Thursday, October 11, 2012
Five storylines: Texas A&M vs. La. Tech
By Sam Khan Jr.
Texas A&M steps out of Southeastern Conference play for a week to take on their originally scheduled season opening foe, Louisiana Tech. The game was postponed from Aug. 30 because of Hurricane Isaac, and both teams enter ranked in the national polls (the Aggies are no. 22, the Bulldogs are no. 23). The Aggies (4-1) have won four straight while Louisiana Tech is undefeated.. Let's take a look at five storylines for the Aggies as their next game approaches:
Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes is very familiar with Kevin Sumlin and the members of his staff who were at Houston last year.
1. Fear the BCS busters? Louisiana Tech comes into the game with a national ranking, an undefeated record and hopes of being the latest BCS buster. The Aggies are the only ranked team left on the Bulldogs' schedule (their final six games are WAC opponents). Head coach Sonny Dykes said on Monday, "I do not even know how to spell BCS. That is like miles and miles away from our thoughts." But there's no denying the possibility of running the table if Louisiana Tech were to pull off the win. You can bet the players are well aware of that and if they needed any more motivation than a non-automatic qualifying conference team needs playing an AQ conference foe, it can be provided by that.
2. Bounce back day for Manziel?
Last week's 30-27 comeback win over Mississippi was Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel's first truly rough day as the Aggies starter. He turned the ball over three times and the team turned it over six. Still, they were able to pull out the win, but it's worth watching to see how Manziel bounces back from last week's performance.
3. Familiar foes The last time these two teams met was 2010, but Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, running backs coach Clarence McKinney and offensive line coach B.J. Anderson faced the Bulldogs last season when the quartet was coaching at Houston. The group is well aware of the quality of Louisiana Tech after the Bulldogs had the Cougars down 34-7 late in the third quarter before Houston rallied to win 35-34 in the final minutes. Likewise, Dykes and his staff are plenty familiar with the offensive concepts the Aggies run after facing Houston a year ago. It should make for an interesting chess match.
4. Missing players on defense The Aggies will be without the services of starting weakside linebacker Steven Jenkins and reserve safety Howard Matthews. Both were suspended this summer by Kevin Sumlin for a "violation of team rules," a suspension that was originally slated for the season opener. When the game's date was moved after Hurricane Isaac, so was the pair's suspensions. Also, sophomore defensive back Deshazor Everett left the Ole Miss game early with an injury. Sumlin didn't discuss his status for the game this week, so it's unknown whether he'll be available. Donnie Baggs will start in Jenkins' place.
5. Plenty of confidence for Aggies The Aggies should come into this game with plenty of confidence after their win over Ole Miss. They didn't play well overall, considering the turnovers they committed and their third-down defense, yet still came away with an SEC road win. So after facing that adversity and still winning, they should be riding high coming into the showdown with Louisiana Tech.