Monday, October 28, 2013

A Rejuvenated Spirit

First off, apologies to our expert Crawford Jones, he passed along his Vandy preview last week, and we dropped the ball (with excuses ranging from work to Vegas).  To further legitimize his “expert” title, I will go ahead and say that Crawford predicted everything correctly.  He is the expert for a reason.

Second off, big snag for the Aggies today as they pulled in Jermaine Eluemunor, one of the best JUCO offensive linemen in the nation.  This guy could easily start next year given his advanced age and the fact that he will be enrolling at Texas A&M this January (giving him a head start with spring practice).  It's all about the trenches!  YESSIR!

Well here we are; knee deep in the thick of the season.  The BCS rankings are out and the Heisman chatter is starting to heat up (FINEBAUM IS BACK ON THE JOHNNY BANDWAGON). The Aggies have taken us on an absolute roller coaster over these past few weeks.  That Auburn game hurt.  It hurt like all those old Fran and Sherman breakdowns.  I was there, confused and dumbfounded as those last seconds melted off the clock.  Other-worldy efforts by Johnny and Mike were wasted.  Our defense looked like a soggy paper bag.  Ugh, I will say no more, there is no reason to rehash the pain.

Then within days, our moods were lifted by the news of TWO five-star recruits committing their future to our beloved Texas A&M (I will jump back to this in a moment).  Then a few days later, the Aggies went out and did what a great team should do; they dismantled a solid opponent at Kyle Field.  Vandy was coming off a solid victory against the team formerly known as Georgia, and undoubtedly had high hopes that they could run over A&M’s defense in true Auburn fashion.  Vandy isn't a BCS-caliber team, but if you give a well-coached, legitimate opponent a glimmer of hope (and a few timely turnovers), anything can happen.  Sumlin and Johnny didn’t let that happen. A&M showed up and took care of business.  Johnny went bananas early and gave himself some extra visor-time in the second half.  It was a truly well-rounded effort on offense and the defense appeared to take a positive step forward.  I feel good going into a half bye week against UTEP.  WELCOME HOME, JAMEILL SHOWERS (even though the poor guy still doesn't get to make a start at Kyle Field due to an injury).

So let’s get back to those recruits (and our defensive future).  Our abysmal defensive line has been our Achilles heel this year, so to hear the news about Myles Garrett and Daylon Mack in such close proximity was a huge pick-me-up.  Championships are won in the trenches, and a dominant defensive front seven can single-handedly win you football games and save seasons.

Here is what we need to happen.  Starting in the middle, we need one of our three true freshmen DTs (Golden, Walker, and Manning) to become a genuine star (Isaiah Golden is the frontrunner here).  This is crucial and for the sake of time, it needs to be one of the guys already on campus.  Daylon Mack is two full years behind these guys; he will be in the next wave of difference makers.  Surprise, we need somebody to step up and be a star at DE too.  Julien Obioha is a solid player, and maybe he takes his game to the next level, but I feel like we would have already seen flashes (I think that description will apply to Jay Arnold as well in the future).  That leaves us with two guys Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett.  Hall will have a year’s worth of experience (and weight room) on Garrett, but as we all know, Garrett is a freak.  Either Hall makes the jump or Garrett becomes a stud from day one (Nkemdiche and Clowney did it), but one of those things needs to happen.  We need some studs.  Studs elevate the play of everyone around them.  An average defensive lineman playing next to a stud immediately becomes an above-average defensive lineman.  It’s that simple.

I feel like we already have a head start in regards to our linebackers, because Darian Claiborne is a football player.  A true freshman stepping into the middle of our defense smack dab in the middle of SEC play, now that’s impressive.  Just like that, we only need to fill in two more linebacker spots for the next three years.  I think Jordan Mastrogiovanni eventually takes over one of the spots.  He has had a naturally up-and-down season (which isn’t bad at all for a true freshman).  He impressed early in camp (notably his pass rush), got on the field, and has done a thing or two worth noting.  I think he becomes entrenched as a starter next year.  So who gets that last spot?  Tommy Sanders?  Brett Wade?  Donnie Baggs?  I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s our troubled, but uber-talented future Aggie HOZA SCOTT.  Based on all accounts, he seems to have overcome whatever issues he had during the off-season and finally got his head on straight.  I think he just barely qualifies, and then thrives when he gets to College Station.  Don’t forget that after last year, it was Hoza Scott who was the consensus best recruit in Texas, not Myles Garrett.  So don’t call it a comeback.

The front seven will still be super young next year, but all we need is two sophomores to jump to the next level (Golden and Claiborne) and two freshmen to show they can be difference makers (Garrett and Scott).  Obioha will provide a steady presence. Walker, Manning, and Hall should be in the rotation.  Mastrogiovanni could become a dynamic weak-side pass rusher.  None of these scenarios are unreasonable.

It’s crazy how a simple SEC win (and a few high schoolers) can rejuvenate the spirits again.  The future is bright.

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