A weak non-conference schedule and a three game losing streak cost Texas A&M the opportunity to play for the Big 12 Championship in 2010. That's not to say they didn't look every bit the part of the Big 12's elite, they were the only team in the conference to beat both Oklahoma and Nebraska. Now the Aggies enter 2011 ready to make a run to win their first Big 12 title since 1998. They've got nine returning starters on offense and eight on defense with key returners at the skill positions. That doesn't mean we don't have questions though.
1. Can Christian Michael return to form? If the spring was any indication then the answer is a resounding yes! The Aggies have a legitimate opportunity to have two 1,000 rushers this season. Michael had rushed for 631 yards before breaking his leg last season and Cyrus Gray ran for 1,133 yards. A two back system with a healthy Christian Michael puts Texas A&M with possibly the best rushing attack in the conference.
2. Can Damontre Moore be Von Miller? The Aggies are losing the heart of their defense in linebackers Von Miller and Michael Hodges. There's a chance Hodges will be replaced by a true freshman in Donnie Baggs but the key is going to be maintaining (or coming as close as possible to maintaining) the production of Von Miller. That job has been left to Damontre Moore who played well when Miller was
cramping up injured last season but will need reproduce Miller's 10.5 sacks to continue drawing comparisons.
3. Can Ryan Tannehill lead the Aggies to the promised land? Last season Jerrod Johnson was tabbed as the Big 12's pre-season Offensive Player of the Year only to be benched in favor of Tannehill midway through the season after falling flat on his face. Now the pressure is on Tannehill who led the Aggies to six consecutive wins to end the season. Can Tannehill perform on a consistent level for an entire season or will we see more of the two touchdown/three interception performance we saw against LSU in the Cotton Bowl. That performance may have been an anomaly or it could have been time allowed for defensive coaches to prepare. The latter would worry me a bit.