Texas A&M Aggies: Southern Methodist Mustangs

SEC Saturday roundup

September, 21, 2013
There won't be any BCS implications in today's marquee SEC games -- so long as the big favorites in a couple of traditionally important divisional matchups take care of business.

No. 6 LSU (3-0) and No. 19 Florida (1-1) are both double-digit favorites over Auburn (3-0) and Tennessee (2-1), respectively. And both have controlled the recent history of series that have been much more competitive in the past.

Formerly THE most important annual game in the SEC East, Florida-Tennessee has become less interesting in recent seasons now that the Gators have won the last eight meetings, with only two of those games being decided by fewer than 10 points. Likewise, LSU has won five of the last six against Auburn, although the games have typically been more competitive.

We'll learn a lot more tonight about whether a last-minute win against Mississippi State last Saturday was a sign that Auburn is on the way back. The last two times Auburn visited Baton Rouge, it lost by 21 points (2009) and 35 points (2011), which was the biggest win by either team in series history. Tiger Stadium is a notoriously difficult place for the road team to win, so Gus Malzahn's Tigers certainly face long odds if they are to remain undefeated by the end of the night.

Meanwhile, Florida has been sulking for two weeks after repeatedly choking in the red zone against Miami and Tennessee has had a week to stew over its blowout loss to Oregon last Saturday. Only three Eastern Division teams have played a conference game yet, so today's winner in Gainesville will take a big step toward contending in the division.

Butch Jones' Vols could prove a lot about themselves by stealing a win in The Swamp -- and they'll have a chance if Florida doesn't clean up its act on offense. This will be a big game for Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel to begin progressing toward the more consistent play that Will Muschamp and Florida's coaches expected from him this season.

Those are the only two league games this week, with the rest of the SEC schedule featuring nonconference matchups that carry varying levels of interest (Vanderbilt AT UMass? What went into that decision?). Here are a couple more that could carry some intrigue:

Arkansas (3-0) at Rutgers (2-1) is perhaps the most interesting measuring-stick game outside of league play this week. The Scarlet Knights' 35-26 win in Fayetteville came in the middle of the Razorbacks' 1-4 start of the season -- a stretch that also included a 52-0 loss to Alabama and 58-10 defeat against Texas A&M -- and helped lead to Bret Bielema's hiring as Arkansas' head coach. It has been so far, so good for Bielema at Arkansas, with the Razorbacks beating three overmatched nonconference foes behind the running back duo of Alex Collins (second in the SEC with 139.3 rushing yards per game) and Jonathan Williams (third with 131.0).

Today will provide their toughest test yet -- their first game outside of Arkansas and a matchup against a team that has reached a bowl in seven of the last eight seasons. If Arkansas wins again today, a bowl bid becomes a much more likely possibility despite a murderous conference schedule that starts with a visit from Texas A&M next week.

And if the scoreboard at Kyle Field is still functional after the 91 points from last week's game against Alabama, SMU (1-1) at No. 10 Texas A&M (2-1) might place a further strain on its electrical supply. Texas A&M possesses the nation's fourth-highest-scoring offense at 53 points per game and should have little difficulty moving the ball against Saturday's visitors. The problem, though, is that the Aggies haven't shown an ability to stop anyone on defense. SMU is averaging just 27 points per game, but A&M has given up an average of 36 ppg to Rice, Sam Houston State and Alabama, good for 107th nationally.

SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert is third nationally in total offense, averaging 393.5 yards per game -- 352.5 through the air, which ranks fourth nationally. Defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel (379 ypg) is fifth in total offense, with 328 of his yards coming via the pass.

We fully expect Texas A&M to keep lighting up the scoreboard, but the Aggies might have to earn a stop to win one of these shootouts. They haven't demonstrated much of an ability to do that yet.

