It’s a season of change for Texas A&M after another disappointing campaign in which it finished with a 7-6 record and a bowl loss. While there are loads of starters returning on both sides of the ball, Jimbo Fisher brings in an almost entirely new coaching staff. New coordinator Darrell Dickey has implemented a completely different offense after spending the last few seasons at Memphis. As for defensive coordinator Mike Elko, he has a bigger rebuild on his hands after doing the same at Wake Forest and Notre Dame in recent years.
Unsurprisingly, the quarterback battle is the main thing everyone is talking about with Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond expected to battle into the fall. Starkel had better numbers in 2017, but Mond provides a little more athleticism after rushing for 340 yards in his starts. Either way, it’s a different offense that will have to replace its top two receivers. Jhamon Ausbon (50 receptions) and Carmon Buckley are expected to step into bigger roles at receiver, but losing Christian Kirk won’t be easy. The biggest positive may be that the offensive line returns all starters and have plenty more with experience. It’s a new system, but as long as the line doesn’t collapse, this group should at least be able to reach last year’s numbers when it scored 32.7 points per Game. Trayveon Williams (798 yards, 8 TDs) returns at running back and could be looking for a 1,000-yard season with Kendall Bussey serving as backup.
But while the offense could be potent, the defense has to improve after getting exposed numerous times last season, especially late in a 45-21 loss to LSU and then 55-52 to Wake Forest in the bowl. The secondary is the biggest question and has to replace three starters, while the line also lost a few seniors. Of course, sack master LAndis Durham is still there after 10.5 sacks in 2017 and he’s joined by Ondario Robinson, who had a nice spring. Keeping the unit afloat is the linebacker position with three starters returning including Tyrel Dodson and Otaro Alaka. The secondary will be a bit unknown until the season gets underway with some new faces like safety Donovan Wilson and corner Clifford Chattman back after academic issues.
There is plenty of hope for the Aggies, but it probably won’t win the SEC in Fisher’s first season. They should at least be better than a year ago, although the early Schedule is unkind with a Game against Clemson and then a trip to Alabama. OUtside of the November trip to Auburn, Texas A&M has a workable Schedule that could lead to eight wins. That all depends on what happens with the offense, but with enough talent returning, this group will be good enough to win every Game at home, as well as knock off teams like South Carolina and Mississippi State on the road, as long as things go as planned by October. The Aggies are projected to finish Fourth in the SEC West and had +7500 odds to win the National Championship (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) coming out of the spring. Fisher will get a good taste of road Games at Alabama and Auburn this season, but the Aggies should finish with a win or two more than a year ago.
2018 Texas A&M Aggies Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Northwestern State
Sept. 8 vs. Clemson
Sept. 15 vs. Louisiana Monroe
Sept. 22 at Alabama
Sept. 29 vs. Arkansas (AT&T Stadium)
Oct. 6 vs. Kentucky
Oct. 13 at South Carolina
Oct. 27 at Mississippi State
Nov. 3 at Auburn
Nov. 10 vs. Ole Miss
Nov. 17 vs. UAB
Nov. 24 vs. LSU