In preparation for the 2007 College Football season, Drinking the Forty will look at every team in the Big XII, sizing up the conference for the 2007 season.
2006 was a make or break season for Dennis Franchione and the Aggies. Following an a 4-0 start against an easy schedule the Aggies proved themselves against #19 Missouri and at Oklahoma State. The 8-1 start gave confidence to an extremely young offense and defense, that allowed Texas A&M to put themselves back on the map with a season ending victory over the Longhorns. With a majority of the offense and defense returning the Aggies look poised to build on their success from a year ago.
The offense is once again led by junior Stephen McGee. The dual threat quarterback led the Aggies with 2295 yards, 12 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions while running for 666 yards and 2 touchdowns. While he needs to improve in his passing ability, he does not turn over the ball, and is dangerous on the ground. The Aggies have no shortage of threats on the ground with sophomore tailback Mike Goodson (847 yards/4 TD) and bruising junior tailback Jorvorskie Lane (725 yards/19 TD) all returning to an offense that averaged over 200 yards a game on the ground. The Aggies also return tight end Martellus Bennett, who is focusing only on football now, and should be ready for a breakout season. All of this is made possible by one of the top offensive lines in the Big XII, as they return four starters from a year ago, with the fifth seeing playing time in every game last year. Left Guard Kirk Elder and Center Cody Wallace are both Big XII first team performers from a year ago. This unit began to improve as the season wore on last year, and if McGee can establish a downfield passing game, this could be one of the most effective units in the Big XII.
The Aggies have been hoping for the return of the Wrecking Crew for some time now. In 2007 they could have a unit that approaches those levels, as they return 8 starters from a unit that matured and improved as the year went on. They are led by senior linebackers Mark Dodge (51 tackles/0.5 sacks/2 int) and Misi Tupe (54 tackles, 2 sacks), and defensive lineman Chris Harrington (59 tackles/7.5 sacks). They also feature a young, but experienced secondary featuring three juniors and a sophomore. If they can build on the progress they made last season this defense could be one of the top units in the Big XII.
While hopes are high in Aggieland, the Aggies will be tested all season, and will really have to overachieve to contend in the Big XII. With games at Miami, Texas Tech, #20 Nebraska, #8 Oklahoma, and Missouri, the Aggies would be fortunate to emerge from that with a winning record. Regardless of what happens the Aggies will have November 23rd circled on the calendar as they look for two straight against #4 Texas. It will be very difficult for this team to improve upon last year, even though the product on the field will be much improved.