The Athlon Sports 2007 College Football Preview magazine is one of the better looking preview magazines out there—I mean, they have the "Sideline Spirit Contest" for crying out loud.
But the amount of information is a far cry from Phil Steele's magazine, which Aggie Websider reviewed in Part I of the series. That being said, there are several other things to like about the magazine, especially from an A&M fan's point of view.
While many people complain about the bias against A&M in the media, you can quickly tell that the writer of the A&M preview is very familiar with this year's squad and seems to know his stuff. However, some of the rankings and predictions from the national editors doesn't seem to be quite in tune.
The Athlon Sports writer really likes Stephen McGee a lot. The magazine bills him as the "team's commander on the gridiron" after earning his teammates' respect by showing toughness and tenacity on and off the field. However, the national editors don't give him as much credit in the individual rankings, naming Texas' Colt McCoy and Missouri's Chase Daniel as Big 12 first and second team quarterbacks, respectively.
However, A&M center Cody Wallace made the Athlon Sports Big 12 first team and RB Michael Goodson and offensive lineman Kirk Elder both earned second team nods.
Martellus Bennett fails to make either All-Big 12 roster for Athlon (Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, both of Missouri) which is one of the big faults of the Athlon magazine. It only lists first and second team all-conference players and doesn't rank players nationally by position. If you're not top two at your position within the conference, there's not much exposure in this magazine, even though you may be the No. 3 player at that position nationally.
Athlon Sports does give more love to the 2007 A&M rushing attack in their unit national rankings, but that's to be expected this year with four returning starters on the offensive line and the duo of Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane. The offensive line is ranked No. 5 and the running back corps earned the No. 4 spot nationally.
Chris Harrington is billed as the defensive version of Stephen McGee because of his leadership, which "characterizes the never-say-die attitude of the entire team." The writer predicts an improved defensive line with a healthy Red Bryant teaming up with Harrington, who led the team in sacks and tackles for a loss in 2006.
Athlon Sports does give the linebacker corps a little more credit for last year's remarkable improvement on the defensive side of the ball, which I agree with. Misi Tupe and Mark Dodge played a critical role in the turnaround, but they don't get a lot of credit.
I also agree that with three returning starters in the secondary, the Aggies should continue to improve as a pass defense. In 2005, the Aggies finished dead last in the nation in pass defense (117th) and moved up to 44th in 2006.
The writer points out a stat that I didn't even realize in this category. In 2005, the Aggies were ranked No. 109 in the nation in kickoff return average, but thanks in large part to Kerry Franks, A&M finished third in the country last year, averaging 26.1 yards per return.
The 2007 Athlon Sports preview predicts seven wins and two losses (@ OU, Texas) for the Aggies in 2007, with three swing games (@ Miami, Okla. State, @ Nebraska). I would agree with that for the most part, but I would put Okla. State at home in the win column and move the game at Texas Tech into the swing game category. I might also add Texas into the swing game category instead of the loss column, but on the national level, Texas is going to get the favorable picks until proven otherwise.
The magazine ranks A&M as the No. 23 team in the nation, which is hard to argue with in a preseason poll. A&M is picked to finish third in the Big 12 South behind Texas and OU, but the distance between those three teams may be the least than it's been in recent years.
Aggie Websider's Analysis
Overall, Athlon doesn't have as much information as some of the other magazines, but the information they do have seems to be fair and accurate for the most part. I would like to see more position rankings on the national level other than first and second teams, but Athlon probably just got a bad draw having to go right after Phil Steele's magazine yesterday.
The writing is very solid and you can tell that they hired someone who knows A&M to write the feature, but I would also like to see by lines from the authors, so readers know who wrote the team features.
Football Preview Magazine Reviews - Part II
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