2011 overall record: 7-6
2011 conference record: 4-5
Offense: 8; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 1
QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Cyrus Gray, WR Jeff Fuller, PK Randy Bullock, DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, CB Terrence Frederick, S Trent Hunter
2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Cyrus Gray (1,045 yards)
Passing: Ryan Tannehill (3,744 yards)
Receiving: Ryan Swope* (1,207 yards)
Tackles: Jonathan Stewart* (98)
Sacks: Sean Porter* (9.5)
Interceptions: Trent Hunter, Steven Terrell* (2)
1. Manning that line: There’s no mistaking the strength of this team. Even though there’s not a lot of depth in the offensive line, five players with starting experience return. Tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews are future pros, while senior center Patrick Lewis enters his fourth season as a starter. Sophomore Cedric Ogbuehi has made a nice transition from tackle to guard. The Aggies will lean on this bunch all season long.
2. Swope to the rescue: After hauling in 11 touchdown passes a year ago, Swope picked up right where he left off in Kevin Sumlin’s new offense and ended the spring with a pair of touchdown catches in the Maroon & White spring game. He’s going to need some help this fall, but there’s no substitute for a senior receiver who knows how to get open, and more importantly, knows how to find the end zone.
3. Steven Jenkins steps up: One of the defensive stars of the spring for the Aggies was Jenkins, who looked like a natural at weakside linebacker in the new 4-3 scheme. Jenkins was fifth on the team last season in total tackles (61) despite starting in only six games. His spring performance was just what Texas A&M needed on defense, especially at the linebacker position. He and Sean Porter should be quite a tandem in the fall, as both can go get the quarterback.
1. Stopping the run: The Aggies feel pretty good about their ability to get to the quarterback. But when it comes to the middle of that defensive line and stopping the running games they’re going to see in the SEC, that’s where the problem lies. Chances are that some younger players are going to have to come through on the interior of that defensive line, and that’s never the way you draw it up going into the fall.
2. Williams’ eligibility: One of the most dynamic players on the field this spring for Texas A&M was running back Brandon Williams, who transferred from Oklahoma. He has the kind of speed that turns missed tackles into touchdowns. The only problem is that the Aggies probably won’t know until sometime in August if he’ll be eligible this season. The NCAA would have to grant him a waiver, which would allow him to play without sitting out a season.
3. Experience at quarterback: Most in and around the Texas A&M program felt like sophomore Jameill Showers exited the spring as the guy to beat at quarterback. Redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel is still in the race, though. However it shakes out in the fall, the Aggies are going to line up with one of the least experienced quarterbacks in the SEC. Showers only played in four games and threw five passes last season in mop-up duty for Tannehill.