Time for my annual season record prediction. I’m hoping 2021 was an anomaly due to a season ending injury to our quarterback early in our second game. That coupled with a young offensive line and still no receiving threats created a disastrous 2021 season. If you call 8-4 disastrous. That’s still a pretty good season by most accounts. Aggie football just has higher expectations going into Jimbo’s fifth year.
I’ve mentioned it in my other blogs but I think this 2022 Aggie team will be more talented than the 2021 Aggie team. It won’t have the experience the 2021 team had but I do think overall it will be much more talented. If we keep a few key players healthy and the young guys develop this is going to be a damn good football team.
I’m basis my predictions on three key things:
- Improved quarterback play
- Improved offensive line play
- Improved production from receivers
I feel good about the defense. Especially as the season wears on. I think Durkin and the talented are going to be one of the top defenses in the country by the end of the year. We just need to get some level of offensive production early on as the defense find it’s legs. If we get offensive production from the start we’re all going to be pretty happy at the end of the 2022 season.
I don’t know who’s going to be quarterback but I do feel good about whoever gets the nod. We’re either going to have someone in their third year of Jimbo’s system or someone in their third year of taking SEC snaps. I tend to lean Max Johnson as the starter but I have no issues if Haynes King is the starter. I certainly think it’ll be better than last year’s quarterback play.
Let’s get to the 2022 games.
This shouldn’t be a contest. The only intriguing thing about this game will be who gets what snaps. Mainly at the QB position. I’m not talking about who takes the first snaps. I’m talking about when the second quarterback takes snaps. If someone else besides the starter takes snaps in the first half or starting the second half we’ve got a quarterback battle. If the starter takes all the first half snaps and opens up the second half then that QB will be the clear front runner. It’s their position to lose.
Ags Win: 1-0
This will be a tougher game than Sam Houston but I think we’ll prevail. The most intrigue will be who takes snaps when. Will a quarterback front runner have emerged?
Ags Win: 2-0
Miami didn’t have a great win-loss record last season which is why they have a new coach. They were playing well at the end of the season though. Especially their quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.
They went 2-3 before their bye week and then were 5-2 after. They didn’t play their bowl game due to COVID issues. Sound familiar?
Mario Cristobal seems to be a great fit since he’s from Miami and played at “The U.” He gets a lot of hype but his head coaching record is just okay. He wasn’t that successful at Florida International and he didn’t exactly set the world on fire at Oregon.
He did okay in 2019 winning the Pac 12 and the Rose Bowl but his other four seasons he had at least 3 losses including 2020 where they only played 7 total games. Cristobal even took over the team from Willie Taggart. Cristobal didn’t come into a new situation where everyone had to adjust. He probably should have had more success in Oregon considering the circumstances.
Miami is different as this is his first year. First year coaches tend to struggle unless they’re Ryan Day or Lincoln Reilley where their dad gave them the key to the Ferrari while it was still in pristine shape.
The biggest question in this game will be if the quarterback situation is settled. I think Jimbo knows it must be by this time and it will be. I think you’ll see this as a close game through 3 quarters but the Ags finally pull away in the 4th quarter. I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s very similar to the 2020 Orange Bowl.
Ags Win: 3-0
Obviously this game caught us by surprise last year. You had an Arkansas team with a ton of confidence after beating Texas. Most importantly, you had an Arkansas team that wanted it more than the A&M team. In addition, the Aggies had a few key positions that underperformed and a coaching staff that was completely confused by the Arkansas defensive scheme.
The Aggies were the more talented team last year but Arkansas was the better team executing a great game plan. I won’t call it the perfect storm but I do believe Arkansas got the brakes their way because they were better prepared and played better. Last year’s game was the perfect example that talent doesn’t always win.
The 2022 Arkansas is going to be a similar team but I don’t think quite as good. They have wonderful coordinators with Kendall Briles and Barry Odom. These guys can coach and it’s their third season. Arkansas is going to be a tough team for anyone.
I think where Arkansas takes a slight step back is with their defense. Arkansas returns 3 of their defensive starters from last year’s team. They return 11 other guys that played defense for last year’s team. That’s decent experience for a defensive unit but I think it’ll be a different look than what we saw in 2021. I think we’ll be better offensively (I hope we can’t be worse) and they’ll be slightly worse defensively. That’s an advantage for the Aggies.
