Texas A&M Aggies: Sonny Dykes

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:

[+] EnlargeSonny Dykes
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PresswireLouisiana 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.

First glance: Breaking down La. Tech 

October, 8, 2012
Campus location: Ruston, La.
Nickname: Bulldogs
Conference: WAC
Record: 5-0
Record vs. Texas A&M: 0-9* (Louisiana Tech has lost all 10 meetings it has had with the Aggies but Texas A&M vacated a win in 1998 because of use of an ineligible player).

Inside look: Q&A on Louisiana Tech

August, 28, 2012
Each week this season, GigEmNation will seek insight on Texas A&M's upcoming opponent with a writer that covers the opposing team. Today we visit with Jimmy Watson, who covers Louisiana Tech for the Shreveport Times.

Sam Khan Jr.: Louisiana Tech is coming off a pretty nice season, going 8-5 with a WAC championship and a bowl game appearance. What are expectations like for the Bulldogs this year?

Jimmy Watson: Tech is supposed to be better than they were a year ago. Unlike 2011, the quarterback situation is settled entering the season with a senior leader in Colby Cameron. Tech is deep at running back and has one of the best receivers in the nation in Quinton Patton. The offensive and defensive lines are solid with depth at every position. They’re picked to win what will be the final season of WAC football.

SK: In your opinion, what was the biggest reason for Louisiana Tech's success last season and why might that continue this year?

JW: There were some senior leaders who held things together after they started 1-4, including a devastating 35-34 loss to Kevin Sumlin’s Houston team when Tech led 34-7 in the second half.

SK: How does Quinton Patton stack up to other top-flight receivers you have seen in recent years?

JW: He is the best I’ve seen at Tech since Troy Edwards, who played several seasons in the NFL. He has all the tangibles and the intangibles that coaches like, including working his tail off this summer to become even better than he was last year. There are several other receivers who can take the pressure off him if anyone tries to key on him.

SK: Give me a name on the Bulldogs' roster that Texas A&M fans might not know today, but will know by the end of the game, and why.

JW: Kenneth Dixon – true freshman running back. He’s a bruiser with deceptive speed and is expected to make a mark this fall. Coach Sonny Dykes said “he is mature beyond his years.”

SK: Because there's a familiarity with Texas A&M's offensive scheme based on Sonny Dykes' history with the offense and the fact that Louisiana Tech led Houston by four touchdowns when Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury were there last year, is there a sense of comfort or confidence for the Bulldogs -- particularly defensively -- as they head into this game?

JW: Not much comfort because of the upgraded personnel in College Station and the knowledge that Sumlin will build his offense around the strengths of his playmakers rather than vice versa. The defense is confident, however, that it can hold its own.

SK: What are you expecting out of senior quarterback Colby Cameron when the lights come on Thursday night?

JW: He should be solid in all aspects of his play. He has a full grasp of the Tony Franklin offense and can make the throws he needs to make. He has a plethora of weapons at his disposal that Tech hasn’t had in the 12 years or so I’ve been covering them. If the veteran offensive line can adequately protect him from the talented Aggie defense, he should have a good game.

SK: What's your prediction for the game against Texas A&M and for Louisiana Tech's record/postseason fate this season?

JW: I believe A&M should win the game, but it’ll probably be by 10 points or less. If Tech wins or breaks even in the turnover battle, they’ll have a chance to win the game in the second half. In 2012, Tech should go 8-4, maybe 9-3, and get a decent bowl slot.

NOTE: If this game gets moved to Oct. 13 due to Hurricane Issac, all bets are off.

First glance: Breaking down La. Tech 

August, 27, 2012
Campus location: Ruston, La.
Nickname: Bulldogs
Conference: WAC
All-time record vs. Texas A&M: 0-9* (Louisiana Tech has lost all 10 meetings it has had with the Aggies but Texas A&M vacated a win in 1998 because of use of an ineligible player)

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