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2007 Texas A&M Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 6, 2007


Texas A&M had a nice bounceback season, and now, led by QB Stephen McGee, head coach Dennis Franchione has his best Aggie team yet. With a nasty schedule, can the program still take another big step forward?

Texas A&M Aggies

Preview 2007

By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Texas A&M Offense Preview | 2007 Texas A&M Defense Preview
-
2007 Texas A&M Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Texas A&M Preview 

That 12-7 win over Texas, in Austin of all places, was supposed to have done it. All the components were there: a power running game, a tough defense and great leadership that produced a late comeback. Texas A&M was back, and all the trouble surrounding Dennis Franchione was gone.
           
For a few weeks.

Head coach: Dennis Franchione
5th year: 25-22
16th year overall: 100-78
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 21, ST 6
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best A&M Players
1. RB Mike Goodson, Soph.
2.
QB Stephen McGee, Jr.
3. TE Martellus Bennett, Jr.
4. RB Jorvorskie Lane, Jr.
5. OG Kirk Elder, Sr.
6. DT Red Bryant, Sr.
7. DE Chris Harrington, Sr.
8. C Cody Wallace, Sr.
9. FS Devin Gregg, Jr.
10. OT Yemi Babalola, Jr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4

Sept. 1

Montana State

Sept. 8

Fresno State

Sept. 15

UL Monroe

Sept. 20

at Miami

Sept. 29

Baylor

Oct. 6

Oklahoma State

Oct. 13

at Texas Tech

Oct. 20

at Nebraska

Oct. 27

Kansas

Nov. 3

at Oklahoma

Nov. 10

at Missouri

Nov. 23

Texas

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4
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

Then came the Holiday Bowl, and a 45-10 spanking administered by California that changed everything. Suddenly, the Aggies weren’t on the come, ready to make a big splash in ’07 as one of college football’s “it” teams.

Were they were slow and unable to hang with powerful offenses from other conferences? Was the season a mirage? Is Franchione going to be on the hot seat, or even gone, if he doesn’t come up with a great year? Questions abound, the same questions people had when the Aggies lost back-to-back games to Nebraska and Oklahoma prior to beating UT. Is this team ready for a spot on the national scene or is it, despite the win over the Longhorns, still struggling to find its identity? 

The Aggies return 15 starters, including quarterback Stephen McGee and a loaded stable of running backs, led by Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane. The defense brings back 13 of last year’s top 16 tacklers, but the jury’s still out on whether A&M is loaded, or is just a program that whips up on the Big 12’s lesser lights and occasionally does damage to the bigger names.

Becoming a consistent Big 12 power is the Aggie challenge in 2007. It’s Franchione’s mandate to actually be in the race for the South title, and not just influence it. After three seasons, his record stands at 16-18, but things are looking up after beating Texas and Missouri on the way to a 9-4 season. Now, Aggie fans are expecting more…as long as there’s a win over the Longhorns as part of the plan.  

What to look for on offense:
Even though the Aggies were blown out by California, they still dominated the time-of-possession battle with an edge of nearly ten minutes. That says two things. First, Cal scored quickly. Second, A&M likes to run the football and can control games. The offense will try to grind it out again, while McGee, with a year of experience under his belt, will take a few more shots down the field. Ultra-efficient last season, he’ll have more freedom to shine.

What to look for on defense: The Texas win was a bit of a mirage since the defense was erratic throughout the year. With so many players back, the experience can’t help but translate into more production. Being better against the run is a must after getting rolled over in too many key games. In the last six games of the season, A&M allowed three teams (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Cal) to all go over 200 yards on the ground. Step one will be to go get tougher up front, and that should change if and when top tackle Red Bryant, who missed most of the second half of the year with a knee injury, is back.

This team will be much better if…it can get more pressure on the quarterback. The Aggies sacked opposing passers just 20 times last year, a big reason teams completed 55.2% of their passes against A&M and threw for nearly 200 yards a game.

The Schedule: Not bad early, brutal late. The Aggies have a tough Thursday night road game at Miami to potentially make a big national splash, but the rest of the non-conference schedule is easy, facing Montana State, Fresno State and UL Monroe. If they can come up with the win over the Canes, a 6-0 start is likely with Baylor and Oklahoma State coming to Kyle Field. And then things get ugly with four road games in the next five, including dates at Nebraska and Missouri, the two best teams in the North, to go along with a trip to Oklahoma. Closing out against Texas doesn’t make things much easier.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Stephen McGee. One of the nation’s best all-around quarterbacks, McGee set the school’s single-season completion percentage mark, hitting 62% of his throws for 2,295 yards and 12 touchdowns, with only two interceptions. He also ran for 666 yards and four touchdowns. Most importantly, he’s a terrific leader who sets the tone for the offense with his competitive nature.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DT Red Bryant. The 6-5, 324-pound block in the middle of the line had his least productive season with only 19 tackles and a sack even with the knee injury. With his size, he’s almost impossible to throw over, and he’s also a threat to block kicks beating Oklahoma State with a stuffed extra point in overtime.

Key player to a successful season: Senior DE Chris Harrington. As solid as the defense was last season, it didn’t do anything to get into the backfield registering a conference-low 55 tackles-for-loss and only 20 sacks. Don’t blame Harrington for the problems generating 7.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. He needs to shine again, while hoping for a little help.

The season will be a success if ... the Aggies finish with ten wins. This is the best A&M team Coach Fran has fielded, so winning one more game than last year would be a nice step forward for a program that seemed stuck in the mud for a while. Unfortunately, the schedule is way too tough to hope for a Big 12 title. To get to double-digit victories, A&M will likely have to pull off at least one big road upset, win the bowl game, and not lose at home to anyone other than, maybe, Texas.

Key game: Oct. 13 at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have beaten the Aggies five of the last six years, including last season’s 31-27 last-minute stunner. The next five games are at Nebraska, Kansas, at Oklahoma, at Missouri and Texas. In other words, lose at Lubbock, lose any South title dreams.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Third down conversions: Texas A&M 89-177 (50%); Opponents 44-153 (29%)
- Time of possession: Texas A&M 33:35; Opponents 26:25
- Kickoff return average: Texas A&M 26.1 yards; Opponent 18.2 yards

 

 

Related Stories
2007 Texas A&M Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 6, 2007
2007 Texas A&M Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 6, 2007
Aggie football podcast
 -by Websider.com  Sep 6, 2007








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