OPINION: Dessert before dinner
A&M can walk over Rice, but enjoy the cupcake while you can
Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 00:08
Each football season, opposing teams are welcomed to Kyle Field in the first week or two of the season to fulfill a role. These teams aren’t NCAA Division I opponents, they are “cupcakes” on the schedule for the Texas A&M football team, serving as tackling dummies and learning assignments.
The Aggies hold a 50-27-2 advantage over the Owls from Rice. This week, as they enter the unfriendly confines of Kyle Field, the Owls are a “cupcake” if there has ever been one. And with opponents like UTEP and Sam Houston on the schedule, Rice won’t be alone.
Fresh off a 7-6 season a year ago, the Owls compete in Conference USA and appear to be a team on the rise. But they won’t be capable of rising above the quality of play the SEC offers and the combination of size, speed and anger Texas A&M will bring Saturday.
This year’s Aggie football team could be the biggest and most athletic in school history. We’ve seen what Johnny Manziel can do when he hits his stride, but it’s those around him who will devour this cupcake opponent and many more to come. Remember, it wasn’t long ago when Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael saved A&M in the fourth quarter from an upset defeat against FIU in Week 3 of the 2010 season.
Take this year’s running backs for instance. Ben Malena is the consummate pro, and while his numbers may seem average, you may remember a particular run against Florida a year ago where Malena made a Gator safety look like a penny on the Wellborn train tracks.
Backs Brandon Williams and Trey Williams were both five-star recruits out of high school running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash with ease. Throw in 230-pound red zone threat Tra Carson and ask yourself: Would you want to chase these guys on Kyle Field in the 100-degree weather? Though I’ll stick to watching from the stands, feel free to volunteer if that sounds like fun.
Why would A&M even want to throw the football with that kind of running talent?
That’s where it gets really fun. Not only does A&M return 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver Mike Evans, but in last week’s practices true freshman Ricky Seals-Jones was getting first team reps.
Seals-Jones, the cousin of former NFL star running back Eric Dickerson, reported to camp at 6-foot-5, 240-pounds. Imagine defenders trying to intercept or deflect a pass sent his way, much less bring him down once he has it.
Also in the receiver position are Sabian Holmes and LaQuvionte Gonzalez, who are capable of outrunning an entire team and will receive hand-offs in the form of sweep plays from the slot receiver positions.
We haven’t even begun to talk about the A&M offensive line, which together (five starters total) weigh more than one female giraffe or a Holstein cow. The starting offensive line will average 306 pounds each on Saturday.
The defense will be equally impressive with speed coming off the end from Julien Obioha and in the defensive backfield from guys like De’Vante Harris. The A&M defense under Mark Snyder may be younger, but they are quicker and getting bigger daily.
The thing many won’t factor into the likely shellacking A&M will put on Rice is the anger aspect. You see, we only briefly mentioned Johnny Manziel.
While he too has the speed and elusiveness to burn defenses, Manziel will be playing angry. Allegations have swirled around him all season long about wanting out of College Station (but not meaning it), to bolt for the NFL. With the latest autograph allegations, analysts have been led to doubt A&M’s quarterback.
If we learned anything from a year ago, you just don’t doubt Johnny Manziel. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner will prove you wrong, and in impressive fashion.
So as the Rice game approaches, I invite you to enjoy a cupcake on this coming steamy Saturday. Take a moment to savor all the wonderful toppings and icing on the cake while you’re at it.
Before you know it, the cupcakes will be replaced with meat and potatoes in the form of SEC opponents and it will no longer be a matter of strength and speed but, instead, who wants it more.