Big XII Preview – Texas A&M

God fucked with Job. He messed up his skin. He did other things. He challenged Job not to believe in God. Job never gave up. He knew some day he would be rewarded.

Well, God started the Job thing with Aggies when Dino Babers came to town. Then Carl Torbush took it to a new level. Everyone blames Dennis because they should, because he hired Torbush, but Dennis was simply not an Aggie. Jackie Sherrill became an Aggie. Dennis Franchione didn’t.

A lot of people like to complain about the Dennis offense. The Dennis offense wasn’t as bad as some of the Slocum offenses, but the defense was like a mister fan. People like Todd Blythe could run through it and feel cool.

Dennis is gone. Aggie fans, like Job, shouldn’t have to suffer forever. Mike Sherman was brought in to take over a confused team and give hope to battered fan base. This is a dude that had an impressive NFL record. He won’t give you “showering with your sister” quotes, but he also won’t throw shit out there like “half of the teams lose every week.” He knows what is expected of him. The question is, can he deliver? The early reviews are positive, but of course he hasn’t coached a game.

The out of conference schedule for the Aggies is very tough for a Big 12 school. Army and Arkansas State should be pushovers, but a game at New Mexico and a home test against Miami will give Aggie fans a good idea of where this team is entering conference play.

Over the past two years, the Aggies have won more Big 12 championships than any other school. The problem is that none of those have been in football. It won’t happen this year, but Sherman is hoping to take the Aggies to the next level as soon as next year. He wakes up every day and thanks God he’s not coaching at Nebraska.

Offensively, the Aggies are changing their scheme to a pro style offense, almost a west coast offense. Taking a quarterback who led the team in rushing last year and turning him into Steve Young may be a challenge, but in high school he slung the pigskin around pretty well. That’s all fine and good, but the real challenge is to get the defense to stop people, get turnovers, and to just create havoc. If Joe Kines can get the defense to work like it used to work, then the Ags can have a good season.

Defensively, Kines will line up most of the time in something called a 3-3-5. That sounds a lot like a 4-2-5, except you take one away from the four and add it to the two. The first team line looks good and the secondary looks pretty good, but the linebackers are not up to par. Maybe they’ll come along. Maybe an attacking scheme and the lack of a read and react mentality will make them play faster. There’s no way to tell until after we’ve seen a couple of games. Apparently, Sherman also puts an emphasis on special teams. I guess that means we won’t see Tim Van Zandt returning punts.

Aggies don’t lie, cheat or steal. Those are things we don’t do. We’re taught not to do those things. Dennis did all three of things. He lied when he told teams to get their licks in during his first season because things would change. He cheated by going against NCAA rules to send out injury reports to a private email group. We paid good money for those emails, but it was wrong. He ended up stealing a bunch of money. A couple of million a year and he lost to the likes of Iowa State. Embarrassing.

Texas A&M is probably the most hated school in the Big 12. There are a lot of things that are different in College Station, like the yells, standing up, living memorials, scoreboards for mascots, and the list goes on. But, there’s also a lot of pride down there, even after the past five years. I think Sherman realizes that and hopefully he can embrace these things and use them to his advantage. The water balloon fight was a good start. It should become a tradition.

The conference schedule looks promising. The Aggies play northern foes Kansas State and Colorado at home and travel to Bayloresque Iowa State. All of those games are winnable, although Colorado can beat anyone and can also lose to anyone. They travel to Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas and play conference favorites Oklahoma and Texas Tech at home. The toughest road game other than New Mexico looks to be Texas. Missouri isn’t even on the schedule. If a couple of balls bounce the right way, the Aggies could be a factor this season.

I’m glad the season is finally here. Sherman will get the team to play a little bit smarter and the Aggies should finish up with a .500 record in conference play and 7-5, maybe 8-4 overall. The suffering isn’t over for Aggie fans, but at least there’s some hope. Of course, if Arkansas State wins this weekend, all bets are off.



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