2010 Texas A&M Preview – Offense
Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Texas A&M Aggie Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The offense has the potential to be among the most productive in the nation once again, but it needs to be more consistent. QB Jerrod Johnson is a veteran who came into his own last year and should do even more with a loaded receiving corps full of speed, experience, and talent led by top NFL prospect Jeff Fuller. The offensive line desperately needs the tackle situation to be solidified, but the interior will be fine as a strength for a underappreciated ground game. The Aggies finished second in the Big 12 in rushing, and with Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael returning, there will be nice balance. There will be a whole bunch of fireworks, lots of fun games, and enough talent and explosion to make up for a shaky defense.
Star of the offense: Senior QB Jerrod Johnson
Passing: Jerrod Johnson
296-497, 3,579 yds, 30 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Christine Michael
166 carries, 844 yds, 10 TD
Receiving: Ryan Tannehill
46 catches, 609 yds, 4 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Freshman OT Luke Joeckel
Unsung star on the rise: Joeckel
Best pro prospect: Junior WR Jeff Fuller
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Johnson, 2) Fuller, 3) RB Christine Michael
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Skill Players
Weakness of the offense: Tackle, Fumbles
Projected Starter: The hope was for senior Jerrod Johnson to grow into a consistent bomber after getting a little bit of experience under his belt, and then … KABOOM. The 6-5, 243-pounder finished third in the nation in total offense and led the Big 12 averaging 314 yards per game completing close to 60% of his passes for 3,579 yards and 39 touchdowns with eight interceptions while adding 506 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. When he was on, he was unstoppable including an incredible final two games throwing for 342 yards and four touchdowns, and running for 97 more, and chucking for 362 yards and two scores against Georgia. However, A&M lost both of those games and lost four of his six 300-yards games (with the two wins coming against New Mexico and Utah State). A legitimate pro prospect with his size, arm, and mobility, he could grow into a Josh Freeman-like first rounder who can up his stock immeasurably if he can start leading the team to more big wins and if he can stay healthy; he has had problems with his shoulder.
Projected Top Reserves: Where will Ryan Tannehill play? The team's top backup quarterback was supposed to be a part of a derby for the job, but Jerrod Johnson was too good and cemented himself as the No. 1. Too good to not be on the field, the 6-4, 216-pound junior ended up working at receiver and led the way with 46 catches for 609 yards and four scores with nine catches for 100 yards against Colorado and three games for 101 yards and a score against UAB. Tall, fast, and smart, he'll work his way into the receiving corps again while serving as the No. 2 quarterback option.
True freshman Matt Joeckel is the twin brother of Luke Joeckel, a next-level offensive tackle prospect, and the 6-4, 220-pound passer has skills, too. A very big, very physical bomber with a great arm and the ability to put it anywhere on the field, he's ready to be in the hunt for the No. 2 job right now, and went through spring ball to get ready, but in a perfect world he's able to redshirt and make a charge for the starting job next year.
Watch Out For … the fight for the No. 2 job. Tannehill is ready to step in and produce, but he's too valuable a receiver to sit on the bench. While it would be nice if Joeckel can be able to sit and wait for a year, the more time he gets to develop, the better.
Strength: Big passers. Johnson is 6-5 and 243 pounds, Tannehill is 6-4 and 216 pounds, and Joeckel is 6-4 and 220 pounds. The Aggies can bomb away with anyone with quarterbacks who can make the passing game fly. Johnson and Tannehill are experienced, talented, and form a nice pecking order.
Weakness: Backup experience. For all Tannehill has done over his career with 101 catches for 1,453 yards and nine touchdowns, he hasn't done much as a passer with just five completions for 68 yards. He's good, but he might be more hype as a quarterback than an actual option.
Outlook: After a shaky, skittish start to his career, Johnson settled in and became an effective, dangerous bomber who threw for over 300 yards six times and went without an interception in seven of the first eight games. Tannehill can push it deep, but he's more of a dinker, dunker and runner who throws a curve ball into the mix if he has to come in. As long as Johnson is healthy, A&M will have one of the nation's most dangerous passing games.
Unit Rating: 9
Projected Starters: Last year's super-recruit, Christine Michael, showed glimpses of what all the hype was about rushing for a team-leading 844 yards and ten touchdowns including a 116-yard, two score day against Baylor and with 121 yards and two touchdowns against Texas Tech. While he's a good receiver, catching 15 passes for 66 yards, he's at his best getting to pound away inside and use his speed in the open field. The 5-10, 196-pounder has the tools out of central casting with size, speed, and weight room strength, and now he has to show even more pop after averaging five yards per carry.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Cyrus Gray took a little bit of a backseat to Christine Michael, but he came up with a great year taking advantage of his chances. He exploded against Texas Tech with 131 yards and three touchdowns and had three 100-yard games running for 757 yards and five scores, while he proved to be a better receiver than Michael with 28 catches for 226 yards and two scores. The 5-10, 196-pound was a star recruit of 2008, and while he has been solid on offense, he's been fantastic as a kickoff returner averaging close to 24 yards per try with a touchdown against Colorado. With a nice combination of skills, he can be used in a variety of ways.
