Published October 10, 2012 - 12:20pm
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The SEC newbies were arguably the preseason story of the year. Everyone across the country wanted to see how both would fare. With Missouri and Texas A&M coming into this great conference, we knew it would be an uphill battle for both. But Missouri looked like it had the best chance for quicker success with an explosive offense, especially heading into the SEC East.
How all of that has changed through six weeks! Missouri is sitting at the bottom of the East with Kentucky, certainly after the loss to Vanderbilt at home, and Texas A&M is having much more success and in the thick of the SEC West race. I wrote before the season that Texas A&M had the tougher road to success, not Missouri. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
#22 Texas A&M (4-1, 2-1)
Stats: Scoring Offense (44.6 ppg, 1st), Scoring Defense (14.8 ppg, 6th), Total Offense (516.8 ypg, 1st), Total Defense (363.6 ypg, 8th)
Reason for success: Usually, we know in this league you win with defense. And while Texas A&M does have a solid defense, quarterback Johnny Manziel has to be main reason for their success. He’s running through this league like a junior, but he’s only a redshirt freshman. He was obviously the biggest question mark heading into the season, but he has answered the bell. He’s fifth in the SEC in rushing (495 yards) and fourth in passing yardage (1,285 yards), and he’s one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the entire country. He leads the SEC in total offense, gaining 1,780 yards and averaging 356 yards per game. Up until last weekend, Manziel had not even thrown an interception. However, he made up for it with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter with a come-from-behind win against the Rebels.
Team Buzz: The Aggies really are the biggest unknown in the SEC. Florida, sitting at #4 in the country, is the only team to beat them, and they did so on the heels of great second-half adjustments against the Aggies’ offense. Before the season, we were talking about Texas A&M maybe making a bowl game, but that will be accomplished likely within the next three games. This team could potentially finish 9-3 in a best-case-scenario situation. Conservatively, TAMU finishes 8-4 during the regular season. However, this team has surprised this season and is only getting better. It’s not out of the question the Aggies reel off 10 wins in their first-ever SEC season. I would pay to see the face of Longhorns’ fans if that happens.
Missouri (3-3, 0-3)
Stats: Scoring Offense (25.3 ppg, 10th), Scoring Defense (22.8 ppg, 8th), Total Offense (356.2 ypg, 12th), Total Defense (326.7 ypg, 6th)
Reason for lack of success: The one glaring reason for the lack of success this season has been injuries. Quarterback James Franklin has been hampered with a throwing shoulder injury and now an MCL sprain that will keep him out a few weeks. The Tigers also lost their leader along the offensive line for several games in Elvis Fisher, too, along with two other starting offensive linemen. Missouri was 30th in the country in total offense last season, averaging 32.8 points per game, compared to just 25.3 now. It’s been a rough welcoming to the SEC, but all Mizzou fans know respect is earned.
Team Buzz: If you look ahead on the schedule, Missouri probably won’t make a bowl game. They are sitting with three wins on the season through six weeks, and games with Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M all lie ahead. Kentucky and Syracuse provide the Tigers with the best chance to pick up two wins and get to five total. Mizzou will have to pull an SEC upset to get to their sixth win.
Missouri is just clearly not ready for the league yet. Their depth and physicality, starting in the trenches, must improve moving forward. However, the defense hasn’t played all that bad at times.