Jimbo Fisher likes the challenge he faces as Texas A&M’s new head coach, and part of the challenge should be a top two Clemson team in Week 2 of the 2018 football season.
The Tigers travel to College Station on Sept. 8.
“I know (the SEC),” Fisher said according to SEC Country.com. “We’re in one of the toughest divisions in football. That’s the challenge that I like. That’s where I want to be. I want to take Texas A&M where we haven’t been, and that’s the SEC championship. That’s the national championship.”
Fisher was 4-4 against Clemson in his eight years at Florida State, where he led the Seminoles to three ACC Championships and the 2013 National Championship.
This will be Clemson’s first trip to Texas A&M since 2004, when the Aggies defeated the Tigers 27-6. Clemson then beat the Aggies the following year in Death Valley thanks to a last-second field goal by Jad Dean.
Texas A&M finished the 2017 football season with an overall record of 7-6 and went 4-4 in the SEC.
Fisher is taking over for Kevin Sumlin, who was Texas A&M’s head coach for six seasons. Darrell Dickey, coming from the University of Memphis will be Fisher’s offensive coordinator while Mike Elko will coordinate the defense after one season as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator.
With 19 starters returning, the Aggies will be plenty experienced this year to try to reach Fisher’s lofty goals.
Nick Starkel returns as the starting quarterback from last season, but sophomore Kellen Mond will have the opportunity to compete for the job, as both will be adjusting to Fisher’s pro-style technique.
Though the Aggies averaged 156 rushing yards per game last year, leading runner Trayveon Williams returns.
With the return of Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant as well as Dexter Lawrence, Clemson’s defensive line will be one of if not the best in the entire country. For the Aggies, who struggled in the ground game last season (88thnationally at 4.0 yards per carry) as well as protecting the passer (29 sacks allowed), Clemson’s defensive line will definitely be a even bigger challenge to the Aggies this year.
However, with nine offensive linemen with starting experience returning, A&M fans hope that extra experience brings improved performance.
A&M will most likely be strong at linebacker, as middle linebacker Tyrel Dodson and outside linebacker Otaro Alaka are both returning as well.
Elko faces a challenge taking in a defense that finished just 78th nationally in total defense after it lost three of four starters in the secondary — Priest Willis, Donovan Wilson and Armani Watts — and also three main seniors on the defensive line in Jarrett Johnson, Zaycoven Henderson and Qualen Cunningham.
On offense, in addition to losing dynamic receiver Christian Kirk, the Aggies will also be without their No. 2 pass catcher Damion Ratley.
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