Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Isaac Strikes

Hurricane Isaac has screwed everything up.  La Tech postponed our Thursday night season opener in Shreveport in anticipation of the storm hitting Louisiana.

The game has been rescheduled for October 13th.  This hurts us on many levels.

  1. We now open with Florida, a conference game, without having any live game action.  We don't have 9 days to try to tie up any lose ends that we would discover.  This is particularly troubling because we have a freshman QB who will be taking his first career snap against one of the best defenses in the country.
  2. We lose our off week prior to LSU so we now have one week to prepare for them as opposed to the original two.
  3. We play 12 consecutive weeks.  No time to allow nicks and dings to heal and no time to let guys rest and recharge.
  4. La Tech will now catch us mid-season so they will have seen all our film and they also provide a nice opportunity for us to get caught as a trap game if we overlook them in anticipation of LSU.
  5. No college football fan should have to wait an extra week and a half after clamoring for their season to start for 8 months.  At this point 9 days feels like 30 days.

Why does anyone schedule games along the Gulf Coast in September?  I remember this happening to texas back in '04 when they were to play Southern Miss.

BTHO Florida.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

2012 Ag Football Season Preview

In one week we will all be either enjoying the start of the college football season - or we'll be trying to talk ourselves off the cliff.

That, of course, all depends on how this irritating Hurricane Issaic turns out.  First it was supposed to hit Florida but now the models show it bending West and hitting Louisiana on Thursday.  I don't know what that will do to our game in Shreveport on Thursday night.

I figure that if it is bad enough to postpone the game then we won't be able to play it later in the weekend - they're going to be more concerned with cleaning up rooftops that were scattered across the highway.  Does it get moved to Dallas or Houston?  Does it come to College Station?  Does it get pushed back in the schedule (that would be terrible)?  Does it get cancelled?

Instead of wondering about how our freshman QB is going to play or how our defense is going to look we are stuck wondering if we're even going to be playing a game.  That sucks.


Here is a quick and dirty season preview....

Aug. 28th v. La Tech - 6:30pm - ESPNU
Sept. 8th FLORIDA - 2:30pm - ESPN
Sept. 15th at SMU - 2:30pm - FSN
Sept. 29th ARKANSAS - TBD
Oct. 06th at Ole Miss - TBD
Oct. 20th LSU - TBD
Oct. 27th at Auburn - TBD
Nov. 3rd at Mississippi State - TBD
Nov. 10th at Alabama - TBD
Nov. 24th MISSOURI - TBD
That is rough - Phil Steele has it ranked #8 toughest schedule in the country.  Welcome to the SEC.  That is why the SEC sprinkles non-conference games through out the schedule rather than playing them all up front.

There is a fairly good chance that if we beat La Tech we'll have the ESPN Gameday Crew in College Station for our first ever SEC conference game in week two.

New Roster Number:

I know you all memorized last year's roster so here are the guys who changed numbers or are new to the program or guys who played last year sparingly that should see a big bump in P.T. this year:

 1. Harris, De'Vante (Fr-T, DB)
 1. Molina, Ben (Jr, RB)
 2. Manziel, Johnny (Fr-R, QB)
 7. Tramain Jacobs (JUCO, CB)
 8. Thomas Johnson (Fr-T, WR)
10. LeKendrick Williams (So, WR)
11. Derel Walker (Fr-T, WR)
13. Mike Evans (Fr-R, WR)
14. Floyd Raven Sr. (So, CB)
18. Edward Pope (Fr-T, WR/DB)
20. Trey Williams (Fr-T, RB)
23. Sabian Holmes (Fr-T, WR)
24. Taylor Bertolet (Fr-R, K)
26. Devonta Burns (Fr-R, DB)
29. Deshazor Everett (So, DB)
30. Johntel Franklin (JUCO, S)
33. Michael Richardson (Fr-T, LB)
34. Jordan Richmond (Fr-T, LB)
35. Tyrell Taylor (So, LB)
36. Donnie Baggs (So, LB)
38. Drew Kaser (So, P)
40. Shaun Ward (So, LB)
41. Brandon Alexander (So, DL)
43. Justin Bass (So, LB)
51. Jarvis Harrison (So, OL)
55. Alonzo Williams (Fr-T, DL)
56. Mike Matthews (Fr-T, OL)
70. Cedric Ogbuehi (So, OL)
71. Kimo Tipoti (Fr-H, OL)
72. Gavin Stansbury (So, DL)
74. Germain Ifedi (Fr-H, OL)
77. Shep Klinke (Jr, OL)
79. Joseph Cheek (Fr-R, OL)
84. Malcome Kennedy (So, WR)
88. Gaston Lamascus (Jr, WR)
89. Ivan Robinson (So, DL)
90. Polo Manukainiu (Fr-T, DL)
97. Julien Boioha (Fr-T, DL)
98. Shayvion Hatten (Fr-R, DL)

