Thursday, July 26, 2007

Aggie Roundtable, Take 5ish

My apologies for missing last week's roundtable. This week's questions come from Load Option. Other responses can be found at TAMABINPO, the12thManchild and the AggieSportsBlog.

1. What play in our offense would you like to eliminate or see called less often? Give a valid replacement play or series that will attack the same area, i.e. if you hate the option to the short side of the field, how do you propose we attack the C & D gaps shortside to keep the defense honest?

I didn't watch much film from last year, that's something that I intend to do a better job of this season. I've had the DVR for some time and just added HDTV last week.

Based on what I remember from last season, A&M had a formation that they went to in short yardage situations that involved lining Jorvorskie Lane up in a power-I with a WR as the second fullback. The WR was then motioned out to the wing prior to the snap. A&M ran two plays out of this formation, either the Jorvorskie Smash or a play-action pass, usually to Chris Alexander in the flat. Both plays worked well early in the season, but teams became increasingly prepared for this set. In particular, the fourth down stop of Lane against Army and a key redzone incompletion against Oklahoma come to mind as failures.

All I would really like to see here are a few more plays out of this formation. Perhaps a quick pass that uses the size advantage of Martellus Bennett and Joey Thomas or running a triple option with Lane off tackle and using a WR like EJ Shankle as a pitch man.

2. What was your favorite season of Aggie offensive football? Give a year and explain why.

Well, I haven't been around long enough to have more than one year to choose from, so it has to be last year. I actually did enjoy it quite a bit though. I played for a high school that threw the football about as often Haley's Comet comes around. In other words, I'm a run-first guy. The Aggies did a lot of running last season and had enough different looks to keep the defense relatively honest using just the run. There is just something magical about lining up against Texas, both teams knowing that the run is coming, and still overpowering them for a key first down.

3. If you could steal any assistant coach from one of our conference opponents, either to improve our program or weaken their program, which coach would you take and why.

I came across something the other day about the Texas Tech wide receivers coach and some of his unorthodox methods. I can't remember where I saw it, so I can't give a hat tip, but I'm going to steal that answer. Tech always seems to get a lot out of receivers that other teams have overlooked. This may be cheating though as I see that the coach in question has moved on to Arizona. Still, I'm sticking with Sonny Dykes, formerly of Texas Tech.

4. Given that we have gone back to the old timing rules during games, do you expect our defense to experience a slight setback in total yardage given up per game? What about points per game?

Obviously the increased length in the game can only lead to more opportunities for the opposition to score, so the question becomes, "will the Aggies be better than a season ago on defense."

Talentwise, I would tentatively say yes, they will be better. I think that the secondary in particular should be improved despite the loss of Melvin Bullitt. Ultimately though, I think that the more difficult schedule, playing good offensive teams in every road game, will lead to an increase in both the yards and points allowed. I don't, however, think that the increase will be large.

5. Playing athletic director for a day, if given the chance, what sport would you add to A&M's athletic department, assuming the funding is there for scholarships, facilities, support, etc.

Well, this one is easy enough. I'd add hockey in a heartbeat. A&M would be a natural rival for Air Force, although they would most likely have to join the CHA. Still yearly non-conference matchups with Army, Air Force, and the Colorado powers (Colorado College and Denver) would be a blast. The Aggies would also have a leg up on tapping warm-weather states with growing youth hockey programs (like Texas, Georgia and California).

6. Fran tells you he's going to let you coach a whole game as an assistant coach. You can coach any position you want, including both coordinator positions. Which coaching job would you take, and why?

Once a nose guard, always a nose guard I say. I'd be the defensive line coach, although offensive coordinator is mighty tempting. I just think that I'd be most prepared to coach the defensive line and have the least chance of screwing something up there.

7. Ignoring LSU, Arkansas, and the former SWC teams, what BCS team would you like to see A&M start a non-conference series with? Do you want to play home-and-home or at a neutral site?

I really hate these new neutral site games that teams like Notre Dame are playing. ND-Wazzou in San Antonio? Ludicrous I say! That said, I'd like to see A&M play either Iowa or Michigan State in a home-and-home. I took a road trip to Iowa in 2005 for the Michigan game and loved every minute of it. They have a great fan base that is very friendly and very well informed. It was a real pleasure to join them for a game.

Michigan State is only about 25 miles from my hometown. My dad had season tickets there from the time he graduated (late 60's) until he retired (2002). Despite the massive stadium alterations that they've made, a road trip to Spartan Stadium would bring back some great memories and be a chance to visit home...two birds with one stone and all that.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Aggies: More Than Meets the Eye, Part I

So, as I was sitting in the theater thinking about the greatness that is the Transformers movie, I got to thinking about which characters reminded me of Aggie Football players. This is the first in a series that I will be rolling out all week. Comments and suggestions are always welcome. The first three:

Jorvorskie Lane: Unicron
The fan website describes Unicron better than I can hope to:
Known as the "chaos bringer" Unicron was created shortly after the dawn of time. He is the most massive and deadly of all Transformers. His goal is to absorb the Universe; planet by planet, solar system by solar system. With each world he devours, he grows in size, strength, energy, knowledge and power. He carries out the assimilation these worlds with total ambivalence to the lives of those he destroys.

