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2015 MAC football non-conference previews: Texas A&M Aggies

Can the Cardinals sneak something by against Kevin Sumlin and his Aggies?

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Ball State Cardinals open up the season [with a should-be win] against the VMI Keydets at home, Pete Lembo and his crew will head over to College Station to face off against the Texas A&M Aggies.

Last year, Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin had to find a quarterback to replace Johnny Manziel, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft. After Kenny Hill opened up with a tremendous season opener at #9 South Carolina with 511 passing yards and three touchdowns. After sitting out two games for a violation of team rules, true freshman Kyle Allen took over the spotlight and there was no way Hill was going to just have the position back.

Finishing the season with 1,322 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions, Allen ended the year on a very high note. In the 2014 Liberty Bowl, Allen threw a costly interception returned for a touchdown to give WVU an early 10-point lead. But he came back with a pair of drives that ended with touchdown passes instead, five total touchdowns for the game in the 45-37 win.

The weapons that Allen will get to have include leading receiver Josh Reyolds (52 rec., 842 yards 13 TD) and sophomore Speedy Noil (46 rec., 583 yards, 5 TD). The biggest target that Allen will look for mostly will probably Ricky Seals-Jones, a 6-foot-5, 235 pound target that had 49 catches for 465 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2014 (medical redshirt '13). After Manziel basically was the Aggies run game for a couple of years and last season's transition year was Trey Williams' first year as a starter, but left a year early for the NFL (undrafted). Tra Carson played the backup role and will be the starting back for A&M. Carson started his collegiate career with the Oregon Ducks, played ten games as a true freshman before transferring to A&M in 2012. Now a 6-foot, 240 pound senior, Carson has 910 career rushing yards as an Aggie with 12 TD. After him projects to be James White and Brandon Williams.

Jadeveon Clowney gave offensive coordinators nightmares in college. The reason he's even relevant to this conversation is because A&M defensive end Myles Garrett (11.5) shattered Clowney's SEC record (8.0) for most sacks by a freshman in a season last year.

Anyways, he'll be back this season and there's plenty of experience coming back to this d-line too. With Garrett, Alonzo Williams Daeshon Hall and Hardreck Walker, they should be one of the better fronts in their conference.

Josh Walker earned a starting role as the middle linebacker last year when he was a true freshman. Broke his foot, but he'll be playing this year. Ontaro Alaka, another linebacker that earned playing time as a freshman should be starting on the weak side, recording 33 tackles last year. Shaan Washington is the eldest, a junior this year and is the team's returning leading tackler with 64 (fourth on the team last year).

Without Deshazor Everett at corner, which means Jordan Willams and KeVonn Mabon are going to be lined up with senior De'Vante Harris (5-foot-11, 53 tackles in '14) and Victor Davis (19 tackles, 1 PBU '14) with both Armani Watts (played as true freshman, 59 tackles) and JUCO transfer Justin Evans at safety.

The Cardinals and Aggies will meet up in College Station on September 12. This will be the first time a MAC school will play against a Texas A&M team.