The big mystery. When will Texas A&M get the train back on the track. This year the Aggies are starting to creep back into the picture in the respect category as the media has listed them just behind Texas and Oklahoma in the preseason Big 12 standings with one report predicting a 10-2 finish with a second place finish in the South.
The Aggies certainly have talent with both the preseason offensive and defensive player of the year selections on their roster. Von Miller and Jerrod Johnson are two seniors that will lead the team in 2010 as Mike Sherman looks to turn the corner.
This season for us is about taking that next step, and the next step for us it to be in games in the fourth quarter with two minutes left where you're in position to win the football game.
I think the Big 12 needs A&M to step up to the plate, to answer your question, and be that type of team. We're ready to accept that challenge.
Despite the two marquee seniors the biggest factor as to the Aggies success might be the development of their youth.
to win the football game. Last season, with the amount of freshman we played -- I think we played 18 freshman, 9 of whom started for us at different times. I thought we lacked the maturity to make the transition to being that type of team.
This group of 18 includes quite a few solid recruits that were targeted by teams across the Big 12 including Kansas and if Mike Sherman and his staff can help develop that talent to compliment the stars at the top, they could be close.
On the subject of the star of the offense and Jerrod Johnson, the Big 12 might be in the middle of a shift in focus at the quarterback position. So far all three teams at media day have had the ability to feature a running quarterback. A&M and Jerrod Johnson is no exception. In addition are we seeing the days of the pass happy quarterback focused offense fading and a run oriented attack being more commonplace?
I don't think so because, if you look at the guys that waited in the wings, those quarterbacks that left were great
quarterbacks, but there's some great quarterbacks ready to take over in those programs. It's now time for them to step forward, and I'm sure that they will.
I think as long as we have the seven on seven in the state of Texas, we'll continue in high school football to put out great quarterbacks not only in the Big 12, which they've had a major influence, but across the country. These kids are coming out of high school far more advanced than ever in relationship to being readymade quarterbacks that fit into slots in college programs, and you've got to take your hat off to the high school coaches who do a great job in the state of Texas of developing these kids.
Protecting that quarterback? Interestingly enough Coach Sherman expects a further youth movement.
In our offensive line, we graduated three starters. I anticipate with six incoming freshmen onthe offensive line, at least three of those guys will be either playing or starting for us at some time.
Can a line filled out by freshman lead a team to success in the Big 12?
Defensively Von Miller might present one of the better pass rushing prospects in the league in his senior season. Still Coach Sherman sees a scenario where his number could diminish but his effectiveness could still be a major factor.
I think it's very realistic to say that Von may very easily have diminished statistics from last year in relationship to stats but be a more capable player. My whole objective with him is that he distracts an offense, that he causes concern for a quarterback. He takes him out of his rhythm. If he does that, he does his job.
In addition to Miller, a new philosophy defensively looks a lot like an old philosophy in the 3-4 defense.
At the end of the season when Joe retired and moved on, I spent about a month looking at tape, trying to analyze who was the best fit for us at this time. I wanted to get back to a three-four defense because I think we can recruit to that structure. A&M has a history in the three-four defense. We've had a great history of linebacker play in the three-four defense in the state of Texas. I felt like we could find four quality linebackers who could impact our defense.
5 Toughest Tests for the Aggies in 2010
- Development of the youth - can the 18 freshman that saw minutes in '09 step up in '10?
- Offensive line experience - can the Aggies leave this position to a corps of underclassman?
- Switching defensive philosophies - New system, new problems?
- and Oklahoma - Time to take the next step and compete?