The Ags are really feeling themselves lately aren’t they?
A&M had the most successful year of the Jimbo era. They won 10 games, finished second in the SEC West, got blown out by Alabama (again) and failed to make the CFP. That’s big stuff!
The Aggies also think they’ve surpassed LSU as the biggest threat to Alabama in the West, having beat the Tigers two of the last three years. But one of those wins was the absurd 7-OT game in 2018 that LSU probably won at least twice, and last year their senior quarterback could only muster 20 points at home on the worst Tiger defense in school history. So excuse me for being skeptical of A&M surpassing LSU.
The LSU-A&M rivalry has really gone up a few levels since that 2018 game and come Thanksgiving LSU will get their chance to reestablish the pecking order in the West.
Texas A&M Aggies
2020: 10-1 (9-1 SEC)
2021 S&P+ Projection: 13th
2021 Recruiting Class: 8th
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher (26-10 through three seasons)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Dickey
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Elko
I joke but Fisher is building A&M into one of the top-10 programs in the nation. But the Aggies are facing maybe the biggest challenge in all of college football: going from a 9 or 10 win team, to an 11+ win team.
But if there’s ever a year to finally get over the hump, it’s this at least as far as the schedule is concerned. The Aggies get a tuneup game next Saturday before taking on Colorado in Boulder. They get both Bama and Auburn at home and draw Carolina and Mizzou from the East. Assuming they can get through a road trip to Oxford (November 13) unscathed, there is a really good chance A&M will roll into Baton Rouge at 10-1 or maybe even 11-0.
They still have to prove it on the field though, and A&M is going to have to replace starting quarterback Kellen Mond. They’ll turn to either Haynes King or Zach Calzada but King looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for the QB1 job. King came to A&M as a top-five dual-threat quarterback and can really move. You can count the number of passes King has thrown on one hand, but Jimbo made his bones coaching up quarterbacks.
Fortunately, King’s life will be made easier by having the best back in the SEC, Isaiah Spiller, next to him in the background. He’s also got future first round pick Jaylen Wydermeyer at tight end and preseason All-American Kenyon Green at guard. Green, Spiller, and Wydermeyer all have first round grades ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Defensively, A&M might be the only team in the conference who has a line as good as LSU’s and that’s headlined by tackle DeMarvin Leal. Leal also has a first round grade for the draft. and Jayden Peevy and Tyree Johnson are no slouches either. The Aggies also made sure to bolster the front four via recruiting as its top two-signees, five-star Shemar Turner and four-star Tunmise Adeleye, were both inside the Top-40 nationally. Here’s hoping LSU’s offensive line going up against Ali Gaye, Maason Smith, Andre Anthony and company pays dividends come November.
A&M’s secondary really made strides as the 2020 season progressed and they bring back all four starters, most notably senior corner Myles Jones who surrendered a total of 118 yards in seven non-Alabama games.
Texas A&M is really interesting this year. They’ll be able to run the ball and play defense and that’s a great formula for success...in 2001. In 2021? Well that’s to be determined. Can the ground and pound game beat Bama? Or keep up with Ole Miss’s explosive offense? Hell LSU managed to average 30 points a game last year and that was with a bad offensive line, two different freshmen quarterbacks starting seven games, and its top-three pass catches opting out at various points of the season. This will sound like such an LSU thing to say but if they can get the quarterback play where it needs to be, maybe just maybe they can get to Atlanta and perhaps beyond.
Texas A&M Schedule
September 4 vs. Kent State
September 11 @ Colorado
September 18 vs. New Mexico
September 25 vs. Arkansas (In Dallas)
October 2 vs. Mississippi State
October 9 vs. Alabama
October 16 @ Missouri
October 23 vs. South Carolina
October 30 BYE
November 6 vs. Auburn
November 13 @ Ole Miss
November 20 vs. Prarie View A&M
November 27 @ LSU