The Texas A&M Aggies finished their season with a record of 8-4 after a tough loss to the LSU Tigers. Texas A&M came in with high expectations to reach either the playoff or another New Year’s Six Bowl at the beginning of the year. Instead, the Aggies will have to compete in either the Citrus Bowl, Gator Bowl, or Texas Bowl to end the season. Texas A&M finished 4-4 in SEC play, and that was primarily due to the inconsistent play by different position groups on both sides of the ball. Here are the regular season grades for each position group on the Aggies.
Redshirt freshman Haynes King entered the year as the starting quarterback for Texas A&M. The projection of the Aggies’ season quickly changed when King suffered a leg injury against the Colorado Buffaloes. Zach Calzada took over for King, and Calzada’s play was erratic for most of the season; he showed his big-game capability in Texas A&M’s win over Alabama, but he also had off days against worse teams like Arkansas and Mississippi State. Now, Calzada and King will likely again battle for the starting job next year.
This position group was by far the most productive group for the Aggies all season. Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane each finished with over 900 rushing yards in the regular season; both Spiller and Achane are projected to be first round draft picks. Texas A&M also features talented, young running backs who will be the future for the Aggies in the backfield: including Amari Daniels, and LJ Johnson Jr. If there’s anyone Jimbo Fisher can depend on, it’s his running backs.
The Aggies’ wide receivers did not get much action this year primarily because the rest of the offense is littered with talent. Calzada’s primary receiver this season was Ainias Smith, and he finished with six receiving touchdowns and over 500 receiving yards. Smith will be a great slot option for any NFL team as he enters the draft. There are a lot of young receivers–Demond Demas, Moose Muhammad III, and Chase Lane–who will be utilized more in Texas A&M’s offense next season.
Jalen Wydermyer was Texas A&M’s primary tight end this year, and he led the Aggies in receiving with 515 yards and four touchdowns. He will be another first-round draft pick for the Aggies next April. Wydermyer was the best tight end in the SEC this season, but Max Wright will have to take Wydermyer’s role next year. Regardless, Fisher will find a way to get Wright involved in the passing game.
Earlier in the season, Texas A&M’s offensive line struggled mightily with protecting Calzada and facilitating the running game. However, the Aggies’ offensive line improved since the Alabama game with the replacement of a transfer and two freshmen. Kenyon Green is probably the best player on Texas A&M’s offense, and he will be a big loss for the Aggies next year. The offensive line’s progress over the season shows promise that the line will be more consistent in 2022.
While Texas A&M’s secondary did put up a lot of numbers on the stat sheet, the defensive backs and safeties were rather disappointing for the Aggies’ defense this season. Antonio Johnson, Demani Richardson, and Leon O’ Neal Jr. were said to be the cornerstone of the Aggies’ defense back in August; however, they did struggle when matched up with top receivers from teams like Alabama, Ole Miss, and even LSU. There are other young players in the secondary including Tyreek Chappell and Jaylon Jones who will get more time next year with the departure of O’Neal Jr. to the draft. Expect Mike Elko to have Texas A&M’s secondary at an elite level in September of 2022.
Texas A&M’s defense was expected to be one of the top defenses in the SEC this season, and the linebacker core did meet those expectations. Aaron Hansford led the Aggies on defense with 89 total tackles, two fumble returns, and one fumble return for a touchdown. Edgerrin Cooper also came up big with 65 total tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. Cooper is just a freshman, and he is booming with confidence as he will likely be a top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The linebackers were one of the most effective groups on Texas A&M’s squad this year.
DeMarvin Leal was a force on the Aggies’ defensive front in the regular season, finishing with 8.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Jayden Peevy also had a great year with 43 total tackles, two sacks, and an interception. Both Leal and Peevy will not be on the team in 2022, so young stars such as McKinnley Jackson and Shemar Turner will need to step up to the plate. Overall, Texas A&M’s defensive front was pretty effective in getting to the quarterback and limiting the running game during the regular season.
While most of Texas A&M’s position groups played well during the regular season, inconsistent performance paired with unreliable quarterback play has led the Aggies to a record of 8-4 this year. Now, Texas A&M will await likely either the Gator or Texas Bowl, and Jimbo Fisher could improve his bowl record to 4-0 with the Aggies. Nonetheless, the Texas A&M Aggies will need their position groups to perform at a higher level in 2022 for Texas A&M to win its first SEC Championship.