On offense the Hogs return KJ Jefferson. He’s a dynamic QB and perfect for Kendall Briles’ system but I don’t think he’s a true polished passer. He can throw but they’ll want to use his mobility to open up the passing game. If you can control him on the ground without selling out the run you can limit him through the air. I think the Aggie defense can do that.
It’ll be a tough fought battle like always but I think the Aggies pull this one out after last year’s stinker.
Ags Win: 4-0
The 2021 Mississippi State game at Kyle Field is Jimbo’s worse game as the Aggie head coach. There was no reason to lose it. We were coming off the loss to Arkansas and it’s painfully obvious there was no clear leader on this team. We didn’t make enough plays and found ourselves limping off Kyle with a loss that should have never have happened.
I think 2022 will be different for a host of reasons. I think we’ll have better quarterback play and D.J. Durkin knows how to defend Leach’s system. For some reason Elko sat back last year giving Will Rogers time to throw and let their receivers work in space. Huge mistake by Elko.
Will Rogers is going to get yards but you don’t want to give him time to throw. Durkin knows that and I don’t think he’ll let Rogers pick the defense apart. He’ll force him to make quick obvious throws which are easier to defend.
Offensively I think we’ll establish the ground game and control time of possession. We won’t dominate but I think we’ll win convincingly enough.
Ags Win: 5-0
The Aggies will roll into Tuscaloosa with five wins and no losses while the Crimson Tide have four wins and one loss. That loss of course will come in Austin during the third of the week season. Just kidding. Bama will be undefeated. I just hope we are.
We all know how big this matchup is. It was going to be big after last season. Then Jimbo decided to take on Saban during the off season yet again. It worked last season but I don’t see it working this season.
Do I think the Aggies can beat Bama? Absolutely. I just don’t think they will.
Not much else to say about this game as we know the stakes and the teams. We just wait for the results.
Here’s something interesting – each of Saban’s last three starting quarterbacks are projected starters in the NFL this season. Bryce Young will likely be a first round draft pick and start in the NFL. He’s already won a Heisman. Gone are the days of Saban having a game managing quarterback with an elite defense and running game. He’s got high level quarterbacks running his offenses now. Saban’s the greatest because he evolves.
Here’s something else that’s interesting. Those three quarterbacks tie Bama as the school with the most 2022 NFL starting quarterbacks having started for a college team. This assumes Baker Mayfield wins the Carolina job. The really interesting part? Jalen Hurts gives both OU and Bama three former starters as 2022 NFL starters. Even more interesting is that not one of OU’s quarterbacks starting in the NFL was recruited by OU. They all transferred to become the starter.
OU doesn’t have a single starting quarterback in the NFL if Kyler stays in Aggieland, Baker stays in Lubbock, and Jalen stays in Tuscaloosa. OU got two Heisman trophies because Sumlin couldn’t manage multiple quarterbacks, Kliff wouldn’t give Baker a scholarship, and Saban recruited a better quarterback than Jalen.
Enough of that diversion. Bama beats the Aggies in Tuscaloosa.
Ags Lose: 5-1
If there’s a trap game on this schedule this is it. We get a week off after Bama and go on the road to South Carolina. In addition, we’ve won the eight Bonham Trophy showdowns. We’ve never lost a game in this series. Kenny Trill set the tone in 2014 and we’ve never looked back.
There’s no reason we lose this game but this feels like a loss to me.
Shane Beamer has some nice momentum, Spencer Rattler is a talented quarterback, and South Carolina pulls off an upset from time to time. This is purely a hunch because there’s no football reason. Upsets happen in football and this feels like one right now.
Ags Lose: 5-2
While everyone is focused on the Bama game I think this is a game that Jimbo really wants more than anything. He wants to embarrass Lane Kiffin at Kyle Field. He’s got the team to do it along with Kiffin’s old defensive coordinator. Couple those two things along with Kyle Field and I think Jimbo mops the floor with Ole Miss.
Ole Miss is still a decent football team but they lost a lot from last season. Kiffin is still one of the best offensive coordinators in college football but I think Durkin understands how to defend what he likes to do.
Ole Miss did well in the transfer portal but they were non competitive in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor. They need a talent infusion. Even with that infusion I think Ole Miss takes a step back while the Aggies take a step forward. Couple that with Jimbo wanting to make a point against Kiffin’s NIL comments and the Aggies run the Rebels out of Kyle Field.
