Author Archives: Cody Trimble
Cody Trimble thinks Texas A&M will defeat Alabama this weekend. Here’s why:
Though it was only 10 months ago, it seems like 10 years since the Aggies knocked off Bama in Tuscaloosa. With all of the offseason drama and hype for the game Saturday, fans of both teams and the country are happy “the game of the century” is finally here. Personally, I cannot wait to make the trip to College Station and walk into Kyle Field to see this game, and I know the country is ready to tune into CBS’s first SEC broadcast of the season. It will be a great game, but Texas A&M is going to win and here’s why.
I think I’ve heard this statement at least a million times this offseason, “Nick Saban has had a year to prepare for Johnny Manziel and A&M and he will be able to shut them down.” That is a statement that says research has not been done and the person saying it does not know what they’re talking about. The Aggie offense is a completely new animal this year. Manziel has made a concerted effort to stay in the pocket this year and he has a stronger more accurate arm. So let’s say Saban has figured out how to perfectly stop Manziel’s scrambling ability, that will just allow Manziel to pick apart a Bama secondary that is good but not great, and no secondary can defend downfield for extended period of times over and over again. If Bama decides to start dropping people back and pressuring Manziel, he can run all over them like he did last season.
The other big difference for the A&M offense is at running back. Last year A&M struggled as the Bama game progressed to run the ball. This year a guy by the name of Tra Carson is playing and has the power and speed to give Alabama fits. Carson is the X factor in this game. His ability to power run the ball right up the middle of the field will be huge, and from what he has shown the last two games, good luck stopping him for anything less than five yards. Ben Malena has also bulked up and looks to be the best he has ever been. Add in the change of pace backs in Trey and Brandon Williams and A&M’s ability to run the ball will be much more than Manziel scrambling, like it was last year.
The A&M offensive line is just as good as it was last year. Today I heard an analyst say that Johnny better be ready to run because he’ll be running for his life. He must not know that the Aggie offensive line is one of the best in the country. In fact they are in better shape and already have the understanding to hold blocks for a while because Manziel will extend plays, something that never truly happened until the end of the season last year. Sure Bama has a tremendous defensive front seven, but it is not likely they will be going for a ton of sacks considering how Johnny torched them last year when they did. Manziel could be looking at having a ridiculous amount of time to throw the ball to the extremely talented A&M receiving corp, which leads me to my next point…
The A&M receivers could be the best outfit in the nation. It all starts with the unstoppable Mike Evans. Last year Evans never played healthy, now he is 100%. Bama does not have one secondary player that can match up with Evans consistently. Malcome Kennedy is also back, he caught the touchdown to make it 29-17 last year. Kennedy has the vital ability to get open every time Manziel scrambles. He will catch a lot of balls in the middle of the field with a lot of room to run as corners and safeties get out of position when Manziel gets out of the pocket. Cameron Clear may be a tight end, but he will give Bama headaches. He has only been targeted once in the first two games of the season, but that was a strategic move by Sumlin to wait until this game to bust out this freak athlete against the Tide. Clear also provides a 6’7” 270 pound frame for blocking in the run game and in goal line situations. Then there is the plethora of young receivers who have the ability to make big plays like Sabian Holmes, Derel Walker, Ricky Seals-Jones, Jaquay Williams and LaQuivionte Gonzales.
A&M’s weakness is defense, however they only have to make a few plays to win this game. Today talking with my friend Tucker Sparks he said the number of stops the A&M D has to get to win the game is four. I completely agree. If A&M gets four stops, whether it be turnovers or forcing a punt, A&M will win the game. Though they have struggled the past two games, the defense has shown the ability to make stops when they need to and force turnovers. When they get a turnover they have the ability to get into the endzone with the ball. Add in that A&M will have four starters coming back that have been out for the past two games on the defensive side of the ball, they will be ready to do their job.
Then there is the 12th man factor. Now I know that Alabama has played in plenty of big games in big stadiums. I am not here to argue which stadium is louder, but A&M is the most unique in the way the fans make noise. First and foremost is the fact that there will be 31,000 plus students in the student section. No other school has a student section like this, and these students will be standing a yelling the whole game. Speaking of yelling, A&M does coordinated yells. Now I don’t know if you have ever seen or heard 90,000 people yell the same thing in unison, but it is damn impressive. I have talked with many fans of teams who have come into Kyle Field and said it is the craziest most intimidating thing they have ever seen. These are fans from Baton Rouge, Austin, Norman, and Pasadena among many other places. Even opposing teams’ players admit they have never seen or heard anything like it. Add in that this will be the biggest, loudest, drunkest A&M crowd ever and Bama will definitely have to adjust to it all.
