Texas A&M Aggies
Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin
2015 record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 SEC West
2015 Postseason results: Lost to Louisville 27-21 in Music City Bowl
2016 returning starters: 6 offense, 6 defense
Odds to win 2017 College Football Championship game: 100/1
Odds to win 2016 SEC Championship Game: 53/2
Odds to Win 2016 SEC West Division: 14/1
Regular season wins: under 7 1/2 -160 / over 7 1/2 +130
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The Texas A&M Aggies began last season 5-0 but would win only three more games for the rest of the season. They lost to Louisville 27-21 in the Music City Bowl to finish 8-5. It wasn’t a terrible season but not exactly great either.
This year, coach Kevin Sumlin gets 6 starters back and the Aggies look to improve in 2016. Sumlin could be on the hot seat if the Aggies do not accomplish that feat.
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Texas A&M brought in Noel Mazzone as the new coordinator from the same position at UCLA after the school dismissed Jake Spavital, who landed at California. Coincidentally, Texas A&M hosts UCLA in the season opener. The Aggies averaged 425 yards per game on offense including 256 passing yards per game. Texas A&M averaged 28 points a game. Six starters are back.
Texas A&M used three quarterbacks last year and two of them have transferred. Kyle Allen threw for 2,210 yards with 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and rushed for 102 yards with 2 touchdowns. The junior transferred to Houston in the offseason. Kyler Murray threw for 686 yards with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and rushed for 335 yards with a touchdown. He transferred to Oklahoma.
The Aggies and Sooners unofficially traded quarterbacks as graduate transfer Trevor Knight moved from Norman to College Station. Football fans might remember Knight from his monster Sugar Bowl against Alabama a couple of seasons ago. He was supplanted as the starter by Baker Mayfield in Oklahoma but he will start for Texas A&M. He beat out junior Jake Hubenak who threw for 399 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. He started the bowl loss to Louisville.
The Aggies also lose running back Tra Carson to the Cincinnati Bengals. He had 242 carries with 1,165 yards and 7 touchdowns, and he also made 29 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown. James White was the back-up last year and had 55 carries for 196 yards and a touchdown. He beat out another Oklahoma transfer Keith Ford for the starting running back but Ford will get plenty of carries. True freshman Trayveon Williams will also get some carries.
The top five receivers are back for the Aggies. Sophomore Christian Kirk had 80 catches for 1,009 yards with 7 touchdowns. Josh Reynolds had 51 catches for 907 yards and 5 touchdowns. Ricky Seals-Jones had 45 catches for 560 yards and 4 touchdowns. Speedy Noil and Damion Ratley combined for 36 catches and four touchdowns. Noil is suspended for the first game of the season. Jeremy Tabuyo had only 9 catches but three of them went for touchdowns. Tanner Schorp will be the tight end.
The line was inconsistent last year. Veteran tackles Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor will flank three underclassmen at center and the guards. An improved line will go a long way to punching up a sometimes lifeless offense.
Texas A&M allowed 380 yards per game on defense including 167 passing yards and 22 points per game. Six starters are back for coordinator John Chavis.
The Aggies are more than set at defensive end Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall who combined for 19.5 sacks last year. Tackle is a different story though. Zaycoven Henderson and Josh Walker should start at the tackles, but Kingsley Keke and Daylon Mack will also contribute.
Linebacker Otaro Alaka is back after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury. He looks to get back to the dominant form of his freshman year in the middle. Shaan Washington had 81 tackles last year. Richard Moore had 39 tackles last year and could be the best linebacker for the Aggies.
Safety Armani Watts led Texas A&M with 126 tackles including 13 for loss. Justin Evans will start at the other safety after making 78 tackles last year. Nickel back Donovan Wilson had five interceptions. UCLA transfer Priest Willis will start at one corner with Nick Harvey at the other.
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Kicker Taylor Bertolet and punter Drew Kaser were both All-SEC last year. Both have graduated. Daniel LaCamera takes over as the kicker by Shane Tripucka is the new punter. Christian Kirk returned two punts for touchdowns last year. The Aggies have a ton of speedsters that can return kicks such as Kirk, Noil, Ford and the freshman Williams.
Schedule and Outlook
Texas A&M opens with home games against UCLA and Prairie View A&M. The Aggies travel to Auburn before playing Arkansas in Arlington, Texas. Texas A&M has road games against South Carolina and Arkansas sandwiched around a home game against Tennessee. The Aggies host New Mexico State, and travel to Mississippi State. Texas A&M ends the season with three straight home games against Ole Miss, UTSA and LSU.
Texas A&M struggled on offense at times last year, but the defense was very good. The defense could be even better in 2016 with an array of stars. The schedule is very tough, and I think this team will struggle to win more than 7 games.
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