September 18, 2013
On Saturday afternoon, we saw the latest edition in “the game of human existence” series when top-ranked and defending national champion Alabama faced off against sixth-ranked Texas A&M. Unlike most of those much-anticipated games, this one lived up to the hype. The Crimson Tide showed why they are champs, coming into a hostile Kyle Field in College Station and walking out with a 49-42 victory. ‘Bama was down 14-0 in the first quarter before reeling off 35 straight points to take control of the game. Defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel did everything he could to bring the Aggies back, but it just wasn’t going to happen on this day. Alabama QB AJ McCarron had his own Heisman Trophy performance in the game, throwing for 334 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Manziel had 464 yards throwing with five touchdowns, but he also had two crucial interceptions. One was in the endzone, which stopped A&M from scoring, and the other was returned for a touchdown. Even though Manziel made a couple of mistakes, his play was the reason the Aggies had a chance to win in the first place. It’s actually kind of refreshing to see talk about Manziel for what he’s doing on the field, and not off of it. As the smoke clears from the game, the big picture says this. Alabama is still on target for a potential three-peat, and their schedule look to be manageable from here on out. There doesn’t seem to be too many obstacles standing in their way, with the exception of LSU and the seemingly tough Iron Bowl matchup with Auburn (also watch out for Ole Miss on Sept. 28). As for A&M, things aren’t totally lost for the season. They can still find their way to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game, but the road just got tougher. Another thing the Aggies found out on Saturday is if they are going to be a force in the SEC for years to come, they have to get better on the defensive side of the ball. The Crimson Tide pushed the Aggies all over the place, as they ran for 234 yards in the game. A&M’s defensive line may be quick, but they’re going to have to get bigger and stronger in that area. One thing about football in the SEC is there are a lot of teams that like to be physical with the opponent, imposing their will by running the football right at them. The defenses have to be ready for that, or they’ll get ran over. The Aggies have a defense that still looks more suited for the Big 12 Conference, which features more offenses who run a wide open, 4 and 5 wide receiver set. This is A&M’s second year in the SEC, and they’re finding out the hard way what life in this conference is all about. If A&M wants to compete for the SEC title, and the national title, they have to gear their defense more towards power and speed, not just speed. The team is definitely in the right place to build that, as the state of Texas is rich in anything a team might need in terms of talent. The Aggies being in the SEC is also a decided advantage in recruiting. High school players these days love nothing more than to play in the best conference in college football. Add a head coach like Kevin Sumlin to the mix, and the recipe is their for A&M to become powerful. The Aggies appear to be on their way, even after they lose Manziel to the NFL draft, or whatever he decides to do. They’re just not quite there yet. “Big boy ball” is what will get it done in this conference. Alabama gave them that harsh reality on Saturday afternoon.
By Charles Taylor