With football season less than a month away it’s time for me to make a season prediction for this year’s Aggie team. Before I go through each game I’ll touch on the offense and defense a little bit.
This offense begins and ends with Trevor Knight. For some reason Aggie fans have drank too much maroon Kool-Aid and think Knight is the second coming of Johnny Football. He looks the part and talks the part but he’s not going to play the part. He brings maturity and leadership no doubt but let’s not forget he’s a guy that couldn’t cut it at OU which is why he’s in Aggieland. At OU he had a 57% completion rate and threw 25 TDs with 19 interceptions. That’s not even close to earth shattering. That’s VERY pedestrian. The light is not all of a sudden going to come on and change those numbers dramatically.
I do think Trevor Knight can be a very serviceable quarterback but he’s not going to carry this Aggie team. I’d like to think Knight could have the ceiling of an AJ McCarron but I’m not even sure that’s possible. McCarron was a 67% passer and threw 5 TDs to every interception. That’s a big step from Knight’s career at OU. Maybe the best case is Knight becomes a 60% passer with a 3 TD to 1 interception. That’s not bad but that’s not a guy that carries his team at QB.
As for the rest of the offense the offensive line worries me quite a bit. I like Jim Turner a lot as a coach but the talent and depth is not there like it’s been in the past. I don’t think it will be worse than last year as that unit was more talented but they were flat out horrible. This line should be much better from an execution standpoint but not sure how great it can be.
Running back will be pretty solid assuming enough of these guys stay healthy. Wide Receiver is flat out loaded so that’s a definite strength of this team but I just hope Mazzone can quarterback whisper Knight into being a better version of the OU Knight.
All in all I think this offense can be better than last year simply because Jake Spavital isn’t involved in any capacity. Have I ever told you how much I hated Jake Spavital? In all seriousness I do like Mazzone and a lot of components of this offense. It won’t be a dominating offense by any stretch but I think it can put up points giving us a chance to win. I just think Trevor Knight won’t win any games and will likely cost us a game or two when it’s all said and done.
First off let’s talk about our defensive line. I firmly believe that our defensive line could be the best in the country. Garrett, Hall, Mack, and whoever else starts at DT (assuming it’s Zaycoven) is as good as it gets in college football. Even better is we’re a solid 2 deep along our defensive line. Football is won in the trenches and when you have a defensive line that can apply pressure by itself the rest of the defense gets freed up to make plays.
Our linebacker corps has major questions but there is some decent talent to start but those 2-3 guys have to stay healthy. The talent drops off quickly after Washington, Alaka, and I guess George or Moore will be our other LB in 3 LB sets. We can’t sustain any injuries at linebacker or we’re going to be in trouble. At best this linebacking group could rival the 2012 crew of Porter, Jenkins, and Stewart.
The secondary is loaded at safety with Watts and Evans. Those two guys are total studs and likely playing on Sundays in the not too distant future. Not totally sure who will start at corner back but we’ve got a few talented guys that can be serviceable.
Even with the potential holes at linebacker and corner I think this defense will be pretty damn good. Good enough to win quite a few football games. My main question is how this offense will be able to complement the defense when it comes to the final number of wins and losses. Last year’s offense couldn’t respond when the defense gave them the ball with a chance to win late in the game. If this offense can’t respond it’s just going to be more of the same.
With that, here’s my game by game prediction:
This feels a lot like the ASU game from last year. Really good Pac-12 team with a solid QB coming into Texas higher ranked. This game is really a toss-up but I feel like this our game to win and will. The defense won’t be anything UCLA has seen or can be prepared for. I think with this being Knight’s first game under center he can just execute a game plan UCLA wasn’t fully expecting. I know there’s an element of UCLA knowing Mazzone but if you go back and look at the offenses Mazzone has run he’s pretty adaptable to the talent he has. The offense UCLA knows of Mazzone with Rosen at QB won’t be the same offense they see with Knight. The score will be decided by less than 7 points but I see the Aggies holding on for the victory.