A&M is going to win this game in a race to 40, A&M’s defense is not anything special but the Bama defense does not have a clue what is going hit them. Even if Saban has had a year to prepare, he would have been preparing for the wrong thing. Final score Texas A&M 42 Alabama 34. #RollTearsRoll
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @cctrim
Cody Trimble jumps in on it.
As Texas A&M prepares to face Rice this weekend there are some very interesting things to be watching for in the game. Though Rice is no Alabama, and not even a conference game, the opener will reveal a lot about what to expect from A&M this year, here is watch you should have your eyes on during the game.
1. Who plays quarterback? Well, the Manziel saga is over and all that came out of the whole fiasco is a one half suspension. It does leave us wondering if it will be Kenny Hill or Matt Joeckel who starts the first half against Rice. Hill is a true freshman who could be the future of Aggie football; Joeckel is a veteran leader of the team off the field who has a great arm. Either way, everybody will be waiting for the second half to see Johnny Football back on the field.
2. Freshmen… There is going to be a ton of freshmen playing in major roles this year. Against Rice, especially if A&M grabs a big lead early, expect to see a lot them get solid playing time. The receiving corp is chalked full of guys who could be key parts of the offense of this year. Ricky Seals Jones will be on the list later, but look out for Laquvionte Gonzalez to play a big role. If he gets to return punts or kicks, look out it is going to be a ton of fun. Hardreck Walker could also be starting in place of the suspended Kirby Ennis. There could be upward of ten freshmen playing Saturday on offense, defense and especially the special teams.
3. The Kicking Game… Taylor Bertolet struggled last year to say the least. A&M will really need him to be on his game to win a Title, they are bound to have a few games come down to field goals and extra points. Jeff Banks, special teams coordinator, has displayed a lot of confidence in Bertolet, Saturday he should have plenty of chances to prove he can at least kick extra points.
4. Running Backs… A&M has a bigger stable of studs than the Kentucky Derby at running back. With Manziel out the first half they should all be getting solid touches. Malena is coming in bigger than ever, he was already a big guy. Trey Williams could be bound for a breakout season. Brandon Williams and Tra Carson are going to see the field for the first time at A&M and all of College Station is excited to what these guys can do.
5. Mike Evans… Evans played all of last season between 50 and 75% healthy. This year he will be at 100% and will be faster and stronger. It will be a blast to see how badly he can dominate Rice. This guy will be playing to have the most receptions and be the most dominant receiver in the country.
6. Ricky Seals Jones… Built like Evans, but bigger this is the freshman among all the freshmen to watch. He was not a true receiver in high school but the athleticism and size he has should make him a freak as a receiver. Getting to see him touch the ball is something everybody in Aggieland cannot wait for.
7. Cameron Clear… This big boy at tight end has moves like an agile receiver. He will be able to block and make big plays down the field. A&M did not utilize the tight end a lot last year, so watching what they do with this JuCo transfer against Rice could give us an idea of what to expect the rest of the year.
The A&M vs. Rice game will be fun to watch, if only for the Manziel return and it being the first game of the season. My prediction, A&M – 55 Rice – 24.
Cody Trimble on stopping Johnny Manziel…on the field.
There is a myth going around the country that since SEC defenses have had an offseason to watch Manziel and the Aggie offense on tape, the almighty-most-amazing-thing-to-ever-happen-to-the-world-of-SEC-defenses (AKA Alabama) will be able to stop A&M. Some it sounds as if they believe A&M will be lucky to cross the 50 yard-line all year. The thing is, SEC teams can watch as many tapes of last year as they would like, that offense will be nothing like what the Aggies will be trotting out on the offensive side of the ball this year.
Many SEC defenses are great, but the thought that because they have watched last year’s tape they can shut down A&M just shows a lack of research into the team. This year’s offense is faster, bigger and much more athletic. Sumlin has had a year to get all of his players into the type of shape to go at an even faster pace, especially the linemen, all at a very athletic and quick 280-310 pounds.
The difference in this year’s offense starts with Manziel. It will be his second year in the offense, and all the facts point towards any quarterback in their second year of this system getting better. Manziel will be making a lot more calls at the line of scrimmage himself without checking over to the sideline and the playbook will be wide open. A&M actually did not run many different plays last year, they may have changed the formation up but there was not a ton of variety in playcalling. The variety came in Manziel scrambles. This year the offense will be opened up to many more plays and I would expect to see some very interesting formations, especially with a couple of guys at skill positions who could line up at quarterback.
