2006 Texas A&M Aggies

Posted Dec 30, 2006

2006 Texas A&M Aggies Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

Dec. 28
Holiday Bowl
California 45 ... Texas A&M 10

California dominated, but it wasn't with its normal flash and dash. The ground game pounded out 241 yards averaging 7.5 yards per carry while running away with the second half scoring 31 unanswered points. Up 14-10 after halftime, the Bears got a Marshawn Lynch's second touchdown run of the day and a four-yard scoring catch from Lavelle Hawkins on fourth down to go up 28-10 into the fourth. Texas A&M, taken out of its normal offense playing in catchup mode, struggled to move the ball while the defense couldn't stop anything the Bears wanted to do. Justin Forsett and Bryan Schutte added late touchdown runs, while Nate Longshore ran for a one-yard score in the first quarter to go along with his touchdown pass. A&M started off the scoring with a 19-yard catch from Chad Schroeder, but only managed a 32-yard Matt Szymanski field goal the rest of the way.
Player of the game ... California's offensive line, tackles Andrew Cameron and Mike Gibson, guards Erik Robertson and Noris Malele and center Alex Mack for paving the way for 241 rushing yards and not allowing a sack.
Stat Leaders: Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 17-26, 177 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Mike Goodson, 13-62. Receiving: L'Tydrick Riley, 4-52
California - Passing: Nate Longshore, 19-24, 235 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Justin Forsett, 8-124, 1 TD  Receiving: DeSean Jackson, 5-81
Notes & Thoughts ...
Any question about the Pac 10's toughness now? Well, yeah, but California certainly proved it could manhandle a good run defense pushing Texas A&M all over the place. The O line opened mile-wide hole after mile-wide hole, and Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett sped through into the Aggie back seven time and again. The game proved a Jeff Tedford team can be about more than finesse. ... A&M was able to move the ball relatively well, but couldn't close and showed little pop in the passing game in comeback mode. Stephen McGee was efficient and Mike Goodson, before he was injured, and Jorvorskie Lane ran well, but this game was about the defense and its inability to come through with a stop. ... Does this loss erase the A&M win over Texas? No, but it ends things on a sour note and might get Aggie fans grumbling again about Dennis Franchione. While this 9-4 season wasn't a fluke, the team has to prove itself all over again next year. ... This is the type of win for Cal that should push it into preseason top ten status, and with QB Nate Longshore, most of the offensive line, Justin Forsett and DeSean Jackson returning, many will put the Bears in the top five.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record: 9-4

Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 The Citadel W 35-3
9/9 UL Lafayette W 51-7
9/16 Army W 28-24
9/23 Louisiana Tech W 45-14
9/30 Texas Tech L 31-27
10/7 at Kansas W 21-18
10/14 Missouri W 25-19
10/21 at Okla St W 34-33 OT
10/28 at Baylor W 31-21
11/4 Oklahoma L 17-16
11/11 Nebraska L 28-27
11/24 at Texas W 12-7
12/28 Holiday Bowl
California L 45-10

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-4
2005 Record:
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Clemson L 25-24
9/17 SMU W 66-8
9/24 Texas State W 44-31
10/1 Baylor W 16-13 OT
10/8 at Colorado L 41-20
10/15 Oklahoma St W 62-23
10/22 at Kansas St W 30-28
10/29 Iowa State L 42-14
11/5 at Texas Tech L 56-17
11/19 at Oklahoma L 36-30
11/25 Texas L 40-29

Nov. 24
Texas A&M 12 ... Texas 7
Texas A&M's Stephen McGee ran the option for an eight-yard touchdown to cap off a 16-play, 88-yard drive with 2:32 to play, and then the defense held on with two interceptions while knocking UT QB Colt McCoy from the game. McCoy, who was carted off on a stretcher, threw three picks, while Jevan Snead threw a pick to kill a final chance. A&M took the early lead on a 41-yard Mike Goodson run, but the extra point went wide right. Jamaal Charles ran for a six-yard score on the way to a 7-6 lead, but the defense couldn't hold on late. A&M outrushed Texas 244 yards to 70.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee completed seven of 13 passes for 58 yards and ran 18 times for 95 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Texas - Passing: Colt McCoy, 17-28, 160 yds, 3 INT
Rushing: Selvin Young, 10-44. Receiving: Quan Cosby, 7-67
Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 7-13, 58 yds
Stephen McGee, 18-95, 1 TD  Receiving: Earvin Taylor, 2-16
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Not only did A&M and head coach Dennis Franchione break the close game/big game hex, it did while doing its best to ruin the Texas Big 12 title hopes. Stephen McGee was unflappable on third down after third down, and came back after every big Texas defensive play to make a good play of his own. The defense swarmed all over the Texas running game forcing Colt McCoy to beat the secondary, and he couldn't do it. If A&M goes on to have a good run for the next few years, everyone will point to this game as the one that turned a major corner.

