The 12th Man
By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Texas A&M seems to always be on the cusp of becoming a great program.
When they moved to the SEC in 2012, they beat Alabama and Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy. They used that momentum to sign five-star players like Kyler Murray but he transferred after his first season.
They moved on from coach Kevin Sumlin and replaced him with Jimbo Fisher in 2018.
Fisher won a national championship at Florida State and he was expected to do the same with more money and resources at his disposal in College Station.
So far, he’s done a decent job, going 34 -14 in his first four seasons. His best season was in 2020 when the Aggies went 9 – 1. Last season A&M went 8 – 4 but they were the only team to beat Alabama in the regular season. That means A&M has lost four or more games in 23 of the last 26 seasons.
They had the top ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2022. Nick Saban famously said they “bought every player” with name, image and likeness deals. That started a public feud that will make this season’s game interesting.
“We saw each other at the SEC meetings [in Destin, Florida]. I have great respect for Nick, had a great friendship with Nick,” Fisher said. “I respect him very much, and we all learn from different circumstances in which we have, and I have no ill will, no anything to him.”
The offense was 11th in the SEC averaging 392 yards and 29 points per game. Starting quarterback Haynes King broke his leg in the second game last season and missed the remainder of the season.
He was replaced by Zach Calzada but he transferred to Auburn in the offseason. Max Johnson transferred in from LSU where he threw for 27 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
I expect Johnson to be the starter going into the season, but they also have five-star freshman Conner Weigman.
Junior running back Devon Achane should be the focal point of the offense. In 2021 he rushed for 910 yards, 9 TD’s and averaged 7 yards per carry. The offensive line should be better at four of the five positions.
Senior wide receiver Ainias Smith is the leader of the receiving corps. He had 90 catches and 12 scores over the last two seasons. Five-star freshman Evan Stewart should become the deep threat.
Defensive back Antonio Johnson was named a preseason first-team All-American after a breakout 2021 season.
The Aggies open the season with an FCS opponent, Sam Houston State. The next game is against Appalachian State. Both will be blowout wins.
Week 3 #16 Miami comes to town and I don’t think the Hurricanes will put up much of a fight.
The next game is at AT&T Stadium versus Arkansas. The Razorbacks were good last year but I expect A&M to win.
October begins at Mississippi State for an easy win.
Things get drastically harder when they travel to Tuscaloosa. Alabama will get their revenge.
The Aggies play their third consecutive away game at South Carolina. I expect this to be a tough game.
A&M returns home with games against Ole Miss and Florida. I expect them to lose one of those games.
The final three games are at Auburn, U Mass and LSU. Both Tigers have fallen on hard times, but they still have some talent on the roster.
I think Texas A&M will win eight games again this season, if things go right possibly nine. They should be much better going into 2023.