The other thing about Manziel is his work at being a pocket passer. Many teams will try and maintain the edge to keep Manziel from scrambling outside, but this will mean giving him a lot of time in the pocket. The receivers are just too talented for defensive backs to keep them covered very long. Most people do not talk about how often Manziel was able to get up the middle of the field on scramble either. If a hole is there he will run up the middle, he’s too quick for a linebacker playing as a spy to stop him from breaking out into open field, from defenses can only hope to get him on the ground.
Another big difference for the Aggies is the running backs. A&M is five deep at running back and every one of them could start at nearly any college in the country. Ben Malena is the starter and undoubtedly the leader of the offense. Malena is the guy who knocked a Florida safety out of the game last year when he barreled over him. Malena is a quick extremely strong back that has good hands. He can also pick up the blitz and is a great down field blocker.
Trey Williams is back and last year in the Cotton Bowl he really shined. Williams is a big-time play maker with great speed and an ability to make tacklers miss. Williams can easily be split out wide as a receiver and has the hands to make plays. This could lead to some real miss-matches.
Brandon Williams is definitely a guy Aggie fans are excited to see. When he touches the ball a big play is almost guaranteed. He has been dealing with some injury issues and it will be interesting to see if he can make it through the whole season. But when he is on the field he is a perfect fit with the spread offense. Give this guy a little bit of open field and say goodbye cause he is headed to the house.
Tra Carson is the change of pace among the running backs. At 240 pounds this big boy can take on any defensive lineman or linebacker up the middle. He is not just big though; he is fast and has perhaps the best hands of any of the running backs. Carson will help to ease the problems A&M had in short yardage last year and can certainly provide a change of pace for the Aggies.
The fifth running back has come out of nowhere this fall. Though a highly regarded recruit, everybody expected that James White would not be looking at any playing time this year with all of the talent ahead of him. But White has been impressing the coaches in practice and challenging for playing time. White is an extremely powerful runner who will carry tacklers down the field with him.
With all the running backs A&M has, if defenses decide to spread it out to defend the pass and threat of Manziel running they will be leaving the middle wide open to getting gashed by the run game.
At receiver things are very different than they were last year. Mike Evans is back and you can only expect the 6’5” 220 pound receiver to be better in his second year. Ricky Seals Jones has been blowing everybody away, he is an inch taller and 20 pounds heavier than Evans, and they say he is faster than Evans. Then A&M has guys like LaQuvionte Gonzalez who aren’t big in stature but have the rare speed and quickness to be a playmaker. Of course Malcome Kennedy and Derel Walker are returning players expected to step up their game. A&M will have the ability throw the ball deep or throw quick hitters to playmakers and allow playmakers to do their thing.
There is also this 270 pound tight end, which in Saturday’s scrimmage broke away from Floyd Raven on a deep pass, named Cameron Clear playing for A&M. Sumlin is known for using his tight ends when he has one he likes, and he likes Clear. Not only can Clear put his hand on the ground and block, but he will have linebackers’ and safeties’ heads spinning when he goes out for a pass.
A&M has a flexibility to do many things they could never do in their offense last year. This is a team that will put up at least 30 on Bama and 40 on everybody else – if Manziel is playing. Boys and girls, the myth is busted.
Be sure to follow me on twitter, @cctrim.
Aggie man Cody Trimble answers a pressing quesion.
There is a real possibility that Johnny Manziel will not be Texas A&M’s quarterback this year. I would say that right now it is 50-50 that he plays. That means it is time to get to know the three guys who could replace him.
Matt Joeckel: Joeckel is the veteran of the group and the younger brother of the second pick in this year’s NFL draft Luke Joeckel. One of the best comparisons for Joeckel I’ve heard is that to Trent Dilfer. He’s smart, experienced, can manage the game and is a leader. Joeckel also has a tremendous arm. He can throw the ball a mile and put some real zip on the shorter passes. He is an accurate passer who would prefer to sit in the pocket. He is not near as mobile as the other two backup quarterbacks but is still plenty athletic to make plays outside of the pocket. This biggest advantage Joeckel has is that he is a fourth year junior. Last year he was very close to beating out Jameill Showers for the backup role. He would be a lot like Case Keenum was in Sumlin’s offense back at the University of Houston. His ability to run the offense efficiently could be a huge contributing factor to him being the replacement to Manziel if needed.
