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Texas A&M Preview 2006 - Offense
Texas A&M Aggies
Posted Jul 31, 2006

Texas A&M Aggies Preview 2006 - Texas A&M Offense

What you need to know ... After years of relying on Reggie McNeal to carry the offense, the coaching staff realizes where the team's strength is and will pound the ball with a tremendous trio of backs working behind one of the Big 12's best offensive lines. With a shaky defense, the offense will try to crank out as many long drives as possible. The passing game won't be ignored with a big, experienced group of receivers for new starting quarterback Stephen McGee to throw to.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Stephen McGee
24-53 283 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Courtney Lewis
109 carries, 723 yds, 7 TD
Chad Schroeder
20 catches, 335 yds 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Courtney Lewis
Player that has to step up and become a star: McGee
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Martellus Bennett
Best pro prospect: Bennett
Top three all-star candidates: 1) OG Kirk Elder, 2) OT Yemi Babalola, 3) C Cody Wallace
Strength of the offense: Offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
Proven passing quarterback

While Reggie McNeal was the heart and soul of the Aggies over the last four years, the offense became way too reliant on him to make things happen. Stephen McGee is a great talent with the potential to grow into an even more effective player for the offense than McNeal. He has the size, the speed, and the potential to be a star after a little more seasoning. Ty Branyon is a veteran backup who could step in and keep things moving, but the real question mark is Jamie McCoy, a great young athlete with limitless upside.
The key to the unit: McGee has to be a passer. He proved against Texas that he could run, and he threw well in high school. Now he has to complete around 55% of his throws to open things up for the ground game.
Quarterback Rating: 6

Projected Starter
- Stephen McGee, Soph. - 24-53, 283 yds, 45%, 2 TD, 1 INT, 43 carries, 235 yds, 5.5 ypc, 2 TD
McGee stepped in when needed last year and did a solid job of keeping the offense moving, and then he came close to stunning Texas by rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the 40-29 loss. He's a fantastic prospect with 4.5 speed and better passing skills than he showed last season. He set the Texas 3A state record for touchdown passes with 101, and has a live arm and terrific size at 6-2 and 207 pounds. Now he has to prove he can lead the team like Reggie McNeal did.

Top Backups
- Ty Branyon, Sr.
A big, pure passer, the 6-3, 213-pound senior saw a little bit of time in 2004 completing 19 of 29 passes for 194 yards and a score and even showed he could play against the best of the best with a solid fourth quarter against an Oklahoma team that ended up playing for the national title. He's not a great runner, but he can move a little bit.
- Jamie McCoy, RFr.
Will he buy time working on becoming a top quarterback in the hopes to challenge for the starting job in 2007, or will the terrific athlete be moved? He's an average passer who has great running skills and the potential to be a solid, big receiver at a speedy 6-2 and 216 pounds. He caught 19 passes for 479 yards and six touchdowns as a junior in high school.

Running Backs
The backs are in place to put up big numbers and carry the offense, but will the coaching staff finally use all of its horses at all times? The experience of Courtney Lewis, the thunder of Jorvorskie Lane, and the unbelievable upside of true freshman Mike Goodson should make for a brilliant backfield that should combine for 200 yards a game without a problem. Fullback Chris Alexander is growing into a great blocker.
The key to the unit: Get the work. There's no reason Lewis, Lane, and Goodson shouldn't combine for at least 40 carries a game.
Running Back Rating:

Projected Starters
- Courtney Lewis, Sr. - 109 carries, 732 yds, 6.6 ypc, 7 TD, 9 catches, 106 yds, 11.8 ypc, 1 TD
Among the Big 12's most underutilized talents, Lewis has led the team in rushing in each of the last three year even though he has had to split carries. At 6-0 and 204 pounds, he has a little bit of size and enough wiggle to make plays on his own. When he gets carries, he's effective rushing for 309 yards and five touchdowns over the first four games last last year before getting dinged up and losing playing time to Jorvorskie Lane. He has the hands to be used as more of a receiver. While he's good, he missed spring ball due to academic problems and now might have a fight on his hands for the starting job.

- Fullback Chris Alexander, Jr. - 8 carries, 53 yds, 6.6 ypc, 3 catches, 27 yds, 9 ypc, 1 TD
A pure blocker, the 246-pound junior saw a little bit of work highlighted by a 35-yard run against Clemson, but his role was to open things up for the ground game. He was a powerful runner in high school and has the hands to get a few catches here and there.

Top Backups
- Jorvorskie Lane, Soph. - 119 carries, 595 yds, 5 ypc, 9 TD, 3 catches, 48 yds, 16 ypc
One of the best power backs in college football, Lane is a strong and surprisingly quick 274 pounds. When he gets on a roll, he's impossible to bring down with just one tackler. He had two 100-yard games rumbling over Oklahoma State for 139 yards and three touchdowns and tearing up Texas for 104 yards, but the coaching staff seemingly forgot to get him the ball in some games.
Mike Goodson, Fr.
Considered be many to be the top running back recruit in Texas this year, the 6-0, 205-pound Goodson is equally good at running and receiver. He has tremendous speed and will eventually be used on kick returns.

- Fullback Greg Boothe, Sr.
The 221-pound senior hasn't done anything yet over his career, but he'll be the main backup fullback to start the season. He has gotten strong enough over the last few years to be used as a decent run blocker.

