Who’s gone: Cedric Ogbuehi (NFL), Jarvis Harrison (NFL), Ben Compton (eligibility expired), Garrett Gramling (eligibility expired), Kimo Tipoti (retired), Zach Ledwik (retired)
Who’s back: #56 Mike Matthews (6-2, 290, SR), #79 Joseph Cheek (6-7, 311, SR), #74 Germain Ifedi (6-5, 325, JR), #73 Jeremiah Stuckey 81 (6-4, 300, JR), #63 Ryan Lindblade (6-7, 308, JR), #72 Jermaine Eluemunor (6-4, 315, JR), #65 Avery Gennesy (6-5, 300, JR), #77 J.J. Gustafson (6-5, 295, SO), #75 Koda Martin (6-6, 302, RS-FR), #50 Tank Davis (6-4, 310, RS-FR)
Who’s new: #78 Keaton Sutherland 96 (6-5, 301, FR), #72 Trevor Elbert 91 (6-6, 320, FR), #70 Connor Lanfear 90 (6-6, 305, FR), #64 Erik McCoy 86 (6-4, 315, FR)
Since 2012, the Texas A&M o-line run blocking slowly but surely got worse each year. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact problem as individually the players showed well. But as a unit, they failed miserably, especially in cases when the offense ran the ball in obvious running situations. By mid-year 2014 it was simply atrocious and it led to the dismissal of OL Coach BJ Anderson.
Enter the Dragon. Dave Christensen has an extremely long career as both an Oline coach and OC with even a stop as a Head Coach for Wyoming. Due to internal AD issues, he became available from Utah this off-season and Sumlin snatched him up. On paper, it’s hard to envision a better match as Christensen has an extensive history coaching an extremely physical style out of similar offenses at Missouri, Wyoming, and Utah. His fiery personality will also likely make him a fan favorite.
The early buzz is the first thing addressed was attention to detail. A lot of technique has been sloppy from footwork to hand placement. Those little things can definitely be important. But the bigger changes are in scheme, where Christensen will implement more power concepts to mix in with the zone scheme from previous years. In other words, instead of blocking a guy in their area, OL are being asked to pull, trap and lead almost for the first time since Sherman’s stint. Such schematics are less dependent on “numbers in the box” and are more about creating their own hole in the defense. It also requires being much more physical, something the A&M oline has gotten away from.
This change has led to a slight reshuffling of where the current players stand on the depth chart and RS-FR Koda Martin and true FR Keaton Sutherland were two of the standouts in spring ball. Combined with 3 returning starters and 2 top tier JUCO OL that redshirted last year, the talent isn’t really a question and success will come down to how they will work together and adjust to the new scheme. Four of the 5 spots are probably solidified heading into fall camp with LT Gennesy, C Matthews, RG Cheek and RT Ifedi leaving only the LG spot up for grabs. JR Jeremiah Stuckey filled in for Matthews in the spring at center and was so impressive he began getting reps at LG. He’ll battle JR “London” Eluemunor and the two freshman for that role in the fall. The original thought was to play Erik McCoy to get him some experience at center but Martin and Stuckey’s versatility, both took turns at center in the spring, should allow for all the incoming freshman to redshirt if they do not win a starting job.
Who’s gone: Cameron Clear (eligibility expired)
Who’s back: #41 Brandon Alexander (6-6, 238, SR)
Who’s new: #89 Jordan Davis 90 (6-4, 262, FR)
It’s the same message every year for Aggie fans – this is the year we start using the TE. This time something dramatic has changed however with the hire of OL coach Dave Christensen, who has coached and designed schemes in the past with a heavy emphasis on the TE. It’s a little bit awkward that the biggest loss at the position was not TE Clear but OL Compton who handled the starting role in front of both Clear and Alexander. This year the only real option is a true freshman Jordan Davis. Davis was very solid in the spring and adds a missing dimension from the offense but while everyone has extremely high hopes for him, it’s hard to imagine him being an integral part of the offense just yet. But as the year roles on, expect to see him gain more responsibility as the offense takes on more of Christensen’s influence.
Who’s gone: Josh Lambo (graduated)
Who’s back: #24 Taylor Bertolet (5-9, 190, SR), #38 Drew Kaser (6-3, 210, SR), Shane Tripucka (6-3, 215, SO)
Who’s new: #36 Daniel LaCamera (6-4, 210, FR)
Gone is Josh Lambo who came out of nowhere to give A&M a consistent reliable FG kicker the last two years. Returning is Taylor Bertolet who will battle incoming freshman Daniel LaCamera for PK duties. Drew Kaser provides a steady, solid punter that’s easy to undervalue. Speedy Noil will again return punts but Justin Evans showed a real knack for it in the spring so he and Nick Harvey will probably get a few chances throughout the year. As a kick returner, look for freshman Christian Kirk to pair with Noil to give opponents two gamebreaking returnees to worry about. As good as Speedy looked last year, Kirk may be even better.