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November 15, 2013

AggieYell Mailbag

After an unexpected week's hiatus, the AY Mailbag is back at full strength.

Mark, Since this is a bye week .... lets focus on recruiting and where we stand on the remaining offers. Give us a run down on how many ships are left (counting Dec grads) and who do we have the best shot at for them? Is there any chance for a flip of Alaka or Whitley since Scott is .... well, you know. (Carguy1901)

A: It's anyone's guess, but I could see A&M getting to 25 scholarships again this year. With transfers, guys leaving early, seniors departing, medical retirements and other things that haven't happened yet, that wouldn't be too much of a push. But to get to 25, the Aggies may take some guys we're not overly familiar with. Let's take a look at some of the usual suspects:

Beaumont Ozen CB [db]Tony Brown[/db]: Likely to make an official to A&M. LSU is the favorite here, but A&M is the consensus second place team right now. If A&M makes a push, they could get lucky. Still, I'm thinking he's heading to Baton Rouge right now.

Arlington Bowie LB [db]Edwin Freeman[/db]: This looks like it's A&M and Texas, and it may be 50/50 at this point. But there are two things in A&M's favor: Texas' end of season schedule is pretty daunting for an average team and they flat out may not have space for him. This guy I think could end up at A&M.

New Orleans Edna Karr's Gerald Willis III and [db]Speedy Noil[/db]: They've talked Florida, but let's be real here -- it's A&M and LSU. Willis tweeted a picture of himself wearing A&M gear yesterday, but who knows if that means anything. Both guys like A&M a lot, but getting them out of Louisiana is no easy feat. Still thinking LSU here.

River Ridge (La.) LB [db]Kenny Young[/db]: Now, after I just said all that about Noil and Willis, I'm picking him to end up at A&M. Why? LSU seems to be iffy on their interest in him and the Aggies have been much more pronounced in their desire to land him. We'll see.

Jenks (Okla.) S [db]Steven Parker[/db]: Has officials left to a couple schools up north, but the thought process is more that it's A&M and the two in-state schools. We said a couple weeks back that A&M could get him if they wowed him on his official, and it looks like they did it. Give the Aggies the lead here.

Houston Westside WR/TE [db]Frank Iheanacho[/db]: Aggies are the prohibitive favorite here. Only FSU has a chance of stopping this.

Las Vegas Bishop Gorman OL [db]Nick Gates[/db]: The leaders appear to be A&M and Nebraska, though he's also visiting Oregon right before signing day. Even though he's been to Nebraska twice, most folks seem to think A&M leads for him.

Las Angeles Loyola OL [db]Chris Brown[/db]: I honestly have no idea.

Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber DT [db]Josh Frazier[/db]: Looks like A&M and Arkansas lead, but Auburn is making a push. The more Arkansas loses, the tougher it is to rationalize him going there, so they could fall out and make it an A&M/Auburn race. He has ties to Houston, so it's reasonable to think he could end up at A&M.

Olathe (Kan.) OL [db]Braden Smith[/db]: It's been TCU and A&M for a while, and that's about all anyone knows.

Jamal Adams and Solomon Thomas? Nah. Nyles Morgan? Serious long shot.

As for Alaka and Whitley, I think they're locked in unless Texas makes a coaching change. That might alter the equation for Alaka. Whitley's going to Alabama.

So, let's say good things happen and A&M ends with Frazier, Freeman, Iheanacho, Gates and Parker. That would put them at 22, with Cedric Collins' future not looking positive and Hoza Scott's looking worse daily. Something tells me that A&M may not be done with their offers just yet.

Q: With the commitment of 2015 Safety Justin Dunning , do you think this slowed downed Steven Parker's commitment? I believe Dunning will be a LB when it is all said and done. (stormnorm)

A: No, I believe the buzz from the trip wore off and he realized he still wants to take all his visits. I'm not even sure he knows Dunning's name.

Q: We've all heard the "analyst" say JFF doesn't have the height or arm strength for the pros and his scrambling wont work to same degree. When it's all said and done, where do you see him going in the draft (let's all face it, we know he's gone) and what QBs go before him? (Wrckncrw)

A: As you saw in Tidbits this morning (and if you don't subscribe, here's a great reason for you to do so), we've talked to a number of people who think the "analyst" is full of it. Yes, Manziel is a little shorter than the prototype quarterback, but that hasn't stopped Drew Brees and Russell Wilson from decimating NFL defenses. As the saying goes, it only takes one, and there's more than one team who already really likes what Manziel brings to the table. I think Teddy Bridgewater probably grades out better than anyone right now and will probably be taken first by...someone, and then it's anyone's ballgame. Like John Harris of Yahoo! Sports Radio told me earlier this week (Harris, by the way, is hardwired into many NFL front offices), he wouldn't be surprised if the Houston Texans can't take Manziel with the fifth pick because he's already gone. If the Minnesota Vikings continue to stink up the lot, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to see JFF joining AD in their backfield for a deadly pair of nicknames.

