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2008 CFN Texas A&M Preview
Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee
Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 20, 2008


It's a new era in College Station as head coach Mike Sherman is kicking things off with a more aggressive defense, a pro-style offense, and a new attitude. Can Stephen McGee be the type of passer who can handle all the changes? Will the Aggies finally become a power in the South? Check out the CFN A&M Preview.

Texas A&M Aggies

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Texas A&M Preview | 2008 Texas A&M Offense
- 2008 Texas A&M Defense | 2008 Texas A&M Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Texas A&M Preview | 2006 CFN Texas A&M Preview
 

It's not like the Dennis Francione era was a total disaster. There were some bowl games, a couple of nice wins over Texas, and some decent moments here and there, but a 23-24 record in four seasons isn't exactly what Aggie fans had in mind.

When R.C. Slocum, a coach who actually won a Big 12 title, got unceremoniously booted, and Franchione did the unthinkable, at least to Crimson Tide fans, and left Alabama to come back to A&M, it was supposed to be a perfect marriage of a hot coaching hire and a program ready to take the next step and become a yearly challenger for the Big 12 South title.

Head coach: Mike Sherman
1st year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 24, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 23
Ten Best A&M Players
1. RB Mike Goodson, Jr.
2.
QB Stephen McGee, Sr.
3. FB Jorvorskie Lane, Sr.
4. P Justin Brantly, Sr.
5. DT Kellen Heard, Jr.
6. QB Jerrod Johnson, Soph.
7. DE Cyril Obiozor, Sr.
8. OT Michael Shumard, Jr.
9. LB Matt Featherston, Jr.
10. RB Bradley Stephens RFr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Arkansas State
Sept. 6 at New Mexico
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 20 Miami
Sept. 27 Army
Oct. 4 at Oklahoma State
Oct. 11 Kansas State
Oct. 18 Texas Tech 
Oct. 25 at Iowa State
Nov. 1 Colorado 
Nov. 8 Oklahoma
Nov. 15 at Baylor
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 28 at Texas

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4
2007 Record: 7-6

Sept. 1 Montana State W 38-7
Sept. 8 Fresno St W 47-45 3OT
Sept. 15 UL Monroe W 54-14
Sept. 20 at Miami L 34-17
Sept. 29
Baylor W 34-10
Oct. 6 Oklahoma State W 24-23
Oct. 13 at Texas Tech L 35-7
Oct. 20 at Nebraska W 36-14
Oct. 27
Kansas L 19-11
Nov. 3 at Oklahoma L 42-14
Nov. 10 at Missouri L 40-26
Nov. 23
Texas W 38-30
Alamo Bowl
Dec. 29 Penn State L 24-17

Unfortunately, just because Coach Fran came to College Station, that didn't mean Oklahoma and Texas were going to fold up shop and quit playing. On the contrary, those two just kept on chugging while A&M was mired in mediocrity.

The problem with A&M is that it thinks it's a really big-time, elite program, but it hasn't really done enough on a consistent basis to actually be a big-time, elite program. It sort of falls into the UCLA/Michigan State category of having all the tools, but suffers from being the little brother everyone likes to pat on the head and isn't taken seriously.

That's not to say Texas A&M can't be a superpower. On the contrary, everything is in place to be special if the right coach comes along at the right time. Is that guy really Mike Sherman?

As far as coaching hires go, picking up Sherman, the former Green Bay head man and A&M assistant, registered about as much of a ripple in the sports world as a Tuesday night WNBA game. But dig a little bit deeper, and while Sherman might not have much in the way of a Q rating, he could be exactly the type of guy who gets it done.

Franchione's biggest problem was that he was too timid, and sort of whiny. Either A&M didn't have enough experience on the line, or the schedule was a bear, or the turkey sandwiches were a little dry; there was always something to fret about. A&M can't just hope it'll be a big boy; it needs to come out with fire and brimstone with the attitude that no matter what happens, it's going to find a way to get the job done.

Franchione's teams had a nice rushing attack, but the offense was never special, while the defenses went from appallingly lousy to read-and-react, bend-but-don't-break ... timid.

That's not going to be Sherman. His defense, thanks to coordinator Joe Kines, is going to attack, attack, attack. The offense is going to throw the ball and be a pro-style attack. Who cares that the Aggies don't have the personnel to run it? Sherman isn't making any excuses and is planning on putting the square pegs into the round holes. In other words, the excuse time is over.

