Here we go again. Another football season approaches and the Koolaid keeps getting more and more maroon. But no false alarms this time. The Aggies are going to be good in 2015, really good. Many people point to 2016 as the year A&M competes for an SEC and National Championship. And while I don’t disagree, the pieces are in place for the Aggies to make a splash in 2015.
But first let’s look back at 2012, that special season when A&M took the SEC by storm, won 11 games, and finished the year ranked 5th in the nation. What was the reason for that success? A relatively competent defense. Sure, Johnny Manziel definitely played his part. But it was Sumlin’s high octane offense coupled with a respectable defense that got it done.
The Aggies only ranked 57th that year in total defense, while their division rivals Alabama and LSU ranked 1st and 8th, respectively. After a steady decline on that side of the ball, Sumlin fired Mark Snyder and hired John Chavis. This is the same John Chavis that led LSU to consistent top 10 defensive finishes. It’s the same coach that has spent 25 years in the SEC, no small feat when you consider the constant revolving door of coaching staffs at the college level. And it is the same man that intends to resurrect A&M’s defense to its former Wrecking Crew glory.
This, and this alone, is what has me so excited for 2015. Sure there are issues finding a consistent starter at cornerback opposite of Harris. And yes, the Aggies have a linebacking corps that is very talented but also very thin. Offensively, there are plenty who question the offensive lines ability to withstand yet another 1st-round NFL departure.
But that’s just it. A&M has a few question marks, but so does everyone else. Alabama, Auburn, and Ole Miss are replacing last year’s starting QB. Auburn and Miss St both only return 4 players on offense. LSU will once again try to find some form of offensive identity all the while trying to effectively replace its defensive coordinator. And despite their improvement towards the end of the season, Arkansas still only won 2 conference games in 2014.
So with no clear frontrunner, why not A&M? The Aggies have proven for 3 years straight that they can put up points and offensive stats in the SEC. After consecutive top 10 finishes in 2012 and 2013, the Aggies finished at #30 in 2014. Losing 3 first round offensive draft picks (Manziel, Evans, and Matthews) will do that to you. But expect the offense to take a step forward this season and expect the defense to make major strides with Chavis at the helm.
These simple and very reasonable expectations will have the Aggies back to a 2012 type season. And hey, with a few favorable bounces, the Aggies just might get to make that trip to Atlanta.