Head Coach | Mike Sherman
2010 Record | 9-4 (6-2) Big 12 Record
Returning Starters | Texas A&M returns an astounding 18 starters, 19 if you count both running backs, who basically split starts last year due to an injury to Christine Michael. This includes nine on offense, and eight on defense, so neither side of the ball gets hit very hard. The always-important O-line is very young, but still returns four starters.
Key Additions | The Aggies' biggest addition may be DE Brandon Alexander, a highly-touted 3 star recruit who chose A&M despite offers from Florida, Texas, and Kansas (ha). Due to the loss of both DEs, he could see the field right away. Attrition hit the defense harder than the offense, and that's where A&M went in their juco recruiting as well. Steven Jenkins, a juco LB from Coffeyville will compete for minutes right away. 340 pound NT Lamarc Strahan figured to start immediately in A&M's 3-4 defense as well, but he failed to meet academic requirements and left the Aggies without that huge, space-occupying nose tackle 3-4 teams all pine for.
Impact Offensive Player | Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael - Many believe that Texas A&M has both the top two running backs in the Big 12. The two largely split carries last year until Michael was knocked out for the season in their eighth game. Michael and Gray combined for 1764 yards and 16 TDs on an offense that passed as much as it ran. Both are First Team All-Big 12 candidates and share the Impact Offensive Player title.
Impact Defensive Player | Coryell Judie - While Judie's claim to fame is as a kick returner (he averaged 30.3 yds/return with 2 TDs last year), he is also an All-Big 12 quality cornerback. He racked up 4 interceptions and 57 tackles from the corner spot last year, and adds NFL-level playmaking ability to the A&M defense.
The Aggies' offense is loaded. The line is young, but returns four of five starters. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill returns after a season where he managed to rack up 1638 yards and 13 TDs in just seven starts after taking over for his underperforming predecessor, Jerrod Johnson. His targets include Jeff Fuller (72 rec, 1066 yds, 12 TDs) and Ryan Swope (72 rec, 825 yds, 4 TDs), plus Uzoma Nwachukwu, who led the team in Name Awesomeness. Add Gray and Michael at RB and a return man giving them 30 yds after each kickoff, and this unit is poised to score a lot of points.
Texas A&M finished fifth in the league in total defense, fourth in scoring defense, and fourth in turnovers forced. Decent, but nothing special. Now they've lost three from their front seven, including a first round draft pick in Von Miller. Much like the rest of the Big 12, A&M's offense looks to outshine their defense.
Lamarc Strahan's ineligibility hurts the team's cause. Even though he was an unproven juco transfer, he was the only nose tackle on the team weighing in over 300 pounds. While an enormous nose tackle is not essential for success in the 3-4 at the college level, it would certainly help their cause. The two deep lists only one senior across four LB spots, so experience may cause problems throughout the front seven, at least early on.
Overall, the defense shouldn't be a liability, but it doesn't present as a strength, either. They were middle of the pack last year, and likely will be again. The ability to be very good on both sides of the ball is what keeps teams like Texas A&M in that second tier in the conference. Unless the defense catches up to the offense, the Aggies will struggle to seriously compete on a national level, especially if a move to the SEC is on the horizon.