Nov. 11
Nebraska 28 ... Texas A&M 27
Nebraska turned a blocked field goal into an 11-play, 75-yard drive finishing with a nine-yard Zac Taylor lob to Maurice Purify for the game-winning score with :21 to play. The Huskers got up 21-7 in the first half on two Cody Glenn touchdown runs and a four-yard Todd Peterson catch. Then the Aggies went on a 20-point run highlighted by a 57-yard touchdown run from Stephen McGee, but when they had a chance to put the game away with a 42-yard Layne Neumann field goal, the Huskers got the block to keep the game alive. With the win, the Huskers clinched the Big 12 North title.
Player of the game ... In the loss, Texas A&M LB Mark Dodge made 17 tackles, an interception and a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Nebraska - Passing: Zac Taylor, 21-35, 267 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Marlon Lucky, 12-52. Receiving: Todd Peterson, 7-82, 1 TD
Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 18-31, 244 yds
Mike Goodson, 11-80, 1 TD  Receiving: Martel Bennett, 6-67
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Who's fault is it when a team can't win close games? Sure, A&M was able to beat the average teams in close calls, but Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Nebraska each made the plays late to win, while the Aggies didn't. Is it as simple as a mindset that says, "Oh no, here it goes again?" Head coach Dennis Franchione hasn't beaten the big boys going 0-11 against Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, and now he has another shot next week against Texas. The Aggies have the talent to win, and now, it appears, that they need to believe they can come up with the win.

Nov. 4
Oklahoma 17 ... Texas A&M 16
Oklahoma got short touchdown runs from Allen Patrick and Paul Thompson and a 23-yard Garrett Hartley field goal, but it was the final two inches that Sooner fans will remember. Texas A&M chose to kick two field goals late in the fourth quarter to pull within one rather than go for the touchdown, and the plan almost worked holding forcing fourth and one on the OU 29 with 1:29 to play. Instead of punting, head coach Bob Stoops chose to go for it, and Thompson came through getting two yards to seal the win. A&M got three Layne Neumann field goals and a one-yard Jorvorskie Lane touchdown run. The two teams combined for 428 rushing yards and just 102 passing with Patrick running for 173 and Texas A&M's Mike Goodson rushing for 127.
Player of the game ... Oklahoma RB Allen Patrick ran 32 times for 173 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 8-18, 63 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Mike Goodson, 19-127. Receiving: Chad Schroeder, 3-34
Oklahoma - Passing: Paul Thompson, 3-12, 39 yds
Allen Patrick, 32-173, 1 TD   Receiving: Juaquin Iglesias, 1-19
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Texas A&M is now two plays away from being 10-0 giving up a late touchdown pass to Texas Tech and not being able to hold on fourth and inches late against Oklahoma. Right or wrong, this game might have epitomized the two teams and the two head coaches. Bob Stoops showed faith in his team going for it on fourth and inches on his own 29 to try to seal the win with just over a minute to play, while Dennis Franchione chose to go for field goals rather than try for touchdowns late. One coach played it the conventional way and lost, the other played to win, and did. With Nebraska and Texas up next, the Aggies have to quickly regroup or all the positives from the first nine games will quickly be forgotten.

