Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Texas Aggies

I love college football. More importantly though I love Texas A&M football. I grew up an Aggie; both my parents went there and I recall spending Thanksgiving day watching A&M vs Texas. It didn’t hurt that I grew up in the 90’s which is A&M’s best decade. Back when the wrecking crew defense was something to be feared. I’ve missed one football game in 8 years (2002 Oklahoma sadly); so ya compared to the average fan I’m a die hard. So forgive me if you don’t enjoy this post, but frankly it’s for me. Here is my season prediction for all to see. First our schedule:

9/5/09 New Mexico
9/19/09 Utah State
9/26/09 UAB

10/3/09 Arkansas (at Dallas)
10/10/09 Oklahoma State10/17/09 @ Kansas State
10/24/09 @ Texas Tech
10/31/09 Iowa State
11/7/09 @ Colorado
11/14/09 @ Oklahoma
11/21/09 Baylor
11/26/09 Texas

*Home Games in Bold

Heavy Favorites
Prediction 3-0

New Mexico, Utah State, UAB

Obviously all of these are must win games and in my opinion the key to a successful season rest in these first three games. Just like last year this year’s team is young. We need guys getting reps in the worst way early in our schedule. Therefore we need to have substantial leads against all of these teams. If we can get guys reps then we set ourselves up to hopefully a strong finish (ie. 7 or 8 wins). The Aggies should be able to do just that.

Prediction 2-0

@Kansas State, Iowa State

Both of these schools have new coaches. Of the two Iowa State is the easiest game both based on personnel and location. Iowa State has had horrendous recruiting and isn’t returning much either. I expect them to be at the bottom of the big 12 cellar yet again. It’s funny to see them trotting around in their USC like uniforms. I could pair this in with the heavy favorites above; though, since they are a big 12 opponent I will give them the dignity.

Kansas State lost Josh Freeman who single handedly came back and beat us down the stretch. He was a good QB and great leader. If last years season taught me anything it’s that regardless of how easy a transition a new coach has there are still growing pains. Kansas State will have some. We have the edge in this one though it's not a huge edge by any means and this game is very close to being a swing game.

Swing Games
Prediction 2-1

Arkansas (in Dallas), @ Colorado, Baylor

All of these games are winnable. None of the teams on here are world beaters. The easiest game on this list is Baylor. Ya Robert Griffin is back, and I must admit I actually like the guy. He’s a good leader. He spent a lot of the offseason competing (and owning) in hurdles. That’s valuable offseason time he didn’t focus on football. Will he be better yes, but he could carry a little more healthy weight on his frame. Don’t discount either the loss of their top 2 pick tackle Jason Smith. He had Griffin’s backside all year and did an excellent job. I see the offensive line struggling a little bit for them. That said the A&M linebackers have to come through as there will be a lot of backfield movement. We have the talent to be better last year, but that’s not saying much of anything. The home field advantage in my opinion gives us the edge and the Ags ultimately pull it out. One more thing how does a team going 4-8 (Baylor) all of a sudden become the Cinderella of ESPN. I’m lost for words. The upside is that if Baylor does have a good season Briles is gone.

Playing at Colorado is tough. For the Ags it’s a combination of the altitude and the cold weather. We just aren’t used to it. Colorado will not be a good team this year, but the altitude and cold is a tough adjustment. This game is winnable; hopefully the Ags come out and break the Colorado curse they have suffered up in Boulder. If Colorado wins it will be with the running game as I feel that our secondary is more than adequately able to deal with their passing game which is mediocre.

Arkansas is an interesting matchup. Old SWC foes doing battle again in the metroplex. Both teams are retooling for the future. Arkansas is the favorite though as they have more experience on both sides of the ball. The Aggies should have the advantage in the stands and ideally will be less beat up and more prepared. Arkansas is playing both Alabama and Georgia prior to this game while the Ags have UAB and Utah State. Ideally, Arkansas upsets ‘bama and sets themselves up for an upset game. What this game does offer is a prestige win due to national exposure against a very winnable team. Winning this game would go a long way in terms of getting the Ags back in the media and would set up an exciting Oklahoma State Matchup.

Prediction 0-2

Oklahoma State, @ Texas Tech

A&M will come in to both of these games as underdogs. Both of these teams have a lot to prove; though the real pressure is on Oklahoma State. They have set themselves up for a great season. When teams rise up from the middle ranks you always watch and see how a team handles the pressure. This will actually be Ok States second challenge as they face a very talented Georgia team to kick off the season. They have an off week right before playing the Ags so will come up fresh. That doesn’t bode well for the maroon and white. Interestingly enough though A&M has always played well against Ok St. We tend to outplay them. Last year we self destructed with 5 turnovers to Ok St 1. You take those away and the offensive numbers are almost identical (402 yards for A&M to 401 yards for Ok St). We did a good job containing Dez last year as well. If we can use a little Kyle Field magic we can pull the upset. Don’t count on it though.

If the Aggies traditionally play well against Oklahoma State they play horrendously bad against Tech. Tech has circled A&M as a must win every season and delivered all but once in the last 14 or so meetings. Due to Leach’s system Tech tends to reload every year and put up big offensive numbers. Sherman has focused on getting quicker guys on the field so that could help, but with a lot of young guys it becomes hard to learn Tech in a week.

Heavy Underdogs
Prediction 0-2

@ Oklahoma, Texas

Texas is the easier game of the two and it’s not even close. Texas is our big game. We tend to play above our heads (see 2006 and 2007). So it’s not out of the realm of possibility. That said Texas is stacked this year and is set on making a national championship run. Don’t see them overlooking us especially if they are coming in undefeated. They’ll want it real bad. Additionally, neither team has a bye week as in years past and Texas definitely has better depth.

Oklahoma would be a heavy favorite either way, but in Norman an upset is unlikely and frankly would shock the nation. Oklahoma has retooled their offensive line, but they are locked and loaded with NFL level talent at almost every position. It would be a miracle for sure.

Three Keys to the Season
1) Start the season out strong and get guys reps
2) Take care of the football
3) Improve improve improve

Our biggest weakness this year will be our interior defensive lineman. Right now through the first week of camp they aren’t surprising anyone and we’re currently trying Chris Lathrop at DT to try and pick up some of the slack. That’s bad news for our guys in the trenches. Hopefully, Matt Moss can come off the other end to give Von Miller some room to work. Otherwise, Miller won’t be able to have as huge of an impact. Our most improved position should be linebacker. We’ve got some natural playmakers back there. They won’t be world beaters, but they will be much better then what hit the field last year.

I can see anywhere from 5 to 8 wins. What all Aggie fans are waiting for is that year when we play above our talent level and surprise some people. We haven’t had a season like that since the 90’s. If we can make a statement in the big 12 it will do wonders for our already exceptional recruiting class. Either way I am counting down the days ‘til September 5th.

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