Is Kevin Sumlin's hot seat getting hotter? Are eight wins enough to appease the fan base? Can A&M get to eight wins in 2017? All these questions will be answered but first spring ball has arrived in Aggieland. Here's what we'd like to see.
Trevor Knight is gone and as of posting there is no grad transfer who inspired Katy Perry to crush out on Gameday, so we're left with a number of either unproven, inconsistent, or just plain old high school kids.
IMG/San Antonio Reagan true freshman Kellen Mond is on campus - another five star recruit to save the Aggies. He'll be in an open competition with redshirt Nick Starkel and sort of incumbent Jake Hubenak. Hubenak hasn't really grabbed the job with any authority in his time as the starter. He's actually done more to lose the job in his starting stints. Starkel is an interesting option, coaches rave about him, but he's never seen a snap. Besides, would coaches really say if Starkel couldn't play dead in a cowboy movie?
A&M has options and apparently some talented guys on campus, which direction does Sumlin move in? Safe but unimpressive Hubenak? Unknown Starkel? Or is A&M ready to trust a true freshman with the keys to the kingdom? If he doesn't show out in the spring Mond might not be ready for the fall.
Myles Garrett is Gone
When John Chavis surveys the defensive meeting room he won't see Myles Garrett or Daeshon Hall sitting there. They're gone. They took all that athleticism and attention with them. Where does A&M turn to on the defensive line? There are a number of talented defensive ends on campus, but none of them have the talent or pedigree of Garrett of Hall. Chavis and crew get fifteen practices to put together some sort of rotation along the defensive front.
Chavis' defenses haven't exactly set the world on fire in his three years in College Station. Is this the year that the Aggies turn a corner? If the Ewing theory holds true then maybe the Aggies young defensive line will make a huge step forward out of the Garrett/Hall shadow. Or this could be the worst unit on the squad.
A&M's receiving corps was gutted by graduation and early departure. Only Christian Kirk returns with any real experience. Jamal Jeffery is the second most experienced receiver from 2016 with just six catches to his name. A&M's receiving group will be young and talented but primarily unknown.
Perhaps this young group of unknowns will be better than their predecessors, after all players like Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones didn't exactly set a high bar. Noil was perpetually suspended and Seals-Jones had the hands of a brick layer. Josh Reynolds' will be the most difficult shoes to fill. He seemed to be in the middle of big plays throughout his career.
A new quarterback will be throwing to new receivers in 2017 and it'll start this spring.
A&M lost two NFL caliber tackles in Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor. A&M's offensive line as a whole wasn't a dominant unit in 2016, but the tackles were pretty good, certainly the strength of the unit. This season's options at tackle are a work in progress. A&M fans have been waiting for Koda Martin to make a leap and contribute since he signed as a defensive lineman four years ago. He's the most experienced of the tackles returning. He'll probably get a nod at one of the edge positions.
Sumlin may move Tank Davis outside from his guard position or turn to one of several young inexperienced players at the other tackle.
This will be one of Sumlin's most inexperienced offensive units, his tackles will be green. They'll be protecting what may be an inexperienced quarterback who'll be throwing to inexperienced receivers. Look for the Aggies to use the spring to try and put some of those pieces together.