5 biggest concerns I have about Texas A&M in 2019
What are your expectations for Year 2 of the Jimbo Fisher era? Are you in the group that would be satisfied with continued improvement regardless of the record? Or do you side with those who insist that another 8-4 regular season just isn’t good enough anymore, regardless of the schedule?
No doubt you have your concerns, those issues that you think will shape the 2019 season. Here are a handful of mine, not even including the much-discussed schedule.
1. Experience at LB
This one makes me nervous. Not because the cupboard is bare, but because of inexperience. Buddy Johnson played in 23 games over his first 2 seasons and recorded 40 tackles. Now it’s time to step up and be a leader.
Anthony Hines III was showing real signs of progress in his freshman season but suffered a knee injury after 1 game of his sophomore season and hasn’t played since. If healthy, he could play an important factor at the position.
After that it’s wide open for perhaps a newcomer like Andre White to grab the opportunity and run with it. Braden White and Ikenna Okeke could have something to say about it as well.
2. Pass defense
There is seemingly nowhere to go but up after the Aggies finished 12th in the SEC against the pass, yielding an average of 253.2 yards per game.
Both Debione Renfro and Charles Oliver return at the corners and Miles Jones should play a role as well. But Fisher has gone the JUCO route to pluck Elijah Blades from Arizona Western College. The tall, physical and speedy 4-star recruit, considered by many as the top JUCO corner in the country, could help the Aggies lock down some of the opposing receivers who ran free last season.
Derrick Tucker and Leon O’Neal Jr. look to hold the fort at safety with help from an experienced Larry Pryor.
As stated, there’s nowhere to go but up for this group in 2019. Still, vast improvement is needed.
3. Kellen Mond’s health
The Aggies will be good at quarterback. Actually, better than good. In Mond they have one of the better and more seasoned quarterbacks in the SEC.
Keeping him healthy will be crucial because there is practically no college experience behind him. Connor Blumrick has thrown 1 pass in an Aggies uniform and Zach Calzada, while showing signs of brilliance during the spring, has never taken a snap in a real game at the college level.
Keeping Mond upright and his jersey clean will be paramount to the success of Texas A&M’s 2019 season.
4. Production from TE
No one can realistically expect a new tight end to come in a recreate what Jace Sternberger did last season. For starters, it’s almost unheard of for your tight end to lead your team in receptions, yards and touchdowns. But in Fisher’s offense, the tight end must produce.
Enter sophomore Glenn Beal and freshman Baylor Cupp. Both possess similar skills in blocking and receiving. Fisher said he likes Beal’s blocking abilities, and in a physical style offense that’s a huge compliment.
Beal has a slight advantage in experience, but Cupp could become the eventual long-term solution. He is already 6-6 and the 18-year-old will only add bulk as he hits the weight room.
As for the upcoming 2019 season, however, the position remains a big question mark.
5. Is there life after Trayveon at RB?
Trayveon Williams, the SEC rushing leader last season, took his talents to the next level and that opens the door for someone like Jashaun Corbin. As a freshman last season, Corbin carried 61 times for 346 yards (5.67 avg.) and a touchdown.
He missed much of spring ball with a hamstring injury, but his talents precede him. Corbin was recently voted at the SEC Media Days to the preseason All-SEC Team (as a returner).
“There’s nothing he can’t do on a football field,” Fisher told reporters.
Fisher obviously trusts Corbin, and vice-versa. Corbin, who is from Florida, committed to play for Fisher at FSU before following the head coach to Texas A&M.
But is he ready to be the featured back in a physical style running attack against SEC defenses? That’s the concern.