Last season was the end of the line for Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. Despite leading the Aggies to a winning record in each of his six seasons, the powers that be didn’t think going 4-4 in the SEC year after year was good enough. The Aggies went 7-5 in 2017 but failed to beat any ranked teams. Without Sumlin, Texas A&M lost the Belk Bowl to Wake Forest to finish the 2017 campaign 7-6.
In steps Jimbo Fisher, who signed a 10-year, $75 million deal to become the new head coach at Texas A&M. Of course, with a big contract comes big expectations. Fisher hasn’t shied away from those expectations, as he firmly expects to win big with the Aggies. However, it remains to be seen whether he can turn Texas A&M into a contender in the SEC right away.
Oddsmakers are not high on A&M’s short-term prospects. The Aggies are +10,000 to win a national championship. There could be some value in that long-shot pick knowing Fisher’s track record. But not when you consider how difficult it will be to get out of the SEC West. On a similar note, the Aggies are only projected to win seven games in 2018, in large part because of the strength of their conference. Seven wins may actually be the best-case scenario for Texas A&M, as there’s a distinct chance they fall short of that projection.
Despite more than a dozen returning starters on A&M’s roster, there is great uncertainty heading into the season. Naturally, it starts at quarterback where Fisher has yet to decide between Nick Starkel, a competent passer, and Kellen Mond, who’s more of a dual-threat quarterback. The Aggies also aren’t sure how their offensive line is going to shake out. That group underperformed last season, and so most starting jobs are up for grabs heading into training camp.
The silver lining for the A&M offense is the return of running back Trayveon Williams. He has blazing speed and has rushed for over 1,800 yards over his first two seasons in College Station. But without an obvious starter at quarterback, there may be a lot of pressure on Williams to carry the Texas A&M offense early in the season.
On defense, the Aggies have plenty of returning talent. However, it’s a unit that was dreadful the second half of last season when the level of competition kicked up a couple notches. New defensive coordinator Mike Elko will look to turn the group around right away. While there is plenty of upside on the A&M defense, the learning curve could be steep with the new staff.
It’s tough to deny the talent that Texas A&M has heading into 2018. However, there is a lot of work to do for the Aggies to realize their full potential. If there are growing pains, things could get worse before they get better. The fan base should forget about competing for an SEC title in Fisher’s first season and just worry about getting to a bowl game and establishing a foundation on which to grow the program.
|Aug 30||Northwestern State Demons||8:30 PM|
|Sep 8||Clemson Tigers||7:00 PM|
|Sep 15||Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks||7:30 PM|
|Sep 22||@ Alabama Crimson Tide||1:00 PM|
|Sep 29||@ Arkansas Razorbacks||1:00 PM|
|Oct 6||Kentucky Wildcats||1:00 PM|
|Oct 13||@ South Carolina Gamecocks||12:00 PM|
|Oct 27||@ Mississippi State Bulldogs||1:00 PM|
|Nov 3||@ Auburn Tigers||1:00 PM|
|Nov 10||Mississippi Rebels||1:00 PM|
|Nov 17||Alabama-Birmingham Blazers||1:00 PM|
|Nov 24||Louisiana State Tigers||1:00 PM|
There’s no such thing as an easy schedule in the SEC West, and to make matters worse, the Aggies host Clemson the second week of the season. Texas A&M also plays Alabama, Mississippi State, and Auburn on the road, which is as tough as it gets in the SEC. On the bright side, the Aggies get Kentucky and South Carolina as their SEC East crossover games, which helps make the middle of their schedule a little more manageable.
At the end of the day, the Aggies should be able to find at least six wins on their schedule and scratch out a bowl bid. But any more than that could be asking too much considering the difficulty of their schedule and the number of unanswered questions heading into the season.