Starters returning: 7
Starters returning: 5
Before the start of last season, football writers and broadcasters were polled by the TCU Sports Information office to pick a Southwest Conference favorite. Texas A&M gathered the highest number of points in the poll's history, while Texas got only three of the 159 first-place votes cast. So Texas swept undefeated to the SWC championship, and the Aggies wound up 8-3 and third in the conference. This year Arkansas is No. 1 with the voters, who have picked the wrong winner 77% of the time for 44 years. That has naturally got a lot of people in College Station pretty excited.
A&M's strength will once again be its offense, despite the loss of George Woodard. The 265-pound fullback, who gained 1,107 yards in 1977, snapped a bone in his leg playing in a slow-pitch softball game last spring and will probably sit out the season. The Aggies also lost No. 2 Fullback Eddie Hardin because of a neck injury that occurred during spring drills, which has forced Coach Emory Bellard to install former Halfback David Brothers at the fullback spot. With Curtis Dickey returning at halfback and 220-pound Adger Armstrong running like a bull in practice, the Aggies still have versatility, if not depth, in the backfield. Dickey, at 6'1" and 205 pounds, is a world-class sprinter who, Bellard believes, could be All-America this season. Handing off to Dickey will be sophomore Quarterback Mike Mosley, who broke into the lineup late last season and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.
When the Aggie backs can't get the job done, look for Kicker Tony Franklin. Franklin had field goals of 64 and 65 yards in 1976, and has kicked 15 field goals of 50 yards or more, tops in NCAA history.
The Aggies start as many as three freshmen and sophomores on defense, where they have been particularly vulnerable to long gainers. "I think the big key will be how quickly we can come around on defense," says Bellard. What he means, specifically, is how quickly the linebacking comes around.