Man oh man, another week has passed and tomorrow we start the work week with 45 days left until kickoff. It’s been a miserably hot summer and the cool days of college football Saturdays will be here before you know it. Today, officially 46 days till kickoff, and we continue to roll on with our preview of SEC: 50 Players in 50 Days. These are not any sort of rankings, just 50 solid players who I think are 50 of the best in the best conference in the country. Today, we take it down to Aggieland and welcome the Texas A&M Aggies to the southeastern conference, but more importantly, we’ll take a look at their outstanding wide receiver Ryan Swope.
Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M:
Texas A&M heads into the 2012 college football season from an offseason of change. First of all, the Aggies will now be a part of the Southeastern Conference, leaving behind the Big 12 and rival Texas. The Aggies also have a new head man, Kevin Sumlin, who comes over from Houston, bringing a high octane offense and new leadership to College Station.
Texas A&M finished up the 2011 season with a record of 7-6, capped off by a 33-22 win over Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Mike Sherman was let go before the bowl game, after he could only muster a 25-25 record in four years on the job. In 2011, the Aggies led 12 of their 13 opponents by double digits, but they blew double digit leads in five of six losses including back to back contests to Oklahoma State and Arkansas.
In 2011, Texas A&M lit up scoreboards to the tune of 39.1 points per game with the leading reason being the play of wideout Ryan Swope. Swope really stepped on the national scene as he caught 89 balls for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those are big time numbers from a guy who barely goes 6’0” and 205 pounds. Many of his teammates begin comparing him to another small Big 12 legend, Wes Welker. What’s ironic is, Swope will now play for Welker’s former quarterback, Kliff Kingsbury, who will now call the offense after coming over from Houston with Kevin Sumlin.
Despite his small stature, Swope plays with reckless abandon, as he not only catches balls, he blocks and he is definitely not scared to go across the middle. Swope could be described as a sort of “throwback player” and “All Madden” type if Big John was still around and handing out that accomplishment.
Moving to the SEC will not be easy for the Aggies. The SEC is very physical and defense dominates the conference, a strategy that has lead to six straight BCS Championships. The schedule is not overbearing, as the Aggies will open at Louisiana Tech before coming home to face Florida on September 8; road trip to SMU, then home for two straight, South Carolina State and Arkansas. The Aggies will find Arkansas very familiar as they have faced the Razorbacks the past two years.
The Aggies will open up October with a trip to Ole Miss, then home to face the defending SEC Champions, the LSU Tigers. A road trip to Auburn will close out October. November will find the Aggies at Mississippi State, then the following week, in Tuscaloosa to face the defending National Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide. They will finish the season with two home games, Sam Houston State and the Missouri Tigers.
The Aggies will return eight starters on offense, but will be breaking in a new quarterback. The concerns in year one of the Kevin Sumlin era will be defensive line and secondary. Six or seven wins are possible in 2012, but the key to getting bowl eligible will lie in protecting home field, especially in a league as tough as the SEC.