Texas A&M Aggies
Guess which player leads the SEC in total offense and passing yards per game. That’s right, the same guy who won the 2012 Heisman Trophy. So what’s the biggest difference between this year and last? QB Johnny Manziel isn’t running the ball as often as he did a year ago. Of course, that only matters if he doesn’t light up opposing secondaries. And in case you forgot about Manziel’s capabilities, he showed you last week when he threw for 346 yards, rushed for 124 and 2 TDs and carried Texas A&M to a road win over Ole Miss.
Rest of Offense: A
Texas A&M had its star offensive lineman go No. 2 in the NFL Draft last year and this year’s O-line might actually be better. The Aggies absolutely maul opponents upfront, making it easy for the highest-scoring offense in the conference. The overall skill of the line allows A&M to be among the most balanced teams in the nation as well, ranking No. 6 nationally in passing and No. 20 in rushing. WR Mike Evans has established himself as arguably the best receiver in the nation. The Aggies rarely call on their talented stable of tailbacks to control the game, but they are perfectly capable.
If not for CB Deshazor Everett – a ray of sunlight in an otherwise bleak setting – the Aggies might receive a failing grade in this category. Sure, A&M did enough to get by against everyone except the No. 1 team in the nation, but the No. 1 scoring offense in the conference is the reason why. A&M, despite games against Rice, Sam Houston State and SMU, has fielded the worst total defense and No. 13 scoring defense in the SEC. The Aggies have allowed more than 200 rushing yards per game, and that’s despite playing ahead most of the season. The 8 INTs – two from Everett – account for most of the 11 takeaways to save an otherwise disastrous defense. A&M must improve here to seriously challenge for a BCS berth.
Even the Week 3 loss to Alabama drew respect for Texas A&M, which played the Crimson Tide close. The Aggies prove every week that last season was no fluke and that coach Kevin Sumlin is already among the best in the nation. Even a weak-link defense can’t derail the offensive juggernaut.
Offensive Spotlight: OT Jake Matthews
Manziel and Evans get most of the credit. Matthews and the rest of the behemoths up front are the biggest reason why. The Aggies lead the conference in scoring, total offense and passing while also averaging 224 rushing yards per game. Basically, whatever Sumlin wants to dial up, the offense executes in large part because of arguably the best offensive line in the SEC.
Defensive Spotlight: LB Steven Jenkins
All season, A&M has looked for someone aside from Everett to stand out and make plays. Jenkins had 21 tackles through the first five games. The senior turned in 13 tackles last week at Ole Miss. Jenkins can provide a reliable presence in the middle of an Aggies defense desperate for one.