3 reasons Texas A&M football will exceed their preseason win total projection

FanDuel has begun to release preseason win total projections. Here's why Texas A&M football will exceed the mark they set out.

Sep 16, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Conner Weigman (15) and
Sep 16, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Conner Weigman (15) and / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Elko has his most skilled defensive unit yet for Texas A&M football

When last Mike Elko was coaching in College Station, he oversaw a unit that was nothing short of spectacular. Per SP+, his 2021 Aggie defense finished ranked 7th in the nation; by far the highest for an Aggie team since the metric began back in 2005. In both 2020 and 2012, the Aggies finished 13th in defensive SP+; Elko's worst finish as Aggie DC was 23rd in 2019.

That 2021 defense boasted the following starters by season's end: DeMarvin Leal, Jayden Peevy, McKinnley Jackson, Micheal Clemons, Aaron Hansford, Andre White, Tyreek Chappell, Jaylon Jones, Demani Richardson, Leon O'Neal, and Antonio Johnson. While there certainly some notable names on that list, I propose that the defense that Elko will field in 2024 will be, on the whole, even more skilled.

That defensive line was ferocious, without a doubt. But I submit that this year's may be even more so: 2024 will feature a senior Shemar Turner, former Big 10 sacks leader Nic Scourton, five stars Shemar Stewart, David Hicks, and Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy, and experienced contributors like Albert Regis. This is to say nothing of up-and-coming EDGE talent like transfer Cashius Howell, junior Malick Sylla, and sophomore Rylan Kennedy (who really flashed in the bowl game).

The linebacking unit should be better if only for the mere presence of Taurean York, who can quarterback a defense with the best of them. Whoever ends up starting beside him (don't count out Alex Howard here—the Youngstown State transfer, though not exactly highly heralded, has been creating some buzz with his offseason so far) will have big shoes to fill taking over for Cooper. But compared to Hansford and White, I feel good about what Elko will have at the position.

Finally, you have the secondary. It's possible we see a holdover here from that 2021 season in Tyreek Chappell, but if we don't, it's because someone was able to beat him out for a spot. Any two of Will Lee, BJ Mayes, Dezz Ricks, Jaydon Hill, or Chappell would be a high-quality combo on the back end of the defense.

Antonio Johnson as a do-it-all piece is hard to improve upon, but Bryce Anderson is a guy I'd bet on any day. Jacoby Mathews emerged at one of the safety spots late in the year, and there's a plethora of options for the other spot. I've got my eye on CMU transfer Trey Jones here.

Overall, Elko has a lot of pieces—and, importantly, experienced pieces—to work with in building this 2024 defense. Working in tandem with Jay Bateman, I feel bullish on the chances of this squad boasting a top-rated defense in the upcoming season.