Texas A&M Football: Breaking Down Kevin Sumlin's Incredible First Year in SEC

Colby LanhamCorrespondent INovember 11, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Texas A&M Aggies during play against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Kyle Field on September 29, 2012 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When former Aggies coach Mike Sherman departed the program and returned to the NFL as an offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, the Aggies decided to hire former Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin. It was a tall order: Texas A&M would be adjusting to a new life in the SEC, and was placed in the West Division with the likes of SEC powerhouses Alabama and LSU. Sumlin was returning after serving for two seasons as the Aggies offensive coordinator/assistant head coach from 2001-2002.

Pretty heavy first job for a new coach in a new conference. The results: the Aggies sit at 8-2, third in the division, and are just coming off of an upset win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in Week 11. Their two losses against Florida and LSU were by a combined eight points. 

But that's just part of Sumlin's first year. His offense, led by quarterback Johnny Manziel, ranks among the top 10 in the nation, ranking fourth overall with an average of 43.1 points per game. The Aggies rank 13th in rushing yards with 242.7 yards per game, and 18th in passing with 302.7 yards per game. The balance this team has on offense is only made better by their defense, which ranks 27th overall.

Sumlin has this team confident, something you need when dealing in the SEC West with the likes of Nick Saban and Les Miles.  His most impressive wins have come against a 15th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldog team and the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

Sumlin has also made his offense thrive with the freshman Manziel at quarterback, whose dual threat ability makes him a tough matchup for any defense. His running ability is especially evident, something that Mississippi State found out about the hard way. Manziel leads the team with 1014 rushing yards and fifteen touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

Mike Evans and Ryan Swope are the lead receiving duo for the Aggies, with Evans leading the team with 842 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while Swope adds 752 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The balance that Sumlin has brought to this team has been something that has made a huge difference in Texas A&M's conference transition.

Thanks to their offensive production, the Aggies have had little problem with their schedule, beating five of their opponents by at least 25 points or more. The talent this team has been very well put together by Sumlin in his first year, and the Aggies will certainly be mentioned in contention for the SEC West in the very near future.

Not too bad for a first-year head coach.