The expectations for Texas A&M have skyrocketed since last season. With a Heisman winner at quarterback and 11 victories in year one, many are quick to hop on the bandwagon and pick this team to win the SEC this year.
Let's not jump the gun just yet.
Texas A&M has a great team returning and a head coach in Kevin Sumlin who will keep his squad motivated. However, every team needs to have reasonable goals. Even the best and most talented teams in the country don't always produce as expected.
Here are the reasonable goals for the 2013 Aggies.
Top 25 in Points Per Game
There is a good chance the offense could finish in the top 10 like it did last season, but now is not the time to put pressure on the returning group. The object is to plan reasonable goals and there is no reason a top 25 finish in points per game shouldn't happen. Judging by last season's statistics, anything at 35 points or more should get the job done.
This should be no problem with Johnny Manziel returning for a second season. The quarterback that no defense has been able to figure out yet is good for at least half those points with his dual-threat abilities. Responsible for 21 rushing and 26 passing touchdowns, Manziel is an elite playmaker who will continue to find the end zone.
But this offense is much more than the reigning Heisman winner. Mike Evans has proven to be one of the best receivers in the SEC, while a backfield of Ben Malena, Brandon Williams and Tra Carson is scary. Expect to see more touches for the running backs and less pressure on Manziel to do it all.
There are also elite wide receiver prospects in JaQuay Williams and Ricky Seals-Jones, who will add even more weapons for Manziel. This offense has the potential to be better than it was last season, which should result in a lot of points.
An Improved Defense
The defense remains the huge question mark with this team. After finishing last season ranked ninth in the SEC and losing key guys like Damontre Moore and Sean Porter, there is plenty of room for concern with this unit.
Don't worry Aggies fans, there will be improvement made from last season.
The defensive line is lacking in experience, especially with 2013 recruits expected to play significant roles, but there is plenty of speed and athleticism up front. This should help in the sack department and keep the pass rush consistent like it was last season.
The secondary does feature one of the better cornerback tandems in the SEC in De'Vante Harris and Deshazor Everett, while the linebacker corps has a lot of youth to be excited about. Linebacker is the biggest area of concern with this unit, but recruits Tommy Sanders and Brett Wade have looked sharp and should be able to slide in and make an immediate impact.
Expecting a top five defense in the SEC may be asking for a bit much, but the defense will take steps forward from what we witnessed last year.
Regardless of how potent the offense may be or how much the defense improves, the bottom line is that this team still plays in the toughest division in college football. The Aggies will likely be the underdogs when Alabama comes to town and a trip to Death Valley is another game that could result in a loss. Remember, the Tigers defense did a relentless job of harassing Manziel last year.
Although both of those games could result in victories, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see Texas A&M fall short in both. LSU and Alabama are two proven SEC powerhouse programs and will be eager to show that life isn't as sweet in this conference as it appeared to be last season. The honey moon is over and this will be the year for the Aggies to prove that they are legitimate contenders.
Texas A&M shouldn't have a problem with the rest of the schedule on paper, but those two games against LSU and Alabama could cause trouble.