The talk across the state is how Alabama is going to run all over the Aggies (6-0) and send them back to College Station with their tails tucked between their legs. And the Crimson Tide (7-0) will do all that without breaking a sweat.
Few people can argue with the rhetoric. The Crimson Tide are the nation’s No. 1 team with the country’s top recruits and have the best dual-threat quarterback, who’s only a true freshman, in the USA.
And that got me thinking. After all, there’s no doubt Texas A&M is the state’s best team and has all the intangibles to prove it. So why can’t the Aggies win?
So let me convince you why Texas A&M will pull the upset in Tuscaloosa for the second time since the Aggies joined the SEC.
- The Chief — John Chavis has done more than install his defense; he has changed a culture. The Aggies aren’t just stingy, they’re mean. If an offensive player gets close to paydirt, he better have two hands on the ball because Chavis has taught his defenders how to strip it out, even if they can’t make the tackle to keep the player from crossing the goal line. And don’t get me started on the number of goal line stands the Aggies have, which invigorates a defense and crushes the offense. They say units take on the personality of their coach. And there’s no doubt the Aggies have a strong belief in their defensive strategy, playbook and the man who guides to them.
- Pass rushers Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall — Few defensive ends can do what these two do. They have speed, they have tenacity and they have a desire to get to the quarterback and make him think twice about letting a play develop. Garrett and Hall are perfect complements to each other because they simply want to win. Their play sets the tone for their teammates, and they will all respond to make Aggieland proud.
- Trevor Knight — The Aggies have at least one player who knows how to take down mighty Alabama because he’s done it already. Knight was the Oklahoma quarterback who led the Sooners to the 45-31 victory over the Crimson Tide in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. Knight completed 32 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns. But the new element to his game is his ability to extend plays with his leg. Ask any defensive player or coach how demoralizing that is. In addition Knight had several weeks to prepare for Alabama when he was a Sooner. Texas A&M was on a bye last week, which gave Knight an extra week to get ready. The line going into that bowl game was 18 points; Alabama is predicted to win by 19 points over the Aggies. Coincidence?
- Kevin Sumlin — Sumlin knows how to coach quarterbacks and get the very best out of his offense. He has taken Texas A&M to Tuscaloosa before and won. His players are responding very well to what he and the coaches are telling them. It would be shocking not to see that on display in Alabama.
One important part of the Sooners’ win over the Crimson Tide was how uncomfortable former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron was. They sacked him, they forced him to throw interceptions, and they made the Crimson Tide throw to stay in the game.
The Aggies should take a good look at what the Sooners did then and incorporate much of that. After all, Jalen Hurts might be a fantastic quarterback, but he is a true freshman. And given the Chief’s talent for coordinating a defense, don’t be surprised to the Aggies give defensive looks no one has seen before.
I promise that I’m not crazy, haven’t visited my favorite watering hole, or been inhaling anything I shouldn’t. I simply believe the Aggies have a team that’s capable of matching up and shocking the Crimson Tide again. Now you believe it, too.