Texas A&M football underwent drastic changes to their offense under Jimbo Fisher; here are some areas that side of the ball can improve in 2019.
While Kevin Sumlin was the head coach of Texas A&M football, he ran a version of the air raid offense he had created over time at his previous stops, which included the offensive coordinator for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and as the head coach for the University of Houston.
Sumlin had mixed results. They were explosive as hell with Johnny Football quarterbacking the offense, but the post-Johnny teams mostly failed to generate points against the SEC elite. While better versions of this offense can be successful — see Oklahoma — it proved difficult for Sumlin’s teams when going up against the best athletes in college football on a week-to-week basis.
Enter Jimbo Fisher.
Fisher runs more of a pro-style scheme suitable to compete with the rest of the SEC. His brand of football is more physical and can sustain leads, and also keeps the defense fresh thanks to dominating time of possession. 2018 yielded mostly positive results in the first year with this scheme.
A&M was terrific in time of possession, effectively decreasing the number of plays the defense faced to give them four extra games of rest by comparison to the 2017 team. This was mostly due to running the ball effectively. The Aggies finished No. 3 in time of possession and were the No. 21 rushing offense.
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Two things that come to mind when assessing the Aggies offense and identifying areas they can improve are the wide receivers and pass protection. The numbers on the passing offense weren’t awful. The Aggies finished No. 43 in passing yards per game. Another indicator of a successful passing offense is third down conversion rate — the Aggies finished No. 51 here.
Obviously both could be better, even though the passing number doesn’t necessarily need to as Jimbo will always prefer to feature a balanced attack.
But the Aggies definitely need more production from their wide receivers. Jace Sternberger led the Aggies in catches, yards, yards per catch and touchdowns. This speaks to his excellence but it also highlights the Aggies did not get consistent production from the outside receivers.
Fisher will also expect more from his offensive line in 2019. The group that held the Aggies back in the last couple seasons with Sumlin was noticeably better in 2018. They were still mostly above average. They were overmatched when facing off against the elite defensive lines in college football.
Of course, most teams struggled against Clemson, Alabama and Mississippi State, but in order to compete for national championships it starts by matching up on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
There is good news on both fronts. All five of Texas A&M’s wide receivers who played significant snaps in 2018 were sophomores and returning for the 2019 season. Similarly, three of the five starting offensive lineman are returning, with several backups with great potential ready to take over the two vacant spots.
The potential for A&M to be one of the elite offenses in college football is there. Fisher just has to get them to realize that potential.