We've talked this morning about which teams improved statistically in certain major categories, but who will take the next step competitively in 2010?
Prediction: Texas A&M.
Here are three reasons why:
Improvement on defense.The hire of defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter should be an upgrade. DeRuyter comes in with the reputation of having built one of the country’s stingiest defenses at Air Force last year. He'll have nine returning starters to work with, including pass-rushing specialist Von Miller.
Quarterback Jerrod Johnson. He's in his second season as full-time starter (23 career starts) and will have enough surrounding talent, but he also stands out on his own. Last season he threw for 3,579 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions. If the Aggies can plug the holes up front, Johnson should have another record-setting season.
Oodles of returning offensive talent. The Aggies won't miss a beat at their skill positions, and are poised to pick up right where they left off -- as the No. 5 team in the nation in total offense. All four leading rushers are back, including Johnson, and six of the top eight receivers are back, including the top three -- Ryan Tannehill, Jeff Fuller, and Uzoma Nwachukwu. Each had at least 40 catches last year.