SEC Football Q&A: What Are the Realistic Expectations for Texas A&M in 2013?
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Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we will feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email.
Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at email@example.com.
You've got SEC questions, and I've got SEC answers. Thank you, everybody, for your questions this week. And if I didn't get to them this week, they are still saved and will be used in the future.
And we're off:
A&M will lose lots of '12 starters due to grad/NFL, SEC def knows JFM, and KK gone. What are your A&M '13 expectations? @barrettsallee— TG (@tngstreet) December 20, 2012
We don't know for sure if defensive lineman Damontre Moore and offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews will declare; but considering they're all projected to be first-round picks, let's go ahead and write that in ink. Plus, several key members of the defense will exhaust their eligibility after the Cotton Bowl, including two-thirds of the starting linebacking corps.
But even without the offensive linemen, they'll be fine. Running back Ben Malena was an unsung hero for the Aggies this season, and he will be joined by Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams next season. Combined with rising sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans and commit Ricky Seals-Jones—both of whom are 6'5"—quarterback Johnny Manziel will have plenty of weapons to work with.
Whether Kliff Kingsbury is around or not, it's still head coach Kevin Sumlin's system and he will adjust accordingly.
With that kind of firepower on offense, the defense just has to be opportunistic and force turnovers to keep the Aggies in contention.
The fact that Texas A&M was essentially two missed field goals away from beating LSU and winning the SEC West in its inaugural season in the SEC seems to get lost in the SEC logjam in the BCS Top 10.
The Aggies will be back in that discussion again in 2013.
@barrettsallee How does the 2014 commit QB Will Grier translate to the future of Florida football? Are we seeing the beginning of a dynasty?— Robert Ashe (@ROASHE1974) December 20, 2012
The addition of Grier is certainly helpful. With Jeff Driskel in house, he will likely solidify the quarterback position in Gainesville for quite some time.
Grier is a 6'3", 180-pound pro-style signal-caller who is a 4-star prospect and the nation's No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2014, according to 247Sports.com. He's certainly got the talent to make an impact in the SEC early and build upon that success down the road.
But tossing out the word "dynasty" in this day and age is placing unnecessarily—and likely unattainable—expectations on any program.
If Alabama beats Notre Dame on Jan. 7, it will have hoisted the crystal football in three of four seasons and become a modern-day college football dynasty—the first dynasty of the BCS era.
For Florida to become a dynasty it will have to unseat the Crimson Tide on a consistent basis, and considering that Alabama is a recruiting machine, doing so consistently might be too much to ask. Not to mention the other SEC juggernauts.
Grier will help, and signing top prospects Vernon Hargreaves III, Kelvin Taylor, Ahmad Fulwood and the rest of the stars already committed in the Class of 2013 certainly has Florida trending up.
Could they become the key pieces for a championship or two? Absolutely. But becoming a dynasty is taking it to a whole other level.
@barrettsallee Might Tennessee actually be better off without Bray, Patterson, and Hunter?Talent, no. TEAM, yes.— Mr. Brooks (@brookspw) December 20, 2012
No, the Vols won't be better offensively without the three stars.
Wide receiver Justin Hunter has already declared, and all signs point to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and quarterback Tyler Bray doing so as well.
Will Tennessee be better off without Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson?
Vol Nation has been frustrated with Bray due to his inconsistency, but he did lead the SEC with 34 touchdown passes and 3,612 yards. Sure, he's frustrating at times, but it's hard to replicate those numbers.
Losing Patterson and Hunter will hurt too, but the return of Ja'Wuan James and Zach Fulton on the offensive line means that four of Tennessee's five starters up front will return. That unit allowed the fewest sacks in the SEC this season (eight), and was arguably the most important part of the success of the Vol offense.
The Vols won't be better off, because any time you lose essentially your entire passing game, it's going to create issues. But behind that offensive line and with running backs Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane returning, the new quarterback—whether it's Justin Worley, Nathan Peterman or somebody else—can always rely on that running game to get the job done.
Better? No. Different? Yes. Being different may go a long way towards easing the transition on Rocky Top.
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