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September 11, 2013With the Alabama game looming ever larger, here's this week's edition of the AggieYell Mailbag:
Q: Do you see Sumlin keeping Johnny away from the Media at least until after the Bama game to minimize the distractions? (84aggiect)
A: He actually surprised us Saturday night after the SHSU game when we walked in and Manziel was already at the mic waiting on us. But, after what was said at yesterday's press conference about his advisers and lawyers telling him not to talk, it may be a while before he does again. It's really possible that Sumlin and the athletic department trust the regular beat writers who cover the team to do things properly, but don't trust the national folks from going off the deep end. We'll see if that theory holds true in the next few weeks.
Q: With the Ced Collins news, do you see us going after another CB (in addition to Tony Brown). If so who are some targets? (Adam Dubya)
A: I'd seriously be considering it, but if they do, they'll have to go back and look at some new options. They seemed to seriously lose interest in Nick Watkins, and he's the only remaining uncommitted offer. They may wait and see if Texas commit Jermaine Roberts has second thoughts as their program goes through upheaval, but otherwise, it's going to have to be someone new.
Q: Is the staff still after Whitley or have they written him off? How far would a win over Alabama go towards getting him to switch to A&M?
A: If I were A&M, I'd be very much after him, but things have been pretty quiet on that front for some time. A&M would have to hope that a win over Alabama would get him to open the door just a little bit and they could go from there.
Q: We have already talked about the tremendous impact it will have if we beat Alabama. What about the reverse. What if we lose this game? What effect will it have on the team morale for the remainder of the season? What will happen to recruiting?
A: Last year, the Aggies suffered two crushing losses, as we all know, to Florida and LSU. Both times, they rebounded quickly because they didn't get down, they got angry. The coaches and the players understand that, while a loss hurts, it does not end their desire for an SEC Championship. They'll have seven conference games left, and so will Alabama. And heck, we're one year removed from Bama NOT winning their division or the conference, but winning the national championship.
Last year, A&M's biggest recruiting weekends were Florida and LSU -- the losses. Both times, recruiting didn't suffer because the Aggies were able to offer an insane atmosphere, good facilities (now getting better) and playing time on a team that wasn't far away from winning big. If the Aggies lose a game in a similar fashion to Alabama this time, I would expect that recruiting might actually get a boost, because they'll be able to give the same pitch they did last year. The only way recruiting suffers is if A&M gets blown out.
Q: With what we have seen so far in DLine performance from Arnold and Golden and the proven talent of Kirby Ennis, would it make sense in a four man front to use Ennis and Golden as DT's and with Jay Arnold as one DE, and Tyrone Taylor and later Daeshon Hall as your rush end? This would put at least three big guys that we have seen play low and mean, use their hands well and get penetration on the line with Daeshon hopefully creating havoc in the backfield. Any downside to this alignment? (Cal-Aggie)
A: If you switch in Julien Obioha for Tyrone Taylor, I like this alignment. In fact, it would appear to be a very good one to use against Alabama, because they're going to try to win in the same smashmouth fashion they always do. Golden has been a revelation, just pushing people around. Alabama's an entirely different story, but he's proven he can stand in and play for extended periods of time. Adding him in with Ennis puts a lot of bulk in the middle. I also like the idea of Arnold at DE, because he's already bigger (and maybe stronger) than more veteran alternatives. That line becomes pretty big when all of those guys are on the field.
Q: How do you foresee Brandon William's role in this slightly tweeked offense with the always consistent Malena and emerging Tra Carson? (Chance23)
A: I don't see it changing much at all, really. They're going to rotate Brandon, Trey, Malena and Carson and give the ball to the hot hand in crunch time. It's a nice luxury to have, and now all four have proven they're top notch backs.
Q: We'll have several guys taking the field for the first time in the Bama game. Is it a disadvantage that they haven't had game reps, or an advantage because Bama doesn't know what our complete D looks like? (Tidewater_Ag)
A: Maybe both. Alabama has never seen the alignment A&M's going to trot out this weekend, but they'll just do what they do anyway. The Aggies, on the other hand, will probably be faster and more capable than they have the past couple of weeks because this is the outfit that has been practicing together for a couple of months. It's just a matter of how long it will take Jenkins, Stansbury and Harris to get up to game speed before the difference becomes apparent.
Q: with the biggest game 5 days away and every hot prospect in town for the game, how is the staff going to prepare for Bama and still give 20 highly touted recruits quality "love" this weekend? (Carguy1901)
A: I think it may be more than 20. It's going to be a tough task, but remember that it's not their first rodeo: they have some experience with big crowds from last year with Florida and LSU. Nothing quite to this scale, but they're not starting from scratch, either. I'm pretty sure Justin Moore and the rest of the staff have a gameplan in place to make sure everything works as it should.
