Unless you've been living under a rock, you are fully aware of the transformation Texas A&M has made under Coach Sumlin in just one year's time.
Well... now we know Bob Stoops has been living under a rock.
Stoops was right about A&M bringing a Big 12 Offense into the SEC, but he failed to notice the giant strides the A&M defense has made during the first year in the big leagues. Second half adjustments by A&M's new SEC defense lead to the high-powered OU offense getting shut-out in the second half of a 41-13 Aggie victory in the Cotton Bowl.
So here is my post-season edition of:
I'm Not Sayin', I'm Just Sayin'
1. I'm not saying the Aggie defense is full-blown Wrecking Crew, but we definitely have a bonified SEC defense. Excluding teams with terrible coaches (Auburn, Arkansas, and Mizzou) and teams we can't remember (unnamed), here are some highlights and lowlights of our defensive performance, relative to their season average (sans A&M game).
- Highlights: OU averaged 40 PPG but only got 13 against the Ags = difference of +27
Bama averaged 40 and got 24 = +16
SMU averaged 33 and got 3 = +30
- Lowlights: La Tech averaged 51 and got 57 = -6
Ole Miss averaged 32 and got 27 = +5
Florida averaged 27 and got 20 = +7
LSU averaged 30 and got 24 = +6
So what is the take-away here? Even in A&M's worst defensive games, they still held the opposition (teams playing in the SEC) below their season average. Not eye-popping, but still very solid numbers. Obviously I'm ignoring the La Tech stat because they are chumps and refused to play us at the beginning of the season (bias not included).
2. I'm not saying Johnny Manziel is going to be the greatest college football player of all time. I'm just saying he is the most decorated freshman in the history of the sport and already has more SEC records as a freshman than Tebow or Cam left with as seniors.
The future is quite unknown with this guy, but I'll say this: it sure seems like the college football world is ready for a super-star with a little edge to him to balance out the Goodie Two-Shoes Tebow Mania that, somehow, is still lingering around. Love him or hate him, but he's already done more for this program in a five month span than Reggie McNeal, Stephen McGee, Jerrod Johnson, and Ryan Tannehill did in a DECADE.
3. I'm not saying Texas A&M would have won the Big 12 and been playing Alabama for the National Championship (if we stayed). I'm just saying that OU and KSU were Big 12 Co-Champs and the Aggies cleaned the floor with OU on the field while Johnny Football cleaned the trophy case with Optimus Klein in the awards tour.
In all seriousness, I do not think we would have run the table in the Big 12. In fact, I think we would have looked a whole lot more like the team we trotted out on the field in 2010. Yes, we are ending the season as one of the hottest teams in the country, but don't forget how much we grew in those first few weeks. Toughing out a hard loss to an eventual BCS Florida team taught us enough about ourselves to squeak by a run-and-gun La Tech team (that got third in the WAC) and a surprisingly solid Ole Miss team (albeit still on a 14 game conference losing streak) by a combined 5 points. But it took another gritty loss to a top 10 LSU for our team to round out into the type of giant slayers that would later knock off Alabama. So yes, we would have heated up once the offense and defense settled in, but I'm not going out on a limb to say we would have stayed undefeated through the first 6 games, and as we know, a one loss Big 12 team doesn't make the BCS National Championship Game (reason #1,129,392 that moving to the SEC was an awesome idea).
Speaking of the offense and the defense settling in, Stoops was not wrong about our "Big 12 offense". What he was wrong about was thinking we still had a Big 12 defense. If we can keep both sides of the ball going on their current paths, you're looking at a team that combines the best of both conferences into a confident, talented, and hungry football program run by a savvy, calculated, fiery coach who knows what it takes to win on the biggest of stages.
4. Can A&M challenge for the National Championship next season?
I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.