Undefeated Aggies likely Vols’ toughest challenge yet

To get its first win over a top-10 opponent in a decade, Tennessee will have to beat the most athletic team it has seen so far this season.

Kyle Field - April 10, 2011. Photo obtained via creativecommons.org. No changes made.

Unlike years past, Texas A&M possesses more than just a high powered offense. Balance on both sides of the ball could mean one of the most dangerous Aggie teams in recent memory.

On offense, Texas A&M hasn’t put up the jaw-dropping statistics like those of the Johnny Manziel years of 2012 and 2013. Yet, through five weeks of play, the Aggies sit at 5-0. The offense has been successful through its balance both on the ground and through the air.

The transfer of quarterback Trevor Knight from Oklahoma has worked out nicely for both Knight and Texas A&M. He’s thrown for 1,261 yards, third-best among SEC quarterbacks, though he only boasts seven touchdown passes. Knight has also been dangerous with his legs. He’s put up an impressive 392 yards and six touchdowns (including 42 and 48-yard scores against Arkansas) places him at ninth place among all SEC players in rushing yards and tied for first place in touchdowns.

As usual, the Aggies possess a host of talented wide receivers. Christian Kirk leads the team with 33 receptions. Kirk is a shifty receiver who runs crisp routes and could prove to be a nuisance for the Vols, who are without Cameron Sutton at cornerback. On the other side of the field, the Aggies sport a big play threat in 6’4″ junior Josh Reynolds. Reynolds has been a big play monster since his first year at Texas A&M in 2012, when he set a school record for touchdowns by a first-year receiver with 13. So far this season, he leads the team with 399 yards and an impressive 20 yards per reception. Other receivers worth noting are big bodied Ricky Seals-Jones and appropriately named Speedy Noil. Both missed Texas A&M’s matchup Saturday against South Carolina but may be available against Tennessee.

At running back, freshman Trayveon Williams has had a successful start to his college career. He currently sits at fourth place in the SEC with 487 rushing yards. An 89-yard touchdown run versus Auburn showed his speed, and Williams’ average of nine yards per carry is good reason to suspect Tennessee will see a heavy dose of him.

Following many years of ugly defense in College Station, the Aggies have a defensive unit that looks legit through five games. Even when excluding the 67-0 bruising of Prairie View, the defense is still giving up an average of less than 20 points per game against quality talent.

Though a sound unit at all three levels, Texas A&M’s most feared element is its pass rush. Lead by All-American defensive end Myles Garrett, the Aggies big men consistently keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stop the run. Although Garrett is fighting a leg injury, he is expected to play Saturday against the Vols.

With plenty of film of Texas A&M facing SEC talent (games against Auburn, Arkansas and South Carolina), Tennessee should not be caught off guard by the athletic ability that Texas A&M possesses. However, will the Vols be able to successfully contain that ability for four quarters?

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Denise Mattox