Healthy Aggies’ squad should be back in form against Kansas State

The Texas A&M Aggies need to return to early season form in order to break the “8-5” streak. Trevor Knight and Myles Garrett will be the biggest returners.

A once promising season turned into another late collapse for the Texas A&M Aggies. Despite a brilliant 6-0 start, injuries got the best of the program. Key players began to fall across multiple spots, causing a 2-4 finish to the regular season.

It all started with an injury to the Aggies’ best player, Myles Garrett. He suffered a leg injury against Arkansas causing him to miss a few games. Garrett was also hampered when he returned. Safety Armani Watts missed multiple games adding to the defensive woes down the stretch.

Quarterback Trevor Knight’s shoulder injury against Mississippi State kept the bad news rolling. Starting offensive lineman Connor Lanfear followed with his exit from that game resulting in a season-ending knee injury.

These four injuries weren’t the only ones on the roster this season, but they were the most impactful. Garrett and Watts anchored the front and backend of the defense. When they weren’t healthy, it showed as they gave up an average of 534.25 yards per game in their four losses down the stretch. This team played decently against Alabama and then the dam broke as they gave up 39.33 points per game.

The Aggies started strong and were still ranked in the top 40 in terms of points allowed on the season. They just couldn’t survive the injury bug.

One-Dimensional Offense

Another major problem came in the offense’s output. When Knight and Lanfear went down, it was clear the offense would suffer. However, no one knew it would make them one-dimensional. The running game could go nowhere without Knight’s legs as a threat.

Furthermore, The Aggies’ current offensive line isn’t the same as recent A&M lines. The days of Luke Joeckel, Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Matthews and Germaine Ifedi are gone. This season, they were capable, but without Lanfear, the team struggled to get any push up front. Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford are great backs, but no back can run without a hole. Knight was able to alleviate this problem with the zone read. Nonetheless, without him, they weren’t the same.

In fact, they rushed for just 429 yards on 4.5 yards per carry during games in which backup quarterback Jake Hubenak took the snaps. On the other side, the Aggies rushed for 2,181 yards in Knight’s eight starts averaging a robust 6.2 yards per carry.

Ultimately, the return of these key players should put the team in great position against Kansas State Wednesday in the Texas Bowl. The result would break the back-to-back 8-5 seasons for Texas A&M. If the Aggies do win, they would continue to exceed a lot of expectations, including my own. I saw this team as a 7-5 regular season team that relied on a sporadic veteran under center.

If they win, they’d certainly surpass that at 9-4. The biggest storyline from the season has to be Knight’s progression. He went from Oklahoma backup to a smart, took-what-the-defense-game-him kind of quarterback. Knight created some excitement for Texas A&M and he has the opportunity to do that one more time.

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