Players Gone:

Whether it be graduation, the draft, or just plain old attrition here are the players gone from last year's roster:

#1 Trent Hunter (Sr S 13G/13GS), #3 Lionel Smith (Sr CB 13/7 Dallas Cowboys), #5 Coryell Judie (Sr CB 7/2 Denver Broncos), #7 Terrence Frederick (Sr CB 13/13 Pittsburgh Steelers), #8 Jeff Fuller (Sr WR 13/12 Miami Dolphins), #8 Garrick Williams (Sr LB 9/5 Buffalo Bills), #9 Charlie Thomas (LB 12/2), #13 Tommy Dorman (TE 5/0), #17 Ryan Tannehill (QB 13/13 Miami Dolphins), #18 Kyle Mangan (LB 13/0), #24 Taylor Randle (3/0), #28 Louie Swope (DB 2/0 left team but remains in school), #28 Randy Bullock (PK 13/0 Houston Texans), #32 Cyrus Gray (RB 11/5 KC Chiefs), #33 D. Thompson (13/0), #34 Will Randolph (RB 1/0 transf. to SHSU), #39 Eddie Brown (DL 13/13 San Diego Chargers), #44 Andrew Wolridge (LB 4/0), #45 Matt Sherman (3/0), #56 Ryan Liscum (1/0), #62 Jeffrey Hyde (OL 5/0), #65 Evan Eike (OL 13/0), #67 Joe Villavisencio (OL 2/0), #71 Brian Thomas (OL 12/12 trans. to tech), #74 Danny Baker (OL 13/0), #80 Hutson Prioleau (TE 13/4 left team but remains in school), #83 Tony Jerod-Eddie (13/13 SF 49ers), #83 Michael Walker (1/0), #85 L. Williams (3/0), #86 Seth Gardner (3/0), #89 Travis Labhart (4/0), #90 Ben Bass (DE Dallas Cowboys)


We have one of the top OL in the country.  We return 4 of our 5 starters, including Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews - both possible 1st round NFL picks.  We have a total of 85 career starts along our line which is often a good indication of a team's success.  And only one has played a snap as an upperclassman.

We probably also have one of the top 2 or 3 RB groups in the country with C-Mike, Ben Malena and Trey Williams.  Brandon Williams was denied his waiver to bypass the transfer rule - had he not, this would have been the most incredible backfields ever (three 5*s and one 4*).

I love C-Mike - the guy has a really good chance of bumping Cyrus Gray off of my unofficial Top 5 Favorite Players That I've Watched Put on the Maroon & White List (Toombs, T-Murph, Brantly, & J-Train).  First of all, he is humble.  Second of all, he WANTS to be a leader and do good things for this program.  Third of all, the dude is a beast - he came in as a true freshman and looked like he could suit up in the NFL.

We know what C-Mike and Malena can do but Trey came out in fall camp and completely Wow-ed everyone.  I'm REALLY excited about our running game this year.
At WR we should be fine.  We have Pre-Season All-SEC Ryan Swope back who should easily break all of the school's WR records.  He is ~900 yards shy of the school record (which is about 3/4 of his season total from last year) and he is 53 receptions shy of the school record - both held by Jeff Fuller.  I don't think he's going to catch Fuller's TD record - he is 18 shy of Fuller's 34 career TDs.

EZ is back for his senior year and we have some very highly touted youngsters who will see plenty of time - Mike Evans, Thomas Johnson and Sabian Holmes.

Johnny Manziel was named the starting QB last week after beating out the perceived leader, Jameill Showers, and holding off the surging Matt Joekel.  He will be the first freshman to start the season at QB in A&M history.

