Texas A&M Football: What Kind of Football Should the Aggies Expect in the SEC?

Michael TaglientiFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Ben Malena #23 of the Texas A&M Aggies rushes against the Texas Longhorns in the first half of a game at Kyle Field on November 24, 2011 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Texas A&M is joining the Southeastern Conference in July and will have to adjust to a new style of football. The Aggies will be moving from the pass-happy offensive friendly conference in the Big 12 to a run dominated defensive conference in the SEC.

The question is, how much different is the football offensively in the SEC than the Big 12? Everyone knows that the SEC has been the dominant football conference in the country over the past decade. Their six national titles in a row proves that.

The SEC is obviously a superior brand of football, but can the Aggies survive in the conference as a "passing" team?

In 2011, the Aggies averaged 41 passing attempts per game and 39 rushing attempts per game. In 2011, the 12 teams in the SEC combined for 4,214 passing attempts and 5,891 rushing attempts. That works out to an average of 27 pass attempts per game and 38 rush attempts.

Kevin Sumlin came to A&M from Houston where the Cougars averaged 48 pass attempts per game and 30 rush attempts.

A&M actually ran the ball more an average than a typical SEC team in 2011. Of course, the Ags averaged 80 offensive plays per game, while the average SEC team average 65 plays per game.

The Aggies ran the ball 49 percent of the time when they were on offense. On average, the SEC teams ran the ball 58 percent of the time they were on offense.

Houston's offense under Sumlin passed the ball 61 percent of the time and ran it 39 percent of the time.

Two teams in the SEC passed more than they ran in 2011, and they were Arkansas and Tennessee. The Razorbacks averaged 36 pass attempts per game and 31 rushing attempts per game. The Vols averaged 33 pass attempts per game and 32 rush attempts per game.

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 02:  Case Keenum #7 of the Houston Cougars throws against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the TicketCity Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium on January 2, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Arkansas was able to go 11-2 while throwing the ball more than they ran. Tennessee went 5-7 while throwing one more play per game on average than they ran. A lot of that probably had to do with the fact that Tennessee was only able to run the ball for 2.8 yards per carry.

The numbers that really stick out are that A&M averaged 15 more plays per game on offense than the average SEC team did in 2011. Houston under Sumlin averaged 13 more plays per game.

It will be interesting to see how the SEC adjusts to the hurry-up offense that Sumlin and A&M will bring to the league.

With Missouri moving into the SEC East and Hugh Freeze bringing his version of the spread to Ole Miss, you will see more and more hurry-up offenses in the SEC. Freeze's Arkansas State team averaged 78 snaps per game just like Sumlin's Cougars did in 2011.

While Sumlin was slanted towards the pass, Freeze almost had a perfectly balanced attack with 500 passing attempts and 516 rushing attempts on the year.

Arkansas has shown that you can pass in the SEC and win games. However, with the top two teams in the nation in 2011 featuring defensive-oriented units that like to pound the ball and play defense, do not expect the recipe for success in the SEC to change much in 2012.

You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run if you want to compete for an SEC and, therefore, the national title.

A&M should expect for its front seven on defense to be tested tremendously in 2012. The Aggies have their entire offensive line and two of their top three running backs returning on offense. They should be able to run the ball effectively.

Whether they can stop the run consistently in this running league will go a long way towards determining their level of success in their inaugural season in the conference.