Here is this week's mailbag. If you'd like to submit questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanESPN.
From Ross in Everett, WA: Some people are pegging the Texas A&M Aggies to be a "dark-horse" contender in the Big 12 this year. My question is: why are they not one of the favorites? They are returning last year's best QB in the Big 12, the best pass-rusher arguably in the nation in Von Miller and have some amazing offensive skill players (WR,RB, etc). They also brought in Timmy D (DeRuyter) to lead the defense. What do you think is going to happen in the South and the Big 12? Also where do you see Jerrod going in next year's draft? And why is no one talking about him?
A big reason why some teams (in the Big 12's case, say Texas and the Oklahoma Sooners) get the benefit of the doubt in pre-season polls and talk -- seemingly regardless to how many key players they may have lost -- is because of their recent track record to repeatedly produce winning teams. In A&M's case, I agree there are a lot of reasons for optimism, just not enough for that much optimism. The problem is they were only 6-7 last season and 3-5 in Big 12 play.
With 17 returning starters and a couple of really terrific players, as you've mentioned, I expect A&M to go bowling again and have a very good chance to open 4-0 with the Arkansas Razorbacks coming to town. I'm curious about this match-up because I think these two teams are pretty similar: talented offenses with good skill talent and a super-sized triggerman trying to overcome really suspect defenses.
DeRuyter's track record with the Air Force Falcons bodes well. But how much better can they get after finishing 104th in the country? I like their chances this season to make a fast start. I could see a 7-1 start before they get into the teeth of their schedule (finishing with OU, at Baylor Bears, Nebraska Cornhuskers and at Texas Longhorns). I'll say 8-4, which would be huge for Mike Sherman's job security.
As for Jerrod Johnson, people are talking about him. He's got prototype size, a strong arm, really nimble feet and he's very bright. Consistency is an issue, which it often is for young QBs, and he has to do a better job with avoid sacks and holding onto the ball too long. Experience figures to help remedy that to some degree. I expect his stock to rise quickly as the season progresses.
From Regina in New Orleans: Just how hot do you think Les Miles' seat is right now at LSU?