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Texas A&M Football

Improved special teams required for A&M's chances at a special 2024

January 25, 2024
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Seven victories in a football season will never be acceptable at Texas A&M.

Yet, the Aggies might have rolled a lucky seven last season.

Stories of dysfunction, entitlement, and old-fashioned incompetence that have emerged since the ouster of coach Jimbo Fisher — if completely true — make seven victories seem almost impressive.

Add in the fact A&M was in a realistic position to win in the fourth quarter in the five losses to Miami, Alabama, Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU.

That’s how close A&M was to having an incredible season.

Indeed, it may have been a special team if the Aggies had been competent in… well, special teams.

Of course, A&M had numerous other issues, too. The offensive line struggled. Pass coverage was suspect. The Aggies were down to their fourth-string quarterback before the season concluded.

Porous special teams were as much of a problem as anything else. Special teams had significant breakdowns in four of the five losses.

Is there a need to remind that:

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
A Ray Guy semifinalist in 2020, Nik Constantinou exhausted his eligibility in 2023.

That’s just the highlights of the lowlights.

Last season, the Aggies were ranked 114th in the nation in kickoff coverage. A&M was one of five teams in the country to allow more than one kickoff return for a touchdown.

The Aggies also were ranked 101st in kickoff returns. They had three field goals blocked. Unblocked field goals too often sailed wide.

It has been said special teams are one-third of the game. That’s not true. Special teams are a third element, but they are involved in about 15 percent of plays.

For example, last season, A&M was involved in 1,668 offensive and defensive plays from scrimmage. The Aggies ran about 227 special teams plays (excluding un-timed extra point attempts).

But there is no question about the importance of special teams.

Frank Beamer relied heavily on special teams to transform Virginia Tech from a mediocre program in the ‘80s to national championship contenders in the ‘90s.

Special teams can dramatically change momentum. The Aggies know this all too well.

Thankfully, it appears new coach Mike Elko does, too.

Elko has made several strong moves since taking over as A&M’s head coach in December.

One of the most applauded moves is hiring Patrick Dougherty as a full-time special teams coordinator. That’s a position Fisher felt was unnecessary despite A&M's persistent problems with special teams.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
A&M’s new special teams coordinator (and tight ends coach), Patrick Dougherty had previously served in the same role at Duke for two seasons.

Hopefully, with Dougherty’s influence, the Aggies will make a marked improvement in kickoff coverage. Maybe they will get more consistency in punting, improved protection on field goal attempts and more accuracy on them.

The Aggies must get those problems solved.

Of course, they also must upgrade the offensive line play, get better in coverage and keep quarterback Conner Weigman healthy.

That’s a lot to ask for in one season under a new coach.

But if those things are done in 2024, the Aggies at least could have a chance for a special team.

Discussion from...

Improved special teams required for A&M's chances at a special 2024

5,243 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by Mule
Emilio Fantastico
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AG
Special teams were so bad that it shouldn't be that hard to improve dramatically.
Houstonag
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AG
Special teams are very important and should be looked at as an opportunity to score points or set your team up to score points.

My former HS team was in the state playoffs multiple times and won it 4 times. We scored on special teams from kickoff returns and punts

Guess how we did it. We practiced it and worked on it every week.
RaggedConverge
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AG
Thanks OB. Still hard to believe a championship coach wouldn't hire a ST coach. Don't know how he thought only an analyst was acceptable.
lagoag
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Thanks OB, I can't recall anytime where A&M was so bad in ST play. It'll be a breath of fresh air seeing improvements where we aren't making bone headed mistakes and giving the other team 7 easy points.
Houstonag
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AG
I think this confirms that Fisher ended up being a bad choice and very costly. The very idea for 10 million a year a coach could be so incompetent.
Mule
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AG
Bring Back the 12th man kickoff squad.
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