Of course it makes just as much sense this way:
Known as the "chaos bringer" Jorvorskie was created shortly after the dawn of time. He is the most massive and deadly of all Aggies. His goal is to absorb the Universe; planet by planet, solar system by solar system. With each world he devours, he grows in size, strength, energy, knowledge and power. He carries out the assimilation these worlds with total ambivalence to the lives of those he destroys.

Stephen McGee: Optimus Prime

The leader of the Aggies meets the leader of the Autobots. Both are awesome in ways that I cannot hope to put into words...enough said.

Yemi Babalola: Bumblebee
In the live action movie, Bumblebee is sent to Earth to be the personal protector of Sam. In real life Yemi Babalola was called to Aggieland to be the personal blindside protector of Stephen A. McGee. (Okay, so I don't actually have any idea if McGee's middle name starts with an "A", but stick with me here.) In the cartoon, Bumblebee is constantly trying to prove himself capable of hanging with the larger Autobots. Babalola was a lightly regarded recruit coming out of high school who is constantly showing that he belongs at the highest levels of college football.

I'll be back later this week with Part II.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Aggie Roundtable, Take 3

I contributed the questions this week, so I suppose that I shouldn't refuse to answer any. As always, check out TAMU and Baseball, The12thManChild and the AggieSportsBlog for the full tour.

#1. If you could go all crazy diaper-wearing-astronaut and cruise around to
Big XII campuses, which players would you kidnap and make Aggies? (Hat tip
to Burnt Orange Nation (grr) for coming up with this concept.)

First I would shore up the receiving corps, the only real weakness on the offense. This would mean the additions of Limas Sweed (Texas) and Malcolm Kelly (Oklahoma). Sweed brings a great combination of size and speed and Kelly may be the best "big receiver" in the conference. Next I'd add some depth to the DT rotation. I think Frank Okam (Texas) is the best choice for a brainy addition to the interior. A LB would be nice so I'll go with Bo Ruud (Nebraska) who has the best combination of talent and experience in the conference. Finally I'd like to upgrade the secondary with a true lockdown corner. Aqib Talib (Kansas) is the best choice here.

#2. Describe your perfect fall Saturday. (Note: if this doesn't include a college football game, a man card will be deducted.)

My perfect Saturday starts on a November day in Ann Arbor. I'm up early to head down to Elbel Field to tailgate with friends. As I walk out of my dorm (Mosher-Jordan of course) it's crisp and fairly cold. The sky is pale blue and cloudless. After tailgating I head over to the band building and catch the step show as the day starts to warm. After the show I head across the railroad tracks and join the thousands of people headed for the stadium. I'm in my seat at least 20 minutes before the game, enough time to read the free program and BS a bit with the people I sit with. The opponent is Ohio State (of course) and Michigan wins by 142 points.

#3. A&M's road schedule is formidable this season. Which game presents the biggest challenge? Which game is the most winnable?

I think that Oklahoma will be the toughest game to win this season. I'm not wild about the way that A&M's defense matches up against the Sooners and Norman is a tough place to win.

For some reason, Missouri doesn't really scare me. I think that will be the most winnable (although hopefully not the only road win) this season.

#4. What was the greatest sporting moment you've ever experienced/witnessed? Did you experience it in-person or on the television/radio?

My greatest sporting experience was probably watching the Detroit Red Wings beat the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997 to claim their first Stanley Cup in over 40 years. It was the first team that I really followed to win a championship. (I followed the Pistons during the Bad Boys era but was really too young to have an appreciation for their accomplishments.) Although this was a TV experience, I was still euphoric. Another great Red Wings moment I remember watching on the TV was the brawl against the Avalanche on the March 26, 1997.

As far as in-person experiences, my most memorable was probably the Michigan hockey team coming from behind to upset Denver in the '02 West Regional to advance to the Frozen Four. I've never been in a louder arena. An honorable mention goes to the '03 Midwest Regional at Yost and the 2003 Michigan-Ohio State football game (the 100th meeting and the last time Michigan won.)

#5. Which Aggie football player most resembles a Transformers character and why? (i.e. Jorvorskie Lane = Unicron the dude who eats planets)

I'm afraid that this question requires a bit more response than I have room for here. A full discussion will be posted tomorrow.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Passed!!!

Well, I have good news and bad news. First the good. I finally passed my department's PhD qualifier exam. I passed the structures and the dynamics on the first try, but had to have an oral exam to prove my fluids prowess. Now the bad. I'm mentally exhausted after cramming fluids for the better part of two weeks. I'll have my roundtable contribution up this weekend along with a post I've been working on for a couple of weeks.

Gig 'Em.