Matt Davis: Davis is a pure athlete. The redshirt freshman is still a bit raw but if he can figure out how to run the offense he can be a dual threat. In the spring of 2012 many thought he may have a real shot at being the starting quarterback for A&M, he ended up redshirting and working on polishing up his game. He is probably a bigger threat with his feet than he is with his arm. His throws can get a bit wild especially when he is under pressure. However he has been focusing on improving in the passing game and if he gets that down he would be the closest thing to a Manzielesque quarterback that A&M has in its backup quarterbacks. He will also have to prove that he can run the up-tempo offense that Clarence McKinney wants to use.
Kenny Hill: The true freshman from Southlake Carrol has not been on campus very long. The offense he ran is high school is very alike to what is run at A&M. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the young signal caller is his leadership. He led his team to the state championship in 2011 and deep in the playoffs in 2012. Though his is very athletic he prefers to use his feet to find open passing lanes. He is very accurate on short to medium range throws and can fit the ball into tight windows. The biggest thing is that he is a freshman; of course we already know that Sumlin has no problem allowing a freshman to lead his team. However I would not be surprised to see him redshirt so he can bulk up and polish up his knowledge on the offense.
I would expect Joeckel to step into the starting roll if need be, especially if Manziel is only suspended a few games. But if Manziel is out for the season I think the dynamic changes. The coaches could very well look at the future and who is most likely to start in the 2014 season. This could still easily be Joeckel, since he will be a senior in 2014 and giving him a season of starting under his belt could make him a real stud going into 2014 with a really good team. But if the coaches see the potential for a four year star in Hill or Davis I would not be surprised if either one of them start.
If Manziel is out for the season expectations certainly have to be lowered. None of these backups are anything close to the type of talent Manziel is. That said A&M is still a good team without him that should be able to reach eight or nine wins. It will be extremely difficult to beat Bama or LSU with Manziel, without him it is nearly impossible. There is still enough firepower at the skill positions and a very good offensive line that if Manziel is out any of the backups have a good shot at a successful year.
As far as the Manziel situation I think as fans there are a few things to consider. One thing, do not listen to anything ESPN has to say. ESPN has decided that he is guilty and will do everything they can to make it seem that way. Though I think it is fine to have this as a lead story, it needs to be reported fairly and with context, something ESPN does not seem to want to do when it comes to Manziel. I suggest checking out Sports Illustrated or Yahoo Sports to find very good articles and information on the current NCAA investigation.
As much as we all want this to be wrapped up by August 31 so we know who the quarterback will be for the season, remember the NCAA loves to take its sweet sweet time. I think the NCAA will try to wrap this up before the season starts, but it could easily go well into the season, putting the coaches in the pickle of deciding whether or not to start Manziel risking that they could have to forfeit games.
Texas A&M will do everything in its power to figure things out for themselves, knowing that it could take the NCAA quite a long time. If Manziel is starting at the beginning of the season and the investigation with the NCAA has not wrapped up, you better believe A&M knows 100% for sure Manziel is innocent. There is no need for the school to risk forfeiting games.
The future is very bright at A&M Manziel or not. The talent that has been and is being recruited will make the Aggies a perennial top 15 team. Though we are all looking forward to this season and hoping it brings a National Title with it, 2014 could be when A&M is at its best. The defense will have much more experience as will a very young receiving corp. All is not lost if Manziel is. The upside to losing him would be A&M being able to prove to the country that the school is much bigger than Johnny and is not going anywhere.
Be sure to follow me on twitter, @cctrim.
Cody Trimble takes a look at the Big 12.
I’m going to change the pace up a bit with this article and talk about A&M’s ex-girlfriend, the Big 12. Now I know that all of you will be settled in on Saturdays geared up to watch the greatness that is SEC football, I will be doing the same. But there are times when SEC games are not on or Kentucky is playing and you are going to have to pick another game to watch. Thing is, the conference that will be the most fun to watch will be the Big 12.
It all starts with how wide open the league is. There are eight teams that could be on the top of the conference by the end of the season. Now some of those eight are dark horses but nobody has any kind of grasp on what is going to happen in the Big 12 this year. Of course there are two teams that we can count out. Kansas is going to struggle as usual. As the great Charlie Weiss put it at Big 12 media days, the Jayhawks will “Look at that pile of crap out there.” Then there is Iowa State. Now sure they could get six wins and make a bowl, but they just do not have the talent to win the league. But do keep an eye out for that one game when they are playing a top 15 team who has a shot at the Big 12 title and Iowa State is in the game in the second half. Every year they pull of an upset up in Ames that ruins the year for their opponent, got to love Iowa State for that.
