With a little more than two months to go until the kick-off of the 2008-2009 college football season, the Aggies still have a lot of questions that have yet to be answered.
The upcoming season for the Aggies will certantly have its ups and downs with new head coach Mike Sherman and defensive coordinator Joe Kines.
To accompany them is an all new assistant/position coaching staff, along with new schemes on both sides of the ball.
The strength of schedule pendulum will swing the Aggies way this season compared to last year, improving 23 spots from 20th in 2007 to 53rd in 2008.
On the down side, the Aggies have lost a lot of seniority on the offensive live, the two top linebackers, Mark Dodge and Misi Tupe, and play making tight-end Martellus Bennett, who proved to be very pivotal in many close games last season.
Of the Aggie returning players the bright spot has to most definitely be the offensive backfield with (as of now) senior quarterback Stephen McGee leading a newly structured west coast offense.
McGee has a surgically repaired shoulder that could improve A&M’s almost non-existent passing game, but on the bright side does have a nose for running the football and proven to have the guts to take some bone crunching hits from linebackers and safety’s.
Next in line for the field general is red-shirt sophomore Jerrod Johnson who is very exciting with his legs (almost Vince Young like, some would say), but for the most part has a very unproven and questionable arm.
As we all know, you have to be able to manage a decent passing game to be competitive in the Big 12 with teams like Texas Tech, Missouri, and Kansas.
This is why the quarterback position in the Big 12 conference is so crucial, it can make or break your season, just ask Vince Young of Texas and Chase Daniel of Missouri.
The dark horse for the Heisman trophy in my book is Michael Goodson.
Goodson has the potential to be one of top five backs in the country, with blazing speed, great jukes, and superior balance.
Although he is considered a little undersized, may I point out some similarities between Goodson and Mr. Bush from Southern Cal. They both have similar frames, running style, ability to change direction on a dime and blazing speed.
Goodson looked great in the spring game with great yards after contact.
For Goodson to have a Heisman-like season he must be utilized more effectively this season though—at least 20 touches a game. He also has to be used more in the passing game: screens, wheel routes, etc.
Finally we come to the big nasty, Javorskie Lane, all 274 pounds of him, or all 274 pounds that are listed.
Lane has been moved to full-back this season by new head coach Mike Sherman, but could still be very effective from this new spot; after all, he does have 44 career touchdowns in the maroon and white.
A&M could possibly have a better mark this season compared to last, but this season will come down to six very crucial games:
The Miami Hurricanes destroyed the Aggies last year on national TV 34-17. This game is a big question mark after the Orange bowl last year.
If the Ag’s can pull this game off it will give them some great momentum heading into the conference games.
Their first Big 12 test comes on the road against the Oklahoma State Cowboy’s who have a very potent offense at the running back and wide-receiver position, but a less than stellar defense.
The Kansas State game, even though at Kyle Field, will be no picnic in the park either with the emergence of their hot-shot quarterback Josh Freeman.
The always thorn in the Aggies side Texas Tech is at home this season, but the Red Raiders have the outstanding duo of Harrell and Crabtree returning.
Oklahoma, who always seems to reload every year, will be at home and will be a very tough game to come through with a victory with their running game and Demarco Murray, and don’t forget about Sam Bradford returning at quarterback.
Then of course there is Texas in Austin, and I’m sure the Longhorns will want to try and end the Ag’s two-game winning streak over their in-state rivals.
Bowl bound? The Aggies will make a bowl this year, but it will be a Tier II or III bowl.
A&M’s bowl record in the past has been just down-right disgusting. With the only wins coming against, Michigan in the 95’ Alamo Bowl over 10 years ago, and TCU in the 2001 gallery furniture.com bowl! HA!
The key games that the Aggies must get for A&M to be invited back to the post season are as follows, Arkansas State, New Mexico, Miami, Army, Kansas State, Iowa State, Colorado, and Baylor.
If the Aggies can pull off more than seven wins this season it will be considered a much better season than most fans are anticipating in Aggieland.