Thursday, October 4, 2012
Five storylines: Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss
By Sam Khan Jr.
Texas A&M continues Southeastern Conference play when it meets Mississippi at 6 p.m. Saturday in Oxford, Miss. The Aggies (3-1, 1-1 SEC) are coming off their first conference victory, a 58-10 thumping of Arkansas, while Ole Miss (3-2, 0-1) is coming off a 33-14 loss to no. 1 Alabama, a game in which the Rebels showed a lot of fight. Here's a look at five storylines for the Aggies as game day approaches:
1. The SEC experience Saturday will mark Texas A&M's first SEC road game as an SEC member. The Aggies' first road game of the season, which came on Sept. 15 at SMU, saw nearly as much maroon in the stands as there was SMU red. That won't be the case on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It'll be the first true raucous road atmosphere the Aggies will face this season, and it'll provide a good barometer for where the Aggies are as a team when it truly becomes them against the world (or Oxford, at least).
2. Preparing for two quarterbacks? Ole Miss sophomore Bo Wallace has started all five games for the Rebels this season, but junior Barry Brunetti has seen time as well. The two are engaged in a competition currently with Rebels coach Hugh Freeze set to name a starter for Saturday's game on Thursday. Regardless of who is named the starter, it's possible that both see the field, meaning the Aggies will have to be ready for either. Wallace has turned the ball over eight times through five games, which is partly why competition has opened up.
3. The growth of Johnny Manziel Texas A&M's redshirt freshman quarterback has shown improvement in each game this season. If he can show more improvement on Saturday, it'll bode well for the Aggies. It isn't easy for any freshman to go into an opposing SEC venue but how he handles it could go a long way in telling the story of the game.
4. Matching tempo The Aggies are known for their high tempo on offense and they'll continue to use it moving forward. But Ole Miss can do it as well, using the no-huddle up-tempo attack against Alabama. So look for plays to be running fast and furious on both sides of the ball on Saturday.
5. Start of a tough stretch Saturday's game starts a challenging stretch in the schedule for the Aggies, where they play five of the next six games on the road. Of those five roadies, four are at SEC venues. There's no open date in between (their original open date is now occupied by the postponed season opener against Louisiana Tech). A win would be really good for Texas A&M to start this portion of the schedule off right.