Now, of course, everyone is ready for Johnny Football to step in and be Bucky II and I must be the only person in the state that is concerned about our QB play.

It's not that I don't like Manziel, it's that I don't like the situation - I don't like young, inexperienced QBs.  The three QB candidates have a total of 5 career pass attempts between them and we will be facing some of the top defenses in the country week in and week out.  I'd be worried if we were facing Big 12 defenses.  We'll have to see how this one plays out.

Regardless of all of that - the one thing we KNOW.....this will be the most uptempo team we've had - Sumlin is going to squeeze as many plays in as quickly as possible. Frankly, I'd advise you to take a look at all of the passing and receiving school records now just so you remember those player's names in 4 years when they've been obliterated from the record books - Manziel or whomever.  Keep in mind that at UH last year, under Sumlin and Kingsbury, Case Keenum threw for 5,600+ yards and 48 TDs last year.  Jerrod holds the CAREER record with just over 8,000 yards and 67 TDs.

Should be interesting.


Our defensive line scares me.  You always hear how SEC football is won in the trenches, and frankly, I don't think we are big enough and we certainly aren't deep enough.  I like the guys we have - Spencer Nealy, Johnathon Mathis, Damontre Moore - but  none of them are big time SEC defensive linemen....or at least have not been yet.  Behind them is....crickets....not much experience from guys who haven't been able to crack a solid but far from great starting unit.

Think back to our last few games against SEC opponents and how their OLs just overwhelmed us. 

In our last 6 games against SEC opponents we gave up 1,100 yards rushing (Arkansas throwing for 500+ against us last year skewed that number because they didn't run the ball much because they didn't have to) and two of our top three tacklers in each game were defensive backs (no DLman finished in the top 3 in any of those games).

Well, I don't thing this DL is particularly better than any we have trotted out in any of those seasons.

The linebacker corps brings back all the starters (Steven Jenkins, Jonathan Stewart, and Sean Porter) but the backups are all VERY inexperienced [Donnie Baggs (Soph). walk-on Justin Bass (Soph. walkon - brother of Ben), and Michael Richardson (Fr-T)].  Porter is the most heralded of the group - I'll be interested to see how he stacks up against other SEC linebackers when it's all said and done.

The defensive backfield is our strength....but we all know that your DBs are only as good as the DL is at putting pressure on the QB.  We lost corners Coryell Judie & Terrence Frederick as well as 4 year starter at safety, Trent Hunter.

We are very young at corner but very talented.  Deshazor Everett (Soph), De'Vante Harris (Fr-T), and JUCO transfer Tremaine Jacobs look to join Dustin Harris at corner.  Floyd Raven will also be in the mix very heavily - maybe even more so than Harris.

Steven Terrell and Steven Campbell look to start at safety with Johntel Franklin (JUCO) and the versatile Tony Hurd Jr backing them up.  Heck, returning starter Howard Matthews isn't even on the season opening 2-deep.

It is really interesting to see how the new staff is using the 2-deep as motivation.  Matthews, Raven, Shaun Ward (LB) & Brandon Alexander (DL) are all guys who are probably a bit surprised that their name didn't appear on the 2-deep when it was released on Thursday.  I sure was.  How they respond to that perceived slight is going to determine their success in the program.

Sumlin has said repeatedly that the best will be on the field and there are a whole bunch of freshmen's names and numbers that we're going to be frantically looking up on our rosters during the first couple of weeks.

Special Teams:

This is somewhat of a concern.  First of all, how do you replace last season's Groza Winner/NFL Draft worthy kicker?  You can't - our FG unit is clearly going to take a step backwards but it looks like Fr-R Taylor Bertolet has won the job out of the gate.

Our punting hasn't been anything to write home about since Justin Brantly graduated.  This year the incumbent (whoa - that is political term usage.....and that's as much as you'll ever see here) Ryan Epperson has held off Drew Kaser, who has a huge leg but is wildly inconsistent, again.
I am excited about Trey Williams returning KOs - that could be exciting.  And it looks like Dustin Harris will be back fielding punts.

Special teams has been a big killer for us for the better part of a decade and I hope that Sumlin and Brian Polian can get this unit turned around from a detriment to a positive.

