Texas A&M Aggies: Alfred Blue

College football prognosticator Phil Steele continues his look at the top depth charts around the country. Today, we're looking at his top running back depth charts Insider.

Steele has three SEC teams on his list, with Georgia taking his top spot. Alabama is No. 2, while Texas A&M is 14th.

It's hard to argue against having Georgia No. 1. The Bulldogs bring back the top one-two rushing punch in Todd Gurley, who led SEC running backs with 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns, and slasher Keith Marshall. The duo combined for 2,144 yards and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. There isn't much behind these two, but they did just fine with the majority of the carries last year.

[+] EnlargeT.J. Yeldon
AP Photo/Romeo GuzmanT.J. Yeldon returns to lead a deep backfield for the Crimson Tide this season.
Alabama has a very deep backfield that's led by sophomore T.J. Yeldon, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year. He should compete to be one of the top players at his position this fall as both a slasher and a pounder. The Tide will get back the beastly Jalston Fowler, who is coming off of knee surgery, and scat back Dee Hart, who is also returning from a knee injury. Sophomore Kenyan Drake is back and true freshman Derrick Henry should help out as both a running back and H-back this fall.

As for the Aggies, they're also very deep at running back. Leading rusher Ben Malena (808 yards) is back, and he'll be working with some younger but very talented teammates. Brandon Williams, who transferred from Oklahoma, has the potential to be very special. Then you have Oregon transfer Tra Carson and sophomore Trey Williams. There is a lot of speed and athleticism in Texas A&M's running back stable.

I'd also keep an eye on Florida, LSU and Ole Miss this fall. The Gators will be led by sophomore Matt Jones, who had a very good spring and should pick up right where Mike Gillislee left off. He'll also get help from redshirt junior Mack Brown, who left spring as the No. 2 back, and freshmen Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane. Taylor had a good spring and Lane should come in and help right away.

LSU might have made Steele's list if Jeremy Hill wasn't suspended from the team. Hill's recent arrest has his future at LSU in doubt, but if he plays this fall he'll be one of the league's best. Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue are nothing to sneeze at. Both have shown flashes in the past and Blue should be healed from a knee injury that cost him most of his 2012 season. Losing Hill will really hurt, but the Tigers have a solid duo in Hilliard and Blue to work with.

Ole Miss returns rushing leader Jeff Scott and a talented bunch of youngsters. Scott is a solid all-purpose-type back, while sophomores I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton came on strong late last year and this spring. True freshman Mark Dodson will get his chance to see the field as well after a strong spring.


Q&A with GeauxTigerNation's Gary Laney

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
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As we approach the SEC clash between No. 6 LSU and No. 18 Texas A&M, we'll take a closer look at the Aggies' opponent with Gary Laney, who covers the Tigers for ESPN's GeauxTigerNation. Here are three questions for Laney and his takes on the Tigers:

1. Clearly LSU's defense has thrived so far this season. What's been the key for them on that side of the ball, and how have they defended mobile quarterbacks since they'll see one on Saturday?

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger, Lerentee McCray
AP Photo/John RaouxLSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has not taken the Tigers offense to the next level this season.
LSU lost some big play ability when Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the team, but really, the defense may be as a good as last year. At linebacker, the Tigers are definitely better as Kevin Minter and Lamin Barrow are both rounding into solid linebackers, definitely upgrades from a season ago. If the secondary took a half step backwards after losing Morris Claiborne, Mathieu and Brandon Taylor off last year's team, the linebackers are clearly at least a half step better.

What's interesting about this week's matchup with Manziel is LSU has been spending the last few weeks preparing for mobile quarterbacks. It really started when Auburn began getting mileage out of a wildcat package with freshman Jonathan Wallace, a move that caught LSU a bit off guard, but was a sign of things to come. The next week, Towson's Grant Enders was a dual-threat type who had some big runs, then LSU dove into the heart of SEC play with Florida's Jeff Driskel and South Carolina's Connor Shaw, two more runners, in back-to-back games.

I don't think any of these guys are as talented as Johnny Manziel, but LSU should be well versed on containing a running threat in the pocket, staying in gaps on the cut/read option and all the other tricks you have to pull out against a running QB. They've been preparing for that for four straight weeks now.

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