2010 Record: (9-4, 6-2 in Big 12)
Head Coach: Mike Sherman (19-19 at A&M, 11-13 in Big 12)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Cotton Bowl (lost to LSU 41-24)
Final 2010/2011 AP Ranking: #19
Final 2010/2011 CFBZ Ranking: #18
9/24: Oklahoma State (2010 result: lost 38-35)
10/1: Arkansas (2010 result: lost 24-17)
10/8: at Texas Tech (2010 result: won 45-27)
10/15: Baylor (2010 result: won 42-30)
10/22: at Iowa St (2009 result: won 35-10)
10/29: Missouri (2010 result: lost 30-9)
11/5: at Oklahoma (2010 result: won 33-19)
11/12: at Kansas St (2009 result: lost 62-14)
11/19: Kansas (2009 result: won 45-10)
11/24: Texas (2010 result: won 24-17)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 31.2 ppg (5th in Big 12, 34th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 165.0 yds/game (5th in Big 12, 46th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 276.8 yds/game (5th in Big 12, 20th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 441.8 yds/game (5th in Big 12, 23rd in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 21.9 ppg (4th in Big 12, 34th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 130.15 yds/game (1st in Big 12, 30th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 234.2 yds/game (8th in Big 12, 89th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 364.3 yds/game (5th in Big 12, 55th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: -0.38 per game (10th in Big 12, 80th in Nation)
Penalties: 62.5 yds/game (9th in Big 12, 103rd in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Ryan Tannehill, Sr (152 of 234 for 1638 yds, 13 TD, 6 INT)
Rushing: RB Cyrus Gray, Sr (200 for 1133 yds, 5.6 ypc, 12 TD)
Receiving: WR Jeff Fuller, Sr (72 rec for 1066 yds, 12 TD)
Tackles: LB Garrick Williams, Sr (112)
Sacks: DE/LB Damontre Moore, Soph (5.5)
Interceptions: CB Dustin Harris, Jr; CB Coryell Judie, Sr (4)
Athlon: Fiesta Bowl (vs Boise St)
For the last several years A&M has stood for average and mediocre. Is A&M ready to finally step up and change that? They sure looked like it at the end of last year when they went on a six game winning streak beating Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas and also knocking off Top Ten ranked Oklahoma and Texas. The Aggies return a ton of starters and both of their kickers. In case you are keeping track, they return the most starters in the league and they have the most experienced team in the Big 12. QB Ryan Tannehill returns, as does their RB tandem of Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael, their top 8 receivers and 4 of 5 on the offensive line. And that's for a team that averaged 31 points in 2010. On defense replacing LBs Von Miller and Michael Hodges won't be easy but they do return all of their defensive backfield.
The schedule is a tough one as it includes five teams that are in our Top 25 and it also includes games against teams with very explosive offenses in SMU, Texas Tech and Baylor. The season could be made or broken in the third and fourth games of the season when the Aggies host Oklahoma State and then play the Razorbacks in Arlington. Last year, Jerrod Johnson was the starter and he threw four picks (although he also had 5 TDs) against the Pokes as the Aggies lost by just three points. In the very next game the Aggies fell to Bobby Petrino's Razorbacks as Johnson was just 15 of 40 passing. This year it's Ryan Tannehill that gets the start from week one. Once Tannehill got the reigns as the starting QB he led the Aggies to wins over Top 10 foes Oklahoma and Nebraska. Can Tannehill find that same magic this year that he found last year? How will Texas A&M fare in what could be their swan song in the Big 12 conference? We caught up with Jay Beck from the great Big 12 blog Turfburner to get his take on the 2011 version of the Texas A&M Aggies.
After switching to Ryan Tannehill at QB last year the Aggies really turned their season around. What are his strengths and why do you think he had such a big impact on the team last year?
I really feel like he benefited from spending time at wide receiver. There's probably no better way to learn the offense than actually playing another position and he really used that to his advantage last year.
Obviously if you have the ability to play wide receiver, you have to be a better than average athlete. Tannehill likes to get outside the pocket and can hurt you with his feet at times. He knows where his receivers are going to be and he gets the ball there on time which is huge since he doesn't have the world's strongest arm.
But more than that, he just seems to be a strong leader that is cool under pressure. He's a guy his teammates know they count on. I'm excited to see what he can do with a full summer of work and a fall camp where he received the majority of snaps as the starter. It's remarkable what he was able to accomplish last season playing both positions during practice early in the year.
A&M loses Von Miller to the NFL this year. Who is going to step up and try to replace his production on the defensive side of the football?
Let's just say Mike Sherman has been asked this question more than once this fall. He standard answer has been, "You don't him replace him with one guy. Everybody needs to step up." That being said, sophomore Damontre Moore figures to be the guy that will slide into Miller's role in the joker position. He did a nice job filling in for Miller at times last season and finished 2010 with 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He got himself into a little trouble off the field during this past offseason and spent the first week of practice working with the third and fourth units. The latest reports have him back working with the top unit, however.