Oct. 28
Texas A&M 31 ... Baylor 21
Texas A&M got Martellus Bennett touchdown catches from three and 75 yards out and controlled the game with the rushing attack throughout. Baylor got two short touchdown runs from Brandon Whitaker and Paul Mosley to go along with a 79-yard touchdown catch from Dominique Ziegler, but the Aggies controlled the fourth quarter closing it out with a 22-yard Layne Neumann field goal, after getting an attempt blocked earlier, and a 64-yard Mike Goodson touchdown run.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M TE Martellus Bennett caught five passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 12-21, 215 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Mike Goodson, 8-96, 1 TD. Receiving: Martellus Bennett, 5-133, 2 TD
Baylor - Passing: Shawn Bell, 14-20, 260 yds, 1 TD
Paul Mosley, 13-53, 1 TD  Receiving: Dominique Ziegler, 5-180, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
How do you keep a high-octane offense off the field? Run and control the clock. A&M had the ball for almost 37 minutes against Baylor getting a nice mix of long drives and big plays. Converting eight of 14 third down chances helped to give the defense a rest, but ball control might be a big problem over the final three showdowns against Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. The easy portion of the schedule is now over, but that's a good thing. The team is ready for bigger challenges and to get on the national map. The Aggies control their own destiny in the Big 12 race.

Oct. 21
Texas A&M 34 ... Oklahoma State 33 OT
Texas A&M's
Stephen McGee threw a two-yard touchdown pass with three seconds to play in regulation, Jorvorskie Lane ran for a one-yard score in overtime, and Red Bryant sealed the win by blocking an extra-point attempt after Oklahoma State scored on a 15-yard Adarius Bowman touchdown. In a wild fourth quarter that started out with a two-yard Lane scoring run, Dantrell Savage gave the Cowboys the lead on a 60-yard run, but McGee led a 65-yard drive in 11 plays culminating in the game-tying score. Zac Robinson, filling in for an injured Bobby Reid, threw three touchdown passes, with two to Bowman, but McGee and the Aggie offense answered time and again in the see-saw game finishing with 423 yards of total offense.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee completed 17 of 26 passes fro 192 yards and two touchdowns and ran 17 times for 86 yards.
Stat Leaders: Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 17-26, 192 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Stephen McGee, 17-86. Receiving: Chad Schroeder, 6-52
Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 7-16, 94 yds, 3 TD
Dantrell Savage, 13-134, 1 TD  Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 3-48, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... The win over Oklahoma State might not have been the prettiest of performances, and it took a fantastic game from Stephen McGee to get the win, but the Aggies are 7-1 with their Big 12 title fate still in their hands. However, to beat Baylor next week and stay on track, the defense has to be better than it was against the Cowboys, Fortunately, A&M's issue was with the OSU running game, and Baylor doesn't run. The team has lived by the skin of its teeth over the last four weeks losing late to Texas A&M and needing big late plays to win its last three. Yeah, the Aggies are a play away from being 8-0, but they're also roughly four plays away from being 4-4. The BU game is hardly a gimme and there can't be any looking ahead to Oklahoma.

Oct. 14
Texas A&M 25 ... Missouri 19
Texas A&M held on to the ball for 41:30 thanks to a pounding game from Jorvorskie Lane and crisp play from QB Stephen McGee. Lane ran for a one-yard touchdown and Mike Goodson ran for a two-yard score to offset Missouri's big plays. The Tigers struck on a 38-yard catch from William Franklin and got a 39-yard Jeff Wolfert field goal to tie it at 17 and halftime despite numerous problems with fumbles and other errors, and then the offense couldn't get the ball in the second half. with a safety off a bad snap for the team's only points. Lane was the story grinding out the final 3:28 of the game.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M RB Jorvorskie Lane ran 28 times for 127 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 19-23, 183 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jorvorskie Lane, 28-127, 1 TD. Receiving: Kerry Franks, 3-115
Missouri - Passing: Chase Daniel, 21-29, 295 yds, 1 TD
Tony Temple, 13-37, 1 TD  Receiving: Chase Coffman, 6-69
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... A&M came up with a fantastic game against a dangerous Missouri team that couldn't handle the A&M offensive balance. Jorvorskie Lane will be what everyone remembers, but Stephen McGee also had a fantastic game with an efficient passing day and showing a nice arm on the 67-yard pass to Kerry Franks. Now the Aggies are really back in the Big 12 race and able to control their own destiny. Oklahoma might be vulnerable now that Adrian Peterson is out meaning the season-ender at Texas might be for all the marbles.

