With the offseason officially underway, SDS will examine what’s next for spring football for all 14 teams. First up, Texas A&M.
Texas A&M is the first SEC team to start spring practice tomorrow. Let’s dive into their spring camp and see what the crystal ball says about the Aggies’ spring practice. Texas A&M is the only SEC team that won’t have a spring game this year due to the reconstruction of Kyle Field.
Three offensive pillars of the offense’s success are now gone in Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews, the backbone of an explosive offensive attack. The Aggies were the only SEC team to average over 40 points per game, right at 44.2 points per game. While the loss of all three is tremendously tough to swallow, improving the Aggies’ worst ranked defense is paramount for continued success. 2013′s defense ranked last in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense within the conference. Mark Snyder and his defensive staff have their work cut out for them.
Position of concern
All eyes will be on the defense, specifically the defensive line. The SEC’s worst run defense yielded over 222 yards per game. That’s an amazing stat to go along with nine wins. That should tell you just how potent the offense really was. The Aggies’ pass rush recorded just 21 sacks and 67 tackles for loss, both good for 10th in the SEC. Defensive linemen Gavin Stansbury, Jay Arnold, Ivan Robinson, Julien Obioha and Daeshon Hall, among others, have to continue to develop this spring. Promising defensive tackle Isaiah Golden has been suspended after his recent arrest, prompting questions about his spring development. He’s crucial to this unit’s success. A seven- or eight-win season hinges on the development of the front seven, specifically the defensive line.
Position(s) of strength
Texas A&M will enjoy the strength of the offensive line and at running back. The O-line loses just Jake Matthews, returning tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, guard Jarvis Harrison and center Mike Matthews. This unit has been one of the strongest in college football over the last few seasons. The running back corps are as deep as any team in college football, even with the loss of Ben Malena. Trey Williams, Tre Carson and Brandon Williams are explosive and complement each other well. Trey Williams is the burner, Carson is the pounder, and Brandon Williams is a slight combination of both. Redshirt freshman James White will also make the depth chart even more stacked. The running game should be the backbone of the offense next season, with strengths and depth along the offensive line and at running back.
Three signees who will get you excited
1. Kyle Allen, QB: He was high school’s top quarterback, and he’s also an early enrollee. He’s polished, poised and very talented, and he’ll compete for the starting job this spring.
2. Myles Garrett, DE: Garrett won’t hit campus until the summer, but he’ll be an instant-impact type of talent. If Texas A&M can get production from Garrett like Ole Miss received from Robert Nkemdiche and Mississippi State received from Chris Jones, it will be an immediate success.
3. Speedy Noil, WR: We’ve seen it year after year – explosive freshmen receivers make immediate impacts, and the most recent player that comes to mind is Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell. Noil is so explosive and is just a raw playmaker. Because he’s an early enrollee, he should compete for a starting job come fall.
Spring’s primary position battle
Without a doubt, the Texas A&M quarterback battle will be one of the most headlined position battles talked about around the country. Who will replace Johnny Manziel? That’s the million dollar question. Rising senior Matt Joeckel and rising sophomore Kenny Hill will get first dibs, but watch out for Kyle Allen. Reading the mind of Kevin Sumlin, he wants the dual-threat Kenny Hill to win the job. That will allow Joeckel to be the primary backup, and the even bigger reason is that it will allow Allen to redshirt. Still, if Allen is the best quarterback of the bunch, Sumlin won’t hesitate to start him game one. He’s that good.
Emerging spring player prediction
With so much focus on the quarterback position, my money is on running back Tre Carson to explode this spring. He’s the pounder of the group at 6-1, 235, and he showed flashes that he can become that every-down back every SEC team covets. The Texarkana native will be one backbone of the offense come September. Carson rushed 62 times for 329 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013.
Offseason’s burning question
What’s the bigger focus: replacing Johnny Manziel’s production or the disturbing defense?
Aggies’ offseason crystal ball
Looking into the Aggies’ crystal ball, the quarterback position battle will extend well into fall camp, and my money is on Kenny Hill. Hill is the most like Manziel, as he’s a dual-threat quarterback. I also really like defensive end Julien Obioha and am waiting for him to become a breakout star in SEC play. He’s a valuable piece to the defensive puzzle to take this unit’s game to another level.
Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports