Texas A&M Football: 5 Things That Must Change for Aggies to Improve in 2015
The Texas A&M Aggies went 8-5 this season, which was a transition year for the program. There are multiple areas that need to change in order for the team to improve on that record in 2015.
The face of the college football landscape has changed with the advent of the College Football Playoff. It is no longer necessary to go undefeated in order to have a chance at the national title.
Now a one-loss team that is the conference champion will likely have a shot at playing for it all. The strength of the SEC means the winner of the conference title will qualify for the four-team playoff more often than not.
The Aggies need to focus on building a team that can compete for SEC titles every year. They are well on their way toward accomplishing this goal with a young team returning and some recent coaching changes.
Here are a few areas that must change in order for the Aggies to compete for an SEC title in 2015.
Kyle Allen Must Take Next Step
Quarterback is the most important position on the field, especially in head coach Kevin Sumlin's offense. Kyle Allen did a good job performing on the field as a true freshman.
He completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,322 yards with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In 2015, he is going to have to take the next step to becoming a prolific playmaker in this offense.
He needs to make his reads quicker and learn not to stare down receivers. He showed flashes of being a great quarterback in 2014 but needs to be more consistent.
Allen has the arm and the poise to excel in this system. In 2015, he needs to take command of the offense and help make the Aggies the best offensive team in the SEC again.
Daeshon Hall Needs to Step Up
The Aggies have one All-American defensive end in sophomore Myles Garrett. They need rising junior Daeshon Hall to step up his game and become an impact player opposite from Garrett.
Hall had 29 tackles with six tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2014. He needs to double those numbers in 2015 if the Aggies are going to have the kind of defense that can help them compete for the SEC title.
The 6'6", 260-pound junior was forced into action as a true freshman when he probably should have redshirted. He had shoulder surgeries after the 2013 season, so he was not able to spend a lot of time in the weight room before the 2014 season in order to build his upper body.
Hall needs to add another 10 to 20 pounds of muscle to fill out his lanky frame. If he is able to add some strength and size during the offseason, he will be better able to hold the edge against the bigger offensive linemen in the SEC.
The Aggies need two high-level defensive ends to effectively run new defensive coordinator John Chavis' defense. Hall needs to step up his game and be a difference-maker every game opposite from Garrett.
OL Needs to Be More Physically Dominant
Sumlin went out and hired Dave Christensen to coach the offensive line. The Aggies need to have a more physical presence in the trenches.
They need to be able to run the ball when everyone in the stadium knows they want to run the ball. The Aggies only averaged 149.9 yards rushing per game in 2014.
They need to commit to running the ball in 2015 and be more effective at it. The Aggies will need to replace the left side of their offensive line. With the graduation of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jarvis Harrison, expect Avery Gennesy, Junior Eluemunor and Koda Martin to compete for the starting left tackle and left guard spots.
You win football games in the SEC by running the ball and stopping the run. The Aggies need to average at least 200 yards per game rushing in 2015 if they want to compete for a conference title and the College Football Playoff.
Interior Defensive Line Needs to Take Quantum Step Forward
The Texas A&M defense allowed an average of 216 yards per game rushing and 5.0 yards per carry in 2014. Those statistics have to change in 2015.
The Aggies defense needs to allow less than four yards per carry and under 150 yards per game rushing. In order to do this, A&M needs to get better returns from its interior defensive line.
Defensive tackles Hardreck Walker, Zaycoven Henderson, Alonzo Williams, Justin Manning and DeShawn Washington need to develop into a much stronger front at the point of attack.
If the Aggies can hold up at the point of attack, they can force the running game wide, where their speed on defense will clean it up. The Aggies do not need to be great in all phases of defense in 2015.
If they can shut down the run and makes teams one-dimensional on offense, Chavis should be able to apply enough pressure to opposing quarterbacks to get the defense off the field consistently.
Return to Up-Tempo Offense
The Aggies offense needs to go back to the up-tempo, no-huddle spread philosophy that defined them during their first two seasons in the SEC. In 2014, the Aggies slowed down the pace.
The need to go back to being a fast-break team that keeps opposing defenses on their heals.
The Aggies might have slowed the tempo in 2014 in order to give Allen more time to read defenses and get comfortable. They might have slowed down to give the defense time to rest on the sideline.
Whatever it was, it needs to stop in 2015.
The Aggies are at their best when they are hurrying to the line of scrimmage and attacking. They need to be aggressive on offense and mix the run and the pass. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital needs to have A&M throw the ball vertically all four quarters of every game.