2009 CFN Texas A&M Preview
Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson & C Kevin Matthews
Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson & C Kevin Matthews
Posted Jun 28, 2009

CFN's 2009 Texas A&M Preview, Breakdown, and Analysis.

Texas A&M Aggies

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

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- 2009 CFN Texas A&M Preview | 2009 Texas A&M Offense
- 2009 Texas A&M Defense | 2009 Texas A&M Depth Chart
- 2008 A&M Preview | 2007 A&M Preview | 2006 A&M Preview

Head coach: Mike Sherman
2nd year: 4-8
Ten Best A&M Players
1. WR Jeff Fuller, Soph.
2. DE Von Miller, Jr.
3. QB Jerrod Johnson, Jr.
4. QB/WR Ryan Tannehill, So.
5. FS Jordan Pugh, Sr.
6. RB Christine Michael, Fr.
7. CB Terrence Frederick, Soph
8. DE Matt Featherston, Sr.
9. SS Trent Hunter, Soph.
10. TE Jamie McCoy, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 New Mexico
9/19 Utah State
9/26 UAB
10/3 Arkansas (Dallas)
10/10 Oklahoma State
10/17 at Kansas State
10/24 at Texas Tech
10/31 Iowa State
11/7 at Colorado
11/14 at Oklahoma
11/21 Baylor
11/26 Texas

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2008 Record: 4-8

8/30 Arkansas State L 18-14
9/6 at New Mexico W 28-22
9/20 Miami L 41-23
9/27 Army W 21-17
10/4 at Oklahoma State L 56-28
10/11 Kansas State L 44-30
10/18 Texas Tech L 43-25
10/25 at Iowa State W 49-35
11/1 Colorado  W 24-17
11/8 Oklahoma L 66-28
11/15 at Baylor L 41-21
11/28 at Texas L 49-9

There's a theory around NBA draft time that when teams can't quite decide what they want to do, it's better to miss big. That means when it's time to step up and choose between a few evenly talented players, it's better to take the bigger guy. In college football, if you're going to miss, miss young.

In a nightmare of a first season under head coach Mike Sherman when little of anything went right, at the very least, the coaching staff didn't always try to milk something that wasn't there by playing veterans just to get experience on the field. Sherman and his staff went with the most talented players available, and when it came down to choosing where to go at certain spots, the pick was almost always the younger option. That experience is going to pay off ... next year.

Some new head coaches, like Houston Nutt at Ole Miss, walk into a great situation with a cupboard stocked with talent that just needs to be worked and tweaked a bit. Sherman walked into a tough spot with little to no athleticism compared to the stars of the Big 12, and not enough solid veterans to work around. He talked openly about how the running game was going to shine, and how Mike Goodson was a possible Heisman candidate, and there was a hope that a defense that struggled to get to the quarterback two years ago was going to be more aggressive and far more dangerous. None of it happened with Goodson hurt, the D line awful, and too much inconsistency on both sides of the ball.

After two recruiting classes, Sherman has done a strong job of bringing in good athletes in bunches in an attempt to keep pace with the superstars of the Big 12 South. Wide receiver, running back, and linebacker all got major upgrades and will be far better over the next few years, but the turnaround isn't likely to happen right away.

Former head man Dennis Franchione was able to get A&M to a consistently mediocre level, but there wasn't much promise of taking things up a few notches to compete for the conference title. Sherman had to blow it all up and had to try to infuse both sides of the ball with better players. To put it more succinctly; Texas A&M had to get better at football.

There are some great players now in place to do some big things, even if more development is needed across the board. Jeff Fuller has NFL starter written all over him, and he'll almost certainly be the No. 1 target in the passing game. Linebacker-turned-ends Von Miller and Matt Featherston will wreak havoc for a defense that needs more big plays. The skill players are solid, and there's experience returning on the O line. However, it might not matter too much.

The Big 12 South isn't a place to try to rebuild, at least not at the moment, but the 4-8 team of last year should be better and improved enough to win two more games. That would be a nice step before hoping that 2010 is when all the work and all the tinkering pays off. If not, Sherman will go out and get more talent and the Aggies will get younger, but it'll get more talented. Eventually, it should all come together. Eventually.

