In 2019 the Texas A&M football team will play Clemson and Alabama, which went a combined 29-1 last season. A&M also will play five other teams that made bowl games and were a combined 44-22 led by Georgia (11-3) and LSU (10-3), which the Aggies will play on the road.
“We’ve got such an easy schedule. We don’t play nobody,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher joked Monday night as he talked at the Brazos County A&M Club’s Coaches’ Night. “We only play 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the county, just about.”
Before his speech to the crowd, Fisher talked to the media about why that schedule can be a good thing.
“When you’re playing people like we’re playing and have the schedule we have, you’ll have plenty of opportunities,” Fisher said. “Is it tough? Is it challenging? Yes. I’m not saying it just because, hey, that’s our schedule, but we’ve got a great opportunity where we’re at while we’re building this program.”
A&M went 3-2 against ranked teams last season. Mock 2019 preseason Top 25 rankings typically include six or seven A&M opponents.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to show the development we’ve made, the consistency in which we can play with and hopefully getting over the hump, like we did at the end of the year in those big games and become relevant to the national championship hunt,” Fisher said.
A&M closed last year with a 74-72 seven-overtime victory over LSU then blasted North Carolina State 52-13 in the Gator Bowl.
Fisher said it takes time to build a program that can play at a championship level every game.
“We’ve got to make sure we lay the foundation in understanding how to compete in those games,” Fisher said. “I think this is a tremendous opportunity for our players and for our organization.”
Fisher says he likes the old-fashioned uniforms, but what matters most is the person inside the jersey.
“If we have to get some kind of special uniform to make us play well, then we’re not going to be a very good team, anyway,” Fisher said. “Now do players like [today’s fashion trends]? Yes. Is that significant? Yes. I still like your history and tradition. To be honest with you, I like the old looks, the throwbacks, the ’98. I love those uniforms.”
The Aggies wore throwback uniforms from the 1998 Big 12 championship season in last year’s 20-14 overtime victory over Kentucky.
Toughness was something Fisher thought last year’s team had by season’s end, but it’s an ongoing process.
“I think it’s something that you always have to work on and build on,” he said. “Toughness to a point is a daily thing. There cannot be a day when you’re not [tough]. I think our players understand the importance of it. There’s times I’m saying we’ve got to get tougher, we’ve got to get tougher. That’s not always the answer for everything. [But] that’s something you’ll hear out of my mouth consistently the whole time I’m ever here because I think it’s very important to success, and I’m talking about toughness mentally and physically.”
Fisher said players who missed spring drills because of injuries should be ready to participate in summer drills, except for running back Vernon Jackson, who has a neck injury.
“That’s going to take time and we’ll probably re-evaluate that in the middle of summer,” Fisher said.
Monday’s event was the earliest the Brazos County A&M Club had its Coaches’ Night. It used to be in July. It was in June the last four years. The remaining A&M Club nights are San Antonio on May 30, Austin on May 31, Dallas on June 18 and Houston on June 19. Fisher was in Fort Worth on May 6.
A&M had seven players drafted into the NFL last month and another seven sign as free agents.
“The draft went really well,” Fisher said. “At the end of the day, that’s these guys’ dream. That’s the hope.”
The player drafted highest was center Erik McCoy, going in the second round to New Orleans. Things have gone well since for McCoy, who proposed to his girlfriend, Bianca Soliz. The Saints picked McCoy 48th, trading up 14 spots to get him. McCoy is one of four centers on the roster looking to replace Max Unger, who retired.
“He’s been good,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton said during rookie minicamp. “He’s smart. He’s a guy that you can see is experienced at his position. He’s in good shape. Overall it’s been good.”
Jace Sternberger, who went to the Green Bay Packers in the third round, has been projected by many to be a great pick. He had 37 catches for first downs or touchdowns last season, the most among Southeastern Conference tight ends. Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr., who was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round, was next with 27.
Sternberger will wear number 87, which was worn by popular wide receiver Jordy Nelson for nine seasons.