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2009 Texas A&M Preview - Offense
Texas A&M WR/QB Ryan Tannehill
CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Texas A&M Aggie Offense
Preview 2009 - Offense
2009 CFN Texas A&M
2009 Texas A&M
2009 Texas A&M
2009 Texas A&M
What you need to know:
The passing game
bombed away because it had to, but last year might have been a
positive step forward to get the passing game on track sooner.
It was trial by fire, and QB Jerrod Johnson wasn't bad thanks to
the emergence of first-year stars Ryan Tannehill and Jeff
Fuller. Tannehill will push for the starting quarterback job,
he's that good, but could end up back at receiver, while Fuller
has the talent to be every bit as good as the rest of the star
Big 12 wideouts. The running backs are quick and talented,
helped by the addition of superstar recruit, Christine Michael.
But it all comes down to the line that was arguably the worst
among the BCS teams, needs to get healthy in a hurry and needs
to find the right combination.
Passing: Jarrod Johnson
194=326, 2,435 yds, 21 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Cyrus Gray
75 carries, 363 yds, 1 TD
55 catches, 844 yds,
Star of the offense: Sophomore
WR Jeff Fuller
Player who has to step up and become a star:
Junior OT Lucas Patterson
Unsung star on the rise:
Senior TE Jamie McCoy
Best pro prospect:
Top three all-star candidates:
1) Fuller, 2) QB Jerrod Johnson, 3) QB/WR Ryan
Strength of the offense:
Receiver, Running Back Quickness
Weakness of the offense:
Production, Running Back Experience
Junior Jerrod Johnson
was a top recruit when he came to the program a few
years ago, and while he lost out to Stephen McGee for the
starting job early on, he quickly took over and became the
bomber the team needed to get the passing game game going with
2,435 yards and 21 touchdowns with ten interceptions. The 6-5,
229-pounder has good mobility, and while he's not a runner, he
managed to finish third on the team with 114 yards and three
touchdowns despite losing 255 yards, mostly on sacks. As good as
he was at putting up big umbers, he struggled late throwing four
picks in a loss to Baylor and completed a mere 4-of-11 passes
for 62 yards and a score against Texas in the season finale.
There might be talk about a quarterback controversy, but Johnson
is the man who'll have to be the steadying playmaker for the
Projected Top Reserves:
6-4, 204-pound sophomore Ryan
Tannehill was going to get every shot at the starting
job before suffering a torn labrum this offseason. A strong
passer with tremendous athleticism, he still should see action
in blowouts and if Johnson struggles, but he'll most likely move
back to wide receiver where he was the team's leading target
with 55 catches for 844 yards and five scores in a breakthrough
season. He has the arm and he has the smarts to be able to
handle everything the coaching staff will throw at him.
Redshirt freshman Tommy
Dorman got a big chance to make some noise this
offseason with Tannehill out, but he didn't. He sputtered and
struggled with his consistency and didn't look like a passer
ready to take over in an emergency, but he's young. He has the
tools with a live arm, great mobility, and 6-2, 210-pound size,
but he'll need more work.
Watch Out For ... Tannehill. Who takes the leading
receiver and puts him in the mix for the starting quarterback
job when there's already a player like Johnson in place? Even
with the shoulder problem, Tannehill will be right in the hunt
for the starting quarterback job up until the opener. At least
that's what the coaches are saying, even though Johnson will
almost certainly be the No. 1.
Strength: Live arms and mobility. Johnson can
move, Tannehill can fly, and Dorman is a terrific scrambler. All
three can push the ball down the field and won't ever be labeled
just as rushing quarterbacks.
Weakness: The O line. Johnson was running for his
life way too often last year as he had no time to operate. The
line is still going to need time and seasoning, so the decision
making has to be better from all the quarterbacks.
Outlook: It's an interesting situation, but it's a
good one. Johnson doesn't necessarily need a fire lit under him,
but with Tannehill looming in the wings there isn't going to be
much margin for error. Dorman isn't ready, but he should be a
part of the mix in the future. There will be lots of bombing
away, plenty of rushing yards, and overall, a nice pecking order
Ready to step in and try to
take over the starting job is Cyrus Gray, a
5-10, 188-pound sophomore who ended up finishing second on the
team with 363 yards and a score. One of last year's star
recruits, he showed nice flashes running the ball, but made his
biggest impact as an elite kickoff returner. He has a good
combination of skills with decent pop for his size inside and
the quickness to bounce it outside. He's a speedster who can hit
the home run, and at the very least he'll be a key part of the
Jorvorskie Lane was supposed to be a big part
of the overall scheme, but wasn't. Now it'll be Cole
Graybill stepping in at fullback after starting out his
career at linebacker. The 6-3, 236-pound junior will purely be a
blocker, but he has the athleticism and the toughness to be a
power back from time to time if needed.
Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 203-pound redshirt
freshman Jay Tolliver looks the part with size,
strength, and excellent quickness once he gets through a hole.
He ran for 67 yards in the spring game, and he looked impressive
throughout the offseason. While Graybill is technically the
fullback, Tolliver will likely line up in the position more
often than not just to get him on the field.
Bradley Stephens had his moments to come up
with something big last year, but he didn't rushing for just 68
yards averaging 4.5 yards per carry. While he has all the tools
to be fantastic, along with 5-10, 204-pound size, he'll quickly
be pushed into the background if he continues to fumble the
ball. He could be used in a variety of ways, able to line up at
fullback and be used as a receiver out of the backfield from
time to time.
Christine Michael was the
star of this year's recruiting class and is expected to be the
main man sooner than later. The 5-11, 202-pounder has tremendous
home-run hitting speed and the power to pound away inside when
needed. A touchdown machine, he's unstoppable around the goal
line and can score through the air as well as on the ground. The
tools are out of central casting; he has the perfect size,
speed, and weight room strength.
Watch Out For ... Michael. There are rumblings that
he's the most talented back the program has seen in decades; he
could've gone anywhere and appears destined for the NFL. Of
course, that was said about Mike Goodson, too. It's not like the
rest of the runners are chopped liver, but it's Michael who
could make the ground game special.
Strength: Size and power. The Aggie runners all
fit a type. They're all around 5-10 and they're all compact and
powerful 200 pounds. They're all tremendously quick, can catch
the ball, and can be used in a rotation to carry the offense.
Weakness: Proven production. Michael will be
fantastic, Gray was nice last year, and Stephens has a little
bit of experience, but the ground game was non-existent last
year with Goodson leading the way. There might have to be a
rotation for a while to find the right guy, and not necessarily
to keep everyone fresh.
Outlook: In one of last year's biggest
disappointments, Goodson was never healthy, Jorvorskie Lane was
never not fat, and the ground game that was supposed to bridge
the gap between coaching staffs gained 1,062 yards and 14
scores. There's talent in the backfield, but will there be any
room to move behind the questionable line?
With Ryan Tannehill out this offseason, and
expected to move to quarterback when he returns, Jeff
Fuller stepped up his play and appears to be ready to
become a Big 12 breakout superstar. The 6-4, 209-pound true
sophomore finished second on the team with 50 catches, but he
led the way with none touchdowns and gained 630 yards. With
size, the fire, the work ethic, and the deep speed, he has it
all to grow into a special player. While he was great last year,
he stepped up his game this spring and will be the team's No. 1
Junior Terrence McCoy was a bit
streaky and only caught one touchdown pass, with 24 catches for
237 yards on the year, but the 6-4, 198-pounder has the look of
a next-level prospect. He's great at catching the ball in
traffic and has to be far more consistent to keep away a good
group of receivers looking to take his spot.
Jamie McCoy started out his career at
quarterback, moved to receiver, and has settled in at tight end
after starting most of last year and finishing third on the team
with 43 catches for 500 yards and five carries averaging 11.6
yards per grab. The 6-3, 223-pounder is a dangerous target with
great hands, but he's not a blocker. He's a willing participant
in the running game, but his worth is in the passing game.
Projected Top Reserves:
Sophomore Ryan Tannehill
is deep in the hunt for the starting quarterback job, but the
team's leading receiver last year will likely move back to his
familiar spot if and when he's the No. 2 QB. He had a few good
moments early on, and then he came up with a two score day
against Oklahoma State before blowing up against Kansas with 12
catches for 210 yards and a touchdown. He' has 6-4, 204-pound
size, enough deep speed to get by, and fantastic hands.
While there are some veterans who can be plugged in here and
there, like 6-2, 204-pound sophomore Nick Trice,
a decent, big target who didn't come up with a catch last year,
and Cody Beyer, a 6-1, 177-pound junior who
also failed to make a grab last season, but did enough this
offseason to warrant a No. 2 spot behind Fuller on the outside,
the backups will almost certainly be coming from the freshman
6-1, 180-pound Brandal Jackson is
a pure deep threat who could've gone anywhere. He'll be a
field-stretcher from day one who'll get every chance to make big
things happen in three and four wide sets.
6-0, 186-pound Uzome Nwachukwu
is a polished route runner even though he's coming in
as a true freshman. While he's not going to break off too many
big plays, he'll fight for the ball and will grow into one of
the team's most dependable targets in the middle of the field.
Kenric McNeal can play in a variety of
spots, able to be used as a defensive back or a receiver. A
tremendous athlete, he'll be used in a variety of ways, while
Ryan Swope could be the team's fastest receiver
from the moment he arrives on campus. The 6-0, 195-pounder was a
Texas state champion-level sprinter and could end up growing
into a killer defensive back and return man if he doesn't work
as a wideout.
