2018 Texas A&M projections on the Hour Glass
By John Luke McCord
Jimbo Fisher is well known for polishing talented, young quarterbacks into their star potential. And it’s a good thing he’s sharpened that skill over the years, because that seems to be the more important task at hand as he approaches his first season in College Station. That, and navigating the SEC’s second-hardest schedule according Hour Glass analytics.
Last season Nick Starkel began the season as the Aggies’ starting quarterback, but suffered an injury in the opener against UCLA. Kellen Mond took over that day and settled in for a while, but never took the job for himself. Instead Starkel took the job back from Mond and should likely be the guy for the Aggies this season, in an offense that is more suited for his skill set. The rising sophomore will have to build on a bowl performance that saw him complete 42 passes for 499 yards and four touchdowns. Starkel holds an HourGlass QB stamp of 4.3, which ranks 10th among the returners in the SEC. However, Jimbo Fisher comes in at fourth in the SEC and 21st in the country with a coaching stamp of 8.
Fisher’s offensive success usually starts at quarterback, and as we’ve discussed, there’s a real shot the Aggies are better at that spot this fall. The offensive line returns plenty of experience to be rather effective, as well. However, Fisher and the offensive staff must re-configure a running back room that lost Keith Ford and re-tool the receiver group that lost its two most productive guys from a season ago.
The rushing attack should be alright as leading rusher from 2017 Trayveon Williams returns after posting 825 yards and eight TDs. Kendall Bussey is the youngster most poised to enter the mix, and there could even be a package for projected backup QB Mond to use his athleticism in the run game. At receiver, it will be hard to replace the game breaking ability of Christian Kirk, as well as the veteran presence and production of Damion Ratley. However, TAMU has been quit the magnet for receiver talent in recent memory and three freshman all showed great signs a season ago. Camron Buckley exceeded recruiting expectations and has the look of being a potential number one, while you should also expect big things from Jhamon Ausbon, Roshauud Paul and Clyde Chriss.
Texas A&M comes in at 6th in SEC with a talent stamp of 87.69, based on their three-year recruiting average. Finally, that talent should be noticeable on the defensive side of the ball. Sure, there are guys to replace like veteran safety Armani Watts, but the talent on the interior of the defensive line and at linebacker. Tyrel Dodson is the team’s leading returning tackler and sack artist. Anthony Hines is another youngster to watch out for on the field for the Aggies this fall.
Though, again, ultimately whether A&M can take a step out of the middle tier that Kevin Sumlin had them in will depend on Fisher’s ability to develop the quarterback position and navigate a difficult schedule that features the usual SEC West suspects, plus a road trip to South Carolina and a non-conference matchup against Clemson.
HG analytics pick: 8-4, 4th in SEC West
My pick: 9-3, 3rd in SEC West
2017 Hour Glass Picks for Texas A&M were 6-6; actual finish 7-5 (92 percent accuracy)
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 15th – Inside our Realistic College Football Championship Bust Line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Jimbo Fisher on HG Scale: 31st (Fisher Stamp at 8) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Texas A&M quarterback play rated 78th in the country out of 130 teams. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3. Mississippi State has a stamp of 14.5.