Texas A&M's offseason quarterback competition, like most others around the country, will be the focal point of much attention in the coming months.
While fans will dissect and discuss ad nauseum the pros and cons that come with the three primary contenders -- senior Jake Hubenak, redshirt freshman Nick Starkel and true freshman Kellen Mond -- there's a good chance the hand-wringing might be largely unnecessary. Who starts at quarterback is important, but chances are, the Aggies are going to be a good offensive team regardless of who takes the snaps.
Based on the team's track record under coach Kevin Sumlin, getting points on the scoreboard is rarely a problem. Keeping opponents from churning up their own yards and points has been the bigger issue, and the defense is where the biggest question marks will be this fall.
Hubenak, Starkel and Mond all bring different strengths to the table, but regardless of which one of them is calling the shots, the Aggies should still be one of the better offensive teams in the SEC. Here are a few reasons why:
They return the league's most versatile offensive player: Junior receiver Christian Kirk is a Swiss army knife. He's a great receiver (he finished in the top four in the SEC in receiving yards his first two collegiate seasons), can run the football, return kicks and punts (he's one of the nation's best punt returners, with five touchdowns in two seasons) and can line up virtually anywhere the Aggies ask him (he even lined up at quarterback a couple times last season). Having Kirk back is huge for A&M, even though the Aggies lost their other three starters at receiver. And they have plenty of young receiving talent via their past two recruiting classes to fill the void.
They have plenty of talent and depth at running back: Few outside of the state of Texas were aware of Trayveon Williams this time last season and he turned out to have a stellar freshman campaign. He finished with 1,057 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He's a legitimate home-run threat who will only be a sophomore this fall. Keith Ford, a transfer from Oklahoma, was a solid compliment to Williams and should be again. And beyond those two, there are several other capable backs who could figure into the rotation.
There's talent up front: The Aggies have the tough task of replacing two starting offensive tackles from their 2016 squad, but there is a lot of offensive-line talent on the roster and a solid amount of experience. Five different Aggies O-linemen have started a game in their careers, and the interior O-line returns virtually all its talent. The unit also picked up a graduate transfer recently, Christian Daimler from Oklahoma, to add to their offensive-tackle depth. Once they figure out the bookends, the rest should fall into place.
Noel Mazzone: The Aggies' offensive coordinator did a solid job guiding the offense last season despite some of the limitations in front of him, namely, the completion percentage of Texas A&M's 2016 starting quarterback (Trevor Knight). Last season, Knight completed only 53.3 percent of his passes, worst in the SEC among the full-time starting quarterbacks. Knight wasn't a bad player (his rushing ability made up for what he lacked in accuracy as a passer, and Knight did throw a nice deep ball, which translated into numerous big plays) but Mazzone was able to maximize what he had in the graduate-transfer quarterback enough to get an average of 36.4 points per game (third in the SEC). Against Power 5 conference competition only, the Aggies were still third-best in the SEC (31.1 points). Mazzone has guided numerous productive offenses in his career, and given the pieces he has, there's a good chance he'll get the most out of whoever takes the first snap Sept. 3 at UCLA.