The receiving corps was never healthy last year losing Earvin Taylor and Chad Schroeder to broken legs, but now most of the top players are back with the exception of leading man and star deep threat Jason Carter. Schroeder, Taylor, and Kerry Franks form a big group with the speed to get deep and the skills to make the passing game more efficient. The real excitement surrounds 6-7 tight end Martellus Bennett, who's not only a next-level prospect in football, but a member of the A&M basketball team.
The key to the unit: Everyone needs to take advantage of their opportunities. A&M will likely run the ball more, so the talented receiving corps has to make plays when they can.
Receiver Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- Chad Schroeder, Sr. - 20 catches, 335 yds, 16.8 ypc, 5 TD
An excellent athlete who should be one of the team's leading receivers from the Z position after finishing last year second on the team in receptions. He caught touchdown passes on his first four catches and was growing more and more into the starting role, but he broke his leg against Iowa State and missed the final three games of the year.

- Earvin Taylor, Jr. - 2 catches, 81 yds, 40.5 ypc, 1 TD
At 6-3 and 244 pounds, Taylor is an impressive physical target with home run hitting ability and excellent hands. He was third on the team in receiving in 2004 and started out well in 2005 with an 80-yard touchdown catch against SMU, but he broke his leg against Texas State and missed the rest of the year. On the positive side, he got a medical redshirt and has two years of eligibility left.

- Kerry Franks, Jr. - 10 catches, 60 yds, 6 ypc
Franks didn't exactly build on the promise of a strong true freshman season making a few catches here and there while also utilizing his tremendous speed as an occasional kick and punt returner. Now he'll be used as more of a deep threat at the X position.

- Tight end Martellus Bennett, Soph. - 18 catches, 162 yds, 9 ypc, 3 TD
One of the up-and-coming stars of the Big 12, the 6-7, 248-pound sophomore has the hands, speed, and potential to be an All-Big 12 performer if he gets the ball thrown his way more. He started to come into his own in the second half of last year, and now he's ready to blossom. Along with being a top tight end, he also plays on the Aggie basketball team.

Top Backups

- Pierre Brown, Soph. - 8 catches, 98 yds, 12.2 ypc
The talented sophomore got plenty of playing time last season earning four starts and making a little bit of an impact. He's a big, strong receiver with big-time potential, but for now, he'll play behind Earvin Taylor on the H and be a special teamer.
- Howard Morrow
, Soph. - 6 catches, 94 yds, 15.7 ypc
Morrow started three games last year and saw the field in every contest, but he only had three catches all season until a three-grab day against Oklahoma. He has nice hands and was an unstoppable scorer in high school catching 29 touchdown passes over his final two seasons. Now he'll play behind Chad Schroeder at the Z.
- Tight end Joey Thomas, Jr. - 7 catches, 63 yds, 11.9 ypc
The 6-5, 248-pound junior sees time in two tight end sets and got four starts last year. He has nice hands, excellent speed, and the experience to be a great complement to Martellus Bennett.

Offensive Linemen
This isn't the best line in the Big 12, but it's not far off improving night and day after a shaky 2004. Four starters return with plenty of talented options to fill the one guard opening. All four returning players should be in the hunt for All-Big 12 honors led by tackle Yemi Babalola and guard Kirk Elder on the quick side. This group allowed a mere 16 sacks last season and paved the way for 235 rushing yards per game

The key to the unit: Be a little tighter in pass protection to give the new quarterback time. Likely starter Stephen McGee can move, but the fewer pass plays he has to make on the run, the better.
Offensive Line Rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- OT Yemi Babalola, Soph.
The freshman All-America returns to his spot at quick tackle where he was dominant at times last year. He's smart, has a high motor, and is fantastic at finishing off blocks.
- OG Kirk Elder, Jr.
The line's best player, the 6-4, 312-pound Elder has been an All-Big 12 performer over the last two seasons with 22 straight starts at quick guard. He's an athletic guard who proved that his great 2004 wasn't a fluke.
- C Cody Wallace, Jr.
Wallace went from being a decent backup guard to an all-star center. He's a quick 296 pounds with the smarts to be great at making the right line calls and the toughness to be a big-time run blocker. He earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors last year, and now he should be in the hunt for even more recognition.
- OG Grant Dickey, Sr.
The new starter up front, the 6-5, 313-pound Alabama transfer played in seven games over the last two seasons as a reserve. Now he'll battle with Chris Yoder and Michael Shumard for time on the strongside.
- OT Corey Clark, Jr.
The versatile Clark can play either guard or tackle, but he looked more natural at strong tackle last season starting every game and turning in a great season. He's a mobile 6-6 and 311 pounds with All-Big 12 potential.

Top Backups
G Michael Shumard, RFr.
One of the stars of the future, the 6-5, 299-pound Shumard was a top recruit who could end up seeing time at both guard spots. He's a strong run blocker who should quickly be among the most physical players on the line.
- G Chris Yoder, Jr.
Yoder has gotten bigger over the last few years bulking up to 318 pounds. He has seen plenty of starting time earning Freshman All-America honors as a center in 2004, and then he became a backup last year in the middle seeing time in four games. He's ready to roll now as a top reserve at strong guard behind Grant Dickey and at center, if needed.

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