SEC Team Preview Series: Texas A&M

SEC Team Preview Series: Texas A&M

Welcome to WNSP’s preview series to get you ready for SEC and Sunbelt Media Days. Each day, we will preview a new team in each conference and get you ready for football season. We’ll take a look at what Vegas has their win total set at, make a prediction, and talk about their season outlook. Today’s team: The Texas A&M Aggies

 

Players to watch:

Offense: Whoever wins the QB Battle, RB Devon Achane, WR Ainias Smith

Defense: CB Antonio Johnson, S Demani Richardson, DT McKinley Jackson

 

O/U Win Line: 8.5

Dave Schultz’s Pick: Under

Mark Heim’s Pick: Over

Lee Shirvanian’s Pick: Over

Nick Wiggins’ Pick: Over

Michael Brauner’s Pick: Under

 

Big one today! If there’s a 2022 “offseason darlings” of the SEC, a team that everyone seems to think is in line to take a big leap this season, it’s Jimbo’s Aggies in College Station. Ranked as high as 5th in the nation in the some projected preseason AP polls, many people seem to be buying the hype that Texas A&M is next in line to have a huge year and take that next step into a serious contending program.

The “feud” or whatever you want to call it between Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban only served to stoke the fire and have people talking even more about the Aggies. The question now becomes “can Jimbo deliver?”

In 2021, A&M went 8-4 with some very high highs, namely beating Alabama of course as well as a dismantling of Auburn, but had some back breaking losses to teams like Mississippi State and LSU as well. Talent wise, the Aggies return a lot on both sides of the ball.

With blazing speed at running back in returning junior Devon Achane as well as a very solid receiver core composed of returning starters Muhsin Muhammad III and Ainias Smith as well as some exciting freshman that can contribute, this offense has some pieces to work with. Not to mention an offensive line that started multiple freshman last season and should continue to improve from 2021.

Defensively, the Aggies return four starters from a decent secondary. Antonio Johnson has a chance to be a first-round pick with another good season, and Demani Richardson would have been drafted this year but came back anyway. They are extremely deep along the defensive front especially on the inside as well, with a combination of young freshman as well as McKinley Jackson who figures to take a big leap this year.

The biggest question mark on this team, and why I am taking the under, comes at the most important position on the field. A&M does have a few options under center, however. Haynes King, a former four star who won the job last year, was injured early in the season with a broken leg, and even though his replacement, Zach Calzada, transferred to Auburn, King is not guaranteed the starting job in 2022. Max Johnson arrives via the transfer portal from LSU after a season in which he threw for 27 touchdowns and just six picks on an LSU team that was simply not very good. Not to mention Connor Weigman, a five-star freshman who certainly wants to throw his hat in the ring as well.

So, while the Aggies are not short on options at QB, I refuse to pick a team to win nine games who doesn’t have a defined starting quarterback at this point. Not to mention a brutal schedule that features Miami, Arkansas at a neutral site, on the road for Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, and South Carolina while still having to play Ole Miss, Florida, and LSU.

This should be a good team based sheerly on the amount of returning talent, but I like them at 8-4 again. Call me old fashioned, but I’m more inclined to believe in a team like Arkansas who has a definitive starter and budding star at QB rather than just question marks.

Michael Brauner