Is Bradley Stephens going to move to the secondary or will he try to be the third wheel, at best, for the running game? The 5-10, 204-pound junior was the fourth leading rusher with 132 yards and a touchdown, but he has the potential to do far more if he gets his chances. He has the speed, he has the toughness to be used as a fullback, and he has the hands to be a receiver, but he has to show he can hold on to the ball and he might end up being too good at safety to be a part of the offense again.
The Aggies are bringing in several running back options, and D.J. Jones appear to be the best of the lot. The 5-11, 183-pounder is a good receiver with shifty speed to make things happen on his own, and while he's more of a quick-cut back he provides good power for his size. He's not afraid to get physical and he'll do the dirty work needed to get on the field.
Watch Out For … the freshmen. Jones isn't in Michael's category as far as talent and as a top prospect, but he's a Big 12 running back who could produce big-time. Fellow recruit Mister Jones could turn into a linebacker, but he's a very tough runner with sprinter's speed. Ben Malena is a 5-10, 200-pound talent who glides well and is a perfect fit for the Aggie offense. He'll be a nice complementary back.
Strength: The twosome. Michael is a special runner who can carry a ground game by himself, and his arrival last year raised Gray's game. The two sort of flew under the radar with so much production in the passing game, but these two make the pro-style attack go.
Weakness: Fumbles. This wasn't all on the backs, but A&M tied for second in the nation for the most fumbles lost (16). The Aggies can't afford to lose the turnover battle, and the team has to keep the fumbles to a minimum.
Outlook: There was a question about if Michael and Gray could immediately replace Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane, but the production improved. The Aggies will get a nice balance, helped by the running of the quarterbacks, but it's Michael and Gray who quickly improved the situation. A&M finished second in the Big 12 in running, and it could be at least that good again.
Unit Rating: 8
Projected Starters: Junior Jeff Fuller came up with 50 catches as a breakout freshman, and he made the most of his 47 grabs last year with 568 yards and seven touchdowns including three against Texas. He would've had a far better statistical season but he suffered a broken leg in the second week of the year and missed all of four games and most of two others. It took him a while to get back into the swing of things, but he became his all-star caliber self by the end of the year. At 6-4 and 215 pounds he has tremendous size, a great motor, and the type of work ethic who'll get a long look from the NFL types as a devastating No. 2 next-level target if he can stay healthy.
Senior Terrence McCoy hasn't produced up to his potential. The 6-4, 211-pounder has the look and the ability to be a next-level prospect with good strength and the ability to fight for the ball, but he hasn't done enough of it catching just seven passes for 77 yards last year after making 24 grabs for 237 yards and a score in 2008. He'll get his chances, but he'll have to shine early on to be a major part of the rotation.
If Ryan Swope isn't the team's fastest player, he's in the mix for the honor. The 6-0, 202-pound sophomore didn't do much early on, but he became a key part of the puzzle over the second half of the season finishing with 19 catches for 172 yards and a score. A Texas state-champion-level sprinter, he's too fast to not do far more down the field, and he'll use his speed as a top kick returner.
When the Aggies don't go with a four-wide formation, tight end Huston Prioleau will play a key role. The 6-4, 253-pound redshirt freshman can do a little of everything with decent hands and excellent blocking skills. He's not a natural receiver, but he's good enough to see several passes come his way while serving mostly as a physical hitter for the ground game.
Projected Top Reserves: One of the team's most dangerous targets, true sophomore Uzoma Nwachukwu averaged 17.7 yards per catch making 40 grabs for 708 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-0, 202-pounder went ballistic over a two-game stretch catching eight passes for 141 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma State, followed up by five catches for 136 yards and a score. Fast and dangerous with the ball in his hands, the coaching staff will find ways to get the ball in his hands.
6-1, 182-pound sophomore Brandal Jackson got a chance to show what he could do right away making 16 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown averaging 17 yards per grab. While he might not have set the world on fire, he produced when he got his chances and proved to be more than a deep threat. He can be physical and he's not afraid to block for the ground game. He'll work behind Jeff Fuller and will likely be a starting flanker next year.
Sophomore Kenric McNeal is a 6-1, 170-pound prototype with great speed, good size, and the toughness to sacrifice himself across the middle and in traffic. He made six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown averaging 16.2 yards per play, and now he'll rotate with Ryan Swope in the slot with a shot to come up with the job if he can be more productive.