Oct. 7
Texas A&M 21 ... Kansas 18
Jorvorskie Lane pounded it in for his second two-yard touchdown of the day getting in with 34 seconds remaining to finish off the comeback win for the Aggies. Down 18-7 going into the fourth quarter, Stephen McGee ran for a two-yard score, but it took a 12--play, 80-yard drive in just under three minutes to finally put the Jayhawks away. Kansas got three Scott Webb field goals and a six-yard touchdown catch from Dexton Fields, but couldn't get the offense moving in the fourth quarter and couldn't come up with a final stop.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M LB Justin Warren made 13 tackles and a tackle for loss.
Stat Leaders: Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 25-45, 240 yds
Rushing: Mike Goodson, 8-79. Receiving: Earvin Taylor, 7-43
Kansas - Passing: Adam Barmann, 13-31, 127 yds, 1 TD
Jon Cornish, 23-128  Receiving: Brandon McAnderson, 3-57
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... A&M didn't come up with a sharp game at Kansas, but it showed it could make a big comeback when needed with a strong fourth quarter and a huge final drive from Stephen McGee to get the win. McGee spread the ball around well using eight different receivers. The defense got decent pressure in the backfield and forced a bad passing day from Adam Barmann, but the team will have to play far stronger next week to get past a red-hot Missouri team. Establishing the run early, at least better than it did against KU, will be the key.

Sept. 30
Texas Tech 31 ... Texas A&M 27
Texas Tech's Graham Harrell connected with Robert Johnson for a 37-yard touchdown with :26 to play to overcome a 32-yard Layne Neumann field goal that capped a second half A&M comeback. Tech bombed away in the first half getting up 24-14 on two Johnson scoring grabs including a five-yard play with nine seconds remaining, but the highlight was a 54-yard catch-and-run for a score by Joel Filani. Texas A&M's offense struggled to put points on the board in the first half, but it got a 99-yard kickoff return for a score from Kerry Franks and a two-yard Jorvorskie Lane touchdown run to keep things close. The Aggie running game led the way in the second half comeback with two Layne Neumann field goals and a four-yard Chris Alexander scoring run, but the secondary couldn't handle Harrell on an 80-yard final drive that took 1:46. A&M's final drive stalled at the Texas Tech 21 after a 44-yard pass to Chad Schroeder.
Player of the game ... Texas Tech WR Robert Johnson caught four passes for 69 yards and thee touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 9-20, 103 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jorvorskie Lane, 12-77, 1 TD. Receiving: Chad Schroeder, 2-57
Texas Tech - Passing: Graham Harrell, 32-45, 392 yds, 4 TD
Shannon Woods, 10-35  Receiving: Joel Filani, 10-156, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Now we see just how mentally tough Texas A&M is and how well Dennis Franchione can bring his team back from the doldrums after the heartbreaking loss to Texas Tech. A&M's defense did a great job in the second half up until the final Red Raider drive, but it wasn't enough. Next week's game at Kansas is very winnable, and it might be a must-win with a suddenly-tough Missouri team coming to town in two weeks. If Stephen McGee can be more effective through the air and the running game can continue to produce. A&M will win a lot of games if it can average 5.3 yards per carry.

Sept. 23
Texas A&M 45 ... Louisiana Tech 14
The game was delayed by two hours because of bad weather, and it took Texas A&M a quarter to get revved up. Once it did, it exploded for 39 straight points highlighted by a 64-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Franks and two Chris Alexander touchdown grabs. Louisiana Tech got the first points of the game on a 24-yard touchdown run from Patrick Jackson, but failed to take advantage of great field position and several missed opportunities early on. The Bulldogs finally got back on the board in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Josh Wheeler, but it was way too late.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee completed 19 of 28 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns and ran eight times for 17 yards
Stat Leaders: Louisiana Tech - Passing: Zac Champion, 13-31, 229 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Patrick Jackson, 21-81, 1 TD. Receiving: Dennis Moore, 2-103
Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee,19-28, 318 yds, 3 TD
Jamie McCoy, 3-42  Receiving: Chad Schroeder, 2-82
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Stephen McGee is playing at an All-Big 12 level. Last week he ran wild against Army, and this week he bombed away on Louisiana Tech. He'll have to do a little of both next week against Texas Tech. The pass defense has been strong coming through with several big plays against the Bulldogs to stop drives. However, it has to be a little bit of a concern that the team came out flat after a poor showing in the win over Amry, and the 12 penalties aren't going to make the coaching staff happy.

