Texas A&M has a massive advantage talent-wise going into the Texas Bowl against Kansas State, but the superstars will need to play like it.
Inconsistent performance and injuries kept the Aggies from reaching their maximum output in 2016. However, most everyone should be back healthy for the bowl game. Against one of the most fascinating teams in the nation, several will need to step up.
Here are five players Texas A&M needs to play at the highest level to win the Texas Bowl.
DE Myles Garrett
Stats: 32 tackles, 15.0 TFLs, 8.5 sacks, 10 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles
This could be true for every game. Despite being limited with injuries, Garrett is an All-American and could be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Unlike several of the other top NFL prospects in college football, Garrett laughed off the idea of sitting out what likely will be his final bowl game at Texas A&M. Going against the Wildcats, Garrett will need to seal the outside and put pressure on whatever quarterback is on the field.
QB Trevor Knight
Stats: 163-314 for 2,122 yards, 16 TDs; 94 carries for 594 yards, 10 TDs
Knight isn’t a great passer, but his playmaking ability and leadership were exactly what Texas A&M needed this season. The Aggies were 7-1 before Knight went down with an injury. Even though he returned against LSU, Texas A&M finished the season 1-3. Knight will be back in the bowl game. Kansas State runs a disciplined defense, so Knight will need to add a mayhem angle to the game plan with his running ability.
DT Zaycoven Henderson
Stats: 38 tackles, 9.0 TFLs, 2 QB hurries
Henderson has taken over the defensive tackle position this season and played particularly well. He also might be one of the most important players on the field for the Aggies defense. Kansas State runs a delayed option for the quarterback, where he fakes handing off the ball, drops back to pass and then runs up the middle. Despite its simplicity, Bill Snyder has turned this set into a Hall of Fame career. The defensive tackle is the most important part to clogging up the middle.
RB Trayveon Williams
Stats: 147 carries for 1,024 yards, 8 TDs
Williams saw reduced carries as the season went on, but he was one of the most electric backs in the SEC in the first half of 2016. Through six games, Williams exploded for 704 yards, including 217 yards in a double-overtime win against Tennessee. However, he struggled against the more physical SEC defenses. Kansas State doesn’t have the same athletes as Alabama, Ole Miss or LSU, so Williams should be able to break free.
LB Shaan Washington
Stats: 93 tackles, 6.0 TFLs, 6 pass breakups, 8 QB hurries
As mentioned with Henderson, Kansas State loves to run the quarterback option up the middle. This play requires plenty of study, as linebackers must stay committed and true. Washington is one of the most improved linebackers in the conference to this point, and he will need to show out against Kansas State. Any missed assignment or read can turn into a 14-yard gain.