6-3, 216-pound senior Kenny Brown is a pure receiving tight end, and while he's not afraid to block, he's most vital as a target. He caught four passes for 21 yards and a score in his limited role, and now he'll be used like an H-Back even more.
Watch Out For … the battle at split end. Nwachukwu has the potential to be one of the Big 12's superstars, but first he has to fight with McCoy for the job. McCoy doesn't have the same talent, but he has grown into a steady target who's among the team's most reliable playmakers.
Strength: Size, speed, and athleticism. Fuller, McCoy, Nwachukwu and Swope are all big and they can all fly. Getting down the field isn't a problem with home run hitters all across the board.
Weakness: Tight end. It's nitpicking considering Prioleau has the upside and the potential to be a factor in several areas, but it would be nice if the tight ends did more in the Aggie attack. They're mostly along for the ride.
Outlook: Loaded. Fuller has All-America potential, Nwachukwu is an elite playmaker, and Swope is one of the league's fastest players. Throw in Ryan Tannehill, the backup quarterback who led the team in catches, and a boatload of depth, and this is a dangerous effective group that will make big play after big play after big play.
Unit Rating: 10
Projected Starters: The Texas A&M offense has the potential to be among the best in the nation, but it could all break down in an instant if the pass protection isn't working. That's why all eyes will be on the open left tackle job where true freshman Luke Joeckel has to prove he can handle the workload. The 6-6, 280-pounder more than held his own throughout spring ball, even against Von Miller, and he has quickly showed off the tools, like refined technique and good lateral quickness, that should make him an all-star before his career is done.
There's a chance that sophomore Brian Thomas starts at left tackle, but he'll go into the season as the main option on the right side. The 6-3, 303-pounder has the quickness to be a whale of a pass protector and he has the strength to move inside to guard if need be. While he'll get the first look at right tackle, he'll move around where needed with the ability to do a little bit of everything.
Former LSU Tiger Matt Allen started the first half of last year at right guard, but now he'll move inside to take over for Kevin Mathews at center. The 6-2, 294-pound senior has ridiculous weight room strength, but he has to be more consistent after getting pushed to a backup role late last year. While he moves relatively well, his game is about power blocking and he has the frame and the ability to do that from the middle.
Junior Evan Eike took a while to get into the swing of things until the second half of last year, but the veteran left guard turned in a strong season and now could be the anchor. The 6-4, 305-pound blocker was one of the team's top recruits a few years ago, but he's just now starting to show what he can do with his drive blocking ability and decent feet. He's an intimidator.
After stepping in as a true freshman and starting over the second half of last year, 6-2, 312-pound sophomore Patrick Lewis takes back his starting spot at right guard. While not a finesse player in any way, he strong enough to shove anyone around and is a burying type of blocker for the ground game. He doesn't get knocked over and he's always pushing forward.
Projected Top Reserves: While he's not Luke Joeckel, true freshman Jake Matthews is an excellent tackle prospect with 6-5, 285-opund size and a tremendous high school résumé. The brother of former starting center, Kevin Matthews, Jake knows the program and isn't going to be intimidated by the idea of seeing time right away. If he's the real deal, the coaching staff will have a good combination to put together with Brian Thomas possibly moving.
One of the keys to the line could be the play of Rhontae Scales, a 6-6, 318-pound tackle who needs to emerge as a factor. While he's not likely going to start right away, if he's the real deal on the right side, it would provide instant depth in a place that desperately needs it, and it would allow others to move around a bit. He has the size and the girth, but he needs to prove he can consistently play.
Sophomore Jeffrey Hyde has the 6-5, 307-pound size and the feet of a much lighter athlete, but he hasn't quite been able to crack the code to make an impact. The raw tools are there with a great frame that's hard to get around, but he'll have to battle for playing time at left tackle with the emergence of Luke Joeckel.
Watch Out For … Joeckel. Tackle is a major concern going into the season, and while no coaching staff likes to put a true freshman in such an important spot, the upside and the reward might be too great not to give it a shot.
Strength: Versatility. Thomas will likely start at right tackle, but he could end up seeing time at left guard. Allen could start at center or could move over to right guard, and most of the other blockers can be shifted around.
Weakness: Backup tackle. Joeckel will be fine for a true freshman, and Thomas is promising, even though his future might be at guard, but the starting tackles aren't exactly rock solid quite yet. The backup situation is even more muddled and could be an issue early on.
Outlook: The program desperately needed help at tackle and it got it. Joeckel has to be great from the opening snap, while the right pieces of the puzzle have to fit together. It'll require some tinkering, especially with so many young talents entering the mix, but the run blocking should be great and the pass protection … the pass protection … the run blocking should be great.
Unit Rating: 6
- 2010 Texas A&M Preview |
Texas A&M Offense
2010 Texas A&M Defense |
Texas A&M Depth Chart
- Texas A&M Previews