There are four teams that if they are playing each other it is a must watch for how fun the game will be. Texas Tech, West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma State are explosive on the offensive side of the ball and none of them really have a defense. They play the type of games that whoever has the ball last wins. They all love to spread the field and throw the ball downfield. Anytime these teams get together there is bound to be a plethora of big plays.
In Lubbock the prodigal son (Kliff Kingsbury) has returned. The momentum around Tech football is at a place that has not been seen since the Pirate Leach was there. It will probably take a couple years to get Tech back to a level of being in the top half of the league but with the momentum surrounding the team this year you never know what could happen. There is plenty of talent on offense to go back to being an offense that can score a lot of points and Kingsbury is an offensive genius. When they play TCU on a Thursday night the third week of the season we will know if they can compete or are not there yet. If Tech wins that game look out for them to go on a tear.
West Virginia is all offense, no defense. Every year they have plenty of playmakers who know how to get to the end zone but they just can’t stop another team’s offense. Last year against an offense at Texas that could barely move the ball against Kansas West Virginia gave up 45 points. Sure they still won that game but week to week it is impossible to be perfect on offense when the defense gives up a score every drive. With the talent they lost last year it could be a tough season, but with Dana Holgerson at helm anything is possible.
Baylor is just a fun team to watch. Art Briles has turned them into a real competitor that could have a real good shot at winning the Big 12 this year. Baylor always has a quarterback that is very talented and Lache Seastrunk is a stud at running back. If Baylor’s defense can just be mediocre they will be a team in the hunt until the end of the year. Be sure you make some time to watch Baylor play, if only to see one of the best offenses in all of college football work.
Oklahoma State is a very popular pick to win the league and there is no reason they should not be. The past few years they have become part of the top-tier of Big 12 teams. Mike Gundy’s offense is a blast to watch and is full of big time players. A lot like Baylor the year will ride on if their defense can step up in big games. In Stillwater they are hoping to take that final step of overcoming OU and winning the conference title. This year may be their best chance with OU having questions at quarterback and playing many inexperienced players.
Texas is the enigma of the Big 12. No doubt they have the most talent on their team and are the veterans of a league that will have most of the teams playing young players who have not seen the field a lot. But Texas has been talented the past few years and just cannot seem to get back to where they were just a few years ago. If the defense can avoid missing tackles and giving up big plays like last year they will be awfully hard to beat. However, David Ash is still the starting quarterback and it is really hard to see him being the type of quarterback who can lead a team to a conference title. In at least one game this year Texas will have to put up a lot points to win a game and I’m not sure if Ash can do it. Plus Texas has to get over the red river rivalry hump. They have been blown out of the water by OU the past few years and that’s the game where things always seem to start going downhill for the Horns. Win it this year and they could quickly become part of the National Title talk.
I have no clue what to think of Kansas State. Really this is a team that shouldn’t be near as good as they are any year but there is something special about one of the greatest college coaches of all time, Bill Snyder. He just knows how to win. KSU lost a lot last year and matching what they did last season will be extremely tough. There usually the most balanced team in the Big 12, solid on offense, solid on defense, but I think this year they will find themselves in the middle of the conference at the end of the year.
It is hard to bet against OU in the Big 12. They are just one of the most consistent teams in football. This year there is a lot of questions surrounding the team, namely at quarterback, where everybody is wondering if the bruising Blake Bell can actually pass. But you just have to expect that they will be in contention all year long. They recruit as much talent as anybody and Stoops is an elite coach. If things work out at quarterback they will find themselves on top of the league, if not two to three losses are what to expect.
Last and my favorite to win the league is TCU. They are different from the rest of the league because Gary Patterson has built this team on defense. TCU has to figure out their quarterback situation but both potential starters they have are good options. Trevone Boykin started last year of Casey Pachall was suspended. Boykin showed a great athletic ability and can make plays, but did have a great arm or accuracy passing. Pachall was a big time recruit a looks like the front runner at the moment. He is a much more traditional quarterback who will make his plays from the pocket. TCU is going to have an improved offense with a defense that should be able to help lead the team to wins. I do not think TCU will have go undefeated to win the Big 12, they could very easily have two losses, one of those coming from an out of conference game against LSU. Be sure to tune in for that game the first week of the season, it could be a little ugly but could set the tone for the season for both teams.
The Big 12 is really a must watch for any college football fan this year. The parody is top to bottom and as the season winds down each Saturday will be full of high drama games that will be the difference between a conference title or finishing middle of the road for many teams. So when you have watched all the SEC you can for the day or there are commercials, flip on a Big 12 game, you are sure to be entertained.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @cctrim.