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Insider

Beat writer Q&A: GigEmNation's Sam Khan

10/18/2012

GTN did a question-and-answer session with Sam Khan of GigEmNation. Here are our questions and his answers as LSU and Texas A&M prepare to square off Saturday.

1. Johnny Manziel is starting to enter Heisman Trophy conversations. Are people jumping the gun on him or is "Johnny Football" all that he's being made out to be?

Personally, I think it's worth waiting to see how he plays against a top-10 team like LSU before we start talking Heisman Trophy, but so far, "Johnny Football" is more than advertised. Manziel has tremendous running ability for a quarterback, he can throw it well (though he's still progressing in that area as he grasps the offense), he's confident, fearless, seems to be a natural on-field leader and he can make a game-changing play at any time. In what was his worst performance, a three-turnover day at Ole Miss, he bounced back in the fourth quarter and made big-time throws and runs to help the Aggies come back from a 10-point deficit. It sounds cliche, but people often refer to an 'it' factor sometimes when it comes to great players. So far from what I've seen, I think he has that.

2. I count nine Louisiana players on the current Texas A&M two-deep, which surprised me a bit. How important has Louisiana been in Aggies recruiting? How much more important is it becoming with Louisiana now in the footprint of A&M's conference?

It has without question been a part of the Aggies' recruiting strategy and I think you'll see that increase now that Texas A&M is in LSU's league. It should really make for some interesting battles, because LSU does come over to the Houston area (arguably the top priority area for Texas A&M) to get players and likewise, now that the Aggies are in the SEC, they're going to cross over the border even more to get Louisiana players. So far, they've offered five members of the 2014 class in Louisiana and have four commitments from 2013 Louisiana prospects.

3. As much as the offense seems to lean on Manziel, the defense is top-heavy with Damontre Moore playing the role of one-man wrecking crew (8.5 sacks, 15 TFLs). Are the Aggies too reliant on a couple of players?

They play critical roles, no doubt, but I don't necessarily think they're too reliant on those two. The way the Aggies offense functions, I think it would still be productive with another quarterback (see what Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury did at Houston with Case Keenum, who was pretty special himself) because the Aggies have some nice playmakers around Manziel and a terrific offensive line. On the defensive side of the ball, the entire defensive line has played pretty well next to Moore, particularly defensive tackle Spencer Nealy. He doesn't get much pub but he has played really well, helping free Moore by occupying blockers and sometimes pushing the pocket himself from the interior. True freshman Julien Obioha, the defensive end opposite Moore and the linebacker trio of Steven Jenkins, Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart have been admirable.