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12th Man Rises to the Occasion in 2023: Texas A&M Aggies Preview

To say that the Aggies of Texas A&M underachieved in 2022 would be a gross understatement. A 5-7 record in College Station is unacceptable, especially with all the preseason hype spread across the country last season. Five of those seven losses were by 6 points or less.

But fear not Aggie fans, all is not lost.

To inject a spark into the offense, head coach Jimbo Fisher went out and hired Bobby Petrino as his new offensive coordinator. Petrino called plays for high-octane offenses at both Arkansas and Louisville, which got him a short-lived gig in the NFL. Can Petrino still dial up plays like he did for the Hogs and the Cards? Will Jimbo let him do his job? We shall see.

But it looks promising.

The Aggies return 15 starters from last season. In addition, they return 82% of their offensive production. That is tops in the SEC and #7 in the FBS.

The Offense

At the most important position on the field, Texas A&M returns QB Conner Weigman. Even though he only played in five games last year, he did not turn the ball over. Zero INTs to go along with 896 yards and 8 touchdowns. Against Ole Miss, he completed 63% of his passes for 338 yards and 4 TDs in a close 31-28 loss.

Weigman, the penciled-in starter at this point (there is still fall camp to complete) will have his top three receivers back as weapons on the perimeter:

  • Moose Muhammad III: 610 yards, 4 TDs

  • Evan Stewart: 649 yards, 2 TDs (led the team)

  • Ainias Smith: 291 yards, 2 TDs (played in only 4 games in 2022)

The running back room is talented. The Aggies lost Devon Achane to the NFL, but return Amari Daniels (200 yards) and Le’Veon Moss (114 yards, 1 TD). They also signed one of the top high school prospects in the country in RB Ruben Owens out of El Campo TX.

The Aggies also return four starters on the offensive line.

The Defense

Texas A&M returns eight starters on a defense that allowed 21 points per game, including two starters for a secondary that led the FBS and SEC in passing defense (156 yards/game).

On the defensive line, the Aggies welcome back:

  • DT McKinley Jackson: 37 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks.

  • DE Fadil Diggs: 28 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles.

  • DT Shermar Turner: 32 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss.

The linebacking corps is in good hands with the return of LB Chris Russell, Jr. (66 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks) and LB Edgerrin Cooper (61 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 1 INT, and 5 pass breakups).

As part of the FBS-leading pass defense, the Aggies return Demani Richardson and Jardin Gilbert. In addition, they added CB Tony Grimes from the transfer portal. Richardson led the team with 74 tackles, an INT, and 2 forced fumbles. Gilbert contributed with 61 tackles, 2 INTs, and four pass breakups.

Grimes arrives from Chapel Hill after racking up 36 tackles and breaking up 7 passes.

Texas A&M's Schedule

The Aggies' schedule is daunting, to say the least. They are on the road to Miami (FL.), Arkansas (at Jerry’s World), Knoxville, Oxford, and to Death Valley. Coming to College Station is New Mexico, UL-Monroe, Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Abilene Christian.

However, based on the returning production listed above, the Aggies could go 9-3, with losses to Tennessee, Ole Miss, and LSU.

If Petrino and Fisher can co-exist for the greater good of Aggie football, the 12th man will have lots to rise and cheer about at Kyle Field.



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