Expectations are always high at Texas A&M, but with the Jimbo Fisher hire, they have reached epic proportions.
A&M dug into its vast bank account this offseason to bring in Fisher to turn the Aggies from also-rans to contenders. While many think that could take some time, SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic is expecting big things now out of Fisher and the Aggies.
“My dark horse is Texas A&M,” Cubelic told SEC Country in a recent phone interview.
Fisher, who won a national championship at Florida State, will (possibly) receive a year grace period, but returning the Aggies to contenders in the conference and nationally would help win some fans over early.
The problem? A&M plays in the toughest division in the sport and are far behind the expected contenders.
“They’re not Georgia, Alabama or Auburn, but when you look at the next tier … A&M is right there after the big three,” Cubelic said.
This gives Fisher a challenge, and it doesn’t just begin with SEC play. On Sept. 8, the Aggies welcome powerhouse Clemson to Kyle Field, a game that will be a measuring stick for the program and, according to Cubelic, “an opportunity” to announce to the nation that A&M should be taken seriously.
Finding the right quarterback will be key for Fisher with the competition between Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond setting up to last deep into fall practice. Fisher, despite having an offensive coordinator in Darrell Dickey, will more than likely call his own plays. For Cubelic, it is obvious who is better positioned for what Fisher wants his quarterback to accomplish.
“I think Starkel fits into Fisher’s system a little bit better than he did in [former coach] Kevin Sumlin’s, while Mond was better for Sumlin,” Cubelic said.
Cubelic also pointed out that, outside of quarterback, the Aggies are pretty set at all the offensive skill position. Wide receivers Jhamon Ausbon and Camron Buckley are back from impressive freshman seasons when they combined for 853 yards and 6 touchdowns, while the running back situation is set with Trayveon Williams.
“They have a 1,000-yard running back [Williams in 2016], good receivers and a really good tight end,” he said.
The defense is another question, as Mike Elko becomes the latest coordinator who will try to turn around the Aggies on that side of the ball. A “good group of linebackers,” along with an improving defensive line, could help turn a problem, stopping the run, into a strength.
If, and some are big ifs, these things come together, the Aggies could find themselves in the middle of November with a shot to win its first division title since joining the conference in 2012.
Fisher saw the money and possibilities at the traditional program and decided to make the leap. Is this the year that A&M finally takes a similar giant step forward?