What to look for on offense: Ryan Tannehill. It'll be an interesting experiment. The team's leading receiver last year, Tannehill, will also be a part of the quarterback mix as Sherman has gone out of his way to say the job is still open, even though the incumbent, Jerrod Johnson, showed signs of potentially being excellent. Is Sherman using NFL coaching skills to light a fire under Johnson and make him more focused? Maybe, but Tannehill really is a good quarterback option with a live arm to go along with his speed. In the end, he's probably going to be the No. 2 quarterback when he returns this fall from a shoulder injury and he'll probably be back in the receiving mix. For a team that needs as much pop as this one, it'll be hard to keep Tannehill on the bench, even if he is a valuable backup quarterback.

What to look for on defense: The Jack. Matt Featherston was the team's leading tackler last season making 94 tackles as a middle linebacker. Von Miller was a spot starter and a key backup at outside linebacker. Now the two will rotate in the Jack position, a defensive end job that could also serve as a fourth linebacker. Miller has the best all-around skills of any A&M defender and could be a pass rushing superstar for a line that generated nothing in the way of consistent pressure throughout last year.

This team will be much better if … the lines stay healthy and are merely serviceable. There's plenty of experience returning on the offensive line once everyone returns healthy, if everyone returns healthy. The defensive line should be better with Featherston and Miller in the mix, while a young, talented rotation of tackles should grow into their roles. However, there has to be far more production from both sides. A&M was 115th in the nation in sacks allowed, 114th in rushing, 100th in sacks, 114th in tackles for loss, and 97th in tackles for loss. The offensive skill players have potential and the defensive back seven won't be bad with a little bit of help. If the lines aren't better, the season won't be, either.

The Schedule:
Year two of the Mike Sherman era starts out with a yawn facing New Mexico, Utah State, and UAB in September before finally getting a real battle. The Arkansas game will be a good measuring stick, and it could be a must-win with Oklahoma State and road games at Kansas State and Texas Tech to kick off Big 12 play. Fortunately for the Aggies, that game against the Wildcats, along with games against Iowa State and at Colorado, means they play the three teams from the North that didn't go bowling last year. While the Texas Tech and Oklahoma games are on the road, OSU and Texas have to come to College Station. While playing the Longhorns at home will be a plus, having to go on the road for four games in five weeks will be rough.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore WR Jeff Fuller. He wasn't the team's leading receiver last year, that was Tannehill, but he led the team with nine touchdown grabs and was second in catches with 50. The 6-4, 209-pounder has the size, the hands, and the consistency to grow into a dangerous No. 1 target, and he has the speed to get the NFL scouts to pay attention. He had a fantastic offseason and appears ready to be one of the Big 12's breakout playmakers.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Von Miller. If the spring was any indication, Miller should go ballistic in his new role. It wasn't that he was bad at linebacker; he simply made too many mistakes and wasn't consistent. While he might just be 6-3 and 214 pounds, he's strong enough to make up for his lack of bulk and has freakish athleticism. If nothing else, it could be a case of see-ball, hit-ball for Miller. There's the quarterback, now go get him. He can do that.

Key player to a successful season: Junior OT Lucas Patterson. The team needs as much help and as many veterans as it can find for the defensive front, and size is at a premium at tackle. Moving Patterson, a decent defensive presence, to offensive tackle shows just how glaring the weakness is when it comes to pass protection. If Patterson can handle the job, the Michael Shumard can play at a more natural guard position and the pieces up front will start falling into place.

The season will be a success if ... the Aggies get back to a bowl game. There can't be any Arkansas State-like gaffes with New Mexico, Utah State, and UAB all must wins to get off to a 3-0 September start, and with Iowa State coming to College Station. there should be four wins in the bank. If there really is any improvement across the board, beating Baylor at home is a must and there should be one other upset to get to six wins. Anything less and the pressure will be on in 2010 to turn a big corner.

Key game: Oct. 17 at Kansas State. This is the measuring stick game to see how far the program has come in a year. If all goes according to plan, A&M should be 3-2 before going to Manhattan to start a stretch of four road games in five weeks. KSU and A&M are almost dead-even going into the season, and after losing 44-30 last year to the Wildcats despite 419 passing yards from Jerrod Johnson, this could be the make-or-break moment for bowl hopes.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter score: Opponents 104 - Texas A&M 58
- Sacks: Opponents 39 for 296 yards - Texas A&M 16 for 105 yards
- Rushing touchdowns: Opponents 34 - Texas A&M 14

- 2009 CFN Texas A&M Preview | 2009 Texas A&M Offense
- 2009 Texas A&M Defense | 2009 Texas A&M Depth Chart
- 2008 A&M Preview | 2007 A&M Preview | 2006 A&M Preview