Coach Kevin Sumlin (above) is in his ninth year as a college head coach and fifth at Texas A&M.
Expected to be one of the top football games in the SEC this week, the league opener for Auburn
and the Texas A&M Aggies is set for a 6 p.m. CDT kickoff on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Rob Sellers of Aggies Digest answered these five questions from Inside the Auburn Tigers about Coach Kevin Sumlin’s team.
In what areas are the Aggies most improved compared to the team that Auburn faced in November?
Rob Sellers:?“On defense I think they are deeper and, more importantly, more healthy at the linebacker position this year. Senior Shaan Washington is off to a good start to the season and sophomore Otaro Alaka is healthy again.
“Offensively, they are simply a more cohesive unit under new coordinator Noel Mazzone.”
What type of changes has Mazzone made to the offense this year after making the move to College Station from UCLA?
Rob Sellers: “With all of the new faces in the backfield it can be tough to tell what is a difference in scheme and what is a difference in talent level at the position. That being said, Mazzone definitely has resumed using more of the field than was being used in prior seasons. The previous scheme often stayed on the edges looking for plays and didn’t use the middle of the field.
Noel Mazzone was an offensive coordinator at Auburn when Tommy Tuberville was head coach of the Tigers.
“To me the offense is still kind of showing itself. We obviously saw most of what A&M had in their opener with UCLA and then last week was a little more vanilla with Prairie View A&M.”
What is your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Texas A&M’s rebuilt offensive line?
Rob Sellers: “I think they are definitely happy with the tackles on the line. Avery Gennesy and Jermain Eluemunor were both highly thought of juco tackles when they were landed in the same class a few recruiting cycles ago. They have both settled in nicely early in the season. I think they are definitely happy with they young center Eric McCoy and are letting some young guards continue to battle some for playing time.”
Are the Aggies better at stopping the run or pass and who are the best players on defense other than the ends?
Rob Sellers: “I definitely think stopping the pass would be the stronger of the two for the Aggies. After you get past the defensive ends, which are obviously key in the Aggies’ pass defense, their safeties are very good in coverage and have built a reputation for laying some big hits. Justin Evans and Armani Watts are the two keys in the Aggies’ pass defense.
Is this Texas A&M squad capable of challenging for the SEC West title?
Rob Sellers: “I think the jury is still out for them in that regard. This week should go a long way towards determining where they are at and if they can be considered a legitimate contender or not.”