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September 27, 2013

AggieYell Mailbag

Here's this week's edition of the AggieYell Mailbag:

Q: How's it going with Jonathan Wiggins and Sebastian Larue? Can they play? (Ag98)

A: Well, Wiggins has played some, appearing in three games and racking up a tackle. Larue appears to be redshirting. I thought Larue might play this year because he might be the most "system ready" of the new receivers, but guys like Ricky Seals-Jones and Jeremy Tabuyo came in well ahead of what was anticipated and guys like Sabian Holmes and Travis Labhart have stepped up their games. That doesn't mean Larue can't play; instead, you have the luxury of keeping a talented young receiver in your program for another year.

As for Wiggins, he's got a ton of potential and certainly has the size (6'3", 210 lbs.) to be a very good safety. It's just a matter of getting used to A&M's system and the college game in general. That will take him some time.

Q: Who will be the starting QB for Ark ? (Charles3ct)

A: Even though Bret Bielema has tried to smokescreen things, the fact of the matter is Brandon Allen hasn't thrown a pass in practice all week. That makes it seem very likely that backup AJ Derby (14-26, 137 yards against Rutgers) will get the call.

Q: I know we have beat this Hoza Scott situation to death, but with the new information we have now (No longer suspended, practicing and supposed to play this weekend), what is your opinion on him actually playing for the Aggies next year? (garymannino)

A: He's not in the clear yet. There's a lot of work to be done, as evidenced by the three-game suspension to begin with. On the positive side, there's no indication A&M has cut bait on him; instead, the coaches have remained in contact and are staying in his ear about what has to be done. I feel confident he'll get an LOI and will fax it in on signing day -- but whether that translates to him being in College Station next summer is less than a given.

Q: How do you expect Arkansas to defend us? will they play to their strength and try to pressure with their front or stay home and contain JFF? (rustyo)

A: Odds are they're going to hope to get home for starters with their defensive ends, Chris Smith and Trey Flowers. They're aware Johnny Manziel gutted them through the air last year and Rutgers did the same last week, so they're going to probably play off. They're also terrified of what Manziel can do on the move if they bring pressure with safeties or linebackers. Two problems for this concept, though: Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi are not your average offensive tackles and Manziel can pick apart a secondary from the pocket. Arkansas is likely going to have to mix things up and blitz at some point, and that will put Manziel in his element.

Q: Trick Plays. I have not seen us run one, but you could say JFF's improvisational skills each snap can lead to a big play. Do you think Sumlin has one up his sleeve saving it for the right time? (6.William.Bs)

A: Sure. Even though there's not much of a need for trickery when you're averaging seven touchdowns a game, odds are the Aggies have one to fall back on. Last year, the trick play was Kenric McNeal throwing a pass on a reverse. McNeal, of course, is gone, but that doesn't mean A&M doesn't have options to run that play. Malcome Kennedy was a quarterback at Cayuga and could be the man used to chuck the ball downfield on a reverse.

Q: Any word on how the redshirting players are performing, specifically the two olineman? (_TheDon_)

A: Joas Aguilar isn't practicing yet and Jeremiah Stuckey isn't right now either due to injuries (and, in Aguilar's case, surgery); Ishmael Wilson is and is supposedly coming along pretty well. He definitely needed to bulk up, but we heard a lot of praise about his work ethic over the summer. The guy to really watch for the next couple weeks will be Kameron Miles; if he's able to recover from his knee surgery and perform well in practice, he may play this season after all.

Q: Any update on when we can expect the return of Kam Miles and Raven Sr.? (Roy Munson jr.)

A: Raven will likely be back around the Vanderbilt game Oct. 26; for Miles, no set date has been mentioned, but that same timeframe would have given him a solid month of practice.

Q: Do you honestly believe we can score more points to win the game if we can't defend the Arkansas ball control clock eating running game? (CHUCK70)

A: Yes. A&M forced three three and outs against Alabama, and that was almost enough to win the football game. Arkansas is going to have serious trouble throwing the ball, whereas AJ McCarron didn't. A&M is going to put up a lot of points, and quickly. They'll get enough stops to win this game.

Q: Did they reveal what specific injury RSJ suffered? (CheekySchneider)

A: No, but considering that there's discussion that he could possibly play later in the season, that pretty much eliminates a severe injury like a torn ACL or MCL. A minor tear, or a meniscus injury seems more likely. One way or the other, though, the outcome appears pretty certain right now: a medical redshirt.

