Deshazor Everett has been solid, but the rest of the secondary has been a weak spot for A&M in 2012.
The kicking game: A&M’s field goal (and at times extra point) kicking has been wildly erratic this season. In fact, every time Taylor Bertolet kicks the ball has been a “trick or treat” scenario this season. However, it’s important for people to remember that Bertolet, like Manziel and Evans, is a redshirt freshman, and inconsistency is part of it.
The secondary: Once thought by some to be the strength of A&M’s defense, the secondary has proven yet again to be the weak link in the defensive chain. Deshazor Everett has been solid, but other than him and possibly Steven Terrell, every player in the unit has holes in their game. DeVante Harris is good in man to man but struggles at tackling, Dustin Harris gets beat deep too often, Toney Hurd is physical in the box against the run but isn’t great in coverage (same for Howard Matthews), and Floyd Raven is just wildly inconsistent.
Brandon Alexander: This is a player that many of us expected to have a big season this year and to be able to spell Damontre Moore, however he’s yet to make an appearance this season and will likely redshirt. Tyrell Taylor has taken reps in the backup role at rush defensive end. Alexander still has plenty of time to become a big time player, but his lack of progression has certainly been a disappointment this season.
The SEC West: This is probably actually a treat for A&M fans, but there’s no doubt it was a trick for the nation. The SEC West was supposed to be a gauntlet of at least three of the nation’s best teams and Auburn was supposed to be a top 25 team. But Arkansas and Auburn have been nothing short of awful this season, and A&M absolutely dismantled each of them. Missouri, who is on A&M's schedule and who many expected to compete in the East, took eight weeks to get their first league victory. In fact, the disparity in the SEC might be one of the biggest stories of the season. So far, nobody in the top half of the SEC (Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Texas A&M) has lost to anyone in the bottom half of the SEC.
The Air Raid: This is a trick and a treat on a few levels, but we’re going with trick because of how well Kliff Kingsbury’s offense has been evolving this season. With the exception of the LSU game where things went awry, the A&M offense has been extremely effective this season despite being run by a first year quarterback and a first year coaching staff. It might be called the “Air Raid” but the trick is that, under Kingsbury, the Aggies have the SEC’s best rushing attack.
Johnny Football: This is obviously where the list begins. In the first week of fall practice I wrote in our “Storylines” preview of the quarterbacks, “At this point, it seems inevitable that Kevin Sumlin will eventually name Showers the starting quarterback, but the fact that he hasn't yet means this is a story that's going to continue on. The question right now, for the hardcore fans on sites like these, isn't 'who's the probable starter?' It's 'How much better has Manziel gotten?'
Johnny Manziel might be one of the nation's biggest treats in 2012.
Well, the answer was a hell of a lot better. Manziel not only ended up being the starting quarterback, but now is in the mix to be a Heisman finalist later this season. He’s been A&M’s most dynamic playmaker, the SEC’s leading rusher, and a reason for ESPN to bring up the Aggies on every college football show they have. Whatever the expectations might have been for Manziel coming into this year, he’s obliterated all of them.
The Front Seven: Damontre Moore has turned into a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks and A&M’s linebacking corps has been solid all season. The defensive tackles Spencer Nealy and Kirby Ennis have played strong and taken up space in the middle, and Julien Obioha has been a huge treat at strong side end. This group may not be the world’s best, but they’ve been extremely impressive compared to where many thought they would be. Credit for that goes to the coaching staff of Mark Snyder, Terry Price and Matt Wallerstedt.
Ben Malena: We knew coming in that Malena was going to be important because of his pass blocking, but we didn’t know that he would excel as A&M’s feature back. Malena has more yards than Christine Michael and Trey Williams combined and his 6.6 yards per carry is among the best in the SEC. Malena has shown elusiveness, speed and the ability to run with power between the tackles this season. Next year, Malena and Williams will be joined by Brandon Williams and Tra Carson for what will be an extremely formidable backfield.
Mike Evans: I don’t think anybody expected Mike Evans to be this good this quickly. Last year he was extremely raw and definitely looked like a basketball player trying to play football. Now, Mike Evans is a football player. He’s on pace to challenge Ryan Swope’s numbers from last season for A&M’s best receiving season ever.
He’s quickly become Manziel’s favorite target, and his ability to pick up first downs when the Aggies need them has made him one of the SEC’s biggest receiving threats. In fact, Evans is third in receiving right now in the SEC.
Ryan Epperson: Punting was a major concern coming into the year for A&M but so far Epperson has been solid. He’s averaging right at 44 yards per punt this season and has landed several punts inside the 20. The Aggies are fifth in the entire nation in net punting at over 42 yards per attempt.