As we'll be doing all season, we recently had a Q&A session with the SB Nation counterparts of our upcoming opponents. In this case that means we got answers from Manager Dr. Norris Camacho and Editor-in-Chief ColoradoAg from over at Good Bull Hunting.
Find out below how they feel about Johnny Football's antics, the A&M defense, and how the game Saturday will play out.
1. Obviously, I have to ask about Johnny Manziel. As I'm writing this question (before the Sam Houston State game), one of the bigger topics in college football is about Johnny's behavior when he finally took the field against Rice. How do you guys feel about the taunting, the air signatures and such? Do you as fans revel in him pushing back against "the world", or do you wish he'd dial it back a bit?
ColoradoAg: It was kind of irking to watch that stuff mostly because it was lowly Rice. I could do without the penalties, too. I don't know what to really think anymore. The media has gone wild and Johnny kind of feeds the beast on his own accord. All that said, he is one of the best college football players I've ever witnessed and seems to thrive in this villain, me-against-the-world role. I just hope it impacts the attitude of the rest of the team in a positive way because I don't see Johnny changing his M.O. much.
2. On a similar note, do you think that Johnny will be susceptible to the trash talk he'll inevitably receive this year, and how do you anticipate that will affect him?
Dr. Norris Camacho: He will thrive on it. Just look at him: he doesn't give a damn. It won't slow him down a bit. He's had a chip on his shoulder forever.
ColoradoAg: He'll use most of it as fuel. I just hope he doesn't get hooked into dumb penalties in crucial moments.
3. I'm not sure why, but to me, it feels like Texas A&M has been in the SEC longer than one year. What are your feelings about your first year in the conference? What are you projecting for your second season?
ColoradoAg: After having to listen to all the bullshit from Baylor, Tech, and Texas fans (among others) that we'd never win more than four games in the mighty SEC, I'd mark Year 1 as a success. 11 wins was great, but we still finished third in the division. Fortunately, it seems that Sumlin has much higher aspirations than what was achieved in 2012 - aspirations that include hardware and championships. As for the second season, the schedule is favorable, the offense is a Ferrari, the coaching is there, but the defense is young and raw. 10 wins seems achievable and nice.
4. I believe you guys have 4 offensive linemen that are either first year starters, or are playing their first year in their respective positions. What have you seen from them so far, and how do you see them matching up against Alabama's defense (which looked pretty stout against Virginia Tech)?
Dr. Norris Camacho: While this is technically true, it's a bit misleading. We have three starters who played all 13 games together last year in LT Jake Matthews, RT Cedric Ogbuehi, and LG Jarvis Harrison. Matthews was only playing RT last year because Joeckel was so good, and Ogbuehi was only playing guard because we had Joeckel and Matthews; he's a natural tackle with a long frame. Center Mike Matthews got some playing time last year, and the other new starter, RG Germain Ifedi, is going to be a staple on the line for a long time. Mike Sherman did a great job of stocking up on OL talent and Sumlin has picked up where he left off.
5. You guys have a new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. To what extent do you foresee that impacting your offense this year?
Dr. Norris Camacho: Probably not a whole lot. Clarence McKinney is the co-offensive coordinator, and he called the Cotton Bowl. If we see any major changes it will probably be that we'll lean more on the running game with our four outstanding backs in Ben Malena, Trey Williams, Tra Carson (Oregon transfer), and Brandon Williams (Oklahoma transfer).
ColoradoAg: Spavital seems to essentially be on the same course as Kliff Kingsbury - just a couple years behind in age and development. Both guys are young, energetic, and have been groomed by the same mentors. Spavital formed a strong relationship quickly with Manziel, so chemistry looks to be in good shape.
6. I think Texas A&M's defense has been pretty universally assumed to be a liability in the weeks leading up to the season. Suspended starters aside, I didn't think that the performance in the Rice game did a lot to dispel those assessments. What is your personnel situation on defense (returning starters, etc.), and how do you see them matching up both with the power run game and with the wide receivers Bama has?
Dr. Norris Camacho: Uhhh, yeah. The Bama game will be the first time all of our starters are on the field together this year, and that's not good. The front seven still concerns me the most, since we have a lot more experience in our starting secondary.
ColoradoAg: our front seven scares the hell out of me. There is a lot of promise, but the experience and depth is lacking in a big way. They'll have to play near-flawless football for the Ags to win on Saturday.
7. What are your best case/worst case scenarios for this game? What do you think will actually happen? Who wins and by how much? (and provide a score if you have one in mind)
Dr. Norris Camacho: Best case? We win in dramatic fashion again, Manziel silences his critics, and we capture the hearts of a nation once more. And I win the lottery. Worst case? We lay an egg and lose by three TDs, though I have faith that Sumlin won't let that happen. I'm hoping for a competitive game, a raucous crowd, and a chance at the upset.
ColoradoAg: best case scenario, Johnny puts on another show for the nation with big stats, Ags win, shoot up the polls, and really get some MNC chatter going. Everyone gets laid. Worst case? The Ags get knocked around on the home turf and lose big with Johnny playing well below average. I think it will be a close game with y'all pulling away late. I pray I am wrong. Should be a big time.