#30 Texas A&M 2018 Football Preview

Texas A&M Aggies
Overall Rank: #30
#7 SEC
 Texas A&M Logo
Texas A&M made the biggest splash of the offseason when they convinced former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher to leave Tallahassee and come to College Station. Athletic Director Scott Woodward and Texas A&M are making a $75 million-dollar investment over ten years in Coach Fisher and are banking on Fisher’s ability to bring home a national championship. It won’t be easy with Alabama and Auburn in the same division, but its going to be fun to watch Fisher try and surpass both programs in upcoming seasons.
2017 Record: 7-6, 4-4
2017 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Wake Forest (52-55 L)
Coach: Jimbo Fisher (First season at Texas A&M, 83-23 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Dickey
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Elko
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Traveyon Williams, RB, 798 yards
Passing: Nick Starkel, QB, 1,793 yards
Receiving: Jhamon Ausbon, WR, 571 yards
Tackles: Tyrel Dodson, LB, 105
Sacks: Landis Durham, DE, 10.5
Interceptions: Tyrel Dodson, LB, 3
Other Key Returnees: LG Keaton Sutherland, C Erik McCoy, LG Ryan McCollum, QB Kellen Mond, DT Kingsley Keke, LB Otaro Alaka, CB Charles Oliver, CB Debione Renfro, S Derrick Tucker, CB Clifford Chatman, K Daniel LaCamera, S Donovan Wilson
Key Losses: WR/KR Christian Kirk, S Armani Watts, WR Damion Ratley
Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond are back at quarterback and Starkel should be the favorite to be the starter as he seems to fit the scheme of Jimbo Fisher. Starkel finished the 2017 season strong with 11 touchdown passes in the final four games. Traveyon Williams is the leading returning running back after rushing for 798 yards and eight touchdowns. Williams should get a lot more opportunities to carry the ball in 2018 and will need to surpass 1,000 yards for the offense to really take flight this season. Jhamon Ausbon did a nice job as a freshman at wide receiver catching 50 passes for 571 yards. Cameron Buckley is another highly talented wide receiver that will be looking to take another step forward as a sophomore as well. The offensive line is going to be another key for the Aggies as they will need to do a better job of protecting the quarterback after allowing 2.23 sacks per game last season. A good goal for the offensive line will be to get that sacks allowed total down to less than 1.50 sacks per game, which will lessen the risk of injury to both quarterbacks.
Landis Durham is an excellent pass rusher at defensive end for new defensive coordinator Mike Elko to build around in 2018. Durham had 10.5 sacks and should be in position to match that sack total in 2018. The question is who will step up at the other defensive end spot and become a quality pass rushing threat. Tyrel Dodson is the key to the linebackers as Dodson had 105 tackles last season and will need to have another big season this fall. The pass defense is another area of concern. The Aggies allowed 237.6 yards per game last season, which is way too much in a league like the SEC. Increased competition at cornerback will help and Clifford Chattman and Charles Oliver should take over as starters to replace Debione Renfro and Myles Jones. Derrick Tucker is a safety that has a lot of potential and will need to develop into a big-time playmaker in 2018 as Texas A&M needs to get even better at causing turnovers. Daniel LaCamera is back at kicker, which should stabilize things in the kicking game until someone steps up as a return specialist to flip field position.
The Bottom Line:
Clemson comes to College Station in week two in what will be a big spotlight game for the Aggies. On September 22nd, Texas A&M travels to Tuscaloosa to play the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. The key in those two games will be to find a way to be competitive and survive the physicality. A two-game stretch against Arkansas and Kentucky will be important as those are games that the Aggies can win and should win under a coach like Fisher. Then, a three-game road trip to play South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Auburn will follow the Kentucky game. It will be especially important for Texas A&M to find a way and get one of those three road games. Look for the Aggies to have a 5-4 record after nine games but will finish strong by holding serve at home against Ole Miss, UAB, and LSU to get to a solid eight wins in 2018.
Projected Bowl: Music City Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 155.6 (78th in nation, 10th in Conference)
Passing Offense: 251.2 (47, 3)
Total Offense: 406.8 (56, 8)
Scoring Offense: 32.7 (34, 6)
Rushing Defense: 170.8 (71, 9)
Pass Defense: 237.6 (85, 11)
Total Defense: 408.5 (78, 9)
Scoring Defense: 30.7 (87, 10)
Turnover Margin: 0.23 (16, 2)
Sacks: 3.31 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (75, 6)

Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#67 Jalen Preston
#85 Leon O'Neal Jr
#181 James Foster
#201 Max Wright
#228 Corey Blanton