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2008 Texas A&M Preview - Offense
Texas A&M RB Mike Goodson
Texas A&M RB Mike Goodson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 20, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Texas A&M Aggie Offense

Texas A&M Aggies

Preview 2008 - Offense


- 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
 

What you need to know:
The offense won't make a complete about-face after being all run, little throw for the last few years, but it's going to become more tilted to the passing attack in the new pro-style offense. Even so, the strength will be on the ground as big Jorvorskie Lane will play more of a fullback role to pave the way for Mike Goodson, who should bust out now that he'll be used more. Stephen McGee should be the leader, but the quarterback job isn't his for sure with hot-shot sophomore Jerrod Johnson pushing hard. The receivers are big and fast, but they need experience in the new offense, while the line has to undergo a major change after losing several long-time starters.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Stephen McGee
211-364, 2,311 yds, 12 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Stephen McGee
181 carries, 899 yds, 5 TD
Receiving:
Mike Goodson
36 catches, 361 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Mike Goodson
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior WR Pierre Brown
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Bradley Stephens
Best pro prospect: Goodson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Goodson, 2) QB Stephen McGee, 3) FB Jorvorskie Lane
Strength of the offense: Running game, quarterback
Weakness of the offense:
Proven wide receivers, offensive line 

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
You'll have to forgive senior Stephen McGee if he feels a little confused and a lot unappreciated. The 6-3, 207-pounder led the team in rushing with 899 yards and five touchdowns, was a decent passer, completing 58% of his throws for 2,311 yards and 12 touchdowns with eight interceptions, and basically did his best to keep the offensive ship afloat, but the new coaching staff isn't handing him the job. He's a good leader who was an accomplished high school passer, so he shouldn't have too many problems with the pro-style offense. The key will be his consistency now that he'll get to throw a bit more. If nothing else, he'll be an Aggie legend for his three performances against Texas, with two wins so far.


Projected Top Reserves: While McGee will almost certainly be the starter, the coaching staff will give former top-recruit Jerrod Johnson every chance to with the job. The 6-6, 229-pound sophomore was given an inordinate number of reps in spring ball as McGee appeared to be getting phased out, but Johnson will likely be a very strong No. 2. He's the future of the program, and he could be the present at some point as he'll certainly see time here and there just to add a different look.

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.

6-4, 204-pound redshirt freshman Ryan Tannehill will be the third man in the mix, and while the season can be all but packed in if he has to play for any appreciable stretch, considering he's not quite ready, he has a nice arm and will be a good prospect to develop over the next few years.
 
Watch Out For ... Johnson to see some meaningful work as soon as it's possible. That was supposed to happen last year, and he only completed two of seven passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 111 yards and three scores, in five games of action. He should see quality time in every game.
Strength: The rotation of skills. McGee is a great leader with good running ability, while Johnson is the do-it-all prospect who can run and throw equally well. There isn't a bad option to go with, and defensive coordinators will have to prepare for both.
Weakness: The system. McGee has spent years in an option-style attack where he has had to make reads for the running game. Now he has to be adjusted to the passing style in just a few short practices. Johnson has to get used to working under center on a regular basis. Neither quarterback option is perfectly polished.
Outlook: McGee has been a strong leader and a good playmaker for the offense, but his time might be dwindling. If this really is going to be a bit of a transition year, the coaching staff might go with Johnson more and more to get him prepared for next year. Will McGee be phased out? Not as long as the team is in the hunt for various goals, but Johnson won't have to sit on the sidelines for long. If nothing else, the passing game won't be the worst in the Big 12 again.
Rating: 8


Running Backs

Projected Starters
:
Finally, junior Mike Goodson will be used like the star running back he's supposed to be. The 6-0, 196-pounder was third on the team with 711 yards and four touchdowns, and has rushed for 1,558 career yards with eight scores, but now he's going to be the featured back in the attack. A good receiver, he finished second on the team with 36 catches for 361 yards and four touchdowns, and now he'll be used even more in space to show off his next-level speed and get him in positions where he can succeed. If he's not the team's fastest player, he's No. 2, but he only averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season and his longest gain was just 34 yards. That'll quickly change. He has to get over a neck injury suffered this spring, but he has the potential to be a breakout star on a national scale.