One interesting note is that senior Ben Bredthauer who has been our deep snapper for the last three seasons has disappeared from the roster at some point over the last two weeks and Jake Matthews is the #1 guy on the depth chart.  Just something to keep an eye on.
To date, Sumlin has met or exceeded every expectation I had for him. 

Frankly, he has been damn near perfect.  He assembled a high level coaching staff, his recruiting has been outstanding, he has come in with a little bit of a cocky demeanor, he has said all the right things, he understands the school's culture, he has put an emphasis on marketing and public perception, has been on almost every talk show and college football program in the country, and he has embraced the move to the SEC.

Basically, he has dominated the off-season.

We're about to see how he does with the other 50% of the job.  It's football season, my friends. 


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Keep Maroon Out

At the end of June I called the 12th Man Foundation to get away game tickets and I was mildly surprised to find out that I could still get Auburn tickets (which I did) but that the SMU game was the first one that we had sold out of our ticket allotment.

I was also a little surprised when I found out last year that SMU didn't want to sell the home game site rights to Jerry Jones to be played at Cowboy Stadium or to the Cotton Bowl, where they could fit twice as many fans in the seats and charge significantly more for tickets.  They wanted to have a big name opponent come play on campus to show their alumni base that they're serious about football.

As a result, I knew that the game would sell out because Ford Stadium only holds 32,000 but I was probably more surprised that it was the first away game to sell out - I mean, we're playing at Auburn, at Ole Miss, and at 'Bama.  Then again, it makes sense because very few Ags can make more than one big away game but I bet most can make one big away game and squeeze in a game in Dallas.

So, now I am on a quest to find tickets to the game for me and my brother, Sean.  I made a call to SMU's athletic department to inquire about season ticket prices.  My ticket rep, Gregory, shared that they had two mini-season ticket packages - one for $50 that included the TCU game and one for $90 that included the A&M game.  I then asked what a full season ticket cost.  $99.

Wait, for $9 more I could get ALL the games?  Yep.  I told him thank you and that I would call him back once I ran it all by Sean.  Sean is a smart kid and obviously he agreed the full season ticket route was the way to go.

I called Gregory back the next day and was informed that they were no longer selling season tickets to A&M fans but I could buy the mini-pack for $90.  I said, "Well that means I can't recoup my money back by selling the TCU ticket.  What if I hang up and call back and when I do, I'm no longer an A&M fan?"  He informed that that wouldn't work.  Stupid caller ID.

His explanation was that they wanted SMU fans to have access to tickets for games and they were getting inundated by A&M fans ordering tickets.  They want fans in seats for all  the other games.

This, in my opinion, is a simple problem of supply and demand.  First of all, the fact that SMU season tickets cost as much as the just A&M home opener is a sign that SMU fans aren't really knocking down the door to get tickets to see their Mustangs play.  The SMU fans don't care as much as the A&M fans do.  If they did, not only would there be no season tickets left for me to buy but the price would be significantly higher.

Also, if you were only concerned with getting SMU fans into the game then you wouldn't be offering a mini-ticket package to Ags.  Really, you just want to be able to control the market share of tickets for the TCU game, who is your biggest rival.  If Ags buy up all the season tickets, and therefore all the TCU tickets, it is the Ags who will turn around and sell the TCU ticket and make the money.

The first solution would be to raise the season ticket price to create a larger gap between the mini-pack and the season ticket price.  Another solution would be to give the 12th Man Foundation a significantly larger number of tickets to distribute.  Ags would rather pay a little bit of a premium and be able to sit with other Ags.  That way you don't also lose out on your TCU tickets.

The problem there is that you lose all the guaranteed ticket sales for the other games in the mini-pack/season ticket.  You can sell 20-25,000 tickets for every game of the season and it just be mostly empty or you can sellout one game, probably sell out a second game, and then hope that Southern Miss, Memphis, and Tulsa have a lot of kids with huge families from Texas on their rosters and want to come see them play.

It's a noble effort you're trying to make but your fan base doesn't care enough to come through and reward you for it.  Shoot, I'm willing to bet that a big portion of your actual SMU season ticket holders are going to try to sell their A&M ticket to pay for the rest of their season.

I read an article online yesterday that said, "season ticket sales at their highest level in a quarter century".  As a new SMU season ticket holder, I say "You're welcome."

BTW, if anyone is looking for a great deal on two tickets for 5 of SMU's 6 home games, I know a guy.