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September 18, 2013

AggieYell Mailbag

Here's this week's edition of the AggieYell Mailbag, where readers sound off with their questions for AY's moderators.

Q:Snyder stated he thinks this defense can still be good this season, is that coach speak? Do you agree? (Chance23)

A: I think he said they can be better, and in that case I would agree with him. I'm not sure that "good" is an option when you're giving up 6 yards a carry. But there's a lot of basic stuff A&M is not doing well right now that would have an impact: making the correct calls, making sure everyone understands their assignment, hitting the right gaps and tackling would be a start. If A&M starts doing some of those basic things properly, then we'll see a better defense.

Q: You're the DC heading into the SMU game, give me your starting 11 and why. Thanks! (OferAg)

A: I think I'd go something like this:

DL -- Stansbury, Ennis, Ivan Robinson, Obioha
LB -- Jenkins, Claiborne, Sanders
DB -- Everett, Honeycutt, Matthews, Harris (with Toney Hurd, obviously, at nickel)

Here's why. Alonzo Williams hasn't shown much and Robinson is a (slightly) more experienced player on the interior; Stansbury and Obioha stay where they are to not only see how this alignment works, but because the options to replace them are limited. The Taylors and Daeshon Hall, at this point, are physically outmatched when it comes to playing every down. If A&M is going to use hybrid linebackers with no set position, then the three playmakers should be on the field. There's not much of an option for replacements at safety, so the starters stay where they are.

Q: How can we start getting some sort of pass rush? Which recruit for 14 in your opinion is the best pure pass rusher that we have a shot at? (McMorrison)

A: Well, we knew at the start of the year that blitzing would play a role in providing a pass rush, so A&M needs to get some stability in the secondary so the linebackers can be turned loose. Sanders, Jenkins, Claiborne and Nate Askew all have the speed to be pass rush threats. When it comes to seeing pressure from the defensive line, the Aggies have to get opponents into second and third and long situations so Hall and the Taylors can perform in that role.

For the '14 class, Qualen Cunningham is a top-notch pass rusher, but he's also like Hall in that he needs time to grow into his body. The guy's most ready to contribute is Myles Garrett -- and he could be a true superstar. He would be a huge addition.

Q: When do you think we'll see our next "Yessir" and whom do you believe it will be? (Gig em 92)

A: I really hate this question, because recruiting's so fluid and you never know what's going to cause someone pull the trigger. If everything were to remain the same, and he holds to his schedule of committing Oct. 11, Garrett could be the guy.

Q: Is there any news, indication, hearsay about the younger guys playing/starting on defense this week? (bqdrummer1)

A: Darian Claiborne was mentioned directly by coach Snyder Tuesday, so he's a possibility. Isaiah Golden, if he's emotionally able, will play. Outside of that, I'm not expecting to see many changes.

Q: Hoza Scott was in attendance at the Bama game and one of the quoted recruits. What is the latest on his "off the field" issues and being a viable recruit for us in 2014? (jporche3)

A: Scott is supposed to play this week now that his three-game suspension is over, which is a small indication that he's making a little progress -- at least his suspension was not extended. Hopefully this latest situation has served as a wakeup call and jolted him into reality -- but even if it did, he's got a long way to go. The most positive thing you can say is that A&M is plainly staying in touch with him, and they'd pretty much washed their hands with Derrick Griffin by now.

Q: Having one of the top offenses in the country I'm surprised by the lack of attention Clarence McKinney gets. My only guess is that, unlike Kingsbury, he's up in the booth and not on the field which gives him less visibility. Any other reasons you're aware of? Does this hurt his chances of becoming a head coach like Kingsbury? (SilsbeeAg)

A: I think the biggest thing, at this point, is that he's only been the offensive coordinator now for four games. Some people are going to dock him and claim he's just picking up where Kingsbury left off and that he's a product of Johnny Manziel's greatness, but the efficiency with which the offense operated under Matt Joeckel and Kenny Hill should debunk that. Kingsbury didn't really start to get national attention until later on in the 2012 season and the only reason he got the job he did is because he is a legend at Texas Tech -- it's not normally that easy. But if A&M continues to pile up points and yards like they are, McKinney will get plenty of attention in due time.

Q: Is it too early to talk about JFF in the context of the greatest college football player.....ever? (Ag4SEC)

A: Nope. All offseason we heard about how the great defensive masterminds, Nick Saban and Kirby Smart, had 10 months to gameplan for him and were obsessed with stopping Johnny Football. They threw their best at him and he responded by destroying them in a way that Alabama football has not seen in 119 years of existence. If he remains healthy and continues to produce the way he has early on this year, Johnny Manziel will leave Texas A&M as the greatest college football player to ever put on cleats. Period.