Realistically, it's going to take at least a year to start thinking about getting to the level Aggie fans want to be at. The receivers are too green, the O line is undergoing a complete overhaul and the defense, even with the more exciting scheme, appears to be average, at best, in a year when the Big 12 will be stronger than ever.

So no, Sherman's Aggies aren't going to be on the radar for the average college football fan, but among Big 12 coaches, the last thing anyone wanted to see was the possibility of the sleeping giant getting jabbed with a stick. Sherman's going to get poking.

What to look for on offense:
Mike Goodson. Oh yeah, come hell or high water there's going to be a passing game, and it might involve a rotation of quarterbacks with Jerrod Johnson working with Stephen McGee, but the bread will still be buttered by the running game with 285-pound (and that's without eating lunch) Jorvorskie Lane moving to fullback to pave the way for Goodson. The underutilized star recruit of a few years ago, with blinding speed and next-level skills, will be the focal point of Sherman's attack. If he can stay healthy, the numbers should be fantastic.

What to look for on defense: No more Mr. Nice Guy. The days of the sit back and react defenses are over. Joe Kines is going for a leaner, meaner front seven, and the transformation has been made from a bigger, stronger, clunkier linebacking corps to a speedy, undersized group that's going to fly all over the place. The line will have problems unless a pass rusher decides to show up, but the scheme should make for more activity in the backfield.

This team will be much better if … it can get more pressure on the quarterback. The Aggies sacked opposing passers just 20 times in 2006 and came up with 18 last year. The secondary got torn to shreds giving up 255 yards per game, and with Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Graham Harrell, Josh Freeman, and the Baylor passing offense to deal with, there has to be far more activity in the backfield.

The Schedule: Sherman has a few tough non-conference games, at New Mexico and at home against Miami, along with home games against Arkansas State and Army, before starting out the Big 12 slate with a tough road game at Oklahoma State. There's a nice stretch of four home games in a five-week span including key South games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma. The two easiest Big 12 road games possible, at least on paper, are at Baylor and at Iowa State, and A&M gets them both. There's an off-week before the ending the regular season ending showdown at Texas.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Mike Goodson. It's not like he was bad, but considering some thought of him as the best high school back in America a few years ago, he hasn't been special. A back with his speed and his talent shouldn't be averaging 4.6 yards per carry with a long run of 34 yards. Goodson's numbers this year should go ballistic, even with a revamped line, as the coaching staff is going to do whatever it can to get the ball in No. 3's hands.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DT Kellen Heard. This is debatable, but after not starting last year, Heard appears ready to bust out and be the best player on the defense and the anchor of the line. He has to keep his weight in check, but the 6-6, 345-pounder is a good one to build around. He should be an All-Big 12 performer on his run stuffing abilities alone.

Key player to a successful season: Senior WR Pierre Brown. The coaching staff can talk all it wants to about having a pro style attack and more of a passing game, but unless the receivers are there, it's going to be too easy to fall back on the running game. The three best targets from the past year are gone, so it'll be up to Brown to shine.

The season will be a success if ... the Aggies finish with ten wins. This would be a way-high, pie-in-the-sky, shoot-for-the-moon, insert-any-other-cliché-you-want-here goal, but the schedule, considering the Big 12 is nasty this season, isn't all that brutal, missing Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska from the North. The only games A&M should be decided underdogs in will be against Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas, and the showdowns against the Red Raiders and the Sooners are at home. Realistically, seven wins and a bowl victory for the first time since 2001 would be nice, but getting a double-digit win campaign for the first time since the Big 12 championship season of 1998 would be special.

Key game: Nov. 28 at Texas. Even though no one is setting the bar low, this is a rebuilding and retooling year with Sherman and his staff needing at least this season to get everything in place. However, even if things don't go all that well, a win over a rival will be a must. The Francione era might have stunk, but he beat the Longhorns the last two years and gave the 2005 national title team all it could handle.

2007 Fun Stats: 
 - Opponent 1st quarter score: 45 – Opponent 2nd quarter score: 113
 - Penalties: Texas A&M 81 for 614 yards – Opponents 63 for 491 yards
 - Average passing yards per game: Opponents 254.8 – Texas A&M 185.4