The Other Huddle: Texas A&M

Mississippi State will host the Texas A&M Aggies in one of the biggest games of the first half of the SEC season. The two undefeateds will square off at Davis Wade Stadium where the Bulldogs have been especially tough during the team's current seven game winning streak. The competition goes up a notch or two this week as #6 Texas A&M pays a visit to Starkville.

Texas A&M beat writer Robert Cessna of the Bryan-College Station Eagle has followed the Aggies all season and was on the scene earlier this week as the Aggies met with the media.

If there was any hangover from a tough win last week against Arkansas, there was no evidence of it during the weekly press conference.

"I thought the players and coaches were upbeat at the weekly presser," reported Cessna. "I sensed relief. The Aggies didn't play their best, far from it, but found a way to win. Fans are fans, they believe the Aggies got that bad game out of the way."

Much has been made of the Aggies' rising star at quarterback, Kenny Hill. Perhaps the biggest improvement Texas A&M has shown this year over last is on the defensive side of the ball.

In 2013, the Aggies were 109th in total defense, but the group has rebounded to a respectable 54th in 2014.

Cessna has seen some maturation on the Texas A&M defense.

"A&M's front seven is much more talented and deep, though youthful." explained Cessna. "A&M is doing a much better job gang-tackling and the wheel-route is no longer a curse word."

While Kevin Sumlin is known for his pass happy scheme, the Aggies have been effective on the ground at avoiding negative plays.

Much of the credit for the positive ground gains is a veteran offensive line that is still short a regular starter.

"A&M has a deep, talented offensive line." said Cessna. "Senior guard Jarvis Harrison, who came in with a team-high 31 career starts, has yet to start after being slow to recover from off-season shoulder surgery.

"A&M is so good spreading the field teams have to focus on its receivers, leaving holes for its three junior running backs who are interchangeable to run."

The Aggies will roll into Starkville in their third straight game away from Kyle field, but road weariness should not be a factor.

"A&M is 13-2 in games away from home under Kevin Sumlin, including that win two years ago at MSU," explained Cessna. "The Bulldogs are too good for A&M to be looking forward to Ole Miss at home next week."

While the Bulldogs of Mississippi State are far from a one man show, #15 Dak Prescott is in the minds of every opponent and it's fans.

Aggie fans and coaches know that Prescott makes them go.

The challenge of slowing down the Bulldog quarterback is job one for a defense who struggled a bit with a signal caller with a similar skill set earlier this year.

"Rice's Driphus Jackson had 296 total yards against A&M and he's not even close to being in Prescott's league, and Prescott is surrounded by SEC players, not Conference USA," reported Cessna.


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