#38 Texas A&M Football 2016 Preview

Texas A&M Aggies
Overall Rank: #38
#9 SEC
Texas A&M needs a big season in 2016. Last year was fine, but the Aggies have higher standards than going 4-4 in SEC play and losing to Louisville in the Music City Bowl. After a 5-0 start, which included wins over Arizona State, Arkansas and Mississippi State, the Aggies failed to pick up a big win down the stretch. The expectations are higher this year, but the SEC West is not any easier.
2015 Record: 8-5, 4-4
2015 Bowl: Music City Bowl vs. Louisville (L 27-21)
Coach: Kevin Sumlin (36-16 at Texas A&M, 71-33 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Noel Mazzone
Defensive Coordinator: John Chavis
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: James White, RB, 196 yards
Passing: Jake Hubenak, QB, 399 yards
Receiving: Christian Kirk, WR, 1,009 yards
Tackles: Armani Watts, S, 126
Sacks: Myles Garrett, DE, 12.5
Interceptions: Donovan Wilson, CB, 5
Other Key Returnees: WR Josh Reynolds, WR Ricky Seals-Jones, LB Shaan Washington, S Justin Evans, DE Daeshon Hall, LB Richard Moore
Key Losses: QB Kyle Allen, RB Tra Carson, RB Kyler Murray, OL Germain Ifedi, OL Mike Matthews, LB A.J. Hillard, P Drew Kaser, K Taylor Bertolet
The Aggies defense made a huge stride defensively in 2015. The ended up ranking fourth in the country in pass defense and 28th in scoring defense. It starts at the line where Myles Garrett tallied 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles-for-loss. Fellow end Daeshon Hall added 7.0 sacks and 14.5 tackles-for-loss. Daylon Mack is a very promising sophomore tackle who should help make this one of the better lines in the SEC. The group of linebackers is young, but full of promise. Otaro Alaka is back after missing nearly all of last season and Richard Moore stepped up late in his freshman campaign. Shaan Washington is the senior leader of the group. The secondary is led by safeties Armani Watts and Justin Evans. Watts totaled 126 tackles last season, while Evans added 78. Donovan Wilson is a great nickel back, but the Aggies need some new options at cornerback. Priest Willis, a transfer from UCLA, figures to step right into a starting role.
Trevor Knight comes to Texas A&M after spending three seasons at Oklahoma. He is a dual-threat quarterback who has the ability to get this offense back to where they were a few years ago. New coordinator Noel Mazzone will look to get this offense moving and he will have a lot more weapons to work with than just Knight. The top five receivers return, led by Christian Kirk. Kirk caught 80 passes for 1,009 yards and seven scores last season. Josh Reynolds added 51 receptions for 907 yards and five scores and is the team’s big play threat. Ricky Seals-Jones, Speedy Noil and Damion Ratley will add even more dangerous options. Like at quarterback, the running back spot will also rely heavily on an Oklahoma transfer. Two years ago Ford rushed for 369 yards and five touchdowns on 63 carries with the Sooners. Ford could be the back the Aggies need to be consistent offensively, but the offensive line must improve for that to happen.
The Bottom Line:
Texas A&M and Coach Kevin Sumlin have a lot of potential this season, but the parts need to all come together quickly. The schedule begins with UCLA and a couple weeks later SEC play begins with a trip to Auburn. The fact that the Aggies have to play Tennessee from the East does not help matters either. This is a team that should easily go to a bowl, but the schedule is too tough for Texas A&M to surpass teams like Alabama and LSU in the SEC West pecking order.
Projected Bowl: Texas Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 169.1 (66th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 255.6 (39, 4)
Total Offense: 424.7 (50, 6)
Scoring Offense: 27.8 (71, 7)
Rushing Defense: 213.7 (107, 13)
Pass Defense: 166.3 (4, 2)
Total Defense: 380.0 (51, 8)
Scoring Defense: 22.0 (28, 7)
Turnover Margin: -0.46 (102, 13)
Sacks: 2.62 (26, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.85 (107, 13)
Madness 2017 NFL Draft Rankings:
#2 Myles Garrett
#58 Armani Watts
#66 Daeshon Hall
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#70 Justin Madubuike
#125 Kellen Diesch
#155 Aaron Hansford
#210 Quartney Davis
#220 Clyde Leflore-Chriss