Texas A&M football: Grading every position group after the 2022 regular season
Has there ever been a season so bad that ended so good?
Texas A&M ended a very disappointing 5-7 season by upsetting No. 5 LSU by 2 touchdowns. And it wasn’t even that close. The Aggies dominated, and like last season after the victory over No. 1 Alabama we were left shaking our heads and wondering where that team had been all season long.
Now that it’s all over, let’s take a look at each position group and give a grade for its performance this season:
Conner Weigman’s strong performance in the win over LSU notwithstanding, the Aggies struggled mightily at quarterback all season long. Max Johnson came over from LSU to help out starter Haynes King. But both were ineffective, both were injured, and Weigman finished out with promise for the future.
The true freshman played in 4 of the Aggies’ final 5 games and in that time threw for 805 yards and 8 TDs. He threw 132 passes this season with 0 interceptions. His 2 TDs against LSU brought his total to 8 for the season. He was a huge upgrade at the position and affords the Aggies optimism for the future at QB.
Running back: C-
Devon Achane was a 1-man show. He finished 3rd in the SEC with 1,102 yards. He scored 8 rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.62 yards per carry. He was awesome, especially in the upset of LSU. He was the Aggies’ offense, carrying a whopping 38 times for 215 yards in the stunner on Nov. 26.
So why the low grade? Well, because of the cliff-like drop off after Achane. As a team, the Aggies ranked 11th in the SEC in rushing offense. After Achane, the Aggies as a team combined for 599 rushing yards. That’s pitiful. Thank goodness for Achane.
Wide receiver/tight end: C+
We can see the potential from this extremely young group. But the Aggies were no better than 10th in the SEC in passing offense. That was the result of shaky quarterback play for most of the year, together with some dropped passes.
But against LSU, the receivers and tight ends were pretty awesome as a group. Sophomore Moose Muhammad III led the way with 94 yards on 5 catches, including a 1-handed grab for a momentum-shifting touchdown. Freshman tight end Donovan Green found the end zone as well on a short, 3-yard grab. And freshman Evan Stewart, the Aggies’ leading receiver this season, is going to be a star.
Offensive line: D
Again, you wouldn’t know it by the way it dominated the No. 5 team in the country. But for the season, Texas A&M’s offensive line was a hot mess. Injuries and youth kept this group from jelling in any meaningful way.
Then came the LSU game. Freshmen Trey Zuhn III, Matthew Wykoff and Kam Newberry, coupled with “veteran” sophomore Reuben Fatheree and junior Layden Robinson collectively had their way with LSU. At the risk of repeating myself, the future looks bright for this group.
Defensive line: F
The Aggies were dead last in the SEC against the run. They were the only team in the league to allow 200-plus rushing yards per game, giving up 209. Again, injuries made a difference, but this group never played well. Even in their biggest victory of the season against LSU, the Aggies gave up 187 yards rushing with a 5.8-yard average per rush.
This, above all position groups, causes the most concern. Where will help come from? It’s not as young a group as the others, but it is still relatively young, with a ton of freshmen seeing action throughout the season.
Seniors Chris Russell and Andre White were serviceable but not exceptional. Sophomore Edgerrin Cooper had his moments and will be a leader in the future. He forced the fumble against LSU that the Aggies returned for a touchdown in a game-changing play that was missing for most of the season.
Defensive back: A-
This was by far the most experienced group and did most of the heavy lifting defensively for the Aggies this season. Texas A&M led the SEC in pass defense, allowing just 156.2 yards per game.
Junior Antonio Johnson was the leader. He finished the season by forcing a fumble in 3 straight games. It’s the only time that’s been done since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012. He led the Aggies against LSU with 10 tackles, his 4th double-digit game of 2022.
Sophomore Jardin Gilbert made his presence felt this season, too. He piled up 5-plus tackles in 9 of the 11 games he played in this season.
Achane was good on kickoff returns, taking 1 to the house. Muhammad was serviceable on punt returns. Punter Nic Constantinou ranked 7th in the SEC with a 42-yard average, and kicker Randy Bond ranked 7th in the league with a 76.5 field-goal percentage, making 13 of 17 kicks.