Here's today's lineup:
Vanderbilt at UMass, Noon ET, ESPNews
North Texas at Georgia, 12:21 p.m., SEC TV
Arkansas at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Tennessee at Florida 3:30 p.m., CBS
SMU at Texas A&M, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Colorado State at Alabama, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Troy at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m., FSN
Auburn at LSU, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
Missouri at Indiana, 8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Planning for success: Texas A&M

September, 19, 2013
With the Alabama showdown in the rearview mirror, Texas A&M looks ahead to its next challenge, a nonconference matchup against SMU on Saturday at Kyle Field.

The No. 10 Aggies (2-1), are coming off their first loss of the year, so let's take a look at a few keys to them getting back on the winning track:

1. Get some stops: Texas A&M ranks 112th in the country in total defense (allowing 489 yards per game), the rushing defense is 115th (260 yards allowed per game), and the unit struggled mightily against Alabama. Granted, the Crimson Tide are the nation's No. 1 team but the unit had its share of struggles against Rice and Sam Houston State while missing personnel due to suspensions. This will be the second straight week that most of the starters are available, so there should be some improvement. If there isn't, it's a serious concern.

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Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesAggies receiver Mike Evans looks to continue his high-scoring ways against SMU.
2. No turnovers: The Aggies had two last week and that was critical at the end when they came within just seven points of Alabama. The Crimson Tide turned those turnovers into 14 points, one of which was an interception return for a touchdown. Taking care of the ball is critical.

3. Keep it rolling on O: The Aggies' offense seemingly has no problem putting up points. Quarterback Johnny Manziel and receiver Mike Evans were brilliant against Alabama. Look for them to continue to connect. Other receivers are emerging as well, like Malcome Kennedy. Manziel ran the ball a lot last week, but look for the running backs to get more involved again this week -- Ben Malena and Tra Carson in particular were effective in the Aggies' first two wins against Rice and Sam Houston State.

4. Avoid the letdown: Replicating the enthusiasm for a game like last week's against Alabama is hard, especially when you play a nonconference game. But the Aggies pride themselves on being able to keep things consistent and not let their emotions get too far up and down. SMU is a team the Aggies beat convincingly last year in its home stadium, 48-3, so if the Aggies are better than they were a year ago, logic says they should be able to take care of business at Kyle Field on Saturday.

5. Put it away early: Depth is always something teams want to develop, and it's critical for the Aggies to do so in order to rely on younger players to contribute later should injuries occur. This week's game is a chance for the Aggies to do that by building a big lead and allowing second-teamers to play significant minutes in the second half. If they can do that, it will help the Aggies' depth.
Late Wednesday night, ESPN 100 shooting guard Keith Frazier (Dallas/Kimball) decided to delay his college announcement that was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Frazier, the No. 48 overall recruit in the 2013 class and No. 5 in the state of Texas, talked to ESPN RecruitingNation about why he delayed the decision and which schools are still in the mix.

ESPN 100 Frazier delays announcement 

March, 28, 2013
ESPN 100 shooting guard Keith Frazier (Dallas/Kimball) will not announce his decision on Thursday as was originally expected. The senior confirmed the news to ESPN RecruitingNation coordinator Reggie Rankin.

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ESPN 100 SG Keith Frazier sets date 

March, 13, 2013
ESPN.com has confirmed that uncommitted shooting guard Keith Frazier (Dallas/Kimball) has set an official announcement date.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Keith Frazier (Dallas/Kimball) grins and laughs when the tougher questions come up, like which school is No. 1 or which official visit was the best of the three he’s taken. He came to Austin to play basketball, not drop any recruiting news.

But now that the UIL state championships are over and Frazier’s senior season has ended, it’s time for the ESPN 100 guard to start closing in on a decision. Next up could be two final official visits.

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2014 DB Bonney adds OSU offer 

December, 18, 2012
This is a special time for the Houston Lamar Redskins. They're making history as the first Houston ISD team to make a Texas Class 5A state championship game in 20 years. The last team to do it was Houston Yates in 1992.

And the Redskins ar doing it with defense.

Leading the way are two SMU commits, defensive end Zelt Minor and cornerback Cedric Lancaster, and rising 2014 prospect John Bonney, a safety. They'll lead the Redskins into a battle with Allen (Texas) High School for the Class 5A Division I championship Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

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Top 5 moments: 'How'd he do that?'

