If you're anything like myself, you spent the previous bye weekend enjoying the first cool mornings to descend upon the south this fall, and by enjoying I mean drinking heavily, avoiding family at all cost and keeping eyes focused squarely on college football and seriously Uncle John if you turn the channel to the Presidents Cup one more time I will cut you.
Looking back at previous Aggie byes, we travel to September 10, 2011, where we find another ninth-ranked A&M squad resting comfortably, with no idea the horrors Mike Sherman was about to inflict over the next three months as he systematically burned everything to the ground we loved and held dear. Wasn't that fun! Thankfully, the 2013 edition appears to be built with slightly less flammable material, and hopes are high as the Ags head to Oxford to face a desperate
Admiral Ackbar Ole Miss team.
One of the albums that randomly popped up in the rotation this weekend was 'Youth and Young Manhood', the 2003 debut from Kings of Leon. Setting aside for the moment the massive drug use, band infighting, trips to rehab and general douchery that was to follow, late on a cool Saturday evening their debut remains pretty darn kickass, if for nothing more than the title. That record name came flying back into focus this morning as it was announced that senior Kirby Ennis' career is sadly over, courtesy of a torn ACL suffered against Arkansas.
On a preseason 'Dammit We CANNOT Lose That Guy List', Ennis came in at #2 for me, only trailing the reigning Heisman winner at quarterback. His ability to pick up where he left off in 2012, command double-teams, and free up the linebackers to make plays was thought essential to the ability of the 2013 defense to play at a high level. Unfortunately, Ennis never really got back in shape post offseason surgery and suspension, and had struggled to play with anything resembling last years explosion.
The (quasi) good news is A&M isn't suddenly finding itself missing an All-American performer at defensive tackle. The not-so-good news is that his absence leaves the defensive front 7 with a starting weakside end who seemingly has yet to recover from his own offseason surgery, a strongside end who may or may not exist according to stat sheets, a starting linebacker who was playing wide receiver 6 months ago, and a true freshman at both nose guard and middle linebacker. Also, when adjusting for opponent and scheme, there's a good chance the Aggies' best passrusher and most active strongside linebacker also hail from that same true freshman class.
So what is a Mark Snyder to do?
One option is to look across the field at the Rebels, where freshmen can be found all over the two-deep and coaches have clearly embraced the Youth and Young Manhood movement. The other side of the equation is where the A&M coaching staff has found itself, cautiously inserting first-year players here and there, not too worried about the redshirts that have been pulled. (Jay Arnold, Shaan Washington, and Daeshon Hall have all had their shirts burned, and all make plays when they get snaps. Might be a good idea to get them a little more playing time.)
At defensive tackle, there's no question: the injury to Ennis means snaps, and a lot of them, for big-time recruit Isaiah Golden, and probably an expanded role for Hardreck Walker. Thankfully, the Ole Miss offensive line is nothing to write home about, and Bo Wallace continues to do patented BoWallaceStupidShit from time to time. What the Rebels do have is speed and talent to burn on the outside, where, fingers crossed and mint juleps chugged, Floyd Raven can return this weekend and help solidify the back half of the defense.
Most importantly, this Saturday marks a return to the Grove, and early forecasts call for perfect tailgating weather with none of the monsoons of last year that unfortunately put quite a damper on
sorority girls in short sundresses the normal gameday pageantry. This marks yet another opportunity for visiting A&M fans to arrive in mass, drink expensive bourbon, say nice things to all the students who couldn't quite get into your school, and enjoy yet another roadtrip in the best damn roadtrippingest conference in America.