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The Battalion

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Batt Sports predicts A&M’s 2023 football season

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Freshman WR Evan Stewart (1) during the Southwest Classic on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Texas A&M returns to the gridiron on Saturday, Sept. 2, to take on New Mexico in the 2023 season-opener at Kyle Field. The Aggies look to rebound from last season’s 5-7 campaign with a mix of talented youngsters and experienced playmakers. Sophomore quarterback Conner Weigman will lead an offense looking to improve its scoring attack from 22.8 points per game in 2022.
The maroon and white, ranked No. 23 in the preseason Top 25, have four ranked opponents on the slate, including No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 LSU. The Aggies will welcome the Crimson Tide and Mississippi State to town while traveling to No. 12 Tennessee and No. 22 Ole Miss. Here are The Battalion’s sports desk’s predictions for how the 2023 season will pan out:
Luke White, sports editor
@lukewhite03
Prediction: 8-4
Yeah, yeah, I know I predicted the Aggies would pull off an 11-1 season and make a push for the College Football Playoff in 2022. We all know how that turned out. I’ll keep my expectations in check this time around, although I do think A&M could be the most improved team in the SEC and return to its spot in the upper half of the conference.
The difference this season compared to last? Experience and depth. Say all you want about the Aggies’ No. 1 recruiting class in 2022, but last year showed that experience oftentimes trumps talent. Players experienced plenty of trials by fire in that 5-7 campaign, but that could be the biggest strength of this season’s squad. The depth chart is two or three players deep at nearly every position, creating plenty of possibilities for offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino to work with.
The schedule doesn’t do A&M any favors with four preseason ranked teams and trips to Miami, Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU. It’s reasonable to see the Aggies as 5-0 entering a home matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide on Oct. 7, but it’s a difficult schedule from there on out with South Carolina and Mississippi State, A&M’s kryptonite in recent years, coming to Kyle Field as well. Coach Kevin Sumlin’s teams often saw a dropoff in the second half of the season, and we could be looking at one here. But hey, at least the Aggies make a bowl game.
Kylie Stoner, assistant sports editor
@sportsbystoner
Prediction: 9-3
If the Aggies don’t improve from last season with the addition of Bobby Petrino, I have some real concerns. I initially wanted to say 8-4, but I have hope so 9-3 it is. With New Mexico opening up the season, I think the Aggie spirit will start strong. But, the road game to Miami could lessen that as the first test of the season.
Eli Meschko, sports writer
@EliMeschko
Prediction: 9-3/10-2
I don’t see a world where the Aggies don’t improve from last season’s 5-7 record. New offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino brings an explosive résumé to an Aggie offense that ranked 101st in scoring and 93rd in total offense. Petrino-led offenses have averaged at least 400 yards a game in 16 of 20 seasons and 30 points per game in 15 of those. Petrino’s offenses had also eclipsed the 500 yards per game threshold five times and have averaged at least 40 points three times.
I see A&M starting the season 6-0, including a win versus Alabama, who still has questions at quarterback. The first hiccup could be in Knoxville, Tennessee against a fast, high-powered Volunteer offense. The silver lining for the Tennessee game is that the Volunteers lost quarterback Hendon Hooker and wide receivers Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt to the NFL. A bounce back win over South Carolina is followed by a loss to Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. I really hope we beat Kiffin this year, but I just have a feeling it’s going to be a weird game for A&M.
Wins over Mississippi State and Abilene Christian are followed by a possible swing game versus LSU at Death Valley. Since 2003, LSU is 117-20 at home, but the Tigers were ranked 72nd in returning defensive production by ESPN’s Bill Connelly. Yes, I know returning production doesn’t necessarily mean everything, but the Tigers lost edge rushers BJ Ojulari and Ali Gaye to the league. Brian Kelly also had to use the transfer portal to replace both cornerbacks. If the offense is humming, I can see the Aggies sneaking a win in the season finale.
Matthew Seaver, sports writer
@Matthew_Seaver
Prediction: 8-4
Let me start by saying this, I am not only drinking the Weigman Kool-Aid, I am the main distributor. The minute I stepped on campus, I told everyone who would listen, “Guys, trust me, he is the next Johnny Football, the guy makes it look like he’s playing Madden in real life.” Nobody believed and insisted on trusting a frail Haynes King and the pocket statue that is sophomore quarterback Max Johnson. I think Weigman flourishes in the Bobby Petrino offense and playcalling (the same guy who coached Lamar Jackson to a Heisman).
However, I think there are other parts of this team that will hold them back. The running backs are extremely raw and inexperienced. The loss of sophomore Donovan Green leaves the tight end room rather bleak. When it comes to defense, with the amount of stars on the defensive line, there should be no situation where defensive coordinator DJ Durkin feels the need to play a three down. And I think the return of senior defensive back Demani Richardson will give this A&M secondary the boost it desperately needs.
