2004 TAMU Aggies Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> <!--Default NodeId For Dennis Franchione is 502891,2002--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:502891]>Dennis Franchione</A> (159-81-2) <br><br> <b>Last Season's Record:</b> 4-8 (5th place in Big 12 South Division, AP No. 12) <br><br> <b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2001 Gallery Furniture Bowl (28-9 win against <A HREF=http://tcu.TheInsiders.com>TCU</A>) <br><br> <b>Key matchup(s):</b> @Utah (Sept 2, ESPN 7:00 p.m. National), @Oklahoma State (Oct 16, TBA), Texas Tech (Nov 13, TBA)

Star Power: Courtney Lewis (running back, Soph, 5'11 195), Terrence Murphy (wide receiver, Senior, 6'1 195), Jaxson Appel (free safety, Jr., 5'11 195), Michael Montgomery (Defensive End, Sr., 6'6 275)

Notable Additions: Lee Foliaki (linebacker, Jr., Butler County Community College, 6'3 235) Terrence Smith (linebacker, Jr., Northwest Mississippi Junior College, 6'3 240) Aaron Brown (linebacker, Jr., Compton Community College, 6'2 235) William Morrisey (defensive tackle, Fr. H.S., Silsbee High school, 6'2 280) Stephen McGee (quarterback, Fr. H.S., Burnet High School, 6'3 210)

Notable Subtractions: Jamar Taylor (wide receiver, New York Giants 6th round pick, 6'1 205) Derek Farmer (runningback, Sr., Transfer to Stephen F. Austin, 5'11 210) Dustin Long (quarterback, Sr., Transfer Sam Houston State, 6'3 190)

Notable Returnees: Jason Jack (defensive end, Rfr., 6'4 270) Red Bryant (defensive tackle, Rfr., 6'5 310) Reggie McNeal (quarterback, Jr., 6'3 190) Jami Hightower (offensive tackle, Jr., 6'3 345) Geoff Hangartner (center, Sr., 6'5 310)

10/02/04Kansas State
10/09/04@Iowa State
10/16/04@Oklahoma State
11/13/04Texas Tech
Offensive Overview: Although the Aggies amassed 4678 yards of total offense last year, they only scored 304 total points on the season (73 against Baylor). But the Aggies return 9 starters on offense, so look for these numbers to climb in 2004.

Texas A&M runs a multiple offense, utilizing both run and pass-based elements. Last year the Ags often ran multiple wide out sets as well as the basic I formation. With players like QB Reggie McNeal, RB Courtney Lewis, and WR Terrence Murphy, Head Coach Dennis Franchione has several options.

Three starters return on the offensive line, including OT Jami Hightower who missed all of last season. Also returning is RB Courtney Lewis who rushed for 1024 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2003. Joining Lewis is WR Terrence Murphy, considered to be one of the top wideouts in the Big XII. QB Reggie McNeal also returns for his second season as a starter. After a rough first year, look for McNeal to rebound as more talent and experience surrounds him.

While Texas A&M has solid starters on offense, depth is a major issue. The Aggies lost two top backups in QB Dustin Long and RB Derek Farmer. Both transferred at the end of last season. The Ags will have to rely on a redshirt and true freshman to shoulder the backup load at both positions. Wide receiver is also inexperienced. This is a large and talented group, but there is little on-field production experience outside of Murphy.

Defensive Overview: As many as six new faces could be seen in ‘04, as A&M tries to revive the Wrecking Crew. Youth and inexperience will litter the two deep for A&M. With the influx of youth, however, comes an influx of speed and athletic ability lacking from last season.

The Aggies run out of the basic 4-3 defensive alignment, however, they multiple defensive fronts depending on the type of offense they will face. Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush has forged his reputation on a blitzing, aggressive style of defense; however, A&M lacked the talent last season to run his defense effectively, managing only 19 sacks.

With immediate help from JUCO-transfer linebackers and redshirted defensive linemen, A&M should be far more athletic and faster. The secondary returns three starters. With several athletic backups, this unit should be much stronger. New faces on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps should bring great speed to the defensive.

As many as thirteen first-year players could appear on the two-deep roster. This lack of division one experience could be a major Achilles Heel for a team that faces three top-20 teams in its first four games. The talent level will rise, but it will take time for new faces to gel.

Special Teams Overview: The Aggies had a horrible time last season just fielding punts. This season they will turn to Terrence Murphy who solidified himself as a premier kick returner last season. The Aggies also return the very solid if not spectacular Todd Pegram to resume the place kicking duties.

With several JUCO transfers and redshirt freshmen becoming available the Aggies will have plenty of athletic bodies to choose from on the coverage units this coming fall.

Punter was a considerable weak spot for A&M as incumbent starter Jacob Young could only manage a net average of 35 yards. He will be pushed by incoming true freshman Richie Bean who will also be in contention for the kickoff duties.

The Texas A&M Aggies will make it to a bowl game if... on defense the new players gel quickly and if the rebuilt defensive line and linebackers generate a solid and consistent push against both the run and the pass, and if on offense they find reliable backups to McNeal and Lewis, and if their young wide receivers make plays opposite Murphy.

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