|TideSports College Football Preview|
After going 11-2 and 6-2 in conference play in his first season at Texas A&M, head coach Kevin Sumlin has seen his team play .500 or worse in conference play and lost five games three seasons in a row. As a result, he could be on the hot seat heading into 2017.
Sumlin does not feel there is added pressure to perform better, much less try and catch Nick Saban and Alabama.
“I don’t know that it’s pressure,” Sumlin said this summer at SEC Media Days. “I think what it is, is in just about every league – well, not really every league, but you go through a time where one team has – is really the mark. And we’ve looked at it that way since we’ve been here.
“I know that that’s the mark that everybody wants to be. You know what you have to do to get to Atlanta, in our situation. And then you know what you need to do to try to win a championship.”
The Aggies lost their best player, Myles Garrett, to the National Football League. With seven returning starters, Sumlin still believes the defense could be strong.
Senior defensive back Armani Watts will be the leader on that side of the ball. He had 56 tackles, two interceptions and two recovered fumbles in 2016.
Trevor Knight, the starting quarterback for the Aggies last season, has moved on to the NFL. Jake Hubenak, Nick Starke and Kellen Mond have competed for the role.
Sumlin believes the pieces around the quarterback will help the starter succeed.
“With all of the starters up front and Christian Kirk, this offense will be quarterback-friendly,” Sumlin said.
Starters Returning: 14
Starters Lost: 10
Sept. 3; at UCLA
Sept. 9; Nicholls State
Sept. 16; Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 23; Arkansas
Sept. 30; South Carolina
Oct. 7; Alabama
Oct. 14; at Florida
Oct. 28; Mississippi State
Nov. 4; at Auburn
Nov. 11; New Mexico
Nov. 18; at Ole Miss
Nov. 25; at LSU
2016 Record: 8-5 (4-4 Conf./4th in SEC West)
All-time SEC championships: 0
Bowl appearances: 48 (17-21)
Sept. 3; UCLA; W 31-24
Sept. 10; Prairie View; W 67-0
Sept. 17; at Auburn; W 29-16
Sept. 24; Arkansas; W 45-24*
Oct. 1; at South Carolina; W 24-13
Oct. 8; Tennessee; W 45-38
Oct. 22; at Alabama; L 14-33
Oct. 29; New Mexico State; W 52-10
Nov. 5; at Mississippi State; L 28-35
Nov. 12; Ole Miss; L 28-29
Nov. 19; Texas-San Antonio; W 23-10
Nov. 25; LSU; L 39-54
Dec. 31; vs Kansas State; L 28-33+
* Arlington, Texas
+ Texas Bowl