Auburn football preview 2013: Catching up on Texas A&M with Good Bull Hunting

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Aggies' first year-plus in the SEC has been interesting. We chatted via email with Derek from SB Nation's A&M blog, Good Bull Hunting, discussing A&M's 2013 expectations, the game against Auburn and the NCAA investigation into Johnny Manziel.

College and Magnolia: I really hate to do this, but after dealing with an NCAA investigation in 2010 and '11, I have to know what it feels like to be on the other side. A&M'S JUST A BUNCH OF CHEATERS, PAWWWWL. YOU RECKON THE AG$ AND JOHNNY FOOTBALL ARE GONNA GET THE HAMMER??

Good Bull Hunting: You know, it is really interesting. It's definitely created a whirlwind around the program. At some point you've got to start getting concerned that it's becoming a distraction for the team. I don't think Coach Sumlin would let it get to that, but you never know. Nobody ever thinks it's fun to be under the NCAA's microscope since they are more inconsistent than anything,, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't just a little entertaining to watch how this story has unfolded.

CaM: But seriously, are you worried about this stuff, or do you think it will eventually blow over without any violations found?

GBH: There's no debating that there is an active NCAA investigation going on. That is basically the only fact we have to operate on at this point. (These questions were answered earlier this week. As it turns out, the Manziels' lawyer is debating this fact. -ed.) The rest is taking Schad's word for it on a video that may or may not exist recorded by a broker that may or may not exist. There's tons of smoke, but nobody out there seems to be able to connect the dots and provide the hard evidence everyone is looking for. I think Auburn fans should be able to relate to this pretty well. Much like the situation you guys had to go through, I just can't see a scenario where the evidence is strong enough to keep Manziel off the field.

CaM: What are most Aggie fans expecting out of this season? I'm sure some are hoping for a national title, but are any tempering their expectations?

GBH: There's definitely a group that is already making plans for Pasadena in January, and that's pretty understandable. The Aggies have a phenomenal schedule this year as far as playing in the SEC goes. Take care of business on September 14th and the Ags are in the driver's seat to get to the SEC Championship game. With that said, there are plenty of questions about the depth of this year's team, and the majority of folks we talk to are pegging this season in the 10-2 or 11-1 range.

CaM: If a national championship is the best-case, what's the worst-case scenario for A&M this year?

GBH: Manziel is ineligible, the Patriots hire Sumlin in Week 2, the Ags finish 1-11 with a win over Missouri, and the Kyle Field renovation plans get scrapped.

Oh, you didn't say Doomsday scenario, sorry. No matter how much I try to scrutinize the team and the schedule this season with a pessimistic view, I can't see the Ags doing any worse than 7-5, and that's being really harsh. That scenario has losses to Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and Auburn.

CaM: Obviously, quarterback play will be a strength (if Manziel is on the field - ed.). What will be a weakness on offense?

GBH: This is a tough question. We're solid at QB, and we're solid at RB. The Ags made a couple of moves on the offensive line by shifting Jake Matthews to LT and moving Cedric Ogbuehi from G to RT. Jarvis Harrison takes over the vacated inside spot and Mike Matthews will be starting at the C position. There are still at least three guys on that O-Line that will be playing on Sundays in Matthews, Ogbuehi, and Matthews. The only thing that can really be considered a weakness is the amount of young guys that are going to be looked at to step on in the receiving game to fill the void left by Ryan Swope.

CaM: What about the defense? What are the strengths and weaknesses there?

GBH: I'll start with the strengths. This is the first time in a while that I can confidently talk to people about our DB corps. The speed, athleticism, and experience there is something I think is really going to be a bright spot for Mark Snyder's defense this season. The questions really start flying around when we look at the defensive line. We have a serious depth issue there, and the Ags will be relying on some true freshmen to step up in a big way to ease those concerns.

CaM: It's too early to make even an educated guess, but based on pure speculation, how do you think the Auburn game plays out?

GBH: I don't think this year's game gets out of hand like it did last season for Auburn. From a talent and coaching perspective though, I can't imagine the outcome is going to be entirely too different.

CaM: What are your predictions for A&M this season?

GBH: I'm at 11-1 and still making it to the SECCG with a shot at Pasadena on the line. I think the Ags lose one to either Alabama or LSU and take care of business the rest of the season. I'd love to see an A&M/South Carolina SECCG for the sake of starting off the new cross-divisional rivalry with a bang, but I've got Georgia coming out of the East. That would be an amazing game, but of course I have to take the Ags in that one. I'm going to Disney Land!

CaM: Finally, A&M has had on-field success and off-field trouble with the NCAA, which means it's almost qualified to be a member of the SEC. The only thing that's missing is a Waffle House. How's that campaign going?

GBH: I hate you for bringing this up. The #WafflesForAgs movement is in full swing complete with t-shirts and all. I actually call and bug the folks at Waffle House corporate every other week or so and this doesn't seem to fall under the "no news is good news category". I'm thinking of opening my own place in College Station with an identical menu called Eggo Shack. I think it has some potential.

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