Q: Why does our defense seem to go from A- to F performances in the middle of the 3rd quarter?

A: Could be a number of reasons, but here are a couple: exhaustion and adjustments. A&M's offense scores so fast and so frequently that the defense frequently doesn't have time to catch its breath before it's back out there (yes, cry me a river is an acceptable response). Then, when you don't finish the job on 3rd down, you stay out there. When teams make changes at the half, sometimes the Aggies have been slow to catch on, even though that's no excuse for what happened against Mississippi State. A&M has to do two things better -- react faster to adjustments made by the offense and get the heck off the field on third down. Not blowing assignments and tackling well will play into both of those.

Q: Where do we stand with '14 and '15 OL targets? (DriverD)

A: '14 kids? See above. '15 kids? I know they're in good shape with Trever Elbert and Conner Dyer, and that's a pretty good place to be considering they're probably the best two tackles in the state for 2015.

Q: IMO, no single unit has failed to live up to expectations more than the offensive line. They seem to be very inconsistent, especially in short yardage situations. What do think is the cause of this? Is it the product of this offensive philosophy? Or perhaps having a true freshman starting at center? (Waymore Blues)

A: I think having two freshmen starters, a talented but dinged-up right tackle and the absence of a big-bottom center and the best offensive lineman in school history probably have something to do with it. A lot of people still don't want to admit this, but the 2012 offensive line with Luke Joeckel and Patrick Lewis is better than the 2013 squad. That's not a jab at the current crew, but it's a testament to how good and experienced that last outfit was. Germain Ifedi is going to be really good and is probably a freshman All-American, but he's still got a lot to learn. Mike Matthews is also going to be really good, but he can't push people around the way Pat could. And, of course, having Jake on the right side and Luke on the left may have been the best combination you'll ever see in college football. Short yardage is where you make your money, and that's where you want big, experienced and really mean dudes. This year's offensive line has had situations where it hasn't met the strength and intensity of its opponents. Still, it doesn't take much to think that A&M running backs will be running right behind 74 for the next three years as he continues to improve.

Q: Are Nick Harvey and Armanti Watts our CBs in this class? (Ag20)

A: Yeah, probably so. Harvey's got the athleticism to play just about anywhere and Watts has the size and speed to play there, so that would make sense. It also means the Aggies are starting to get pretty deep there.

Q: If you were the head coach what different would you plan on the offensive side for LSU, aside from "Score More Than They Score" that is. After all, they do have a respectable QB and a fairly good RB and I don't think they like us too much down there.

A: I'd make sure number 2 had a very good night's sleep and a tasty breakfast, because the ballgame's going to be on his shoulders. LSU's run defense is just decent, but their secondary, shockingly, is really bad. Aaron Murray and Bo Wallace both picked it apart earlier this season, and there's no Mike Evans on either of those teams (though they have nice receiving corps). Throw to get ahead, run the ball to stay ahead.

Q: Dunning and Sheffield.....what kind of backfield would A&M have when they both commit to A&M (just waiting on Sheffield)? (sml2007)

A: Very big, very rangy and very good secondary. If Tarp's analysis of Dunning is right, they've got a safety with near linebacker size and really good speed, and Sheffield is one of the state's elite corners for 2015. Both would be excellent gets for A&M and start for several years.

Q: Is Mark Snyder on the hot seat?

Who on the scout team is making waves? I ask because almost all of us had not really paid any attention to Johnny or Mike Evans while they were on the scout team. Anyone we should be paying attention to???

Does the new AD at tu have any desire (in your opinion) to be part of the SEC? (tsip despiser)

A: 1) No
2) I've heard good things about both Sebastian Larue and Kyrion Parker. Reggie Chevis is apparently also performing well. All three of those guys will be welcome additions in spring ball.
3) No, and it wouldn't matter if he did because they wouldn't get in. That's not how the SEC rolls.

Q: Explain the final drive to me. We were taking a knee when they still had timeouts. Why did we expect them not to use them?
Why not run a few plays? Sumlin looked pissed when they called their timeouts and we had to play defense again.
Was this addressed in the press conference? (goat97)

A: It was mentioned, in fact, and I think Sumlin was still angry about it on Tuesday. His statement pretty much hit the nail on the head: "They used four timeouts. Did you see that?"

For starters, A&M ran a play, got a first down and took a knee. Mississippi State called timeout. The officials then -- illegally -- reviewed the play where A&M got the first down (a reception by Mike Evans) and gave Mississippi State back their timeout. A&M then took a knee three times and Mississippi State called three timeouts. In short, the refs screwed up in a massive fashion and I can't believe they weren't disciplined. That was, in one of my favorite baseball terms, bush league.

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