December, 10, 2012
GigEmNation is counting down the top five moments of Texas A&M’s 2012 season this week. No. 5 ...

When Texas A&M traveled to Dallas to take on SMU, redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel made one of the "Wow" plays that makes fans and observers wonder, "How did he do that?" in the third quarter of the Aggies' 48-3 victory. Part of the reason Manziel is nicknamed "Johnny Football" is because of plays like this.

Texas A&M was leading 20-0 and facing third-and-9 at the SMU 42. Manziel dropped back and SMU linebacker Taylor Reed found a hole in the middle of the offensive line, shot the gap and had a clear shot at Manziel and a sack.

Manziel had other ideas. He spun out of the would-be sack and sprinted left as SMU linebacker Ja'Gared Davis sprinted toward him. Before Davis could get there, Manziel leaped off one foot, leaned forward and fired a pass over a leaping Davis. The pass hit senior receiver Kenric McNeal directly on the No. 5 on his jersey and he turned toward the end zone. He sprinted the final 29 yards untouched for the 42-yard touchdown.

It was one of many highlight-worthy plays of the day for Manziel, but it was probably the most impressive, considering how accurate the throw was after he dodged two defenders.

"With Johnny, of course, he's Captain Amazing back there, not getting sacked," senior receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu said after that game. "Johnny Football, Captain Amazing, I'm pretty sure next week we'll have another [nickname] for him. It's a growing legend going on."

Nwachukwu was right. It was a legend that only grew bigger as the season wore on.

Five from Friday: Whitley a leader 

December, 3, 2012
Each week, GigEmNation reporter Sam Khan Jr. will bring you five things he learned from watching high school football action in the Midlands region that week, including observations of Texas A&M commitments and targets and other players that catch his attention. Here's this week's installment:

1. Whoever lands 2014 inside linebacker Zac Whitley will be getting a hard-hitting, driven player who consistently plays hard. The ESPN Watch List prospect, who has offers from Texas, Texas A&M and Houston, showed each of those traits during Houston North Shore's 17-10 playoff win over Houston Elsik on Saturday at Reliant Stadium. Some of the hits he delivered to opposing players were impactful, he was almost always around the ball and showed he can get from sideline to sideline quickly and he showed leadership. When his team's offense turned it over, he could be seen firing up his teammates and they got a stop on the ensuing possession.

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Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comClass of 2014 linebacker Hoza Scott is all but committed to Texas A&M.
2. The race for La Porte (Texas) High School linebacker Hoza Scott is all but over with Scott openly saying that he wants to go to Texas A&M and that he will commit there soon. It was the third time I've had the opportunity to watch the 2014 ESPN Watch List outside linebacker, and Saturday, when he and his teammates took a 55-10 defeat to Texas Class 5A No. 1 Katy, it was by far the toughest challenge for the 6-foot-3, 225-pound prospect. Early on, Scott was in on several tackles and was near the ball often but as the game went on, Katy imposed its will on the entire Bulldogs' defense, running it at will. Still, he's a big, fast, strong linebacker who will be a nice addition to the 2014 Texas A&M class when he makes his commitment official.

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Aggies add 2014 RB Shaun Nixon 

November, 29, 2012
Shaun NixonMiller Safrit/ESPN.comESPN Watch List tailback Shaun Nixon is Texas A&M's fourth commitment of the Class of 2014.
Texas A&M's momentum in the 2014 recruiting class continues to build.

The Aggies made their fourth addition to the class on Thursday morning, landing ESPN Watch List running back Shaun Nixon of Austin (Texas) Lake Travis. Nixon confirmed the news to RecruitingNation via text message.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back had five offers in total, with the others coming from Baylor, Clemson, SMU and Texas Tech. He was also receiving interest from TCU, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas.

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2014 S John Bonney talks LSU offer 

November, 16, 2012
Before this season, Houston Lamar safety John Bonney already possessed an offer from his father's alma mater, Houston. This week, the 2014 prospect received one from his mother's, LSU.

