Texas A&M Football: What the Aggies Need to Fix Before Their First Game
Texas A&M will enter their first season in the SEC and have a lot of things to be positive about. For one thing, they have a head coach in Kevin Sumlin who's done great things at Houston. They also have 17 starters returning as they are out to prove that they belong in the toughest conference in college football.
The Aggies have a lot of things going for them this year, but like every team, they also have their fair share of question marks. Not everything can be answered in the spring so fall camp will be the perfect opportunity to get some of those issues resolved.
With September rapidly approaching, here are a few things that Texas A&M must continue to work on.
The Aggies return a very talented team on both sides of the ball, but they also have a talented 2012 recruiting class coming in. That includes a 5-star running back in Trey Williams, who should see plenty of touches this season, especially with the lack of depth at the running back position.
Other players that will compete for playing time include wide receiver Thomas Johnson, cornerback DeVante Harris, safety Kenneth Marshall and guard Germain Ifedi.
There are many solid players in this year's class, and it's going to be interesting to see who can step up and make an impact during their first year on campus.
Last season, the Aggies had the third best defense in the Big 12, and their 51 sacks led the country. This year, they have a new defensive coordinator in Mark Snyder, they're switching to the 4-3 defense and look to be a lot more aggressive this time around.
"We're going to be a little more attacking," Snyder told Chron.com. "We were a lot more sideways last year. We're going to be more vertical."
Changing an entire defensive scheme usually isn't something that can be done overnight, and the Aggies may experience a few hiccups as they continue the transition. This will be something to keep an eye on as we get closer to the regular season.
Who Starts at QB?
It's never easy replacing a senior quarterback, especially when that player threw for over 3,700 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. It's even more difficult when the quarterback you're replacing him with has only thrown five passes in his career.
Jameill Showers is a big kid at 6'2", 219 pounds and has an absolute cannon for an arm. He also has great mobility and is able to move the chains with his feet when he has to. Overall, he's a great prospect and many believe he's the favorite to land the starting position.
While it appears that Showers is the front-runner for the starting position, Johnny Manziel, Matt Joeckel and freshman Matt Davis will try to prove that they deserve a shot during the fall.
The Aggies were one of the best passing teams in the country last year, averaging 291 yards a game through the air. But that was with a senior quarterback leading the way and a huge target in Jeff Fuller, who caught at least 40 passes every season.
With both no longer on the roster, a wide receiver has to emerge as one of the premier targets on this team. Alongside Ryan Swope, who caught 89 passes last season, somebody such as Nate Askew or Brandal Jackson must provide the quarterback with another weapon.
Askew and Jackson have caught a combined 38 passes throughout their careers. Askew has fantastic size at 6'4", 220 pounds and has blazing speed to go with it. He could emerge as one of the better wide receivers in the entire conference.
Meanwihle, Jackson is a receiver that's never caught more than 16 passes in his career, but he has good hands and can make catches in traffic.
The Aggies had one of the most explosive offenses in the country last season and have the talent to repeat those numbers. Somebody just has to play to their potential.
Other players that can make an impact include Malcome Kennedy, Michael Evans and Uzoma Nwachukwu.
Running Back Depth
Christine Michael is the projected starter heading into the season, but his health is still in question while recovering from an ACL tear. He was limited in drills throughout spring practice and didn't participate in any contact in the spring game.
Junior running back Ben Malena had a very impressive spring, and looks to receive the most touches he has received during his short career.
Brandon Williams could be the wildcard in this whole equation, as he has playmaking ability and is a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball. The problem is that he is a transfer from Oklahoma and won't find out until the fall if he'll be eligible to play. If not, he'll have to sit out a year before taking the field.
If Micheal isn't 100 percent by September and Williams is denied a waiver by the NCAA, Texas A&M may have to give true-freshman Trey Williams a ton of carries this season.
New Head Coach
Kevin Sumlin has been coaching since 1988 and has been a head coach since 2008 when he took over the Houston Cougars. The problem is that coaching at Texas A&M and in the SEC is another level than the Houston program Sumlin leaves behind.
Sumlin seems like he has the goods to succeed, but this is new territory for this program and the head coach. It's going to be worth watching to see how he handles the pressure and the demands of his new job at Texas A&M.
This is no longer C-USA, and expectations have increased.
Getting off to a Fast Start
One way to silence the critics and prove that you truly belong in the SEC is to start the season off hot. This year, the Aggies won't open up the season against Southern Methodist and Idaho; instead they'll play the Florida Gators in Week 2 of the schedule.
Florida may have had a rough season last year, but they're still a top 25 team and should end up competing for the SEC East this season.
Texas A&M doesn't have much time before they jump right into the heart of the SEC schedule, and it's important that they have a great fall camp in order to survive their first season in their new conference.