Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Texas A&M Aggies season recap
By David Ubben
The story of Texas A&M's 2010 season will always be told in two parts. There was the frustrating start with close losses to Oklahoma State and Arkansas before "The Year" could pick up any real momentum. Then came the blowout loss to Missouri that gave fans reason to believe there was no real reason to believe.
Then, of course, is the streak that 2010 will ultimately be remembered for. Texas A&M finished its season with six consecutive Big 12 wins to finish 9-3 and land in the Cotton Bowl for the first time since 2004. That streak is the longest for the Aggies since its last Big 12 title which was in 1998.
The early stumbles cost the Aggies a chance at the Big 12 South title, but it knocked off top 10 opponents Oklahoma and Nebraska down the stretch to get inside the top 20. Three goal-line stops against the Sooners and allowing just six points against Nebraska keyed off talk of the return of the "Wrecking Crew" and the Aggies left the field to chants of "Wrecking Crew" after both big wins.
Offensive MVP: Cyrus Gray, RB. Talk about Ryan Tannehill and Jeff Fuller all you'd like. Gray is the biggest reason for the winning streak. Christine Michael went down with a broken leg in midseason, but Gray finished the season with six games of at least 100 yards rushing, including over 200 yards of offense against a stingy Nebraska defense and 223 yards rushing against Texas. During that six-game stretch, Gray averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
Defensive MVP: Von Miller, LB/DE. Miller, like the Aggies, got off to a slow start, too. His came because of an ankle injury, but Miller was one of the league's most productive defenders in Big 12 play, making a late surge into the conversation for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He didn't have a tackle for loss or a sack in his first four games, but finished with 14.5 TFLs and 9.5 sacks, tied for the Big 12 lead.
Turning point: The switch from Jerrod Johnson to Ryan Tannehill. I'll stress, this isn't the only thing that helped the Aggies rip off six consecutive wins, but it was one of the reasons why. Johnson didn't look like himself after offseason shoulder surgery, but Tannehill got some time at quarterback against Kansas, and took over the starting gig against Texas Tech. In that game, he set a school record with 449 passing yards and didn't give the job back.
What's next: Tannehill's experience this year will carry over to next year, but the Aggies have to hope he doesn't fall victim to the Texas A&M senior quarterback curse as Johnson and Reggie McNeal did, among others before them. The defense made big strides under Tim DeRuyter, and though Miller, linebacker Michael Hodges and defensive tackle Lucas Patterson will be gone next year, the Aggies should still have a solid senior class with Tannehill, safety Trent Hunter and linebacker Garrick Williams. Freshman Damontre Moore will fill Miller's role and could be a breakout star in 2011, too.