2007 Texas A&M Preview - Offense

Posted May 6, 2007

Preview 2007 Texas A&M Aggies Offense

Texas A&M Aggies

Preview 2007 - Offense

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2007 Texas A&M Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Texas A&M Preview 

What you need to know:
Run, run, and run some more. The Aggies finished last year eighth in the nation in rushing, and now the line should be even better with four legitimate All-Big 12 candidates paving the way for the devastating rushing tandem of Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson. QB Stephen McGee was better than anyone could've hoped for last year taking over for Reggie McNeal, and while he might not throw only two interceptions again, he'll be one of the league's best all-around quarterbacks. The tight end tandem of Martellus Bennett and Joey Thomas would get all the conference attention if it wasn't for Missouri's tremendous pair, but the receivers are suspect and could be the Achilles heel if there Earvin Taylor doesn't have a huge season.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Stephen McGee
194-313, 2,295 yds, 12 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Mike Goodson
127 carries, 847 yds, 4 TD
Martellus Bennett
38 catches, 497 yds 3 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Stephen McGee
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior WR Kerry Franks
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Michael Shumard
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Martellus Bennett
Top three all-star candidates: 1) RB Mike Goodson, 2) Bennett, 3) OG Kirk Elder
Strength of the offense: Running game, offensive line, backfield
Weakness of the offense:
Proven wide receivers, offensive line depth


Projected Starter
Everyone just assumed junior Stephen McGee was just a scrambler after the way he almost ruined the Texas 2005 national title season by running amok, but he was an accomplished high school passer who showed just how efficient he could be last season completing 62% of his passes for 2,295 yards and 12 touchdowns with a mere two interceptions. He's 6-3 and 215 pounds with the rushing skills to take off for 666 yards and four touchdowns and to avoid taking too many sacks. While he proved he can be a winner, the team lost three of its last four games against the big boys on the schedule. He's been great against the Longhorns, and now he has to be great against the other top teams.

Projected Top Reserves: While McGee is firmly, unquestionable entrenched as the starter, there are many who'll like to see redshirt freshman Jerrod Johnson see some meaningful work after a great spring. He's 6-6, 223 pounds and can move. With a poise beyond his years, but he still needs seasoning and a little bit of touch as far as his consistency and decision making. Two years from now he could be a star.

The battle will be for the number three spot between senior T.J. Sanders, a smart passer with a little bit of mop up experience, and freshman Ryan Tannehill, who has 6-4, 210-pound size and a nice arm.  
Watch Out For ... Johnson to see some meaningful work as soon as it's possible. He's not going to rotate with McGee or see action when the outcomes are still in question, but the second things start to get out of reach, he'll get in to see some experience.
Strength: McGee's all-around skills. Probably the best dual-threat quarterback that no one knows about, he doesn't make mistakes and can run by design or out of necessity. His talents allow the coaching staff to play around with the offense and run a myriad of plays..
Weakness: Proven backups. Everyone loves Johnson's potential and likes what Tannehill should become, but there isn't anyone the coaching staff will feel sleep-at-night comfortable about if McGee goes down. Considering McGee ran 146 times last season and took a lot of shots, there will be a lot of nervous moments.
Outlook: McGee is a superstar who's isn't going to receive superstar status. He's a great leader and a consistent playmaker who won't get you beat. Now he has to do even more with the passing game (63 yards against Oklahoma, 58 against Texas) and use his experience to take more chances. It might mean a few more interceptions, but it should also lead to more big plays. There's talent among the backups; just no experience.
Rating: 8

Running Backs

Projected Starters
The Aggies have an embarrassment of riches returning led by the devastating 1-2 punch of junior Jorvorskie Lane and sophomore Mike Goodson. More than just one of the best short-yardage runners in America, the 263-pound Lane ran for a school-record 19 touchdowns, but only two in the final four games. While he powered over Missouri for 127 yards and a score, he was held in check by Nebraska (13 yards), Texas (60) and Cal (36) and only had two 100-yard days on the season. That's partly because he's part of a rotation, and it's partly because he's not necessarily a workhorse type of back for his size. He's very quick through the hole and he's always going forward. While Lane might seem like a fullback, he's a tailback.

