighs over 220, and he knows how to use his size to his advantage.
Seals-Jones is a freak athlete with a great vertical and stellar catch radius. Even when he’s not open, he’s open. Could we possibly be seeing the next coming of Dorial Green-Beckham? Only time will tell…
As for the rest of the offense, there is no need to worry about the offensive line as they simply seem to replace All-Americans with different All-Americans each year. Look for guys like Germain Ifedi and Mike Matthews to establish themselves as some of the top guys in the SEC.
In addition, two of last year’s top rushers are returning in Tra Carson and Brandon Williams. Carson received the bulk of the carries last year and was able to produce five touchdowns, generating 4.7 yards per carry. With the addition of assistant coordinator Dave Christensen, a run-oriented coach, the Aggies will look to give Carson and Williams more touches and create a more balanced offense.
A&M can score with anybody, there’s no doubt about that. They have been a top-20 passing team and top-30 scoring team each of the past five seasons. The problem has always been their defense. Terrible defensive play has routinely limited the success of the Aggies. This offseason, Kevin Sumlin has made sure that this won't happen again.
The Aggies' defense will be centered around the strength of its defensive line. The group will be lead by the rising sophomore superstar Myles Garrett. He is coming off a year in which he broke the SEC freshman record for sacks with 11, had 12.5 tackles for loss, was named the team’s defensive MVP, was selected for a spot on the All-SEC second team, and was named to the freshman All-American team. Garrett can only go up from here, so look for him to take the country by storm and become the most dominant pass rusher behind Scooby Wright.
Hoping to follow in Garrett’s footsteps is five-star recruit Daylon Mack. Mack completely dominated in the Under Armour All-America Game, as he was virtually in the backfield on every play, and went on to earn the defensive MVP award. At 6’1 he is a bit undersized, but he makes up for it with a quick first step and superb anticipation. A combo of Garrett and Mack will be a great core for the A&M defense for the next couple years.
The biggest factor for the Aggies this offseason was the addition of Defensive Coordinator John Chavis. Chavis is one of the top dogs in the country when it comes to crafting an elite defense; he has done it for years at LSU, as the Tigers have been successful numerous times when lacking a decent offense. Here, Chavis is blessed with an elite offense. With several guys to build around, namely Garrett and Mack, Chavis should be able to upgrade A&M’s defense from laughable to respectable.
With a respectable defense and an already elite offense, A&M has all of the pieces to make a huge name for themselves. With Ole Miss and LSU being the only true road tests, the Aggies should have no problem getting double digit wins in 2015. Sumlin’s ballclub is a true threat to win the SEC West, and possibly the entire SEC.
If you are to take one thing away from this article, let it be this:
The Aggies of Texas A&M will rise from the dark ages known as the post-Manziel era.