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Texas A&M Football

Fourth Year Similarities: 2021 Aggies feature commonalities with 2013 Seminoles

August 19, 2021

Coach Jimbo Fisher faced an arduous task.

He took charge of an underachieving football team. He aimed to change the culture within the program, upgrade talent and build toward a championship.

He accomplished the task in his fourth season at Florida State.

The Seminoles had finished a disappointing 7-6 in 2009. The next season, Fisher took over as head coach.

In his first season, Florida State finished 10-4. In his third season, the Seminoles were 12-2, won the Orange Bowl and finished 10th in the final AP rankings. In his fourth year, they were 2013 national champions.

Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports
Fisher led FSU to a national title in 2013, something Aggies hope he brings to College Station in short order.

Texas A&M faithful hope history repeats itself. More specifically, Aggies hope Fisher repeats himself.

“I’m all for it if that’s what happens. I promise you that,” Fisher quipped last month at Southeastern Conference Media Days.

In 2018, Fisher took over a struggling Texas A&M program that finished 7-6 the previous season.

His first A&M record was 9-4. His third team finished 9-1, won the Orange Bowl and was fourth in the final rankings of 2020.

He said there are many similarities in his fourth season at A&M to his 2013 Florida State team.

“I think from the cultural change of you putting how you believe, what you want, how you want to play, the things you want to do into place. I think from that standpoint and the success standpoint we've had, I think there are a lot of similarities,” Fisher said.

“It takes time to develop that culture and get everybody else in there,” he added. “Where you can say something and walk away and know the players are going to reinforce. We just manage a team. We've got to let the players run it. It's getting to that point now where they can finish my sentences. They know what I want to say. We're in a meeting, and I'll bring it up, and (players) say, ‘Coach, we got this. This, yes, sir.’ I don't even have to finish it. Those parts of the program are very similar.”

The similarities began with recruiting.

Fisher’s first four classes as Florida State’s coach were ranked eighth, second, fourth and 11th in the nation by 247sports.

His four A&M classes have been ranked 17th, fourth, sixth and eighth.

“Where you can say something and walk away and know the players are going to reinforce. We just manage a team. We've got to let the players run it. It's getting to that point now where they can finish my sentences.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

“That group is juniors now — the first class we recruited fully — (is) just a tremendous group of people who understand the culture of how you want to play,” Fisher said. “To me, the culture of an organization is the most important thing. The way you walk, the way you talk, the way you think, the way you believe, and the way you go about your day-to-day habits and what you truly create in those habits that allow you to be successful in those big situations.

“Our staff has done a tremendous job recruiting. Our talent level went up, up, up. That's not to say anything bad about the guys that are there, but we've got a really talented group of guys right now, and we're still recruiting that way.”

More importantly, Fisher has developed his players at A&M much the same way they were developed at Florida State.

The Seminoles entered the 2013 season with six returning starters on offense.

Running backs Devonta Freeman (660) and James Wilder Jr. (635) combined for 1,295 yards the previous season.

Tight end Nick O’Leary was coming off a 2012 campaign in which he had 21 catches for 252 yards and three touchdowns. The leading returning receiver was Rashad Greene, who had 57 catches and six touchdowns.

This year, A&M returns running backs Isaiah Spiller (1,036) and Devon Achane (364), who combined for 1,400 rushing yards.

Tight end Jalen Wydermyer doubled O’Leary’s stats with 46 catches for 506 yards and six touchdowns. The leading returning wideout is Ainias Smith, who had 43 catches and six touchdowns in fewer games.

Florida State also was going into the season with a redshirt freshman quarterback. Jameis Winston went on to win the Heisman Trophy.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
If Haynes King is indeed A&M’s starter, he will begin 2021 with the same amount of starting experience as Jameis Winston did in his Heisman season of 2013.

A&M may start redshirt freshman quarterback Haynes King. He is not predicted to win the Heisman.

The Seminoles also had four returning starters in the offensive line. A&M has just one — All-American Kenyon Green.

Florida State also benefited from a breakout year from redshirt freshman receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Might A&M get a breakout year from redshirt freshman receiver Demond Demas?

There are defensive similarities, too. Florida State’s defense ranked second in the nation in 2012. A&M’s ranked ninth last season.

However, FSU returned just four defensive starters. A&M brings back nine.

The biggest difference is the Seminoles returned top linebacker Christian Jones. A&M must adequately replace Buddy Johnson.

But the Aggies may have that replacement in Aaron Hansford, who posted 49 tackles last year in his first season as a starter.

Florida State also ended the 2012 season on a streak of winning seven of its last eight.

A&M enters 2021 on an eight-game winning streak.

Fisher feels so strongly about his team that he said he expected the Aggies to defeat Alabama before Tide coach Nick Saban retires.

Though Fisher did not specify if that win would come this season, he did not back off that statement, much to the delight of his players.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
DeMarvin Leal figures to lead the Aggies’ pass rush this fall and is expected to be a first-round selection in next year’s NFL Draft.

“Jimbo has the most confidence in us, and he knows what we can do, and we know how we're going to do it,” said star junior defensive end DeMarvin Leal. “His comment, I just loved it because it shows how much he believes in us, and it shows having a coach like that to stand behind you, and it matters a lot.”

Capturing a championship likely requires defeating Alabama. The Aggies play Alabama in the sixth game of the season.

Interestingly, in 2012, Florida State’s championship aspirations were largely dependent on defeating ACC rival Clemson.

They played in the sixth game, with the Seminoles prevailing 51-14.

Even the most optimistic Aggies aren’t expecting to blow out Alabama. They’d welcome a win over the Tide by the slimmest of margins.

But they actually came away from last season’s 52-24 loss in Tuscaloosa with a boost in confidence.

“Reviewing (the game video), we knew we made mistakes,” said All-American junior tackle Kenyon Green. “We feel confident in how we can get better. It was little detail stuff that we messed up on that we could capitalize and change the game. This year, that's what we really focused on… details. On every little thing: toughness, pride, grit, effort. Things that Jimbo instilled in us.”

You know… the same things he instilled at Florida State.

Discussion from...

Fourth Year Similarities: 2021 Aggies feature commonalities with 2013 Seminoles

9,675 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 2 yr ago by NumberEinAg
Divining Rod
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Help! I'm drowning in Kool-Aid! Thanks for the article.
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If you didn't knock on an entire mountain of wood before posting this, I'll never let you live it down
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Wow. You just HAD to go there, didnt ya Olin.

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Bird Poo
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I'm already looking at AirBNBs in Indianapolis.
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You had me at Jimbo!!
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