2013 Record: 9-4 (4-4)
Series History: 8-6 (TAMU)
Last Meeting: Missouri won 28-21 (2013)
Player to Watch: Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett
2014 Projection: 6-6 (2-6)
Johnny Manziel: the most polarizing player in college football.
Whether he was leading a historic comeback against Alabama or “sleeping” through the Manning Passing Academy, scrambling his way into the endzone past Duke or casually hanging courtside at an NBA game — Manziel never seemed to lose the cameras.
Unfortunately for Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M has lost Manziel.
The most dynamic player in school history departed for the NFL after successfully ushering his team into the Southeastern Conference.
Manziel helped the Aggies achieve a lot of firsts in the beginning of a new era, but if he cannot be replaced, Texas A&M might finish last in the SEC.
Sophomore Kenny Hill is the Aggies’ new starting quarterback, yet to take a meaningful collegiate snap.
And still, the Aggies have plenty of other holes to address in addition to the one left by Manziel.
Texas A&M will enter 2014 without its two leading rushers and two of its three leading receivers from last season, meaning the Aggies only have one player their roster who recorded over 500 yards of offense last season: wide receiver Malcome Kennedy (658 yds).
A couple of top notch recruiting classes should help soften the blow, as the big, physical Ricky Seals-Jones and speed demon Speedy Noil slide in at wide receiver to fill the voids left by Mike Evans and Travis Labhart, respectively.
And while the Aggies lost left tackle Jake Matthews to the NFL, the remaining four starters on the offensive line all return to help ease the transition for whomever takes over behind center.
A&M’s biggest concern should be its biggest area of weakness the past two years: defense. The unit ranked 95th or worse nationally in every major statistical category, including dead last in the SEC in scoring (32.2 ppg), rushing (222.3 ypg) and total defense (475.8 ypg).
The defense by itself returns eight starters, including star cornerback Deshazor Everett, who has been this group’s only consistent bright spot. But even with so many familiar faces back in College Station, this defense has work to do in order.
The loss of Manziel will warrant a bit of a drop off, but Texas A&M should still be able to put up points with ease. However, the defense in year three of the SEC may be the worst yet.