1. Myles Garrett set the SEC single-season FRESHMAN sack record last season at 11.5 sacks. Only three of those came against SEC teams, and none against the conference's traditionally better teams. The other knock against Garrett was his play versus the running game. Where or how has he improved his play this season, and what matchup do you think puts him in the best position to be a force this game?
Jimmy: as a sophomore, he still has a lot of work to do on technique and assignments in run defense. Fortunately, I think Chavis and DL coach Terry Price are giving him sound, fundamental coaching to make him a more well-rounded football player. Myles makes hay when an offense gets into second/third and long. If the A&M D can limit Henry and Drake from taking whatever they want on first down, Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall will find their way to Coker.
2. Sumlin's offense with Manziel was a breakneck affair, and the Aggies' moved very fast. This year, it seems like there is less emphasis on pace and more on deliberative playcalling. Is this to protect a young defense that's still learning? More of a shift to the traditional Leach-type air raid? Greater emphasis on power running?
Rush: It's more a factor of just trying out a wide variety of new things. He's introduced new formations, he's shifted personnel all around the field to create mismatches, etc. Last year at times it seems like we were just throwing offense at the wall as rapidly as possible to see what would stick. This year it seems more calculated and reasoned.
3. How do you think Spavital will try to attack the Alabama defense? Conversely are there any areas of concern where you think Alabama can exploit Texas A&M's defense?
a. I think Spavital will try to attack everywhere until he finds something that works. Last year he leaned heavily on the short game, but this year he's been good at mixing up personnel and formations and adding new wrinkles every week, so hopefully with the bye week he's got a pack of cards up his sleeve. Or at least four or five.
b. Draws. Quick plays up the middle. Our defensive ends Hall and Garrett are dynamic but also very aggressive and have shown a tendency to pursue too far upfield too quickly at times.
4. Alabama's special teams have struggled this season, except in return defense, costing the team many points and contributing to a loss against Ole Miss. Tell us about the Aggies' special teams play.
Jimmy: Like y'all, we're a flawed circus in the kicking game. If this game is close, I have a feeling all fans are going to be a wreck of nerves watching these kickers. I've been pleased with the kick and punt coverage thus far for A&M. I've watched enough SEC football to be quite wary of Cyrus Jones. Feels like he's played for y'all for a decade. Anyway, on the other side, true frosh Christian Kirk has been a monster in the return game. He's fast, shifty, and has remarkable vision and football sense.
5. Devil's Advocate time: Alabama comes into Kyle Field and gets the win. How does it happen?
Rush: Sound, turnover-free offense and disciplined defense. Knock the Aggie offense off-schedule and take the crowd out of the game.
Jimmy: Henry and Drake both go for 100+ because Lane isn't trying to get cute. Kyle Allen sputters with a couple bad interceptions.
6. Final score and why?
Rush: Tide 34-31. The Aggie offense doesn't turn the ball over. The Aggie defense forces a couple of turnovers. The crowd is electric all afternoon. But it's not quite enough.
Jimmy: 38-27 Bama. The A&M offense has some big plays but can't find a consistent rhythm. Alabama runs the football seemingly at will.
For a less reverent, full-gump experience, check out Ricky Muncie's hilarious Q&A with GBH.