Why Texas A&M Has Thrived and Missouri Has Tanked in First Year in the SEC

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 9, 2012

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin
Texas A&M head coach Kevin SumlinThomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Back in July, Missouri was known as the SEC newcomer that is loaded with offensive weapons, while fellow newbie Texas A&M was more known for throwing games away and not having the depth to compete in the inferior Big 12.

My, how things have changed.

Under the leadership of redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Aggies have surged to a 7-2 record and the SEC's top offense (559.6 yards per game).

The Tigers, on the other hand, have sputtered to a 4-5 record, an offense that ranks 12th in the SEC (319.3 YPG) and is the polar opposite of last year's group that finished 12th in country in total offense (475.5 YPG).

In just six SEC games, Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin has as many conference wins (four) as Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley in three seasons, and as many SEC West wins (four) as Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has in four seasons in Starkville.

What has been the biggest reason for A&M's success and Missouri's demise?

Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury have successfully altered their system to fit their personnel to maximize the offense's impact in the SEC.

Manziel will steal all of the headlines, but A&M wouldn't be anywhere without its offensive line. Tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews bookend one of the best lines in the country. That line allows the Aggies to run a finesse offense or a smash mouth style out of the spread.

Missouri, on the other hand, has struggled in that department.

The Tigers have given up 23 sacks on the season, 10th most in the SEC. Quarterback James Franklin has been in and out of the lineup with injuries and has thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (four).

Inconsistent offensive line play has been the biggest reason that Missouri hasn't been able to get going this season, and is why head coach Gary Pinkel is struggling to make a bowl game.

A&M can succeed going north/south and east/west on offense, while Missouri has struggled playing between the tackles. With the size and speed of front sevens in the SEC, you can't play side to side and Missouri hasn't made that adjustment.

With the way these two offenses are supposed to operate, their defenses are going to give up yards. But A&M has enjoyed moderate success defensively because it can force offenses to play behind the sticks with a solid front seven led by defensive end Damontre Moore.

Moore leads the SEC with 11.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss and leads the Aggies with 69 tackles.

Think about that, a defensive end leading a team in tackles.

The move to the SEC forced both teams to adjust they way they play, but the personnel and scheme have made the transition much smoother in College Station, Texas, than in Columbia, Mo.

Will it stay that way? 

Not necessarily. But judging from what we've seen this season, the future looks bright for Sumlin and the Aggies.