This is Sumlin’s biggest game of the year as if he loses this thing he’s done at A&M I think. He’ll have to fight all year for wins but if he gets off on the wrong foot in the first game I really don’t think he recovers. This is the most winnable of the big games and Sumlin has proven outside of Johnny’s first year his teams regress as the season wears on so has to win this one. If he loses this game we might as well put him on the Green Mile.
A&M wins walking away but this has already been set as an 11:00 am kick. 11:00 am kick in early September. A&M gets the win but NOBODY wins anything in this game. Seriously. What a total waste of a day for Aggie football. Maybe some depth guys get playing time but man this game will be brutal. I long for a day when college football schedules no more than 2 cupcakes a year and even then I think it should be 1.
I scratch my head on this one as I really like Malzahn but maybe he’s not the amazing coach I think he is. Maybe he harnessed Cam Newton and then caught lightening in a bottle his first year in Auburn winning the SEC and playing for the national championship. Looking back at that 2013 season he could have EASILY lost to Miss St., Bama, Georgia, and A&M. We’re talking a late TD pass with seconds left against Miss St that had to be reviewed, two amazing plays to end Bama and Georgia, and an injury to Johnny Manziel when Kenny Hill couldn’t find his helmet so Matt Joekel went in and missed a TD pass to put A&M up by 7 instead of 3 when we settled for a field goal. No doubt you make a lot of your luck but Auburn was REALLY close to being 7-5 that season. What does Malzahn look like at 7-5 that season? A lot like Kevin Sumlin without Johnny his first season I think.
This feels like a toss-up game but I really think A&M is the better team walking into this game. This team has won at Auburn before so they shouldn’t be intimated. Sure, it’s our first night road SEC game but there’s enough leadership on this team it shouldn’t matter. Auburn isn’t real sure who their QB is going to be and they have a new defensive coordinator in Kevin Steele who got run out of LSU after last season. He’s never impressed me as a coach so he doesn’t scare me at DC like Muschamp did last season.
Auburn opens up against Clemson and I think that’s a loss. If we beat UCLA and they lose to Clemson then this is our game no doubt. If we lose and they win then this is their game. I think we beat UCLA and I think they lose to Clemson and we win this game. Aggies go to 3-0 and Auburn to 1-2 and Gus is a dead man walking waiting to see if Sumlin joins him.
We all know about this game. Sumlin has had Bielema’s number although it’s required OT magic the last two years. Remember that was with Jake Spavital as our OC. I know there’s the law of averages where streaks have to end but I really feel this is a game we win by double digits. We have the defensive line to match up with Arkansas’ strength and with Spavital gone as OC I don’t think we struggle offensively. It won’t be an easy game and we’ll feel the pain the next day but I think we win this game somewhat comfortably.
Sumlin seems to be to Bielema what Saban is to Miles. Team wise and number wise Arkansas should beat us from time to time but I think this is just one of those things where have Arkansas’ number like Bama beats LSU repeatedly when everyone thinks LSU should win from time to time.
So Will Muschamp takes over a program in worse shape than when he took over Florida. I mean MUCH worse. If Spavital was here I’d be somewhat worried about this game but Spavital isn’t and Mazzone will prove to be a much better match for a Muschamp coached defensive. Even though it’s a road game I think the Aggies also win this in convincing fashion.
Tennessee is MUCH better than anyone in the West likely gives them credit for. This is going to be a really tough game for A&M. I’d like to think we win this game but I’m not really sure. It’s definitely a toss-up and a lot will depend on how well our offense develops along with how healthy our defense is. Tennessee has a really mobile QB in Dobbs and Chavis tends to struggle against mobile QBs. This feels like one of those games that goes back and forth and Tennessee makes a play in the end to win it. They choked away a lot of games last year and I feel they don’t do it this year even being on the road at Kyle Field.