While Jamie McCoy is the star tight end in the rotation with
great receiving skills, 6-3, 233-pound sophomore K.J.
Williams will add even more talent to the mix. Faster
than McCoy, he got on the field early in his true freshman
season and was used mostly to block. That'll change this year as
he'll be a part of two tight end sets to become a more involved
Watch Out For ... Tannehill to not see as much time
at receiver as you might think. If he's the backup quarterback,
he'll be on the field as a receiver just to get him out there,
right? Not necessarily. He might be too valuable in the
quarterback battle to be risked as a receiver, and there are
enough good prospects waiting in the wings to pick up the slack.
Strength: Major-league potential. When your No. 1
receiver isn't needed, that shows the confidence the coaching
staff has in the talent level of the corps. Fuller is the man
everything will revolve around, and the freshmen will be mixed
in as they develop.
Weakness: Youth. This has been a particular area
of focus for the staff in the last two recruiting classes, and
while there has been an excellent upgrade in talent, it'll be
asking a lot for another Fuller to become a superstar right
away. Everyone will be excited over this group, but it'll take a
Outlook: The talent at receiver will be far better
utilized than it ever was under Dennis Franchione, but there
will be some rough spots here and there until all the diaper
dandies get their feet wet. At worst, the starters could be
Fuller, Tannehill, and McCoy, with a slew of strong athletes as
the backups. That's good enough to stay in most Big 12
Thanks to injuries and
ineffectiveness all across the front, the line will do plenty of
shifting around. There's one spot that appears to be secure and
steady, and that's at center where Kevin Matthews
is back after starting every game last year. The 6-4,
297-pound senior was groomed to grow into a key starter and the
anchor of the front five. While he was hurt and out for most of
the offseason workouts, he's expected to be ready to go when the
season starts and is expected to be the steadying force up
The biggest key to the line could be
Michael Shumard and where he plays. The 6-5, 301-pound
senior started every game last year at left tackle, and he had
problems. He struggled in pass protection and wasn't consistent,
and now he could move to his far more natural guard position.
While he might be at his best at left guard, he'll likely end up
at right guard and will end up playing where needed.
Shumard moves to guard, the first prospect who'll look to start
at left tackle will be Lucas Patterson, a 6-4,
297-pound junior who'll move over from defensive tackle to try
to add more physicality to the line. He made 34 tackles last
year as an 11-game starter in the middle of the D line and now
he'll have to show he can be consistent on the outside in pass
One of the answers for the line could be
Matt Allen, an LSU transfer who sat out all of
last year and is no ready to see time at one of the guard spots.
The 6-3, 285-pound junior who can play either guard spot but
will likely start out on the right side. He doesn't have a
starting spot locked up, but he has the inside track after
looking strong in practices.
6-6, 339-pound senior
Lee Grimes wasn't healthy this spring, but he
wasn't awful last year as a nine-game starter at right guard.
While he's more of a guard than a tackle, his size and toughness
could be good enough for him to get by. However, he has a hard
time staying 100% and won't likely start a full season.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-4, 314-pound senior
Vincent Williams has seen limited action over
his first few years, but he has the total package of size and
quickness to shine at tackle. If Grimes ends up back at guard,
Williams could step in and be the starter on the right side. At
the very least he'll be one of the team's key reserves.
6-4, 303-pound sophomore Evan Eike started
every game last year at left guard and could be the main man
once again if Shumard plays tackle or if Allen needs a little
more work. A decent prospect with good athleticism for the
position, he needs to grow into the star he was projected to be
as one of the team's top recruits a few years ago.
Patrick Lewis is a 6-2, 293-pound top
prospect who was one of the stars of the recruiting class.
Versatile enough to play anywhere on the inside, he's more of a
guard prospect than a possible starter at center, but he has
tremendous strength and is athletic enough to make up for any
early problems with his raw skills.
Watch Out For ... Patterson. A not-that-bad defensive
tackle on a team in desperate need of not-that-bad defensive
tackles, his move to the offensive line shows how bad the
problem is. He's a great athlete with the type of toughness to
finish off blocks and become a key starter.
Strength: Potential and experience. The Aggies
can't be any worse up front with no production last year
whatsoever in any way. At least there's a ton of experience
returning with four players with starting experience and enough
potential with Patterson and Allen able to fill in the gaps.
Weakness: Production. Last year's line allowed 39
sacks, finishing fifth-worst in the nation, and 80 tackles for
loss. The running game was also last in the Big 12 in rushing
averaging 88.5 yards per game. There's nowhere to go but up.
Outlook: Injuries, ineffectiveness, and
inconsistency killed the 2008 Aggie season. The line can't be
any worse, and it won't be as soon as the right combination is
found. The key will be to get everyone healthy to see who can
play where, but this isn't going to be a plus for a while. It'll
take some seasoning and a whole bunch of work just to get to