Texas A&M Football: Why Aggies' First SEC Season Would Be One to Forget
The offseason is a time of hope for all college football fans. Every team is undefeated and on their way towards a dream season. Unfortunately, all dreams cannot come true, and only one team is going to be the national champion at the end of the year. Rarely do fans take the time to consider the worst-case scenario for their team.
This is a look at why the Aggies' first year in the Southeastern Conference could be one they will not want to remember. This is a look at what can happen if the Aggies' worst fears are realized during their first season in the SEC.
Aggies Start the Season 0-3
Everyone is assuming that A&M will go 4-0 against their non-conference opponents. They are ignoring the fact that the Aggies open the season with Louisiana Tech, Florida and SMU.
Tech returns 12 starters from a team that won eight games. The Aggies have to go on the road on a Thursday night to play in Shreveport on national television. If the Aggies throw a couple of interceptions and give the Bulldogs' high-powered offense extra possessions, the Aggies could suffer an embarrassing loss to start the season.
Florida returns an excellent defense from their 2011 squad. A&M has lost their last seven games against SEC opponents. The Ags will face the Gators in their first SEC game ever. If the Gators are able to squeak out a win in College Station it will elicit a lot of "I told you so's" from the local and national media.
SMU is a very solid program. They were able to move the ball against A&M in 2011 but were unable to stop the Aggies' offense. This is an early season game on the road, and SMU's excellent special teams could be the difference.
If A&M starts the year 0-3, then their bowl hopes will be dashed before the season really gets started.
Jameill Showers Gets Injured
Technically the quarterback competition is not over yet, but anyone who saw the spring practices or scrimmages knows that Jameill Showers is going to start for the Aggies when they open the season against Louisiana Tech.
If Showers gets injured, then Johnny Manziel will take over as the starter. Manziel is faster and more mobile than Showers and gives the Aggie offense more of a big-play threat at the position.
Manziel also struggles with his decision-making at this time and struggles with turning the ball over. The one thing you have to do if you want to win in the SEC is protect the football. If Showers is injured and the Aggies have to rely on Manziel, it could lead to a dichotomy on offense between big plays and silly turnovers all year long.
Christine Michael Does Not Get Back to 100%
Christine Michael tore his ACL during the 2011 season. Typically it takes an athlete two years to completely recover from an ACL injury. Michael is ahead of schedule in his rehab and was able to participate in spring drills in a limited capacity.
There is a very real chance that Michael will not be the elite running back he was in 2011, when he averaged six yards per carry. Michael could just be a decent back in 2012 who grinds out four yards a carry in a very tough defensive league.
Aggie fans are counting on Michael and his fellow running backs to carry the offense while the young quarterbacks get their feet under them. If Michael is not the difference-maker that the Ags need him to be, it will have a deleterious effect on the entire offense.
Trey Williams Struggles to Adjust to the College Game
Aggie fans are counting on Trey Williams to use his 4.3 speed to become an instant difference-maker in the SEC as a true freshman. They are ignoring the fact that most freshmen struggle during their first year on the field.
Williams could struggle with fumbling or with dancing too much in the backfield against the SEC's elite defenses. While he is obviously an elite prospect, there is no guarantee that he will taste success during his first year in college.
Aggies who are expecting him to help carry the offense will be sorely disappointed if he experiences some of the struggles which are typical of all freshmen during their first year of college.
Interior Defensive Line Simply Is Not Good Enough
When A&M faced LSU in the 2011 Cotton Bowl, the Aggies were blown out because LSU's offensive line was able to dominate the Aggies' defensive line. LSU proved during the 2011 season that their offensive line simply was a dominating unit by winning 13 games without displaying much of a passing game.
The question about the A&M defensive line remains. If Kirby Ennis and Jonathan Mathis cannot get it done, the Aggies stand no chance in their first season in the SEC. Teams will pound the ball all day and keep the A&M offense off the field.
Most Aggies realize that LSU and Alabama have elite teams and do not expect the defense to shut them down. If A&M struggled to stop the running game against Ole Miss and Mississippi State then it will be a long year.
Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews Are Injured
Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews are bookend offensive tackles who will likely both end up being first-round draft picks. If Joeckel gets injured then Aggie fans can rest easy because Matthews can flip over to the left side, or Cedric Ogbuehi can move to his natural position of left tackle.
If both Joeckel and Matthews are injured then there will be some real problems. While the Aggies return six offense linemen with starting experience on one of the best lines in the country, they do not have a lot of depth. Injuries to their two tackles would make it open season on the A&M quarterback.
The passing offense the Aggies are going to run in 2012 will be what sets them apart in the league. If they cannot protect their quarterback then they cannot win games in the SEC.
A&M Loses to Mizzou Again
The Missouri Tigers have come into Kyle Field two years in a row and basically stolen games from the Aggies. If they do it a third year in a row then the Ags will probably develop some kind of mental complex with Mizzou.
The Tigers should have a solid team in 2012. James Franklin is now a veteran quarterback. Gary Pinkel always has a very physical squad. The Tigers won eight games in 2011, including a bowl game. They return 1,000-yard rusher Henry Josey, who is coming off a knee injury.
Missouri should struggle in their first season in the SEC because their option offense will be stuffed by the speed of SEC defenses. They should enter Kyle Field as a battered team. Pinkel has a lot of pride, and his teams always play hard.
It is realistic to think that much like 2011, the Tigers could come into Kyle Field looking to save their season with a win and do just that.