The blocking duties fall on 5-11, 248-pound senior Chris Alexander, who ran for 78 yards and a touchdown, caught 11 passes for 78 yards and three scores, and turned into a whale of a blocker for the nation's eighth best rushing attack earning All-Big 12 honors. He's as physical as they come.

Projected Top Reserves: Lane might be listed as the starter, but Goodson is No. 1A on the depth chart. Arguably the top recruit to come out of Texas last season, he didn't disappoint leading the Aggies with 847 yards and four touchdowns averaging a whopping 6.7 yards per carry. He has decent size at 6-0 and 192 pounds and good hands catching 17 passes, but his game is about speed, speed and more speed. When he gets to the edge, it's over. While Lane was busy burying defenses, Goodson ran around them getting better and better as the season wore on highlighted by a 127-yard day against Oklahoma. Lane will do most of the scoring, but Goodson will get the offense in range.

Trying to find time in the rotation will be redshirt freshman Cornell Tarrant, one of the stars of spring ball who tore off a 66-yard touchdown run in the spring game. He's a little like a not-as-good Goodson, but he should get a few carries here and there.

Backing up Alexander at fullback will be 237-pound sophomore Jodie Richardson, who was originally a linebacker but didn't play all of last year. He was an all-star high school defender with good size and speed, and now it needs to translate to the offense.
Watch Out For ... the ground game to roll for 200 yards a game without much of a problem. Having a running quarterback like Stephen McGee helps the numbers, but the combination of Lane and Goodson could hit the mark on their own in most games.
Strength: The combination of talents. If you put Goodson's moves and speeds in Lane's body, you'd have the greatest back of all-time. As is, the two are devastating.
Weakness: A proven number three. While Goodson proved he could be a 15-carry back towards the end of the season, if injuries strike, that might change the entire overall game-plan unless Tarrant turns into the third runner in the mix. There's no Courtney Lewis to rely on anymore.
Outlook: The formula should work again with Goodson setting them up and Lane knocking them down. In a perfect world, the Aggies run like they did against Missouri (despite only gaining 180 yards) when the ground game dominated the second half and Lane turned into a closer. The backs will lead the way to another top ten finish in rushing offense.
Rating: 9.5


Projected Starters
Chad Schroeder, the leading receiver over the last two years, is gone along with the team's second most productive wideout, L'Tydrick Riley. That means it's time for senior Earvin Taylor to go from being a nice complementary receiver to a number one. While he looked the part in spring ball, he has to do it more in live action catching just 19 passes for 160 yards last season after coming back from a broken leg that sidelined him in 2005. At 6-3 and 228 pounds, he has the size to go along with home-run hitting ability.

On the other side will be senior Kerry Franks, a decent career backup who made ten grabs for 265 yards last season and two touchdowns. He's one of the nation's premier kick returners with the speed to be used more as a deep threat. He'll get a few carries here and there just to get the ball in his hands.

The team's leading returning receiver is junior tight end Martellus Bennett, a 6-7, 253-pound athlete who grabbed 38 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns as Stephen McGee's main go-to target when things got tight. He'll be in the hunt for All-America honors in a salary drive season that could make him one of the top tight ends taken in the 2008 NFL Draft. A member of the Aggie basketball team, he might not be a bigger Antonio Gates, but he's not far off when it comes to his athleticism.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 200-pound junior Pierre Brown is a big, strong receiver with the potential to be far more involved. He appeared to be coming on at the end of his freshman year finishing with four starts, but he got lost in the shuffle last season making 12 catches for 104 yards averaging 8.4 yards per grab.

