Mandatory Credit: Photo by Artie Walker Jr/AP/Shutterstock (13486702h) Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher gestures during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against South Carolina, in Columbia, S.C Texas A M South Carolina Football, Columbia, United States – 22 Oct 2022
Texas A&M closed the season with a surprising 38-23 win over LSU. But don’t let that fool you; the Aggies were a disaster in 2022.
The Tigers are still going to the SEC Championship, where they will face Georgia. The defeat eliminates LSU from College Football Playoff contention with three losses and basically means Georgia is in the playoffs, win or lose.
But Saturday’s game was a frustrating reminder of what things could have been for A&M. The Aggies had the talent to push Alabama to the brink and knock off LSU. But they also lost to Appalachian State and finished the year with a 5-7 record. The Aggies were just 2-6 in the SEC. The big question is, what went wrong? A loaded roster was boosted by one of the greatest recruiting classes ever. But the Aggies struggled all season.
There were so many reasons the Aggies had issues. Some of the high-end recruits just weren’t ready. Many were great athletes but not great football players. And inconsistent play at quarterback was a big reason the Aggies struggled. Moving forward, five-star freshman Conner Weigman, who helped engineer the LSU win, should be the guy at QB. But there are more systemic problems.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher will likely keep his job, but his offense needs an overhaul. It’s probably time for an offensive coordinator with some spread techniques to get more out of the Aggies’ skill players. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin should be in the crosshairs as well. His defense regressed after he replaced Mike Elko, who became head coach at Duke.
There are rumors that A&M might pursue Deion Sanders. But that’s pretty far-fetched. Sanders would be a splash hire, but A&M would be a big jump in class for him. More likely, Fisher keeps his job and makes changes. But the leash will get very short. Despite Saturday’s win, the Aggies season was a disaster. They simply have to do better in 2023.
Horns of plenty: The Texas Longhorns had an almost season. They almost were good enough to make the Big 12 title game and perhaps spoil TCU’s bid at making the College Football Playoff. Instead, they came up a game short. But it was a decent year for UT – the Longhorns finished 8-4, 6-3 in conference. Eight wins should be the minimum at UT, but it is a good step in Steve Sarkisian’s second season.
Quinn Ewers showed flashes as a franchise QB. If he does not develop, Arch Manning is waiting in the wings next year. A tough loss to Alabama, then conference losses that could have gone either way with Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, changed the dynamics of the season. The Horns were only truly beaten in the TCU game. While the score was close, the Frogs dominated defensively. Otherwise, the Horns could have won every other game.
That’s progress, and it bodes well for the Longhorns moving forward. Overall, 2022 has to be considered a success.
Whose house? Um, we don’t know: Houston closed out the season with a terrible loss against a bad Tulsa team as the Cougars head to the Big 12. As with Texas, eight wins that should be the minimum for UH. So they might hit the minimum this year if they can win their bowl. Still, as preseason favorites in the AAC, this season was a major disappointment. They were blown out twice – by Kansas and SMU – and the other three losses were bad ones that they should have won against Texas Tech, Tulane, and lowly Tulsa.
Moving forward, quarterback Clayton Tune is done and moving on, and UH will be starting over at the most important position as they enter Big 12 play. The defense was a disaster all season. Those things have to be addressed, or the Big 12 debut could be a rough one.
Overall, 2022 has to be considered a down year.
Baylor/Tech/TCU: After winning the Big 12 last season, Baylor fell back a little with a 6-6 record. Still, the Bears will make a bowl under Dave Aranda. They had some tough losses, but in the end, this is probably who they are. The Texas Tech Red Raiders managed a bowl-eligible season under Joey McGuire, and the future looks bright. Meanwhile, all TCU did in its first season under Sonny Dykes was to go unbeaten and set up a shot at the CFP. More on the Frogs moving forward. Overall, it was a solid year for the state’s premier teams not named Texas A&M.