Thanks to ColoradoAg of SB Nation's A&M blog, Good Bull Hunting, for answering my questions. If you haven't visited GBH, do yourself a favor and do so. These guys are churning out quality content. My answers to their questions should be posted over there sometime tomorrow.
1. What has the transition been like moving from the Big 12 to the SEC? Are you glad A&M made the move? I'll admit that I wasn't really sure about A&M being a good cultural fit. Y'all think beef counts as BBQ, after all.
So far the transition has been a helluva lot of fun and pretty smooth. Our fan base probably hasn't been this excited since the early 90s. We've seen very positive momentum building in recruiting as well. The administration was smart to hire an exciting, young coach in Kevin Sumlin to guide the transition. We knew we'd have challenges adjusting to the SEC. Our depth isn't where it needs to be and our front seven could stand to be bigger and more athletic in areas, but the whole attitude from our old rivals that we'd just get killed in the SEC was absurd. Texas A&M has every resource available to be a perennial top 20 program. Those resources get negated when you botch a couple coaching hires like we did. Hopefully, we now have the guy that can capitalize on all the available opportunities.
As for being a cultural fit, y'all will just have to come to College Station next year. We're crazy, we're oddballs, and we love college football more than anything. We never really fit with Iowa State, the Kansas schools, etc. We're also really friendly for the most part, so come to the game next year, have some of our beers, and eat brisket - the best of the BBQs. We don't need to slather our meats in sugary sauces to make them good. All that said, I'm no meat snob, and I like Alabama BBQ just fine as well.
2. What about giving up the rivalry with Texas? I know they are as responsible as y'all are for it going by the wayside, but do you wish it could have been salvaged? I mean, I hate Alabama, but I would really hate to give up the Iron Bowl.
Well, I'm clearly biased, but I do think they are more responsible for the rivalry going by the wayside. We've made it abundantly clear that they have an open invitation to play us annually. There are some Ags that seem just fine with the rivalry being dead for now, but I don't like it. As you guys know, part of what makes college football fun is the passion and hate. Playing in the SEC is a ton of fun, but we don't really have anyone on our schedule that we hate yet. So yeah, I wish we could salvage things with the Longhorns. Right now, there are too many egos and hurt feelings. Time heals wounds, and I think we'll play again, hopefully sooner than later. Can you imagine what Johnny Football would do to the Longhorn defense?
3. Johnny Manziel seems to be the latest best quarterback to play in the SEC ever. What makes him so good? Seeing as he's only a freshman, what is his ceiling at A&M?
This is a cliche, cop-out answer, but he just seems to have that "it" factor. Johnny has this unique confidence that he can do anything and beat anyone. This can get him into trouble as we've seen at times, but it also makes him a helluva lot of fun to watch. He's extremely elusive and has great vision. I think we're only scratching the surface on his potential. He still has a long way to go in terms of pocket presence and developing the patience to go through his reads. Barring injury, he'll be a four year starter and set all kinds of records and hopefully pickup some hardware along the way. Sumlin doesn't let freshman talk to the media, so Manziel has some mystery to him. I don't think I've ever heard him speak.
4. What about the rest of the offense? Any other players we should watch? When the offense is running at peak performance, what does it look like?
Keep an eye on freshman receiver Mike Evans. He is a physical mismatch with DBs and is leading us in all statistical categories. I think true freshman running back Trey Williams is also poised to breakout at some point. He is small, shifty, and very fast. I'm also a big fan of our offensive line led by tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews.
When the offense is firing on all cylinders, it is playing fast and spreading the ball around to a wide range of receivers and backs. We go into this no huddle rhythm that is pretty cool when it is rolling. The idea is to wear out the defense and not let them get lined up in ways they'd like. We'll go five wide where we can run screens or attack in space. Add in the option for Johnny to run a draw, and it is tough to defend.
5. Now that A&M is in the SEC, y'all have to find a school to hate. Who are the likely candidates?
I think LSU is probably the school we'll hate the most. They're our closest neighbors and we have a history with them. And they're LSU. Loud, cocky drunks. I think a sleeper might be Mississippi State for some reason. Probably because their uniforms look like ours.
6. Damontre Moore looks like the Johnny Manziel of the Aggie defense, as he leads the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss. How badly is he going to hurt whomever Auburn plays at quarterback?
Damontre is a bad, bad man. Guys that big shouldn't be as quick as he is. His motor never stops. I think he is benefiting greatly from our new S&C program. Damontre probably thinks y'all are going to play more than one quarterback and is hoping to become acquaintances with both.
7. Aside from Moore, the rest of A&M's defense has pretty average numbers? Is that just because Moore hogs all the stats, or is there a big talent gap between the defensive end and the rest of his colleagues on defense?
We're not where we need to be yet on defense. We have no depth. I've been very pleased with the effort of this year's defense. They're playing with pride that we haven't seen much of over the past decade. We're pretty green in the secondary, as well. After Moore, our best defensive player is senior linebacker Sean Porter.
8. What does an ideal Mark Snyder defensive game plan look like?
That's a good question. I'm not as savvy with the x's and o's as some of our other writers, but I know that Snyder loves to get after the quarterback and disrupt his rhythm. Some of the secondary strategy has been puzzling. I really like the energy that Snyder brings to the D, and I hope he is around to build some continuity and develop some of our younger guys. The future is bright with the talent we're recruiting on that side of the ball -- a side of the ball that was mostly ignored under Fran and Sherman in terms of recruiting.
9. What matchups in this game really favor A&M? Or are there too many to count?
I'm pretty old school. I'd prefer we just line up behind our great offensive line and run it at your D, but that isn't our M.O. anymore. You'll probably get a steady dose of running backs Ben Malena and Christine Michael. Y'all already know all of this, but I think your offense is going to have issues with our blitzing.
10. Are there any matchups you're worried about? If so, how drunk are you right now?
We're not very disciplined on defense. The effort is there, but we make mental mistakes with penalties and big plays. I could see y'all ripping off a couple big plays early to keep it interesting. Oh, and I'm Namath-drunk right now.
11. How do you think the game plays out, and how confident are you in an Aggie win?
I'm curious to see how the Tigers respond to all the negative noise and adversity around them. Chizik has obviously had a difficult week with the unfortunate passing of his mother. It will be interesting to see if the players rally around him. I'm confident that the Ags will win, but y'all are still Auburn and only two years removed from a MNC. There is still plenty of talent to make this an interesting game.
I'll still take the Ags 38-17. Thanks a lot for having me. I'm bummed I can't make it to Jordan-Hare. I've heard great things and plan to make the trip in 2014.