Ags Win: 6-2
Hard to believe it was 2 years ago that a win over Florida at Kyle Field COMPLETELY changed the trajectory of the 2020 season. I still remember walking into a 25% capacity Kyle Field at 11:00 a.m. with very little hope of winning. Florida was #4 in the country and we were barely a Top 25 team after not competing against Bama.
A kick as the time expired had Kyle Field rocking with a victory over the number four team in the country. The Aggies wouldn’t lose the rest of the season winding up as Orange Bowl Champs and ironically enough the #4 team in the country.
Florida would rebound from that loss to win 6 straight games and solidify themselves as a Top 10 team. Then their defensive back threw that shoe against LSU and it’s been a straight spiral down from there. Seriously. Everything about Florida football went south real quick when that show went flying. The irony is Max Johnson was the LSU quarterback in that game.
Dan Mullen lost his job last season and now Florida has Billy Napier as coach. I like Napier a lot and think he’s going to do a great job at Florida but he’s going to have his struggles in 2022. Mullen basically quit recruiting last season so Florida is not nearly as talented as they’ve been in years past.
This won’t be a cake walk of a game but I don’t see why the Aggies will struggle.
Ags Win: 7-2
They don’t get enough attention but Auburn is the most fascinating program in college football. They’re completely schizophrenic. Much of it is due to Nick Saban being in state but damn this is a program that’s all over the place.
They won the national title in 2010 and then played for it again in 2013. That’s not that long ago and something only a handful of teams have done in that time.
They ran off Tommy Tuberville who had beat Bama six years in a row. They ran off Gene Chizik who won them a national championship. They ran off Gus Malzahn who’s had more wins over Nick Saban than any other coach in college football.
They replaced Malzahn with Bryan Harsin who was never a good fit. Someone from Auburn spent the offseason baking up a story that Harsin had an affair with a staffer. They were hoping to fire him without paying him. Apparently none of that was true so Harsin walks into the 2022 season like his predecessors waiting to get the word he’s no longer the coach with a big check to go away.
What a damn mess Auburn is. I have no idea how Harsin finds the motivation to have a successful season this year. Couple that with there’s a strong chance Zach Calzada is his starting quarterback and I like the Aggies chances in this one.
Ags Win: 8-2
I can’t wait for that 9 game SEC schedule so we don’t have these weird games in November. I get why it hits the schedule like this but I don’t like it. I suppose it’s good for the players to a degree as it’s a glorified practice towards the end of the season but I don’t like it. I’m on an SEC high by this point and don’t want to come down.
Ags Win: 9-1
Hard to believe Texas A&M is the better program after LSU’s magical 2019 season. That was one of the best teams in college football and now they’re in shambles. It’s only been 3 years.
I don’t think Brian Kelly was the right hire. I think he’s a pretty good coach but I think when push comes to shove and LSU isn’t winning an automatic 10 wins in the SEC he’s going to get eaten alive by the LSU faithful.
Kelly made his name at the marquee program in the country but really didn’t do all that much when you look at things. He feasted off a questionable schedule. He never showed up in a BCS or College Football Playoff game. He’s never won a NY6 Bowl Game only playing in two of those. Notre Dame has a TON of advantages and Kelly really didn’t do much with them. I get the academic requirements but Notre Dame never showed up against better competition.
He has the perception he’s a successful coach. However, when you look under the hood he’s good but by no means great. I don’t see him lasting past his third season at LSU. He’ll have made a ton of money but I don’t think his time at LSU is what people think it’s going to be. I think he’s gonna wish he’d never gotten on that plane from South Bend from a football standpoint. His bank account will say otherwise though.
Assuming the Aggies look more like the 2020 Aggies if not better I think the Aggies win here.
Ags Win: 10-2
I hate saying the Aggies are a year away from winning it all but there’s so much youth and uncertainty at key positions. If that youth grows and that uncertainty solidifies I truly believe this is a team that can compete for the College Football Playoff.
Even if we lose to Bama and go 11-1 I think we’re knocking on the door of the CFP depending on how things shake out. I think it’s clear Bama, Georgia, and Ohio State are the class of college football. The fourth best team is a major question mark.
Our biggest challenge could be SEC fatigue if Bama and Georgia show up in Atlanta undefeated. Even at 11-1 with just a loss to Bama I expect some “interesting” positioning to keep a third SEC team out of the playoffs.
Either way, let’s just get back 2020 production and let the chips fall where they may.