Senior Jorvorskie Lane wasn't as underutilized as Goodson on the whole, but the former coaching staff made some bizarre decisions not to use the thunderback at times. Lane ran for 121 yards and four touchdowns against Fresno State, and carried two times for two yards against Miami. He ran for 130 yards and four scores one week against Nebraska, and carried it just 12 times over the next two critical games against Kansas and Oklahoma. Originally, he was supposed to slim down and be used even more as a tailback, but he's now up to 285 pounds and realizes his future, and his present, are as a blocking fullback. Even so, he has 44 career touchdown runs, ran for 780 yards and 16 scores last year, and can catch with 12 grabs for 115 yards and a touchdown. A&M is 6-1 all-time when Lane runs for 100 yards or more, with the one loss to the national title Texas team in 2005, and is While he's not a great blocker yet, he's working on it.

Projected Top Reserves: Goodson is going to be the star of the rushing show, and Lane will get his carries, but the best back this spring was 5-10, 204-pound redshirt freshman Bradley Stephens, a fluid, natural runner who ran for 7,803 yards in high school. While he's nowhere near as fast as Goodson, and he's going to have fumbling problems from time to time, he proved he's good enough to see plenty of carries in the rotation.

The fourth main in the mix will be 5-10, 190-pound sophomore Cornell Tarrant, who ran for 95 yards averaging 7.8 yards per carry in his limited time. One of the stars of spring ball two years ago, he'll get lost in the shuffle, but he has the talent to see more work.

Backing up Lane at fullback will be 6-1, 232-pound senior Nick LaMantia, a pure blocker who saw time at linebacker and was the team's 13th man last year. He'll make his biggest impact on special teams.

Watch Out For ... the running backs to do more of the work. This still might be the nation's 13th best rushing attack, but instead of the quarterbacks taking off and carrying a bulk of the workload, it'll be the running backs who star.
Strength: The combination of talents. Goodson is the speed back who's about to blow up into a mega-star, Lane is the powerback who'll be more of a blocker than the runner he was in the past, but will still get carries, and Stephens is a waiting-in-the-wings weapon waiting to be unleashed. The Aggies are loaded here.
Weakness: Filling the roles. Can Goodson be a workhorse? He has only carried the ball 20 times one, and Lane still has to get used to hitting people and using his size to his advantage. If might take a little bit to get the rotation set up.
Outlook: The coaching staff openly used the word Heisman when referring to Goodson. The plan is to use him as much as possible, let Lane be Lane on the power running plays and used more as a blocker, and get Stephens a seven-carry-a-game role with some fresh legs. In any combination, this should be the Big 12's best set of running backs.
Rating: 9.5


Receivers

Projected Starters
:
With the top three receivers gone from last year, it'll be up to 6-2, 197-pound senior Pierre Brown to go from being a nice complementary target to a No. 1 guy the passing game can rely on. A big, strong receiver with great speed, he made 19 catches for 217 yards last year, but he didn't get into the end zone. He doesn't have the best hands around, and while he'll be a starter, he'll have to work to keep the job with more talented players waiting in the wings.

Taking over the other starting spot, at least going into the fall, is 6-4, 198-pound sophomore Terrance McCoy, a nice-looking pro-style receiver with great upside. He's great at catching the ball in traffic, but he lacks concentration and needs to prove he can be a reliable play-in-play-out target. He only caught one pass last year, but it was for a 17-yard touchdown against Montana State.

Taking over the starting tight end job from Martellus Bennett, who bolted early for the NFL, will be junior Jamie McCoy, a jack-of-all-trades, try-hard player who has been a quarterback and a wide receiver. The 6-3, 224-pounder has good hands and is an excellent athlete, but he's hardly going to dominate anyone with his blocking skills.

Projected Top Reserves: After making just four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, sophomore Roger Holland appears poised and ready to come up with a great season. While he's only 5-10 and 169 pounds, he's a tremendous route runner who'll work behind Brown and in three-wide sets. He should grow into one of the team's more reliable receivers.

Junior Howard Morrow was supposed to be the new receiving star before suffering a wrist injury and missing the entire year. At 6-0 and 206 pounds, he's a big, physical target who has to work on his weight a bit and make sure it stays in check, but he has the speed to become a breakout player in the new passing attack.

One of the rising stars of the receiving corps is Jeff Fuller, a 6-4 209-pound true freshman who might be the best of the bunch. While he needs more polish and he'll have to bust through his first year mistakes, his upside is limitless. He has the body, and the work ethic, to be ready to roll right now.

