Texas A&M’s home opener will serve as massive reveal party for the newly renovated Kyle Field. New Army, you have it way too good. Shade on the 3rd deck, a ‘Cool Zone’ inside, escalators, and Gluten free concession options?! It all seems too good to be true. Soak it all in while you reminisce the good ole days of nearly passing out in 110 degree heat on a late August afternoon. And as impressive as the pictures have been, the stadium is only half way done! After the 2014 season concludes, we get to do this all over again with the alumni side.
Texas A&M’s 2014 season debut could not have gone any better. The Aggies looked slightly improved on offense (if that’s even possible) and greatly improved on defense. The 2014 recruiting class made an immediate impact as 9 members saw the field and 3 players earning the start; JUCO transfer Josh Reynolds, true FR Speedy Noil, and true FR Armani Watts. However, one of the most notable areas of impact was on the defensive line as Myles Garrett, Zaycoven Henderson, Qualen Cunningham, and Jarrett Johnson all contributed. Garrett especially made an impact on his way to 1 sack, 2 quarterback hurries, and several other backfield pressures. The impact of the defensive line was paramount as the Aggies held the highly touted Gamecocks running backs to only 67 rushing yards.
With an SEC road victory in hand, the Aggies enter the non-conference portion of their schedule with Lamar, Rice, and SMU in as many weeks. With each game very winnable (Vegas has A&M as 49 point favorites against Lamar), the Aggies should be 4-0 as they reenter SEC play. Each of these next three games will be measuring sticks for our defense. Although they were improved from a season ago, there is still much work to be done if the team hopes to contend for the SEC this year.
Preview of the game:
The #9 Aggies kick-off Saturday against Lamar University at 6:30PM CT on the SEC Network+. SEC Network+ means that the game will not be broadcast on the normal SEC Network channel. Some providers may broadcast the game on a different channel, so check with your cable provider ahead of time. If the game is not broadcast with your cable provider, it is available for everyone with ESPN through the WatchESPN app. Those with Apple TV’s or HDMI cables should have no issues watching the game on a full screen TV. But if you do not have these, prepare to watch the game on a laptop, tablet, or smart phone.
Preview of Lamar:
Lamar is an FCS opponent from the Southland Conference that has averaged a 4-8 record over the past 3 seasons. They put in a good showing last week against Grambling University with a 42-27 win and 525 yards of total offense. Leading the way is senior quarterback Caleb Berry who threw for 389 yards and 5 touchdowns last week. He will be targeting junior Reggie Begelton primarily, but watch out for senior Mark Roberts who is a lethal deep threat.
Defensively, Lamar is led by strong safety Xavier Bethany. The redshirt sophomore played in every 2013 game recording 12 tackles and a fumble recovery. He showed marked improvement last week by posting 11 tackles, a sack, an interception, and even forcing a fumble. The defense as a whole forced 5 turnovers last week and held Grambling to a mere 2.2 yards per rush and 4.8 yards per pass. But don’t expect that production to continue against the nation’s best offense.
Preview of Texas A&M:
Offensively, the Aggies will look to continue its massive success from the week before. As this game could be well out of hand by the first half, look for highly touted true freshman QB Kyle Allen to get some snaps no later than the 3rd quarter. Before Kenny won the starting job, the coaches claimed that the competition was nearly too close to call. If this is the case; don’t expect much, if any, drop off in offensive production when he comes in.
Defensively, the Aggies will look to shore up the passing struggles that yielded 9.2 yards per pass last week. The secondary as a whole will get a chance to improve against a pass-happy Lamar offense. Armani Watts received much praise for his 2 pass break ups and interception last week. But while the true freshman shined, veterans Howard Matthews and DeShazor Everett struggled. Look for greatly improved play across the board and a secondary that takes away the deep ball.
Finally, keep an eye on linebacker Tommy Sanders this week. With A.J. Hilliard injured and possibly out for the season, Sanders will start at weakside linebacker. The JUCO transfer saw action in 11 games last season and tallied 20 tackles along with 2 interceptions. His experience has given him the nod in an increasingly thin linebacking corps. With a strong performance, he can lock down the starting spot. However, Shaan Washington should return from his collarbone injury in 2-3 weeks and provide competition for the vacant opening.
Normally, I’d use this section to recommend a local hole-in-the-wall or fan favorite. However, today’s food shout-out goes to the concessions of Kyle Field. Yes, it appears that they have outdone themselves with their chicken fried hot dog, brisket sandwich, and pork tacos. And for those needing a GF option, they’ve even got you covered. Show your support on Saturday by purchasing one of the many incredible food options Kyle Field now offers.
Going out on a limb here, but there’s a new bar in town where Daisy Dukes used to be called Boulevard 217. True, it seems like there is a new place at this location every few years between Midnight Rodeo, Shadow Canyon, and probably a number of others before. Grab a beer here while on Northgate and see if it’s any good. Worst case scenario, you’re only half a block away from the legendary Dixie Chicken.
Kenny Hill continues his Heisman campaign by putting up 400 yards passing on 5 touchdowns…in the first half. Then it’s visor-time following the first possession of the 3rd quarter. Kyle Allen takes over and throws for 200+ yards himself before the coaches call off the dogs and run out the clock. The defensive line combines for 6 sacks and several more quarterback pressures; one of which leads to a pick-6. Choose your dates wisely Ags, this one’s going to be a blowout. Aggies roll 59-13.