Texas A&M Football: Grading Every Offensive Unit
The Texas A&M Aggies sported one of the most potent offenses in college football, on the ground and through the air. Now with several key contributors, inlcuding Ryan Tannehill, Cyrus Gray, and Jeff Fuller, moving on, the Aggies are going to have a completely new look in 2012. Not to mention, new head coach Kevin Sumlin has a different offensive scheme from former head coach Mike Sherman. Needless to say, the Aggies have had quite a bit of revamping to do over the offseason. Let’s see just how each offensive unit has progressed.
Quarterbacks Grade: C-
The grade for this unit might as well be a question mark. The frontrunner to take over the starting job appears to be Jamiel Showers, who saw some limited time in mop up duty last year. But that’s about all we have seen of him. Other candidates include Johnny Manziel and Matt Davis. The quarterback position will easily be the Aggies’ weakest position throughout 2012. Good thing for fans, every other offensive unit looks primed for the move into the SEC.
Running Backs Grade: B
Christine Michael returns from the Aggies’ two-headed running back attack in 2011. Michael notched 149 carries for 899 yards and 8 touchdowns during last year. The only concern lies in his ability to avoid injury for an entire season. After an ACL tear against Oklahoma back in November, Michael looks like he is back on track to hit 100% by the time things kick off in late Auguest. While Michael is certainly the best running back on the roster, there are some talented back ups that could step up in case of injury. Ben Malena saw some time on the field late in the season because of injuries and he showed some solid running ability. A running back to watch is incoming freshman Trey Williams, rated as one of the top backs in the entire nation. If offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury can get the running backs comfortable with the new schemes, the Aggies’ run game should be just fine.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends Grade: B+
The Aggies lost one of their most productive receivers in Jeff Fuller but there is plenty of talent left behind. Fan favorite, Ryan Swope returns and should flourish under Sumlin’s offense. Uzoma Nwachukwu also returns and has an opportunity to take over Fuller’s role as a deep threat. Other players to watch include JUCO transfer Derel Walker, Nate Askew, and Brandal Jackson. The Aggies have several viable candidates at wide receiver, making depth a strength heading into 2012. The tight end position may be a different story. Hutson Prioleau has recently left the team, leaving Michael Lamothe and Nehemiah Hicks as the only experienced tight ends. Furthermore, coach Sumlin is still evaluating just how the tight ends will fit into his “get the ball into the playmaker’s hands” offense. The determining factor on whether either player will see extensive time on the field will likely hinge on their ability to block athletic SEC defensive ends.
Offensive Line Grade: A
The Aggies’ offensive line will likely be one of the best in the SEC and perhaps even in the entire nation. That’s a hot commodity when you have a first year starter at quarterback. Both tackles, Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckel, will contend for all-conference honors and perhaps even national awards. Along with the tacklers, center Patrick Lewis has started 35 consecutive games and should continue to be an anchor in the middle. There are still position battles raging at both guard positions, but the Aggies’ offensive line will easily be the strength of the offense in 2012.