Texas A&M had a successful first season in the SEC by most measures. The Aggies knocked off Alabama in Tuscaloosa, won six conference games, finished 10-2 and earned a spot in the Cotton Bowl Classic (which the Aggies won).
Oh yeah, there was also this guy named, “Johnny Football,” who became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy.
So what possibly could have been wrong with the Aggies in 2012? To put it simply, the defense. Despite having one of the most electrifying offenses in the nation thanks to Johnny Manziel, the Aggies struggled on defense, giving up nearly 400 yards per game.
In a conference where defense is king, that kind of performance could keep Texas A&M from reaching the next level: the SEC title game and possible BCS berth.
The really odd thing about the Aggies' lackluster defense this season was that the team wasn't without its defensive stars. Damontre Moore was one of the nation's best defensive linemen last season, recording 12.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.
The rest of the defense, while not possessing the eye-popping stats of Moore, certainly looked solid for most of 2012. How could Texas A&M be ranked 58th in total defense?
Part of the problem is scheming. The Aggies just didn't have an effective defensive plan in the two losses this past season.
What both Florida and LSU discovered is that the strong front of Texas A&M's defense was vulnerable to outside and deep attacks. By the time the Aggies' defensive coaching staff, led by Mark Snyder (in his first year as A&M DC) adjusted, it was too late.
As the Aggies settle into their SEC surroundings, one incontrovertible truth will have to be acknowledged: In the end, a team's overall grade depends on the defense. While the Aggies clearly passed their SEC entrance exam, the defense gets a “C” at best.
Maybe the jump from South Florida to a budding SEC power was just too much for Snyder. If a change isn't made soon, the Aggies may turn into a perennial “almost” team in the conference.