I’m taking Tennessee here but once again it’s all about our offensive development and defensive health. If Knight and our offensive line is developing with a healthy defense then this is the Aggies to win no doubt.
Johnny Manziel is not walking back through that door and the only other time we’ve played in Tuscaloosa we lost 59-0. I’d love for Trevor Knight to recreate his Sugar Bowl magic against Bama but I don’t see that happening as Saban has adapted to the college game. This isn’t a gimme win for Bama and I think we’ll actually play within two touchdowns but I don’t think we have the horses to compete with Bama so this is another loss.
New Mexico State:
Playing the Aggies of New Mexico State on Halloween weekend. Once again the Texas Aggies win this game but there’s no real winners here. Trick or treat, kids.
This game doesn’t scare me at all. I really think we’re the better team here without Prescott. We beat them in convincing fashion last year. They lost Prescott and we lost Spavital so that’s like a double gain for us. I know we’re going on the road but I think the Aggies win this by 10.
At one point I thought Hugh Freeze was the dumbest coach in the SEC. The Kevin Sumlin hired Jack Spavital and took that crown. Seriously. I hate Spavital that much. Ole Miss has flat out owned A&M the last two seasons. I mean just frustratingly owned us thanks to better coaching.
This is a better A&M team than Ole Miss has played in the last two years but because of Chad Kelly at QB I think Ole Miss is the better team. The kid is a flat out legit QB. I think that because of that he makes more plays than our QB and Ole Miss wins the game.
This is much like the Tennessee game. If our defense is healthy and our offense is progressing and not regressing then I think we can win this game no doubt. Picking right now though I’m picking Ole Miss.
The Saturday before Thanksgiving when we play LSU at night on Turkey Day. Seriously. Did the powers that be want to set up the cupcakes in the worst absolute scenarios to see just how few fans would show up? I’m a diehard Aggie and have season tickets and I don’t want to go to this game. Do the student s go out of town in preparation for the Thanksgiving game. Will there even be a wait at Wings N More or The Chicken all weekend. Won’t someone think of the hospitality revenue lost on these cupcake weekends?
Aggies win but like the other two games everyone else loses.
This game is so hard to predict right now. It could mean nothing at all, it could mean a spot in the SEC Championship game, or it could mean Les and Kev are fighting for their jobs. Seriously. No idea how to really know what happens in this game other than to look at history. That history says Kevin loses and Les wins. Same thing the last four years.
Unlike Bama and just like Tennessee and Ole Miss I do think this is a very winnable game for the Aggies going back to defensive health and offensive development. The Aggies win the games I predict they win but pull off a win over Tennessee or Ole Miss they’re sitting at 9-2 and all of a sudden this is an Aggie team that can finally beat the Swamp Kitties. If the Aggies walk into this game at 9-2 they’re coming out 10-2. Bet your hard earned dollar on that. They come in at 8-3 and Les has an equal or better number of wins then Les takes this win and everyone wonders about Sumlin’s job. I’m predicting we walk in at 8-3 and Les is 9-2 so Les walks out with win 10 and Kevin stays at 8 making his next season in Aggieland a tough decision for the powers that be.
So I’m predicting an 8-4 season with losses to Tennessee, Bama, Ole Miss, and LSU. I said in my last piece that 7 wins gets Sumlin fired without question and 9 wins keeps him in good graces as that’s a pretty remarkable season based on this schedule. If he goes 8-4 with those three major home losses I think Sumlin is gone. Recruiting will lose momentum as it’ll look he’s a perennial 7-8 win coach when he doesn’t have Johnny Manziel. He’ll get a nice $15 million parting gift and hopefully we can snag Tom Herman or at worst Chad Morris.
There you go Ags, an 8-4 season and a new coach in December. You heard it here first. I do hope I’m wrong as I really want Sumlin and this staff to succeed but based on Sumlin’s 4 seasons I don’t see it happening.