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

Texas A&M Aggies Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – A better fit? – As the Aggies were about to kickoff their annual battle with Texas in College Station last season, the buzz of Vince Young’s Heisman campaign took a back seat to the drama surrounding the Texas A&M QB situation.  Reggie McNeal was going to miss the game and the young prodigy Stephen McGee was about to lock horns with Young and the Longhorns.  For days after that game, there was a significant controversy about whether McNeal was really hurt or whether he’d thrown in the towel, figuratively and literally.  But, what most everyone could agree on was the fact that the Aggies had a gem on their hands named McGee.  He threw the ball fairly well and then ran the ball with abandon like former Aggie Bucky Richardson (you want to see smiles light up on the 12th Man, drop a Bucky Richardson reference).  But, what got the attention of Aggie nation was the way that the team responded to him as the starter.  He took control of the offense as if he’d been at the helm all season long.  He got drilled throughout the game, popped up, got back in the gun, took another snap and ran for more yards.  Although the Aggies made a trip to the Cotton Bowl after the 2004 season, the spirits in Aggieland were a bit on the downswing, expecting similar results in 2005, until McGee took over in that Texas game.  Each time that McGee carried the ball, you could sense the confidence of the maroon and white growing each time.  When he ran in the 11 yarder in the third quarter to put the Aggies in front, it was as the whole stadium jumped on his back and he didn’t mind one bit.  The question of whether he can carry this offense for a full 12 game season will exist until he does it, but his ‘package’ of skills seems to be made for College Station.  When Coach Fran came to College Station, the thought was that McNeal was a perfect fit for his offense.  It might just be that McGee is a better fit.

2nd and Seven – Moving on up – It’s always the chicken and the egg argument (and no, not the Dixie Chicken).  Does a QB/RB make an offensive line look good/bad, or does an offensive line make a QB/RB look good/bad?  Maybe last year was a combination of both.  Everyone knows Jovorskie Lane, Courtney Lewis and even mega-recruit Michael Goodson, but the foundation of this offense is the Aggie offensive line.  Although the Aggie OL was solid throughout the year, against Texas, they had moments of shoving the Longhorns more bally-hooed defensive tackles around Kyle Field.  Leading the Aggies to 235 yards rushing per game, the backs are talented, no question, but with four returning starters coming back, this offensive line carries the key to the season.  There aren’t any seniors up front, but this group has settled into their roles and positions and could be a big surprise this year.  In Coach Fran’s spread attack, his linemen have to be able to move, and this group moves better than in previous years.  Expectations will be through the roof for this quintet – if they answer the bell, look out.

3rd and Three – Warren-ting consideration – The lineage of Aggie linebackers is long and storied.  Aggie fans might shed a tear just thinking about Aaron Wallace, John Roper, Dat Nguyen and Johnny Holland.  But, the Wrecking Crew hasn’t been quite the same without a force at linebacker.  So, is four year starter Justin Warren ready to put his name in the upper echelon of Aggie linebackers?  He racked up 95 tackles last year, but does it in relative obscurity.  He flies sideline to sideline and is one of the most talented linebackers in the Big XII.  With the Aggies moving to a 4-2-5 defense with the arrival of Gary Darnell as defensive coordinator, Warren will have to make subtle adjustments, but he should be fine as long as the defensive line can protect him throughout the year. 

4th and One – And, they hold the key – 305.  Three hundred five yards per game.  That’s how many passing yards the Aggie secondary gave up last season.  That’s an astronomical number.  The fact that a big-time university in the state of Texas struggles to find four defensive backs who can’t help keep teams to fewer than 300 yards passing per game, at the least, is stupefying.  Sure, injuries have plagued the back four for a while, but that’s still not an excuse to being the worst pass defense in the entire nation.  Somewhere Aaron Glenn and Ray Mickens, well, they’re not rolling over in their grave, but they never played like that.  Even on their worst day, they never got torched in that manner.  Darnell’s arrival puts one more defensive back on the field in the 4-2-5, but it doesn’t matter if they can’t cover their shadow.  With the inexperience and youth on the field at the corner position, Darnell might be served to play more zone than man.  Anything will help to keep the Aggies out of the national cellar.  Again.

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