He'll play behind Franks, while 211-pound junior Howard Morrow will work behind Taylor after catching seven passes for 82 yards and got a start against Texas. He has nice hands and is a tough blocker on the inside. Now he has to start doing more for the passing game.

6-5, 250-pound senior Joey Thomas will back up Bennett and see plenty of action in two tight end sets. He's an experienced receiver with excellent speed for a player of his size and a knack for making big catches around the goal line with two, two-point conversions to go along with two touchdowns. He averaged 15.8 yards per catch on ten grabs.
Watch Out For ... Taylor to finally emerge as a top receiver. After being a bit of an afterthought, especially after he broke his leg two years ago, now he's the main man and he should be up to the challenge.
Strength: The "Legion of Doom" tight end tandem. Bennett and Thomas will be on NFL rosters someday. They can both run and they can both catch. The play in this offense, you need to block, and they can.
Weakness: A proven number two. Franks is dangerous, but can he be more than just a speed threat on the outside? At the moment, Bennett is the team's best number two receiver, and he might even be number one.
Outlook: It's all about taking advantage of opportunities. The running game is the offense, but this isn't a one-dimensional attack and McGee will spread it around. With safeties having to cheat up to deal with Lane and Goodson, the receiver have to take advantage of all the single coverage they'll see and find the openings.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The line is loaded with experience, and it starts in the middle with 6-4, 294-pound senior Cody Wallace, who earned First Team All-Big 12 honors. One of the team's steadiest starters with 23 straight calls, he's a very smart, very tough run blocker who doesn't make mistakes.

Next to him is 6-5, 307-pound senior Kirk Elder at quick guard coming off an All-Big 12 season. The line's star with 34 straight starts, he's a rock against the pass and a road grader against the run. It'll be a shock if he's not one of the league's best yet again and an All-America caliber performer.

On the strong guard, the side with the tight end, will be 303-pound senior Chris Yoder, a starter throughout 2004 who became a backup last season behind Grant Dickey. He appeared to be a burgeoning star starting every game at center in a big freshman season, but Wallace turned out to be too good.

Back at quick tackle will be 308-pound junior Yemi Babalola, who earned All-Big 12 honors as a freshman, but was hurt throughout all of last year mainly with a foot problem. Even so, he started the opener and the final three games. He's smart, is always moving, and is great at burying defenders, but he wasn't the player he was two years ago. Now healthy, he should regain his form.

6-6, 309-pound senior Corey Clark is back at strong tackle coming off an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 blocker. Able to play guard or tackle, run blocking was never a problem. Now he's a solid pass protector, too.

Projected Top Reserves: When Babalola was hurt, 6-8, 297-pound junior Travis Schneider filled in and did a great job starting nine times. While he's not Babalola, he's a more than serviceable blocker who can take over either tackle spot if needed. That's about it as far as experienced backups.

6-5, 307-pound sophomore Michael Shumard will someday be one of the team's stars, but he only saw action in four early games behind Yoder. He's a major talent who was a big-time recruit for the program a few years ago.

6-5, 307-pound sophomore Kevin Matthews will be the understudy behind Wallace in the middle being groomed to take over next year. He's extremely strong with nice feet and should see a little bit more action after playing in just one game.
Watch Out For ... this to be one of the Big 12's best lines once again. With Babalola back and the experience along the rest of the starting front, blasting open holes for the ground game won't be a problem.
Strength: Talent in the starting five. Babalola, Elder, Wallace and Clark could all be All-Big 12 performers. They're all that good and they should all form the best front wall the team has had in years.
Weakness: Proven backups. Schneider is solid, Shumard has potential, and there are plenty of big young bodies to play around with, but there's almost no experience to rely on.
Outlook: As long as injuries don't strike early on and the backups are allowed time to develop and see playing time, the line should be dominant. It's good in pass protection, great in the running game, and very experienced. It could stand to be a bit more consistent against the top teams, and it should be.
Rating: 9