Sept. 16
Texas A&M 28 ... Army 24
Texas A&M needed a late goal line stand stuffing army on the third and goal from the two as time ran out. Army hung around despite giving away three interceptions thanks to two Wesley McMahand touchdown runs and a 43-yard Corey Anderson scoring dash. A&M ran for 262 yards and got three touchdown runs from Jorvorskie Lane, but he was stuffed on fourth and one giving the ball back to Army on the A&M 31 with 1:42 to play. A pass interference call got it down to the two where the drive ended up stalling.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M RB Jorvorskie Lane ran 24 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Army - Passing: Devid Pevoto, 17-32, 136 yds, 3 INT
Rushing: Wesley McMahand, 14-68, 2 TD. Receiving: Walter Hill, 5-48
Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 7-11, 102 yds, 1 TD
Stephen McGee, 11-142. Receiving: Chad Schroeder, 3-62, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... The close call against a lousy Army team might be exactly the wake up call A&M needed. It's been easy for the team to gloss over the easy schedule and think it'll be smooth sailing up until the Texas Tech game, but Army almost came up with the shocking win by coming up with the big plays it had to have to stay alive. Stephen McGee is decent at running the option and had a nice game with his legs. To beat the big boys, he'll have to make things happen through the air and he has to spread it around a little bit more.

Sept. 9
Texas A&M 51 ... UL Lafayette 7
Texas A&M had its way with UL Lafayette allowing just 17 passing yards and getting four touchdowns from Jorvorskie Lane. On the way to a 31-0 lead, the Aggies got scoring runs from one, two, and five yards out from Lane to go along with a 15-yard touchdown catch from Chad Schroeder. ULL's Michael Desormeaux broke the run with an eight-yard score late in the first half. Ty Branyon threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Joey Thomas and ran for a 12-yard score in the third quarter.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M RB Jorvorskie Lane ran 12 times for 52 yards and four touchdowns
Stat Leaders: UL Lafayette - Passing: Jerry Babb, 1-8, 10 yds
Rushing: Michael Desormeaux, 10-53, TD. Receiving: Erik Jones, 1-10
Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 20-27, 200 yds, 1 TD
Mike Goodson, 8-54. Receiving: Joey Thomas, 3-84, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... After an uneven performance against The Citadel, A&M needed this near-perfect blowout over UL Lafayette. The running game was unstoppable early, Stephen McGee was sharp in the passing game, and the defense stifled anything the Ragin' Cajuns wanted to do through the air. This looked like a team coming together just in time for ... Army?! It's a great luxury to have so many warm-up games before the showdown against Texas Tech in late September.

Sept. 2
Texas A&M 35 ... The Citadel 3
Texas A&M got up early with short touchdown runs from Courtney Lewis, Jorvorskie Lane and Stephen McGee, and was never threatened as The Citadel only managed a 29-yard Blake Vandiver field goal in the second quarter. McGee threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Chad Schroeder. The Aggies outgained the Bulldogs 384 yards to 243.
Player of the game ... Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee completed 16 of 24 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown and ran eight times for 18 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: The Citadel - Passing: Duran Lawson, 19-38, 128 yds
Rushing: Duran Lawson, 13-68. Receiving: Ta'Mar Jernigan, 6-48
Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 16-24, 200 yds, 1 TD
Courtney Lewis, 13-55, 2 TD. Receiving: Chad Schroeder, 6-101, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... While A&M wasn't razor sharp against The Citadel, it put the game away early and was able to take its foot off the gas. Stephen McGee didn't look like Reggie McNeal, but he was able to lead the offense on scoring drives and he kept things moving. Now the offense has to use the UL Lafayette game next week to get more efficient on third downs after only converting four of 11 chances.

2006 Texas A&M Preview

Texas A&M Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Seven years removed from when Texas A&M was champion of the Big 12 conference, the program is more in limbo now than ever. It wasn't supposed to be like this.   

A&M fancies itself to have a football program that should be on par with the elite, but it can't seem to do more than tread water in its own division under head coach Dennis Franchione.

With Texas coming off a national title, Oklahoma appearing to have reloaded to championship form, Texas Tech emerging more and more as a Big 12 player, and with Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa State, and even Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas all with positive momentum, A&M needs to come up with a big statement season or it'll be back to square one next year.

Franchione was the Urban Meyer of 2002. He was the hot head coach that had a reputation of turning around programs and making them into winners. Certainly he helped kick-start TCU into the mid-level power it is now, and he was able to clean up some of the mess at Alabama and head it in the right direction. Now the question becomes whether or not someone else will benefit from anything positive that has happened in College Station over the last few years.

