Texas A&M: Spring Football Preview in Aggie Land

//Texas A&M: Spring Football Preview in Aggie Land

Texas A&M: Spring Football Preview in Aggie Land

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin could be on the ropes if the Aggies don’t make improvements quickly. Saturday Down South‘s Glenn Sattell peeks inside the program.

It really can’t be sugarcoated. Consecutive 5-0 starts and consecutive 8-5 finishes just aren’t getting it done in College Station. Not with the money the school is spending to upgrade the program’s facilities and program.

The Aggies enter the 2016 season with as many questions as any SEC program – a new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, a new athletics director.

But the anxiety seems to be on offense. Defensive coordinator John Chavis stopped the bleeding on the other side. The Aggies were much improved on defense in 2015 and appear poised to be even bigger and better in 2016, although the news this week was not good for starting linebacker A.J. Hilliard, who ended his career because of injuries.

The hope is that new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone will work his magic and transform the offense as successfully as Chavis did with the defense. If that doesn’t happen, it could spell the end of the line for Kevin Sumlin, whose arrival at Texas A&M rejuvenated the program just four short years ago.

But Sumlin’s Aggies haven’t had a winning record in the SEC since his first season. And after finishing that 2012 season ranked No. 5 in the nation, the Aggies have closed the past two seasons unranked.

But as Johnny Manziel left the program, so has much of the air in it. A quick and decisive turnaround is needed. Whether the new faces can resuscitate it remains to be seen.

ON-FIELD PERFORMANCE

SEC standing: Middle of the pack.

Grade: C

Granted, the middle of the pack in the SEC West translates to finishing at or near the top in almost any other conference. But the Aggies are in the SEC West and have finished the past three seasons in the middle (4-4, 3-5, 4-4).

That’s average in anyone’s book. And after defeating Alabama late in the 2012 season, the Aggies have since gone 6-9 against ranked teams at the time they played, including 0-3 vs. Alabama. That has to change or changes will be made.

Perhaps Oklahoma transfer QB Trevor Knight can combine with Mazzone to provide the much-needed spark in 2016.

RECRUITING

SEC standing: Middle of the pack.

2016 rank: 18th overall, No. 8 in SEC

Grade: C-

You can’t help your cause by finishing eighth among your peers in recruiting — even though alot of non-SEC West teams would be happy with a class ranked 18th nationally.

But it’s not just the SEC West causing problems.

The Aggies are not winning the battle for the state of Texas, one of the biggest hotbeds for talent. Both Texas (No. 11) and Baylor (No. 17) ranked higher in the recruiting class of 2016, according to 247sports.com.

That’s something Texas A&M must correct if they intend to compete in the SEC West. They pulled in zero five-stars and eight four-stars in their most recent class and ranked fifth among the seven SEC West teams.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

SEC standing: Middle of the pack.

Grade: C

It’s difficult to determine player development from the top recruits. Obviously, a five-star recruit is expected to have an opportunity to play at the next level. Perhaps judgment can be made by the missed opportunities of those standouts and the ultimate elevation of the four-star and below.

Within that shaky base we can look at four-star tackle Germain Ifedi declaring early for the NFL and make a positive conclusion. We can also say that four-star DE Daeshon Hall and four-star safety Armani Watts have been coached up to elite status as well. Chavis could have something to do with that. The Chief has been known to put a player or two in the NFL.

But five-star WRs Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil, not to mention five-star QBs Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray did not work out or haven’t yet justified their high school projections. So for every success story, there appears to be one that went the other way.

FACILITIES

SEC standing: Among the best.

Grade: A

Keeping up with the Sabans is critical in competing in the SEC. LSU learned that lesson when Nick Saban arrived, built up those facilities and won a national championship. He did the same, even better, at Alabama.

Now Texas A&M has stepped up with a $450 million renovation of Kyle Field that makes the facility the largest in terms of seating capacity (102,733) in the SEC.

Texas A&M is sparing no expense in making its facilities the finest in a conference known for its arms race.

COACHING

SEC standing: Upper half.

Grade: B-

No question, adding Chavis was a big improvement and will continue to be for as long as he remains in College Station.

We were led to believe that Sumlin was some sort of offensive guru, and with Manziel at quarterback it looked as if his reputation was a solid one. But that’s been tarnished over the past couple of years, and now he brings in his third offensive coordinator in what will be his fifth season.

If Mazzone can spark the offense like Chavis has done, the Aggies can be on the right path again.

2016-03-03T09:28:16+00:00March 3rd, 2016|Sports|Comments Off on Texas A&M: Spring Football Preview in Aggie Land