Texas A&M finished 2012 as the most surprising team in the SEC. Walking in as the new kid in the best conference in the country is tough enough, but to finish with 11 wins was nothing short of amazing.
Johnny Manziel was a major part of the success for the Aggies, carrying the team to unbelievable heights in just one year. Manziel and his team aren’t the first to leap from nowhere to top of the pack, however, as Auburn and Cam Newton did it in 2010. Looking back at that Tigers team, there are some obvious similarities.
Both teams relied heavily on strong quarterback play, but the receiver position was also a key to the offensive success at both schools. Darvin Adams was the guy for Newton, and Mike Evans is that guy for Manziel.
Last year Mike Evans stepped up for the Aggies at wide receiver and became one of the most productive freshmen in the college game. He finished 2012 with 82 receptions for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns (via ESPN).
He was the Aggies leading receiver and heads into the year with huge expectations.
Darvin Adams provided the same type of production value as a sophomore for Auburn, and he came into his own as a junior with Cam Newton tossing the football. Here is a look at similarities in their production value.
Here is a screenshot of Mike Evans making a clutch first down catch against Alabama in 2012.
The next screenshot shows Darvin Adams making a fourth down coversion against Alabama in 2010.
It was similar routes ran to different sides of the field, but looking for the same result. It was quick option throws to earn first downs.
Adams provided that possession quality to the Auburn offense, and Evans does it for the Aggies. Without those players in the offense, the production value drops drastically.
Another big play quality that comes with these players is the deep ball. Darvin Adams was a huge asset for the Tigers on the fly route, and it has become a big play for Evans over the past year.
Neither player displays a ton of speed, but they have the initial burst and quickness to get past the defender and gain a few steps. This is a look at Mike Evans gaining an edge on Louisiana Tech last fall.
Here is Darvin Adams doing the same thing against a talented South Carolina secondary.
With the deep route always being an option, defenses have to sit back and play safe football against Texas A&M. The same happened for the Tigers, and it led to a lot of ground yards being churned up by Cam Newton.
Home Game Stretch
The Aggies are walking into a very favorable schedule in 2013. The Aggies will have eight home games, with their toughest opponent (Alabama) coming early and at home. They also face their toughest road game (LSU) late in the schedule.
|Texas A&M 2013 Schedule|
|Aug. 31||Rice||Kyle Field|
|Sept. 7||Sam Houston State||Kyle Field|
|Sept. 14||Alabama||Kyle Field|
|Sept. 21||SMU||Kyle Field|
|Sept. 28||at Arkansas||Fayetteville, Ark.|
|Oct. 12||at Ole Miss||Oxford, Miss.|
|Oct. 19||Auburn||Kyle Field|
|Oct. 26||Vanderbilt||Kyle Field|
|Nov. 9||Mississippi State||Kyle Field|
|Nov. 16||New Mexico||Kyle Field|
|Nov. 23||at LSU||Baton Rouge, La.|
|Nov. 30||at Missouri||Columbia, Mo.|
Auburn had a similar draw in 2010.
The 2010 Tigers had eight home games with the toughest contests coming at home outside of the season finale against Alabama.
|Auburn 2010 Schedule*|
|Sept. 4||Arkansas State||Jordan-Hare Stadium|
|Sept. 9||at Mississippi State||Starkville, Miss.|
|Sept. 18||Clemson||Jordan-Hare Stadium|
|Sept. 25||South Carolina||Jordan-Hare Stadium|
|Oct. 2||Lousiana-Monroe||Jordan-Hare Stadium|
|Oct. 9||at Kentucky||Lexington, Ky.|
|Oct. 16||Arkansas||Jordan-Hare Stadium|
|Oct. 23||LSU||Jordan-Hare Stadium|
|Oct. 30||at Ole Miss||Oxford, Miss.|
|Nov. 6||UT-Chattanooga||Jordan-Hare Stadium|
|Nov. 13||Georgia||Jordan-Hare Stadium|
|Nov. 26||at Alabama||Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
*Championship games not included in Auburn schedule
Auburn was set up for success in 2010, and Texas A&M is receiving the same fate in 2013.
Best Spread-Option in Football
The spread-option has become the new faddish play in college football with the running quarterback returning to focus. Cam Newton started what has been a three-year long run at the Heisman by mobile quarterbacks.
Johnny Manziel was the latest winner, and his Aggies will look very similar to the 2010 Tigers when they take over games with the spread option this fall.
Cam Newton was not the only running threat for the Tigers in 2010, and the Aggies won’t put the entire ground game on Manziel this fall.
Auburn had Michael Dyer and Mario Fannin, while the Aggies will use Ben Malena, Brandon Williams (Oklahoma transfer) and rising sophomore Trey Williams to balance the load.
Having talented tailbacks helps draw eyes from the defense and gives the offense the advantage.
Heisman Winning Quarterback
One of the major advantages that the Aggies carry this season is a Heisman winning quarterback playing in the backfield. Manziel burst onto the scene out of nowhere to win the award, much like Cam Newton did in 2010.
This year he is a well-known commodity, but his play will not stray far from where it was in 2012. This season should be equally as productive as the last for Manziel.
Manziel was an amazing player that took over games. This is a look at his Top 12 plays from 2012:
Now this is a look at Cam Newton’s Heisman moment against LSU in 2010:
Notice the similarity in backyard style the quarterbacks have. They are both amazing athletes that take over games with their play. There are a lot of things that are similar between the two squads, but this is the most obvious connection.
The difference is the Aggies have at least one more season with their Heisman.