If there are two things in life that I love without doubt - they are watching the battles between linemen on the gridiron and the delicious flavors of smoked meats, especially courtesy of a Texas Barbecue joint. The pairing of linemen and barbecue gave me the idea for this weekly series: Trench War/Fare. Every week, I will preview the key match-ups in the trenches for Texas A&M and follow up with a recipe recommendation either from my travels around Texas Barbecue joints or of my own creation, likely making the most of leftovers from said travels.
For this first week, instead of talking about the key match-ups with Sam Houston’s linemen, let’s dive into Texas A&M’s expected starters on both sides of the ball and what we want to see out of them in action for the first time since 2021.
Texas A&M’s offensive line is a tale of two sides. The right side, featuring Reuben Fatheree at tackle and Layden Robinson at guard has been set in stone for awhile. The left side of the line is a little more up in the air. Trey Zuhn is slated to be the starter at left tackle but the Colorado product is a question mark as a new starter at the position. Next to him at guard, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Aki Ogunbiyi or Jordan Spasojevic-Moko get the nod. At center, it sounds like we could see either Bryce Foster or Matthew Wykoff, though I’d expect Foster to get the nod courtesy of his experience starting in 2021. The Aggie offensive line will have a visible size advantage on Saturday against Sam Houston. What I want to see out of this position group is execution. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bearkats mix in stunts and twists to try and combat the size disadvantage. We’ll need the offensive line to communicate well throughout the contest and establish their physicality early in the run game while keeping mistakes to a minimum. This is more about establishing cohesiveness to start the year than anything else.
On the other side of the ball, the Aggies are replacing all four starters. I’m expecting Fadil Diggs to start at one end position while Tunmise Adeleye will be occupying the other. On the interior, I expect it to be McKinnley Jackson at Nose and Shemar Turner at Three Technique (or quite possibly Isaiah Raikes). However, due to the sheer amount of talent along the defensive line - especially from that 2022 signing class - I want to see a healthy rotation. There is an embarrassment of riches along the line for coaches Elijah Robinson and Terry Price. We should see maroon in the Bearkat backfield early and often as well as fresh legs out there should any of the starters need a breather. While there are big questions being asked of this group and even bigger shoes to fill, the talent is there. Much like the offensive line, they need to establish their physicality early and execute. I don’t see new Defensive Coordinator DJ Durkin dialing up a bunch of exotics (blitzes, stunts, slants and twists) in week one, it should be simple assignment football. Vanilla, but effective.
As any seasoned tailgater will tell you, breakfast is in fact the most important meal of the day and what better way to kickoff the “Fare” portion of Trench War/Fare between two Texas schools than with one of the most iconic breakfast items on any menu in Texas. A marriage between the two preeminent cuisines in the state, Tex Mex and barbecue, the Real Deal Holyfield Taco is a glorious creation from Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ in Austin, Texas. The taco is served on a fresh hand-made tortilla with refried beans, potatoes, bacon, two fried eggs, a slice of bacon and your choice of smoked meat. This being Texas, I opt for the delicious Mesquite-smoked brisket. With Texas A&M’s game being an 11 a.m. kick, I can think of no better way to set the tone for the game and the 2022 season than with this beautiful behemoth of a breakfast taco.