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It's a trap

Aggies must remain focused on next opponent, not future schedule

Published: Friday, September 21, 2012

Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 02:09

Coach Sumlin should be anxious as anyone about the state of his team. The same roster has taken the field on two separate occasions and the results were anything but consistent. Sumlin should breath easier this Saturday, not because the problem is solved, but because the next game is against the South Carolina State Bulldogs. It just won’t matter.

There’s a schism between sports fans, and admittedly it has merit. It has plenty of faces. It’s not over until it’s over, they say. If you look past a bad team, they’re liable to sneak up on you. The annals of sports history are littered with Cinderella stories and the carcasses of powerhouses ambushed by inferior teams.

Remember in 2007 when FCS opponent Appalachian State defeated Michigan in what is considered by many one of the biggest upsets in college sports history?

Sports fans shouldn’t be disillusioned: the David versus Goliath matchups end in the predictable way almost every time. If A&M is to move beyond the banners, yard signs, painted buses and t-shirts, and become a real Southeastern Conference team, South Carolina State is a non-entity. They’re not in the same circles the Aggies travel in and they’re not even close. The Bulldogs and the Aggies don’t get invited to the same parties. They don’t sit at the same tables.

If the Aggies don’t end South Carolina State within the first handful of drives, they’re not ready to be a factor in the SEC. If South Carolina State is within range in the second half, the Aggies aren’t who they say they are — aren’t who they showed themselves to be in a tight loss to Florida and a pounding of SMU. And if the Aggies find a way to lose at home to a team like South Carolina State, we’re going to need to have a conversation about crippling residual effects from last year’s failures.

If you were thinking about doubting the three-headed monster behind one of the more promising offenses in recent program history — head coach Kevin Sumlin, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, and freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel — you haven’t been watching. But, should the Aggies slip up in a major way on Saturday it will tell us a great deal about their character. Until Saturday, there are more pressing matters for this student body to attend to.

Recently I’ve seen a sloppy mess of flippant remarks about a past tendency toward second-half collapses. If you’re one of the people saying these things, I see where you’re coming from. The Aggies botched what could have been a beauty of a season last year, and they did it in the second halves of games, dropping five games in which they held the lead. That occurred during the Sherman era. This is Sumlin’s time. Losing close to Florida against a fast defense in a freshman’s first start under center doesn’t signal a continuation of the lifetime’s worth of leads lost last season. It’s different.

When a fan makes a comment like that, what does it accomplish? As the 12th Man, we’re called upon to support our team. That obligation doesn’t begin and end in the confines of Kyle Field. Do you think the players — on Twitter, in your classes, around campus — don’t hear what you’re saying? Do you think they don’t think about that when they take the field after halftime? If you do think in that matter, you’re wrong. Let this team and these coaches earn their own reputation, don’t saddle them with Sherman’s and Tannehill’s.

I’m not a football player — I’ll pause for the laughter to die down — but I imagine that at some point the swaying masses at Kyle Field stop becoming an energy source for the players to draw from and start becoming a shrieking mob that the players are desperate to please. So the players start to overthink and the added fan pressure gets to them. What kind of fans do we want to be? This is a long season. Batten down the hatches and cut the pointless chatter. Watch
Johnny Manziel, Christine Michael and the rest of the gang put up video game-like numbers on South Carolina State on Saturday.


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