The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A look ahead: Toughest games still to come

Kyle+Allen
Photo by By Kathryn Perez
Kyle Allen

Four weeks into college football, we’ve learned a lot about the nation’s top teams, the SEC and Texas A&M. 

As SEC play is now underway, A&M is sitting pretty in the SEC West. But even with a 4-0 record, 1-0 in SEC play, there have been both surprises and disappointments so far in 2015 for the Aggies.

Here is what we’ve learned about the Aggies a quarter of the way through the season.

Offense:

A&M has one of the best in college football. They are able to put up 40 points in the blink of an eye without skipping a beat. Most of that is a credit to the receiving corps, which is the best in the nation, and the quarterback play of Kyle Allen. So far, Allen has accumulated 952 yards in the air and 11 passing touchdowns with just two interceptions. Although, with receivers like Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk on your side, all you have to do is get the ball in their hands and they will do the rest. The most pleasant surprise has been Kirk, who is now arguably the best freshman in the country. He has put up 442 yards receiving and four touchdowns so far in 2015.  Really, no other freshman in the country has had the impact on their team like Kirk has for A&M. Watch for what Mississippi State gives Kirk this weekend and how they will try to keep him contained. The biggest disappointment thus far has been the usually solid offensive line. Amassing just 65 rushing yards against Arkansas is not going to cut it in SEC competition. Their play will have to be better moving forward—not protecting the quarterback, but in the running game. Balance is key for this A&M offense to have success. 

Defense:

The biggest improvement to the team in 2015 has been the quick turnaround of the defense. John Chavis has turned what was an abysmal Aggie defense for two years into one of the nation’s best. Currently, A&M is ranked 60th in the nation in total defense, but that is leaps and bounds better than where A&M was for the last few years. The biggest surprise has been the tackling and pass rush, which was mostly non-existent for the last few years. Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall are the best two defensive ends in the country and have helped A&M reach a total of 17 team sacks, making A&M 2nd in the country. This week against Mississippi State, it will be interesting to see this talented front go against a relatively inexperienced offensive line for the Bulldogs and Dak Prescott. The team needs improvement in the rush defense, where Arkansas’ Alex Collins gashed them most recently. Improvements in first and second down rushing will also create a more favorable situation for the Aggie defense. 

Special teams:

Taylor Bertolet’s return to the field was met with some grimace, no doubt, from Aggie fans. The kicker has spent a majority of his four years facing loads of scrutiny, and even lost his job during his sophomore year to Josh Lambo, the most accurate kicker in A&M’s history. From missed extra points to missed big-time field goals, Bertolet has been through it all. Now, in his final year, he seems to be getting it together. His first miss came on the game-winning attempt against Arkansas, and so far, he has not missed an extra point this season. His continued consistency will be big for A&M down the road. 

Christian Kirk has been nothing short of electric in the return game, and he’s already taken a punt return to the house this year. Really, the only place the special teams unit needs to improve on would be continued consistency in the kicking game. As the number of Bertolet’s successful field goals rises, his confidence will rise with it. Mississippi State’s first conference game against LSU came down to a missed field goal. This week could come down to how well the special teams perform against the Bulldogs. 

Overall, A&M looks to be in the same spot they were in last year — undefeated with high hopes going into the thick of the SEC race. This year, however, things are going to be different. A&M finally seems to have all the pieces of the puzzle fitting together. Thus far in 2015, we’ve learned a lot about A&M, but also very little at the same time, and the toughest part of the schedule begins this week. With home games against Mississippi State and Alabama approaching, then a trip to Oxford to take on Ole Miss looming right after, these next few weeks will give us a better idea of how good A&M truly is this year. 

 

Andre Perrard is a sports management senior and a sports reporter for The Battalion.

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