1. Who will start in the receiving corps? Leach proved last week that he wasn't just blowing off steam when he talked about a shakeup of some of the starters on offense. Eric Morris and Grant Walker led the other receivers in both yards and catches against SE Louisiana. The question is, were their strong performances enough to earn the start against A&M? Or did the plan work and give the usual starting receivers enough of a scare to be sure to play their hearts out on every snap? I think we'll see the starting lineup of Hicks at X, Amendola at H, Johnson at Y, and Filani at Z. That being said, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see more rotation in the receiving corps for two reasons. The backups have played very well, and rotation will help keep our guys fresh and motivated.
2. Can we play well against a motivated opponent on the road? UTEP shouldn't have played us as close as they did, and the TCU game was a disaster. The common factor here is that in both games, the game meant more to our opponent's program than it meant to ours. Well, guess what. That's the case again this week. There is a simple way to overcome this, though. Our team absolutely must play their hardest, or we will lose. There is no question that the Aggies will come to play. This year, they aren't even pretending that this game isn't on every Texas A&M fan and player's minds. I don't care if we're supposed to win because we have the more talented team or not. The team's effort needs to be their best no matter what.
3. Is the emergence of stars on the defensive line enough to move Dawson back to LB? If there was ever a time where a surprise like Dawson could be unleashed, who better to do against than A&M? I can't really describe what Dawson at LB was unless you got to see it yourself. It was a thing of beauty. Nitschmann is back, and Brandon Williams is stepping up his play. Add to that the potential depth provided by the play of Dan'Tay Ward, Richard Jones, and Rajon Henley in the middle, and Dek Bake could play DE if necessary as well. I'm getting ahead of myself, but it could work. With Session's health in question and Tillman's discipline issues, it seems like the linebacking corps could use an extra man. Still, the defense has played well overall, and Paul Williams is doing a good job of filling this role, so maybe I should let the coaches decide.
4. Can we give Graham some more help than we did against TCU? As much Harrell-bashing as there has been on the forums as of late, you would think that his numbers are far worse than 117/177 (66.1 comp. %) for 11 TDs, 2 INTs, and an overall QB rating of 139.73. Sure, he struggled in the TCU game, but show me a QB who hasn't played a bad game. Still, Graham is young and needs time to fully grow into this offense. This means the receivers need to do a better job of getting free and catching the ball, the line needs to play just a little bit better, and the playcalling needs to be less predictable. All of this was fortunately not an issue against SE Louisiana, but it needs to all happen against a quality opponent like A&M before I will be truly impressed.
5. Can we move past the TCU game and yet remember the lessons it taught us? There's no need to dwell on past failures and lose faith. However, how we all felt after that loss needs to be a constant reminder of the importance of effort. There is not another game on our schedule in which our opponent will want to win more. The Texas Tech Red Raiders will only be as good as we want to be. The talent, coaching, and speed is finally to where it needs to be to beat everyone on our schedule. Hicks, Nitschmann, and Hines are back, and Dixon and Hunt haven't been missed on the defensive line. There are no more excuses. Either we win the games, or we didn't deserve to. We need to play like we deserve the win this weekend.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at email@example.com.)