Q: With us being the westernmost school in the SEC, sort of a geographic entry point for all high school guys who play west of The Conference, does that give us a natural advantage? I think we've seen that in Arizona already. And even Hawaii. It's still a long haul from the West Coast, but we're closer than South Carolina or Georgia, if a kid wants to play in the SEC. And if so, are we doing enough to exploit that advantage? (Tidewater_Ag)

A: A&M's first option, by design, will be to hit Texas and Louisiana for the bulk of its recruits. If there's an outstanding talent elsewhere that's interested in the SEC, A&M will go after them (Kyle Allen and Sebastian Larue, for instance). A&M will never become a massive player for west coast talent, simply because they don't need to be. But, as they become more of a national program like Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and Notre Dame, they'll take more chances with top-notch recruits. Odds are kids interested in the SEC from out west know it's going to be a haul and don't care; they'll look for the best fit. A&M may not have to push that hard if they're not the first option, because they will (in most years) have a wealth of talent to mine closer to home.

Q: Are we really set at DT with only Washington on board - seems like we should take at least 1 more to keep from having the gaps that Fran/Sherman's classes always had. (alag85)

A: It's not certain that DeShawn Washington will be the only defensive tackle in this class. A&M is still very much in the running for massive DT Josh Frazier, who is ranked just behind Washington as the 5th-best DT in the nation. Most people believe Frazier's two leaders are A&M and Arkansas. The Razorbacks have the advantage of proximity (in fact, Midnight Yell tonight will be held in the parking lot of his high school, Har-Ber High in Springdale); however, Frazier's mom is from Houston and he has a lot of family in the area. But, with Justin Manning redshirting, you're going to have at least two and maybe three defensive tackles to fighting for playing time in 2014.

Q: With 1/3 of the season complete and two consecutive games with starters back, how close do you think this defense is to their ceiling in 2013? Is that enough to get them into a New Year's Day bowl or better? (Chance23)

A: I'm hoping it's not very close at all. A&M's defense was unquestionably better last year, but didn't start really rolling until the Louisiana Tech game six weeks into the season. Mark Snyder said this is a telling week for the defense, because it's another shot against a big, run-first, I-formation offense ("Big Boy Football", as he put it) and it's another week where the starting defense has been largely together. If they can hold down Arkansas' offense this weekend, they'll start to feel much better about things going into the weekend. I think that, right now, the defense is probably good enough for a shot at another 10-win season, and that puts you on the cusp of a BCS bowl. But improvement could well mean 11 wins, and that's certainly BCS territory.

Q: Can you explain the redshirt rules? For example Kenny Hill. How much could he play and still receive a redshirt? (guns-n-bone)

A: Hill's redshirt is burned, and so is that of every freshman who has played a single snap. The only way for a player to get a year back after playing is with a medical redshirt, and you have to play less than 20% of the team's games to qualify. RSJ, for instance, played against Rice, didn't against SHSU, did briefly against Alabama and was shut down. He qualifies. Any non-injured player who played a single down does not.

Q: Why are so many people assuming that Mike Evans is gone after this year? Has there been any chatter about this? (Dave2941)

A: There are several reasons people expect Evans to declare after this season. First, he's showing himself to be an elite prospect. Second, his one "flaw," as it were -- lack of 4.4 speed -- isn't going to change in a season. His strengths -- size and great hands -- aren't either. Finally, he's got a daughter to take care of. Could he improve his route running? Probably. But he's already considered a first round pick, so there's no reason for him to stay unless he is devoted to A&M and the idea of winning a national championship.

Q: Any chance we see Golden next to Ennis to clog the middle against Arkansas? (tsip despiser)

A: I'm not counting on it. Coach Snyder wants his four starters out there together, and he feels that's the best group to hold up against the run and free up linebackers to make plays if they can't on their own. Golden has proven he's got the strength to play in the SEC right now, but he's going to be Kirby's backup for at least the time being.

Q: Can you break down the freshman class into who will redshirt for sure, who still may and the obvious who wonts? (3s2ghill)

A: Let's give it a shot.

Medical redshirt -- RSJ (likely)

Redshirts burned -- Kenny Hill, Hardreck Walker, Isaiah Golden, JaQuay Williams, Jeremy Tabuyo, Laquvionte Gonzalez, Darian Claiborne, Jay Arnold, Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Jonathan Wiggins, Noel Ellis, Alex Sezer Jr., Tavares Garner, Daeshon Hall, Shaan Washington

Could play eventually -- Kameron Miles

Likely redshirts -- Justin Manning, Sebastian Larue, James White, Kyrion Parker, Ishmael Wilson, Jeremiah Stuckey, Joas Aguilar, Jordan Points, Reggie Chevis, Brett Wade, Victor Davis

Redshirting due to transfer -- AJ Hilliard

Active JUCOs -- Tommy Sanders, Cameron Clear

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