McCoy has the upper hand on the tight end job, but there will be a rotation at the position with redshirt freshmen Frank Avery and Ben Bass each certain to see time. Bass is a 6-5, 258-pound former defensive lineman who can hit and has shown surprising hands, but he's still trying to figure out what he's doing. The 6-4, 207-pound Avery is more of a big wide receiver who needs to be a dangerous pass catcher right away or he won't see time.
 
Watch Out For ... this group to need a little while. Losing Earvin Taylor and Kerry Franks hurts, and losing Martellus Bennett is a bigger problem. This receiving corps is fine, but it might take a while to figure out the new system and how to play like NFL-style receivers.
Strength: Looking the part. The Aggie receivers certainly look like NFL targets. They have the size and the speed, but they need polish and work to live up to their potential. This is a young group that'll only get better.
Weakness: Tight ends and hands. Bennett led the team in receiving and was a freakish-sized nightmare of a matchup for the running game as well as the passing attack. The Aggies are patchworking together the tight end situation. The receivers had problems this off-season hanging on to the ball, and the coaching staff will likely go with the targets who are the most consistent.
Outlook: Last year the receiving corps was full of talent that went unused because of the offense. This year the receiving corps is full of talent that's going to need a while to get going, but everyone will get plenty of work. The opportunities will be there to be a star, now someone has to go after the job and become the main man.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: One starter returns, Travis Schneider, and he needs to be a good one. The 6-8, 290-pound strongside tackle started most of the second half of the season in place of Yemi Babalola on the quick side, and he did a decent job showing good strength and toughness for the running game. Better than he was in 2006 when he started in nine game and was just serviceable, he's going to have to be a rock in pas protection.

Next to Schneider at guard, taking over for all-star Kirk Elder, the rock of the line for four years, will be Vincent Williams, a 6-4, 314-pound junior who has seem limited action over the first two seasons. He was a star recruit with the size and potential to be a special blocker, but it hasn't happened yet.

Replacing Cody Wallace in the middle will be 6-4, 297-pound junior Kevin Matthews, a backup in five games last year who appears to be ready to step in and produce. The old coaching staff made a concerted effort to groom Matthews for the job for this year, and with good strength and nice feet, he should be solid with a little more time.

While Michael Shumard might not be lumped in among the returning starters, he is one having taken over for Chris Yoder at strong guard over the last six games of last year. One of the team's bright stars up front, the 6-5, 301-pound junior can take either guard spot but will likely start out at the quick tackle spot. A big-time recruit a few years ago, he has turned into a whale of a run blocker.

If Shumard moves to tackle and stays there, 6-6, 339-pound junior Lee Grimes will be the big, literally, key to the puzzle. He say time late in the year as a key backup, and if he can prove he can be a consistent all-around guard, it'll allow Shumard to move around where needed.

Projected Top Reserves: Almost certain to be a starter at some point, and a key backup early on, will be 6-6, 300-pound junior Michael Frost, a top reserve last season who'll work behind Shumard at tackle this year. A great run blocker, he'll see more time as his pass protection improves. He could start at either tackle spot if needed.

6-4, 305-pound redshirt freshman Evan Eike is expected to become a key factor at one of the guard spots. Likely to start out behind Grimes on the quick/left side. he's a fantastic pass protector who was one of the team's top recruits last year. He'll fit the system perfectly over the next four years.
 
Watch Out For ... an inevitable drop-off. Last year's line had bee building for a few years and then everything came together. While there were a few lineup changes here and there due to injuries, this was a relatively steady wall that allowed a meager 16 sacks and paved the way for the nation's 13th best running game.
Strength: Run blocking. There might be several new starters in the mix, and little experienced depth, but this group was brought in to be able to run block, and it'll be able to do it. It's not like the overall talent level will fall off the map, there's good upside across the board, but there aren't the sure-things like last year's line.
Weakness: Figuring out what they're doing. On the plus side, this is a relatively seasoned group of new starters with four juniors and a senior likely to form the opening day lineup, but they're going to have to learn how to pass protect in a pro style scheme. That's going to take a while.
Outlook: The line will be decent, but it's not going to be nearly as productive as last year. Eventually things will be fine, and early on it'll have to go with what it'll know and run block, but if it can't keep the quarterbacks upright, the offense won't work. Shumard and Schneider will be decent tackles to work around, while the interior should be better than many will expect.
Rating: 6.5