I see a world where the Aggies can start 4-0 or maybe even 5-0. But, I believe A&M drops two in a row to a vengeful coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide and the quarterback Joe Milton-led Tennessee Volunteers. The other losses I see coming from the most evil man on earth, coach Lane Kiffin and his Ole Miss Rebels, then another loss to the fake cajun himself, coach Brian Kelly and the LSU Tigers. I think it is the usual up and down season in Aggieland. If Fisher can not stray from the usual disappointment the Fightin’ Farmers are used to, then I can see his time coming to an end here in College Station.
Cade Harris, sports writer
@cadeharris_
Prediction: 9-3
I am one to always buy into the offseason hype surrounding Aggie football. However, after coming off a 5-7 season, it has been hard for me to expect great success from the maroon and white this season. What gives me hope for the year is the revamped offense that I expect to see from Bobby Petrino and the elite players at the skill positions he has to work with.
Petrino also having a former five-star quarterback in Weigman also gives me reasons to believe that A&M can be very good this season. On the other hand, despite the numerous five-stars across the defensive line, the rest of the defense has question marks and, god forbid, if injuries occur in the secondary and at the linebacker position, DJ Durkin and the defense could be in trouble.
The games I expect the Aggies to drop along the way are at home against Alabama and on the road against LSU. The swing game for me and the difference between 9-3 and 10-2 is the Tennessee game. I expect the Volunteers to win that game due to the fact that Neyland Stadium is a hard place to play and the Aggies will likely be coming off an emotional game the week prior against the Crimson Tide. However, I believe the Aggies will pick up their 10th win in their bowl and they will go into 2024 with great momentum.
Andrew Paredes, sports writer
@andrewparedess
Prediction: 8-4
The maroon and white last year were a frustrating and inconsistent team that took the promise of a preseason ranking of No. 6 and made it into a season where they finished at the bottom of the SEC West. I will buy into a little bit of the hype this year, but I am not going to get too optimistic about this team.
The defense will continue to be one of the better SEC defenses with returning players that have more experience such as senior linebacker Chris Russell Jr.,  fifth-year safety Demani Richardson and junior defensive back Jardin Gilbert. To add onto that, I don’t think the injury bug will be as bad this year. But Weigman looks very promising to me as it was clear that coach Fisher trusted him more at the end of last season than A&M’s more experienced quarterback in Haynes King. Opening up the playbook and experimenting with Weigman’s talent should produce some exciting and surprising highlights.
This team has its back on the wall. Last season’s hype isn’t there to overwhelm the Aggies. So I believe they’ll be able to take down most of their weaker opponents in New Mexico, Miami, UL-Monroe, Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State and ACU. LSU will take its revenge at home this year and I don’t expect Teneesee’s offense to completely fall apart this year. South Carolina and Ole Miss will come in and surprise A&M. But the maroon and white will take down Alabama in what I expect to be the game of the year.
Hunter Mitchell, assistant sports editor
@HunterM1001
Prediction: 9-3
I would feel more comfortable betting on roulette in the dark than trying to predict Texas A&M football. Hype has been the enemy to hope for Aggie fans for many years, and this season is no different. Despite going 5-7 last season, local and national outlets are still relatively high on the Aggies, so I guess I’ll play along.
Conner Weigman was the right choice at quarterback, and with all of the weapons at his disposal, I can’t see how the offense couldn’t improve from last season. This really shouldn’t be a hard feat to accomplish, as the only way to go from the bottom is up. Hopefully.
In all seriousness, the defense will also take a major step up this season. With a defensive line full of former five-stars like Walter Nolen, Gabriel Brownlow- Dindy and Shemar Stewart, as long as DJ Durkin doesn’t run three-down linemen the entire game, they could be a serious force in the SEC.
I don’t think the Aggies are at the national-championship caliber yet. That being said, I think they have a chance to make some noise in the SEC. This is a dangerous thing to say, but I think with the QB situation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the Crimson Tide are vulnerable. They will still be Alabama, but there could be a chance of yet another home upset there. Tennessee and LSU seem like different stories, and I don’t know how A&M will handle those road games. 9-3 would be a solid rebound from last year, but also means Jimbo Fisher has to win big in 2024.
Justin Chen, sports writer
@chen_justin_
Prediction: 12-0
In Bobby we trust. Conner Weigman and Evan Stewart will become the new Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase duo.
Ian Curtis, sports writer
@Texiancurtis
Prediction: 9-3
Everything seems to be looking up for the Aggies this season. Bobby Petrino brings in a fresh perspective on offense. The 2022 recruiting class has had a year to mature. There’s not a clear reason to doubt A&M this season, but this is the Aggies and I can’t force myself to be optimistic. It’ll be a good year but it won’t be a great one, somehow.

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