7 way-too-early predictions for Texas A&M’s offense in 2022
While coach Jimbo Fisher ponders which quarterback will be under center for the season-opener, let’s take a look at the Aggies’ offense and what could it might accomplish in 2022.
Along with a new quarterback, Fisher must decide on other playmakers as well. Texas A&M must replace its leading rusher and receiver as the 2022 season begins in early September. Gone to the NFL are former leading rusher Isaiah Spiller (4th round – Chargers) and receiver Jalen Wydermyer (FA – Bills), and quarterback Zach Calzada has transferred to SEC West rival Auburn.
So how will the Aggies’ offense recover from that, who picks up the slack, and how does it perform next season without last year’s leaders? Here are a bunch of way-too-early predictions for the 2022 season.
1. Max Johnson wins the QB battle
Experience wins the day for Max Johnson. The transfer from LSU thew for 2,814 yards and 27 TDs last season and threw just 6 picks in 373 pass attempts. Taking care of the football is important and Johnson, while not flashy or possessive of the best natural abilities in the conference, is serviceable while Conner Weigman, the future of the position, continues to develop.
Don’t expect Johnson to throw for 3,000 yards in 2022. In fact he might struggle to reach 2,000 in a more balanced attack than what he toiled in at Baton Rouge. But keeping the turnovers to a minimum will be his biggest asset.
2. Aggies score more than last year
Texas A&M scored at a 29.3-point clip a season ago. They’ll score more with Johnson at the helm, despite my prediction for Johnson’s individual numbers to tumble. That’s because the Aggies should be solid in a ground attack that figures to be the feature of the offense. Look for the Aggies to surpass the 30-point mark and rise to among the top 5 scoring teams in the SEC.
3. Devon Achane steps up at RB
It’s time for the speedster to step out of Spiller’s shadow and into the spotlight. He certainly has the ability to become the face of the offense and if the offensive line is as good as I think it’ll be, Achane will have a big year. A 1,000-yard season is all but certain. Can he reach the 1,760-yard mark that Trayveon Williams put up in 2018? Probably not, but Achane will nevertheless have a big season.
4. Ainias Smith returns as the go-to receiver
For the first time in 3 seasons, a wide receiver will be the Aggies’ leading pass catcher. For the second time in 3 seasons, it will be Ainias Smith. That’s right, Smith led the Aggies in receiving yards in 2020 — as a running back. In 2022 he’ll become the Aggies’ go-to wide receiver and have a big year, eclipsing the 800-yard mark.
5. Max Wright becomes a weapon at TE
In 2 of the past 4 seasons, a tight end has led the Aggies in receiving yards. Don’t look for that trend to continue in 2022, but that doesn’t mean the position won’t be critical in the passing game. Used more in a blocking role over the past 2 seasons, Wright will get be targeted more in 2022. No, Wright won’t replace Wydermyer’s production — 40+ catches, 500+ yards each of the past 2 seasons with 10 combined 10 TDs catches. But 20 catches for a TE who has a total of 4 for his career shouldn’t be out of the question.
6. Aggies’ run game boosted
Despite not having Spiller, the Aggies’ run game looks to be even better this season with Achane, Amari Daniels and LJ Johnson Jr. making up an imposing trio. Again, it will depend on how the offensive line jells, but if it does as Fisher expects it will, the run game could be improved over last season. Texas A&M rushed for an average of 183.0 yards per game last season. Look for that total to reach the 200-yard mark in 2022. That would be notable. The Aggies have only averaged 200+ 3 times since averaging 242 during Johnny Manziel’s Heisman year in 2012.
7. Total offense returns to the top 5 in the SEC
In even years, since 2014, the Aggies’ offense has finished among the SEC’s top 5. Well, 2022 is an even year, and yes, watch for the Aggies to make a drastic improvement this season and vault from No. 11 in the SEC a year ago back into the top 5. Not only is the talent and experience there, but with the recent top recruiting classes, look for a few new faces to contribute as well. It all adds up to a big season on offense for Texas A&M in 2022.