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Texas A&M seems less likely to collapse this year!

It's early October, and the Aggies are ranked in the top 10. What else is new? Well, maybe a lot.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into 2016, no one was really talking about Texas A&M as a legitimate division contender. The SEC West favorites were Alabama and LSU, with the Aggies a distant fourth behind Ole Miss, according to SEC media.

But fast forward into the sixth week of the season, and things look pretty different. Two West teams remain undefeated: Bama and A&M.

The Aggies opened with a home game against then-No. 16 UCLA, then had games away from home against Auburn, Arkansas, and South Carolina.

But we've seen this before from Kevin Sumlin's A&M. Several times now, it's started hot. In the past, it's then folded.

However, this season's team looks less likely to collapse during the back end.

This is the sixth year in a row that the Aggies have cracked the AP's top 10 early. They've finished three of those years unranked.

Let’s start with 2013. In Johnny Manziel’s second year, TAMU finished September with just one loss, by seven points to Alabama.

Manziel was putting up even better numbers in the air than he was during his 2012 Heisman campaign. Many thought he had a chance to repeat as the Heisman winner. The Aggies went into the Oct. 19 game against Auburn ranked No. 7, but they would lose, 45-41, at home. The Aggies would lose their last two, against LSU and Missouri, to finish with four losses.

In 2014, the Aggies ended September undefeated. They opened with a 52-28 Thursday night victory over South Carolina, and new Aggie quarterback Kenny Hill put up a record-breaking 511-yard performance that had everyone talking about TAMU as a new SEC West favorite.

But October came, and so did an 0-3 record in that month, with road losses to Alabama and Mississippi State and a home loss to Ole Miss. In November, the Aggies fell again to LSU and Missouri.

Last season, the Aggies made it to Week 6 undefeated. Then TAMU dropped games against Alabama and Ole Miss, lost to Auburn, and closed with another loss to LSU and a Music City Bowl loss to Louisville.

Texas A&M might now be a complete team on both sides of the ball, even on the ground.

The knock on Sumlin during the last few years has been that A&M's defense has lagged behind its offense. Bringing aboard John Chavis seemed to solve the defensive issue last year, but the offense fell behind amid quarterback issues.

Per S&P+, Texas A&M has the No. 22 defense in the country this year, improved even from last year's, which ranked 30th.

More importantly, the offense appears to be back as well. Last year, the Aggies' offense finished 55th, per S&P+. Through five games in 2016, the offense is averaging 39.2 points per game and ranks No. 22, per S&P+.

A&M is the only team besides Ohio State that ranks in the top 25 in offense, defense, and special teams.

Looking deeper at the offense, one of the biggest improvements has been in S&P+’s Rushing IsoPPP, used to measure rushing explosiveness. Currently, the Aggies rank 12th in that category after ranking 100th in 2015.

SB Nation's Ian Boyd dove deeper into the success of the run game, and found a ton of credit goes to Sumlin's totally revamped offensive coaching staff.

When two of your top runners are averaging nine yards per carry, you're doing something very right. The Aggies rank third in the country in 30-yard runs after ranking 101st last year.

Sumlin and new OC Noel Mazzone had an inexperienced line, a transfer quarterback, and a talented assortment of receivers, and their takeaway was to build more around the run game? Yes, and clearly they were right to do so.

The key to any spread is that it's built around the skills of the quarterback. A&M surely knew quickly that it needed to go all-in with Knight. The problem is that Knight has always struggled with accuracy and simply can't be counted on to operate an air raid passing attack efficiently. His passer rating this year is only 129.58, eighth among SEC starters, and it's so far the highest of any season in his career.

But Knight is good as a decision-maker and runner in the option game.

The Aggies changed things up in order to restore offensive success as Chavis has kept improving the defense. This is a team with fewer glaring weaknesses and a better chance to finish ranked than in recent years.

Still, the schedule is about to get way harder.

After A&M needed overtime comebacks to beat Arkansas during its last two hot starts, the Aggies cruised by 21 points this time around. They also haven't given up 23 or more points in games against mid-majors, as they did in 2013 and twice in 2015. Even in overtime, Josh Rosen's UCLA only managed 24 against this year's Aggies.

The big games Texas A&M has left include this Saturday vs. No. 8 Tennessee at home. Saturday's game looks like it will be a dog fight, given how impressively the Vols came back from a 21-point deficit against Florida, and the miraculous Hail Mary victory they pulled off at Georgia last week.

After Tennessee, the Aggies go to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 22. The Aggies have the benefit of getting a bye beforehand. That happens to Bama a lot, but every little bit helps.

Let’s not forget that A&M’s quarterback, graduate transfer Trevor Knight, has beaten the Tide before. Knight was Oklahoma’s starting quarterback during the 2014 Sugar Bowl, when OU upset Alabama 45-31. Knight completed 73 percent of his passes, along with throwing four touchdowns and just one interception.

The Aggies don't have to win those games in order for this season to be a success, but they do have to finish strong. To close out their SEC schedule, the Aggies have Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and LSU, the latter two at home.