Q: With Texas going full nuclear on the implosion scale, do you see any commits looking elsewhere? If so, who realisticly would we want (if any) and how possible would it be to flip them (the only two I would want are Alaka or Roberson)? (JPhillips97)
A: I wouldn't say they're at Fukushima level yet, but a loss to Ole Miss would really leave them in serious trouble. Form A&M's perspective, if Otara Alaka, Armanti Foreman, Derik Roberson and Jermaine Roberts are having second thoughts, I'd be willing to talk to them. Since Foreman's a package deal with his brother, it would have to be made pretty clear it's just for him and not his brother -- which may be a deal breaker, and therefore highly unrealistic, but oh well. Outside of that, I'd be looking for better talent.
Q: What's the status of Ivan Robinson for the Alabama game? How much can he help on the DL? (Broadway Joe 12)
A: The objective has been to have him ready for this weekend, and that looks to still be the case. If he can get in the rotation and help behind Alonzo Williams, that would be a plus. But his snaps may be a bit more limited this week as he gets back into the swing of things and (if) A&M goes big up front.
Q: Do you think our newer receivers will have major problems running routes and getting open against Bama, who I assume will press at the LOS and be a lot more physical in pushing to the sidelines down field, as compared to the cupcakes they've been going up against? (birddog01)
A: Bama does like to press, but if they're going to press Derel Walker, Mike Evans, Ricky Seals-Jones and JaQuay Williams, I'm going to wish them the best of luck. That's going to be a tall order, because they're all bigger and stronger than Alabama's DBs. I think Jeremy Tabuyo is also strong enough to get off the jam if they try it on slot receivers, and Malcome Kennedy did a good job with it last year. Getting in a receiver's face is great if you can control him; I'm not sure Alabama can do that with A&M's receiver corps.
Q:What is Pope's status this weekend? How much playing time do you think he'll get?
A: He is back from his suspension and can play. Whether he will remains a question, but odds are he'll be out there at least a little bit. He's another option to stretch the field, if nothing else.
Q: With Raven out and Honeycutt struggling, what does our two-deep at safety look like? (The Stein)
A: A mess? If there's one weak point left on this football team, I think this is it. Howard Matthews and Clay Honeycutt now start; Sam Moeller (a walkon) and true freshman Jonathan Wiggins are the reserves. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said yesterday that they're going to have to look for some more options back there, and that could mean Toney Hurd or Deshazor Everett -- we'll have to wait and see on that front. But there's no question that if Kameron Miles was ready to contribute, he'd be in the mix.
Q: With all the young players getting playing time now, do you see the defense coming together and being a dominant force by midseason, ie game 6 or so? And is there a leader beginning to emerge on the defensive side of the ball? (bqdrummer1)
A: You know, that's a real good question and one I hadn't really considered. Even though it caused some frustration early on, the need to play so many young players the first two weeks could seriously prove to be beneficial down the road as the Aggies really figure out their two-deep. They know a lot more about Isaiah Golden, Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Daeshon Hall and Darian Claiborne (just to name a few guys) than they would otherwise, and you could see their progression from one game to the next. Getting those jitters and early mistakes out of the way could be big for them, just as it was for guys like Alonzo Williams, Devante Harris and Michael Richardson (sure would be nice to have him back) last year.
As for a leader, they're still looking for the talker. Kirby Ennis and Toney Hurd are more leaders by example, but Snyder wants them to be more vocal as well.
Q: What will we see differently from Snyder this week that we haven't seen so far? Knowing that he'll have his full compliment available, what do you think his gameplan is? (tsip despiser)
A: I'm expecting the Iron Man approach (think of the Avengers, when Captain America says they need a plan of attack): "I have a plan. Attack." Alabama wants to run and utilize playaction to win; Virginia Tech attacked from all angles, shut down the run and gave AJ McCarron happy feet. The Hokies are more experienced than A&M on defense, but the Aggies have plenty of speed. He's going to want to match their physical nature, as the defense did last year, and then find ways to bring extra players to either stack the line of scrimmage or come off the edge into the backfield. That means we'll see one on one situations on the outside, but that's the nature of the beast.
Q: What player most benefitted from all of the suspensions? Claiborne? Sezer? Golden? (JCW AgMan)
A: Another great question, and I'm going to go with Claiborne. Golden would have been out there anyway, just to see what he can do, but Claiborne get a lot more snaps than he would have otherwise and was largely very good. He has a nose for the football and is really aggressive, two things Mark Snyder likes a lot.
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