Q: What was the deal with RSJ during the game. Is he still hurt and do you see him getting more involved this week and next? What recruits that are committed to tu, do we have any interest in and do you think we'll make a play for them considering their meltdown and coaching conundrum? (tsip despiser)

A: I think coach Sumlin's comments Tuesday night, about the potential for RSJ getting a medical redshirt, are telling. He was plainly struggling to get off the jam Saturday and late in the game, when Manziel tried to throw an ally-oop to him, the athletic wideout couldn't get off the ground. That play sent off warning bells in my head, and it looks like the coaches knew his situation wasn't good before that. With the progress of the starting four, Jeremy Tabuyo, Quiv Gonzalez and Travis Labhart, A&M can probably survive without him if need be -- even though it would be a let down.

As for Texas: players A&M would have an interest in are pretty slim. Armanti Foreman would be one, but A&M would have no interest in his brother so that's that. The Aggies would likely love another shot at linebacker Otaro Alaka, but he's made no indication he's interested in looking around. DE Derrick Roberson would be nice, and I'm a big fan of New Orleans CB Jermaine Roberts. But that would be it.

Q: It appears the A&M defense will be the cause of other lost games this season. Should our recruting now focus on some JUCO defensive players who can come in and shore up the defense next season? (Chuck70)

A: No. You've got a bunch of young linemen who are already on campus that are not leaving and are getting a year of experience; guys like Shaan Washington, Claiborne and Jordan Mastrogiovanni are being force fed at linebacker, but all three have shown some talent. The secondary will improve as Alex Sezer, Tavares Garner and Noel Ellis gain time and experience. Add in a few of the 2014 commits (Scott, Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Nick Harvey immediately come to mind) and a group that looks bad now doesn't look so bad come 2014.

Q: With the talent we are pulling in, getting them in house in December is huge for their potential impact in the fall. Do we know who is planning to early enroll? (3s2ghill)

A: We know one of them, at least, and he's a big one: QB Kyle Allen is graduating in December and will be on campus for spring practice. Two other highly-rated prospects, Davon Godchaux and Tony Brown, are also December graduates.

Q: In the press conference they sound like they have made up their mind and now need to get the players they want to go with more reps. Do you think that's true? Or is SMU a chance to experiment some more? (Richard23)

A: Experiment? Hopefully not. Get them some extra playing time because you're way ahead? Hopefully. Right now, A&M really needs to get its rotation settled and make sure guys know how to work with one another before conference play becomes a weekly affair. It's not their only problem, but it's one that they need to seriously address fast.

Q: We were exceptionally lucky last year in avoiding the injuries. This year we've made up for it in triplicate. How are those players looking that have missed the last game or two, and what is the reasonable expectation for them returning? (84aggiect)

A: Trey Williams has returned to practice. They're going to have to make a decision on RSJ pretty soon, so they'll probably be watching his progress closely. I'm not expecting Floyd Raven back until at least late October, so they'll have to make due there for the time being. Maybe Kameron Miles, who is returning to practice, can contribute in a few weeks.

Q: Who are our playmakers going forward? (Richard23)

A: For 2014, that's a good question, and the answer is you've probably got a lot of them. Both Williamses are potential impact players in the backfield; RSJ will return, as will Malcome Kennedy. JaQuay Williams, if he ever figures out route running, will be dominant. Quiv Gonzalez and Jeremy Tabuyo both have the speed to cause fits. On defense, I love Claiborne. The kid knows how to get to the football. Tommy Sanders could be a potential difference maker in 2014 if he continues to improve. If you get Deshazor Everett back for 2014, that takes away half the field. And, put 20 pounds on Daeshon Hall and offensive linemen are in serious trouble.

Q: After three games of mediocrity, how in the world can anyone, including the coaches, make the claim that the Aggie defense will be better during the next 9 games? It seems to me that the veterans as well as the so called highly touted new comers are of no more than of average capability. Am I wrong? (jmurchison)

A: Maybe a little bit harsh, especially when it comes to the young guys. Making blanket assessments on true freshmen after three games isn't really fair, especially when you've seen them make a few plays. Claiborne led the team in tackles week 1 and tipped a pass that became a pick six; Golden was outstanding in his snaps against SHSU. As I mentioned before, there are things they can clean up and improve. They're not talented enough to be superb, but they can be serviceable and that's all the offense needs.

Q: Are the two freshman corners, Garner and Ellis, not viable options as the second corner to be able to move Everett to safety? Both were highly rated guys coming in with strong reviews from fall camp. (_TheDon_)

A: I think it's an experience thing; Otis Jacobs is a senior and the other guys are true freshman (albeit good ones). Honestly, I would lean towards your mindset, but the coaches seem ready to ride or die with their veterans.



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