Wednesday, August 09, 2006

5 Key Questions for the Aggies

With the days seeming to evaporate leading up to September 2nd and the glorious full scale return of college football, it seems like a good time to take a little deeper look at the 2006 Texas A&M squad. As a first step, I've formulated five questions whose answers should go a long way toward determining the season that this group of Aggies put together.

1. Just how good is Stephen McGee?
I've read a number of season previews, all that speak glowingly of McGee as tough or a natural born leader. Some even praise his athleticism, but I'm yet to find a single one that comments on his accuracy or arm strength. The Aggie receivers should be good with depth at WR and Martellus Bennett poised to have a breakout season at TE. If McGee can consistently deliver the ball down the field, this offense will be going places.

2. The Wide Receivers, Quantity Yes, but Quality?

Due to decimating injuries at this position a year ago, A&M returns at least 5 WRs with starting experience. Chad Schroeder and L'Tydrick Riley have both made contributions in the past, but Riley missed the entire '05 season with a torn ACL and Schroeder is looking to return from a broken leg. Howard Morrow, Earvin Taylor and Pierre Brown all started at various times last season as well. Kerry Franks is expected to start and looks like another candidate for a breakout season. If three of these six can put together good years, this unit will be an overall plus.

3. Mark Dodge: Feel Good Story or Legitimate Big XII Linebacker?
I'm sure that by now most Aggie fans have heard the story the Mark Dodge, how he was serving in the Pentagon on September 11th. Players like Dodge really embody the spirit of Aggieland, but how effective will he be, especially considering A&M's switch to a 4-2-5 this season? Justin Warren should be pretty good so if Dodge can hold things together on the other side, the LB corps will be in great shape.

4. How much is an additional year of experience in the secondary worth?
Last year the back end of the A&M defense was pretty awful. Japhus Brown, Melvin Bullitt and Devin Gregg are plenty experienced, combining to start 23 games a year ago. As a result, the safety position should be the strength of the secondary. At the corner, last season's leader in interceptions, Marquis Carpenter, returns. His starting spot appears to have been grabbed by sophomore speedster Danny Gorrer. On the other side, another superb athlete, redshirt freshman Jordan Peterson, is expected to start. If this unit is even moderately improved, the defense will be much better.

5. Does A&M have a kicker?

Sophomore Justin Brantly has the punter's spot more than adequately covered, but how good is Layne Neumann? Neumann is 1 for 3 lifetime with a 46 yard make and misses of 45 and 51 yards. He certainly seems to have the leg, but what about the accuracy?

With the start of the season only 24 days away, these questions should be answered in no time at all. The offense should be good, but how much will the defense have improved? Only time will tell.


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