After three seasons, A&M is just supposed to be hitting its stride under the coaching staff. Instead, it's still rebuilding trying to patch up one of the nation's worst defenses while searching for an identity on offense. If you're bringing in new coaches and a new defensive coordinator, either you're having so much success that everyone wants to hire the talent, or else the wheels are coming off. If it's the latter, then the next step is to panic if the moves don't work out.

Most maddening has been how close A&M has been at times to looking like it's on the verge of big things. No one outside of Ohio State and USC played Texas better than A&M did last year. The Aggies almost beat Oklahoma at Oklahoma and lost a classic in the season opener at Clemson. Outside of the gaffe against Baylor two years ago, all the losses under Coach Fran have come to teams that finished with winning records with nine of the 18 defeats coming to teams that finished with three losses or fewer. It's no sin to lose to Texas, Oklahoma, the juggernaut 2004 Utah team or the high-powered 2004 Volunteers. But Aggie fans aren't into close losses. Unfortunately, with a team as young as this year's, there might be more on the way.

The defense will switch to a 4-2-5 alignment to try to help the nation's worst pass defense and be more productive against one-back offenses. New defensive coordinator Gary Darnell has beef to work with on the front four and lots and lots and lots of interesting inexperienced prospects in the back seven.

The offense should be humming as long as new starting quarterback Stephen McGee is merely adequate. The line is among the best in the league, the receiving corps has the potential to break out and have a big season, and the running back trio of Courtney Lewis, Jorvorski Lane and Mike Goodson should be terrific. Now it all has to come together in the form of wins.

This is a team that's about a year away from potentially challenging for the South title, but that's what was said last year. However, there's no need for Franchione to polish up his résumé quite yet. There's enough talent to win several games with, and there's a big boost thanks to ...

The Schedule: No one can use the schedule as an excuse if the Aggies have another disappointing season. The non-conference schedule is a joke, and the Big 12 opener against Texas Tech is at home. In fact, until the season finale against Texas, all the tough games are in College Station including battles against Oklahoma and Nebraska. Even with the with the showdown against the Longhorns, the road schedule is one of the easiest in the nation facing Kansas, Oklahoma and Baylor.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Courtney Lewis. But this could very quickly change if true freshman Mike Goodson is as good advertised or if Jorvorskie Lane gets a more prominent role. Lewis isn't a flashy back, but he has enough speed to be used as a kickoff returner and has the experience from being the team's leading rusher over the last three seasons to be used even more.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Justin Warren. With so much uncertainty on the defense in the new 4-2-5 alignment, Warren will have to be better than ever. He'll have more responsibility than ever before with more room to roam.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Stephen McGee. He's not going to be horrible and he doesn't have to be Reggie McNeal. He has to be a consistent passer who makes teams pay for leaving him alone to run. McNeal might have been special, but McGee could turn out to crank out more wins.

The season will be a success if ... A&M wins eight wins and goes to a bowl. Anything less than a bowl season means a new coaching staff will be in place next year at this time. Eight wins and a post-season appearance would be a nice stepping stone season for a program with too much young talent. Aggie fans would get really, really excited about 2007 if this year isn't a total disaster.

Key game: Sept. 30 vs. Texas Tech. Here will be the biggest test for the new defense with the ultimate passing offense against 2005's worst pass D in the Big 12 opener. If A&M can pull it off it'll be 5-0 going into a winnable game at Kansas. Win that, and it's home against Missouri followed up by road trips to Oklahoma State and Baylor. As crazy as it sounds for a team as average as this one, 9-0 is pipe-dream possible with a win over the Red Raiders.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Third down conversions: Opponents 81 of 169 (48%) - Texas A&M 51 of 144 (35%)
- Average yards per carry: Texas A&M 5.7 - Opponents 3.6
- Sacks: Texas A&M 26 for 226 yards - Opponents 16 for 117 yards

The Last Time Texas A&M…
…played in a bowl game…2004 (Cotton Bowl vs. Tennessee)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2004 (Wyoming)
…was shutout…2003 (Oklahoma)
…scored 50 points…2003 (Baylor)
…went undefeated…1994
…won a conference title…1998 (Big 12)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2003 (Courtney Lewis)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…never
…had a first-round draft choice…2003 (DT Ty Warren and DB Sammy Davis)