Before Kevin Sumlin jumped to the SEC three years ago, he had already built a resume as a high-octane coach who slung the football all around Houston. He brought the same kind of punch and energy to College Station and the A&M program, which coincidentally began the Johnny Manziel Era with the school. Now, at a crossroads of sorts, Sumlin must find another quarterback to fill those shoes.
And while he is at it, he must find a new left tackle and a stud receiver. It’s not like the cupboard is bare – but finding key components like those take time to develop. The recruiting class this year was again stellar, which should help with depth and getting the defense up to speed for this season.
If Sumlin can help this program to nine wins this year, it may be his best coaching job ever. The SEC is down because of lack of quarterback experience, so the Aggies will be able to compete in the conference, but it is not known how good this team will truly be.
Texas A&M is a school rich in tradition, a school that took the SEC by storm two seasons ago. This time around, it must build slowly and consistently to have a chance at an SEC West title. Here are 10 thing to know about this program.
Information and stats obtained in this article are from Athlon Sports.
Originally an impromptu post-dinner get-together to “learn heartily the old time pep,” Midnight Yell Practice at Texas A&M didn’t officially start until 1931. Today, the tradition is held on Friday nights before home games at Kyle Field and Thursday before road games at The Arches. It is a fairly self-explanatory tradition as fans and cadets gather to practice cheering for the Aggies — and making out some too.
Sumlin and his staff have recruited back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes, so the future is bright for Texas A&M. However, replacing quarterback Johnny Manziel, left tackle Jake Matthews and receiver Mike Evans is no easy task. And the Aggies still need to find answers for a defense that allowed 6.4 yards per play.
Matt Joeckel has left the program. He made 10 career appearances and threw for 293 yards and two scores on 22 completions last year. Sophomore Kenny Hill was 16 of 22 for 183 yards and one touchdown in limited work in 2013 and ranked as the No. 24 quarterback by Athlon Sports in the 2013 signing class. But the wildcard and perhaps most intriguing option is true freshman Kyle Allen. The Arizona native was the No. 10 recruit in the 2014 signing class and threw for 2,535 yards and 29 touchdowns as a high school senior. Allen enrolled early to compete for the job this spring.
Sumlin signed a new contract to stay in College Station. His success in the SEC prompted other schools to show interest in him, including USC, which was taken by Steve Sarkisian. Should Sumlin win this season like he has, how long will it be before other schools and possibly the NFL come knocking on his door again?
The University of Miami used to be known as Quarterback U. Georgia produces stud linebackers. LSU sends defensive backs to the pros. Texas A&M sent Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, both top 7 picks in the last two NFL Drafts. This season, Cedric Ogbuehi may be better than both of them and the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
DEVELOPING LINE CHEMISTRY
Ogbuehi moved from the right side to the left side. Ogbuehi’s move creates a void at right tackle, and a couple of players could get into the mix. Joseph Cheek was listed as the backup last season, and Jeremiah Stuckey was a top-100 junior college recruit in the class of 2013. And this year’s signing class brought in Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy from the junior college ranks, with both players expected to push for time. Although moving Ogbuehi to the left side is likely the only position change, the coaching staff may shuffle some players around to find the best combination before settling on the starting five.
DEFENDING THE DEFENSE
When you average over 44 points on offense and play in the SEC, you can mask a lot of deficiencies on your defense. The Aggies no longer have Johnny Manziel and the idea of asking Allen to score that many points may be too much. The Aggies struggled mightily on this side of the ball and were bailed out. Looked for major changes to be made this season.
The A&M defense will look get stronger. Incoming freshman Myles Garrett is a potential difference maker in the trenches, but can he play major snaps as a true freshman? The good news for Snyder is eight starters are back, including linebacker Darian Claiborne, tackle Isaiah Golden, cornerback Deshazor Everett and end Julien Obioha. The Aggies don’t have to be a shutdown defense in 2014, but there has to be progress to help cover for the losses on offense.
THEY HAVE A RUNNING GAME
The Aggies will not have Manziel’s legs to bail them out this season, but they do have runners to use in committee form. Trey Williams, a true freshman, will come in as the starter. Tra Carson and Brandon Williams will also be in the mix for carries on offense. The fact Manziel could scramble and make something out of nothing many times over makes the running game a mystery and a real question mark in 2014.
SCHEDULE SET UP
The team opens the season at South Carolina, which they probably lose. The team then plays Lamar, Rice and SMU before jumping back in to SEC competition. They should beat Arkansas and be 4-1 before Mississippi State and Ole Miss, which will be two tough games. Then there is Alabama. The Aggies could be 6-3 with Auburn, Missouri and LSU left on the map.