Four Reasons Texas A&M Upsets the Big 12 South in 2010
Entering the 2010 season, Aggie fans are itching for head coach Mike Sherman to take the program to another level.
Aggie Land is tired of the same old excuses and is ready to embrace a winning team again and erase the memory of Coach Fran and the entire last decade of football.
The Aggies in the '80s and '90s were consistently competing for the conference championship and were a force to be reckoned with. They finished in the top 25 AP poll every year from 1989 to 1999.
Since then, they have become a shadow of their former selves, never competing for a Big 12 title in the 2000s, save for the 2006 season, and never finishing in the top 25 in either poll.
Mike Sherman's leash is short, but this might be the year he justifies his hiring.
Here are four reasons the Texas A&M Aggies will shock the NCAA by winning the Big 12 South (and Big 12 outright).
1. Jerrod Johnson
Jerrod Johnson is going to be the first Heisman candidate the Aggies have had in quite some time. The numbers he puts up are nothing short of astronomical.
His 2009 numbers looked like this:
3,579 yards passing, 30 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 136.74 QB rating
506 yards rushing, 8 touchdowns
His 314 total yards of offense per game ranked him third in the nation, only behind pass heavy Houston's Case Keenum and Troy's Levi Brown.
This was only his first full season as a starter.
Expect the Senior QB to shine in 2010 and wow NFL scouts. In fact, last summer Jerrod Johnson won an accuracy contest that he and several other college QBs participated in at Peyton and Eli Manning's camp for high school QBs.
Among the competitors were Zac Robinson, Greg McElroy, and the 2010 NFL Draft's first overall pick Sam Bradford.
You know, the same guy everyone ogled at for his accuracy. Johnson's is better.
If the Aggies have any chance of competing in the Big 12 this year, it will be because of Johnson.
2. Tim DeRuyter And His 3-4 Defense
The Aggies were 6-6 last season and nearly all fingers can be pointed at the defense as the reason why.
Despite having the nation's sack leader, Von Miller, the Aggies were unable to stop many high-powered offenses. They gave up 40 points in four games last year.
The 2009 defensive ranks are as follows:
Rushing - 90th
Passing - 106th
Total - 105th
Scoring - 105th
You're not going to do much of anything with those numbers, especially allowing 33.54 points per game.
Enter Tim DeRuyter from Air Force and his 3-4 scheme that seems to fit the A&M personnel very well.
Air Force's 2009 defensive ranks:
Rushing - 47th
Pass - 5th
Total - 11th
Scoring - 10th
Joe Kines' retiring was a blessing in disguise (who are we kidding, he was going to be fired anyways), and DeRuyter should be able to fix many of the problems the team had in 2009.
Von Miller was a sack specialist last year and should get even better with DeRutyer's schemes.
3. 16 Returning Starters—Seven Offensive, Nine Defensive
Offensive— QB Jerrod Johnson, RB Cyrus Gray, WR—Jeff Fuller, Ryan Tannehill, and Uzoma Nwachukwu, OG—Evan Eike and Patrick Lewis
Defensive - DE/OLB Von Miller, DT—Lucas Patterson and Eddie Brown, OLB—Garrick Williams and Michael Hodges, MLB Kyle Mangan, CB—Dustin Harris and Terrence Fredrick, and SS Trent Hunter
The biggest thing the Aggies have going for them is they have 16 returning starters and they really didn't lose anyone that cannot be easily replaced besides OL Kevin Matthews and DB Jordan Pugh.
All three components of the stout rushing attack are coming back in Johnson, Cyrus Gray, and Christine Michael. In all six of the Aggie wins, they rushed for over 200 yards, and in all six of the losses, they rushed for less than 200.
I'm not saying they have to rush for 200 yards every game next year to win, but averaging around that number isn't out of the question. They averaged 184.19 yards per game last year and recruited some great offensive lineman this year and Michael was a five star running back out of high school.
If they can control the ball even better than they did last year, it would help the defense stay fresh and rested.
The nine returning defensive starters are the most encouraging factor entering the 2010 season because they give the coaching staff reassurance that the guys have had invaluable game experience and will only need to be coached up a bit to learn the new defense.
The Aggies were one of the youngest, if not the youngest, teams in the country last year. Despite having loads of talent, experience is a huge determination of success when it comes to college football.
The youth will transform into experience; a weakness into a strength.
4. Down Year For The Big 12 Powerhouses
I know Texas and Oklahoma are outstanding recruiters and the task to overcome that will not be easy for the Aggies this season. However, overlooking the losses they sustained to the draft this year would be foolish.
Oklahoma has a bunch of key players returning besides the ones they lost in the draft this year, but looked very lackluster without their star QB. They look like the favorites to win the Big 12 this year, but I wouldn't be surprised if they only got 8-9 wins.
Texas lost the winning-est QB in the history of College Football, but had one of their better recruiting classes of this decade in 2010. I wouldn't expect them to fall off that much, but their offense will not be as potent as it has in years past.
Garrett Gilbert is a great young player, and him having to come in during the National Championship could work out in Texas' favor, but I wouldn't expect much from him just yet.
Remember, the Aggies beat Colt McCoy twice in a row in his first two seasons.
So with all of these factors coming in to play, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Aggies rise to the top, but it won't be handed to them on a silver platter.
They have to earn it.