Another name the coaches have repeatedly singled out is junior Sean Porter. He was third on the team with 74 tackles last year but the coaches are expecting him to take his game to another level this fall. If you're looking for that "star" on defense that was Miller last year, Porter could be the guy everyone is talking about in 2011.
The middle linebacker position for the Aggies is even more uncertain at this point than even Miller's old spot. Michael Hodges also graduated and they've been working out a trio of players including Garrick Williams, Jonathan Stewart and freshman, Donnie Braggs. Williams was the expected starter but he will have stiff competition to keep the other two guys off the field.
The Aggies are loaded at the offensive skill positions with Tannehill, Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller. Who are some under-the-radar guys on offense that you think will have an impact this year?
I wouldn't necessarily call him under the radar, but their other running back, Christine Michael, is back to full strength after breaking his leg against Texas Tech last year. He and Gray will give the Aggies one of the better running back combinations in the country. The reports are Michael has looked great in practice and I would expect him to Gray to battle for carries throughout the year. I wouldn't even be shocked to see Michael get more carries than Gray as the season carries on.
Another guy worth keeping an eye on is sophomore receiver, Nate Askew. From the reports out of practice, he's been impressive this fall and continues to push for more playing time. He's 6'4" and would give Tannehill another big target playing opposite of Fuller. I wouldn't say he's a lock to start at this point, but he's a guy that should get a chance to make a name for himself.
We can't talk Texas A&M without talking re-alignment. What are your thoughts on the rumors of the SEC?
My personal opinion on this is that I'm against them moving, but I also can understand why they are considering making the switch.
Let me touch on the second part of that first. You have to believe the landscape of college football is shifting toward the four, 16-team super conferences we've all heard about. If that is indeed the case, then it's better to get your spot at the table first rather than scrambling at the end and potentially ending up in a less desirable position than you would have been otherwise. Especially considering the instability of the Big 12 at the moment. All the schools talked about how unified everyone was and how happy they were with ten team setup. Now several months later, the conference in on the verge of collapse yet again.
That being said, let's assume the current conference structure remains intact for the foreseeable future, then I think the Big 12 is the best place for them. Sure, they have to deal with Texas, but they'll have to inherit a different set of issues in the SEC. They have longstanding rivalries with all the Texas schools and, not to mention the Oklahoma schools, as well. With the Big 12's new TV contract, the money is good, travel is less, and winning in football at least, figures to be a little more manageable in the Big 12.
There's been a bunch of names floated out there about who should replace Texas A&M if they leave. In my opinion, they need to go after two of those teams right now (or should have last year) while trying to hold onto Texas A&M and get back to 12 teams. It's probably too late for that now with the Aggies having one foot out the door, but if the Big 12 wants to have any stability, I think the 12 team model is the way to go.
What are the biggest games on the schedule this year for Texas A&M?
If the Aggies want to get to a BCS bowl or even play for a national title, the road goes through Norman. Texas A&M will get their chance against the Oklahoma on November 5th. To say it's a must win before the season starts might be a stretch, but if they can't find a way to win against the Sooners on their home turf, they'll need OU to drop two games in order for to win the Big 12. It won't be easy. Bob Stoops has dropped only two games on his home turf during his tenure in Norman.
The other game to watch comes on September 24th against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were lucky to get Texas A&M early in the season last year while they were still dealing with Jerrod Johnson's issues at quarterback. With this being the first Big 12 game for both teams, it will set the tone the rest of the way. Assuming A&M comes out with a win, it will give them a big boost of confidence heading into another big game the following week in Arlington against future (maybe) conference foe, Arkansas.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
I'm really high on Texas A&M this year, not because of their offense, but because of their improvements made on defense. Heading into the season, I would slot the Aggies as the second best team in the Big 12 for that reason. It will also be the second year in Tim Detruyter's defense which will be huge in terms of knowing their responsibilities and being able to play faster this season.
If you compare them to Oklahoma State, they're both great on offense, but the Aggies have a clearly better defense in my mind which separates themselves from the Cowboys.
The schedule doesn't shape up too bad with Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Texas all having to travel to Kyle Field. I think they'll sweep those homes games and finish the year 10-2. The losses will come against Arkansas (for the third year in a row) and against Oklahoma. That in mind, would make for a successful season.
Now, the one thing working against the Aggies this year is this whole conference realignment business. If this lingers on, or if they announce they're leaving the Big 12 after this season, it could provide enough of a distraction that things get interesting in College Station. I was surprised by the timing of this whole thing because of that. Usually these types of issues are handled and settled in the offseason, not when your team is about to start what could be a huge year.
CFBZ Top 25
#10 Texas A&M Aggies
2011 Team Previews