Taek 1 - Shadowboxing
Cupcakes are the kobayashi maru of college football. Win the game? No credit for that, you were supposed to. Demolish the opponent? So what? The majority of their players couldn't even sniff a scholarship at your school! The only acceptable outcome is to win the game handily, get some reps for your backups and confidence for your starters, and survive without any major injuries.
Thankfully, the Aggies achieved all three goals yesterday against vastly outmatched Prairie View A&M. While nobody will long cherish or remember the near flawless 67-0 victory, the Aggies accomplished everything they could have hoped for. They got better and nobody got hurt. Trevor Knight became more comfortable as the game went on, and the A&M offense continued to find its identity under Noel Mazzone. The defense continued on the path to Wrecking Crew reclamation, and aside from a few great plays by Prairie View's Trey Green, they completely dominated. A&M's special teams, a pre-season concern, had a terrific day, with 6 touchbacks by Braden Mann, 3 field goals (including a 48 yard bomb) by Daniel LaCamera, a blocked field goal, and a 73 yard punt return touchdown by Nick Harvey.
Stated differently, yesterday A&M was shadowboxing. For the uninitiated, shadowboxing is an exercise used in training for hand-to-hand combat, where the combatant engages with an imaginary opponent to sharpen muscle memory and increase stamina. Christian Kirk admitted as much, stating after the game that "this week was about us sharpening the blade....we wanted to make sure everyone got better, and we did."
Yesterday was an exercise of discipline and preparation, and the Aggies passed with flying colors.
Taek 2 - The centralization of A&M offense around the running back Keith Ford
Much had been made over Trevor Knight's transfer from Oklahoma giving Sumlin and A&M a much needed shot in the arm. However, the more valuable former Sooner may very well prove to be Keith Ford. Through the first two games it is apparent that Sumlin and Mazzone intend to rely heavily on the Cypress, TX product, who was last year's offensive scout team MVP. After a solid week against UCLA, Ford made the most of his limited touches yesterday, with 62 yards on 8 carries and 2 touchdowns, along with 1 reception for 40 yards. His blocking also impressed. Along with true freshman Trayveon Williams, Ford provides A&M with the breakaway threat, which will keep defenses honest against the run, and some relief for an inexperience offensive line.
Taek 3 - Return to Thunderdome
When the polls are released later today, A&M will be looking at a schedule with at least five top 25 opponents in their next ten games. Five out of A&M's six SEC West opponents have all faced top 25 teams, and all of them held their own, appearing capable, if not dominant. Even Mississippi State bounced back with a win yesterday over South Carolina. It seems like hyperbole, but the next two weeks against Auburn and Arkansas are tossups that A&M must win for a chance at a memorable season. Can they? We'll see, but yesterday's effort showed us that the Aggies are as prepared as they can be headed into the SEC maelstrom.