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AP Photo/Bill Haber2014 safety John Bonney enjoyed his visit to LSU for the Alabama game.
The six-foot, 175-pound rising star got the news of the LSU offer on Thursday from his head coach at Lamar, Tom Nolen. It was met with excitement from Bonney, who came into the season with offers from Baylor, Houston and SMU.

"I was kind of surprised at first," Bonney said. "I didn't expect anything coming but it was pretty good and I was happy. It's great."

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Five from Friday: TE Griffin stands out 

October, 22, 2012
We introduce a new feature on GigEmNation today: Five from Friday, where GigEmNation writer Sam Khan Jr. discusses five things he saw and learned while on the road watching football recruits from games in the Midlands region.

Derrick Griffin
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comTight end Derrick Griffin caught two touchdowns passes for Rosenberg, Texas.
1. Rosenberg (Texas) Terry tight end Derrick Griffin is still as good as advertised. The 6-foot-6, 228-pound Griffin displays incredible athleticism, from his speed, his hands, his leaping ability and his propensity to block downfield. His team uses a run-heavy veer offense and the Rangers are on their third-string quarterback, so Griffin didn't get as many opportunities on Friday in his team's 30-0 win over Bay City (Texas) High School. But when he got the opportunities, he took advantage as two of his three catches were for touchdowns. He said he's still "keeping his options open" at the moment while maintaining his commitment to Texas A&M, but it's noteworthy that he was sitting front and center at Kyle Field for the LSU game on Saturday with teammate Victor Davis and Manvel's Tavares Garner, both Texas A&M cornerback commits.

2. Whoever takes a chance on Eugene Wright is going to get a quality player. The Rosenberg (Texas) Terry back is undersized (5-8, 160 pounds) but he's quick and shifty and can change the game at a moment's notice when the ball gets into his hands. On Thursday against Bay City (Texas) High School, Wright averaged a whopping 14.2 yards per carry, gaining 128 yards on nine totes including a 58-yard touchdown to lead the Rangers to a 30-0 win. Notably, all those numbers came in the first half as Wright was injured in the second quarter and didn't return. But the Rangers already had the 30-0 lead at halftime so his services weren't needed in the final two quarters. Wright has had interest from Boise State, Texas Tech and West Virginia this year.

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Q&A: 2014 running back Shaun Nixon 

October, 19, 2012
Austin (Texas) Lake Travis running back Shaun Nixon and Texas A&M have had mutual interest for awhile. The Aggies have long been interested in the 2014 prospect who stands 5-foot-10, 180 pounds.

The Aggies originally offered Nixon in May but plenty of other schools have taken notice of him too. Baylor, Clemson, SMU and Texas Tech all offered him and several others have shown at least some interest, including Alabama and Texas.

GigEmNation's Sam Khan Jr. spoke with Nixon to talk about his upcoming visit plans, who he has been hearing from and more.

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2014 safety John Bonney on the rise 

October, 10, 2012
For Houston Lamar safety John Bonney, this year has been a little bit of an adjustment.

The 2014 prospect, who traditionally plays safety, has spent a lot of time at cornerback this year. The transition hasn't been much trouble for the 6-foot, 175-pound prospect -- he has three interceptions in the Redskins' first five games.

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Notes: Aggies make mark on Savaiinaea 

October, 4, 2012
Isaac SavaiinaeaTom Hauck for ESPN.comHonolulu Punahou inside linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea remains committed to Stanford but said the Aggies are in his "top two" after a visit to Texas A&M.

There was a sadness that came over Honolulu Punahou inside linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea when Sunday afternoon arrived.

That's because it was the end of his official visit to Texas A&M, a trip that the Stanford commitment called "amazing." He enjoyed the visit so much that he said he didn't want to return home to Honolulu.

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Recruits Miss Lone Star Showdown
National recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton spoke with top prospects at Nike's The Opening regional in Dallas. The findings were overwhelming: Players want the game back.