Texas A&M Aggies

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The fourth year of Jimbo Fisher’s tenure at Texas A&M could be something special, following a 9-1 campaign in 2020 with nine starters returning to a defense that was ranked first in the SEC in yardage allowed. The only loss was to eventual national champion Alabama 52-24 early in the regular season, after which they reeled off eight consecutive victories, culminating in a 41-27 win over North Carolina in the Orange Bowl.

The Aggies will need to find a suitable replacement for quarterback Kellen Mond, who threw for 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions, completing 63.3 % of his passes. They are ranked sixth in the preseason and their schedule is favorable, as they host Alabama and avoid both Florida and Georgia from the SEC East.

2020 Summary

Alabama, with their undefeated season resulting in division, conference and national titles, tended to overshadow the Aggies, who ended up ranked fourth in the final AP poll. Texas A&M was led by a stingy defense, especially as the season wore on, giving up an average of 14 points a game in their final five games.

The Aggies were especially tough against the run, allowing only 92 yards a game on the ground which was second in the country to fellow SEC member Georgia. Overall, it was ranked ninth nationally but they were a bit more vulnerable against the pass.

Offensively, they had a balanced attack and ended up 33rd in the nation in total yards and second in the conference in rushing with over 205 yards a game. Running back Isaiah Spiller led the Aggies with 1036 yards rushing, averaging 5.5 yards a carry and crossing the goal line nine times.

Key Players

Spiller leads the list of returning players and will be a big help to whoever ends up starting at quarterback. He could put up some big numbers, especially with the number of conference games back at the traditional eight with four non-conference matchups as well.

All of Texas A&M’s top receivers are back, including tight end Jalen Wydermyer who led the team in receptions with 46 and tied for the lead with six touchdowns. The junior is more of a possession receiver, but he still averaged 11 yards a catch in 2020.

Offensive guard Kenyon Green earned All-America honors in 2020 and is the only returning offensive lineman to a unit that’s stacked at skill positions but will need to rebuild up front. Green in is likely to move to tackle in order to accommodate the team’s available talent.

New Additions

Tennessee transfer Jahmir Johnson is expected to help fill one of the remaining holes on the offensive line by plugging in at the right tackle position. That will give Texas A&M plenty of experience at the tackle spot.

Top recruit Shemar Turner out of DeSoto, Texas should add depth to the defensive line. At 6’4” and 282 pounds, the freshman should be able to make serious contributions when he’s able to get on the field.

Key Subtractions

Three-year starter Kellen Mond will be tough to replace after he set Texas A&M records in almost every passing category, including yardage, completions, and touchdowns. He is also the Aggies’ career leader in total offense.

One of the few departures on defense was Bobby Brown III, who led the team in sacks with 5.5 from his defensive tackle position. The fourth-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams was also tied for the Aggies’ best with 7.5 tackles for loss.

Divisional Outlook

Alabama is a consensus favorite to capture the SEC West as well as the conference, but Texas A&M has a lot of talent coming back as well as hosting the game with the Crimson Tide on October 9th. That contest could have not just division implications, but also at the national level as well.

LSU, with two new coordinators, and Ole Miss, who was explosive on offense in 2020 have been mentioned as contenders, but they’re likely playing for no better than third place unless they can pull an upset or two. Auburn has a new coach, Arkansas is trying to continue the progress they made last year and Mississippi State needs to bounce back after a poor start to the Mike Leach era.

Texas A&M Offense

With all of the talent at the skill positions, the success of the Aggies will depend on the play of whatever quarterback succeeds record-setter Kellen Mond. They have some talent in the wings with redshirt freshman Haynes King and sophomore Zach Calada, but neither one has any appreciable playing time leading the offense.

In addition to Spiller at running back, Devon Achance can flash some serious speed that enabled him to average 8.5 yards a carry in 2020, scoring four touchdowns on just 43 carries. The receivers will give either King or Calada plenty of targets downfield and with Jimbo Fisher in control, it’s doubtful the offense will be much of a liability.

Texas A&M Defense

With all of the experience back for the Aggies, expectations are high for Texas A&M and it might take some big efforts by the defense to allow the offense to find its stride. Starters are back at virtually every position with a few opting for extra seasons to give the Aggies a chance to have a special season.

Last year’s defense spread around ten interceptions between nine players, with cornerback Leon O’Neal Jr. the only one to grab a pair in 2020. Brown III and linebacker Buddy Johnson led the team in sacks and their presence will be missed, but several other returning players combined for 16 sacks, so the Aggies have capable replacements ready to go.

 

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