Auburn travels to College Station, Texas, this weekend for a chance to pick up the first signature win of the Gus Malzahn era. The Tigers take on Texas A&M at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS in what should be an entertaining game with plenty of points. To get a little more insight on the Aggies, we chatted with a couple of bros from Good Bull Hunting, SB Nation's A&M blog.
College and Magnolia: How has Texas A&M met fans' expectations this season? Are the Aggies' better or worse than expected in any way?
Dr. Norris Camacho: I think overall, sitting at 5-1 and ranked #7 with only a one-touchdown loss to Alabama is probably not a letdown for a vast majority of Aggie fans. The glaring disappointment is obviously the defense. We were able to keep it together defensively last year for the most part, but we lost a lot of seniors and that lack of experience is showing.
ColoradoAg: This is about what I expected. I made my peace at some point in the off season that the defense was going to be very raw and often seemingly drunk. The offense continues to hum along at whatever pace it feels like despite some turnovers here and there. I'd also mention that the offensive line is performing a tinge better than I had anticipated.
CaM: What's the deal with the defense? Texas A&M has significant issues stopping the run and isn't much better against the pass. Is this a problem with execution, scheme or both?
CA: It's a triple threat of poor execution, inexperience, and lack of depth. Basic assignment football seems to escape the unit for prolonged periods. Mediocre recruiting by the past coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball has not yielded the depth needed to be even an average defense in the SEC. Help is on the way, but many freshman have been thrown into the fire this year out of sheer necessity. I am primarily of the belief that our pass defense's struggles can be attributable to the complete absence of a pass rush. In short, it's all rather messy.
CaM: Who are the Aggies' defensive playmakers? If A&M gets a big play against Auburn's offense, who will be responsible.
DNC: If he's healthy, it's Deshazor Everett. He's nursing a thigh bruise though, and is listed as "probably probable" by Sumlin. He's a ball hawk who can pretty much play anywhere in the secondary and has a couple of defensive scores already this year. Another guy to keep an eye on is true freshman linebacker Darian Claiborne.
CaM: We know about wide receiver Mike Evans and running back Ben Malena, and I believe we've heard of quarterback Johnny Manziel. Who's flying under the radar on offense. What's a name that Auburn fans don't know now, but will after Saturday?
DNC: Hopefully it's Tra Carson. He's a big back who can just wear down a defense. We got a good dose of him during the Arkansas game, but not much against Ole Miss.
CA: With Evans garnering so much attention, it's freed up space for receivers Malcome Kennedy and Derel Walker. Both have good hands and have been big in keeping the chains moving.
CaM: Auburn should have a big advantage when running the ball. Do you think A&M will stack the box and force Marshall to pass? Is stopping the run your biggest concern?
CA: My biggest concern for the defense is when the Aggie offense doesn't score a touchdown on every drive. Call it failing to hold serve, if you will. I think DC Mark Snyder is going to test Marshall's chops by trying to lock down the running game. Fortunately for y'all, we try this with most teams and they still chew up yards on the ground.
CaM: The Aggies opened as 12-point favorites. How confident are you going into this one? How do you think it plays out?
CA: I'm on edge. Malzahn seems to be changing the culture at Auburn for the better in a hurry. A 12-point spread seems way too big. If y'all can keep the ball out of Johnny's hands with your ground game and be opportunistic on defense, this one could be very tight. Ultimately, I think the Aggie offense will just manage to outscore Auburn in front of the home crowd.
CaM: What do Aggies want more, a national championship or a Waffle House in College Station?
DNC: I'll take the natty, but I think cuppycup would actually prefer a Waffle House.
CA: You're only reigning national champs for a year. Waffle House is forever.
More from College and Magnolia:
- On growing up Auburn in Aggie/Longhorn country
- In which we are forced to acknowledge the ACC for a minute
- Auburn-Texas A&M TV schedule, radio, streaming, odds, key players and more
- Former Tigers in the NFL: Week 6