Johnny Football will look to keep his magical season alive when the Aggies travel Starkville this Saturday. - Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
The MSU receivers and Tyler Russell have an opportunity to bounce back against the struggling Aggie secondary.
If last week was about believing, this week will be about seeing. Pretty cliche, sure, but it will be interesting to see how this team bounces back from its first loss of the season. It will be interesting to see how Dan Mullen and company can respond after putting so much into a game and not having it go their way.
The toughest part about playing in the SEC is that you can lose to team like Alabama and then have to turn around and play a team like Texas A&M the following Saturday. Once you get into SEC play, it's a grind week in and week out. You can't get down, you have to get it going again and prepare for a team that is just as tough the next week. That is what makes this the toughest conference in America.
Texas A&M is not as talented as Alabama, nor are they as physical, however A&M will provide one of the most difficult match ups in the SEC. Johnny Manziel is one of the most exciting players in all the country, no matter what conference, and he is the closest thing that the SEC has to a Heisman Candidate. He leads the conference in rushing at just over 99 yards a game, all while also sitting at fourth in the conference in quarterback rating. He has accounted for 29 total touchdowns this season (16 pass, 13 rush).
On defense the Aggies possess what the Bama defense lacks: a true pass rush specialist. Alabama is fairly good at getting to the quarterback, but they don't have that one true pass rush specialist. Texas A&M does, and his name is Damontre Moore, Moore leads the SEC in sacks, and outside of Jarvis Jones, perhaps no other defensive player in the league is a more dynamic force on the defensive side of the ball in the conference.
On defense, for the dawgs to slow down Manziel, they must stay disciplined in their coverage and must be able to get to the ball quickly when he decides to take off. Having watched Manziel a few times this year, it is apparent that his passing is improving each week, but his ability to take off and run is what makes him unique. He is a guy that you don't realize how good he is until you watch him play your team. Some plays are designed for him to run and they will shift the offensive line one way and he will run a naked bootleg the other way. Some plays, he just waits for the play to break down and he takes off. He is looking to run first, and if a throwing lane happens to come open, it's all over.
On offense, the key is to know where Damontre Moore is at all times. He will line up inside or outside at the defensive end/rush linebacker position. He even will drop into coverage at sometimes. He is a dynamic athlete and finds a way to make plays wherever he lines up.
The good news for MSU is that A&M has been known to beat themselves with turnovers this season. In Oxford, A&M turned it over six times. Against LSU, Manziel and company turned it over twice, but the turnovers were magnified by the timing of them. The Bulldogs, like LSU and Ole Miss should be able to turn the Aggies over, as they will be aggressive in attacking A&M on the ground and through the air.
I've talked the MSU secondary up all season, and although they took a step backwards Saturday night against Alabama, they are still talented and will still cause many teams trouble this season.
As for a position that I see MSU having an advantage in this game, I would say that the dawgs should be able to take advantage of the A&M secondary. Coming off of a week where Chad Bumphis had just one catch, and Chris Smith had just three, look for MSU to show balance, but look for the Dawgs to make their mark through the air. The Aggies are giving up just under 250 yards a game through the air. Some of their opponents have been pretty inept through the air, so the numbers are skewed. Ole Miss, Arkansas, and La Tech each put up over 300 yards passing against the Aggies, with La Tech hanging 450 on them. If the MSU offensive line can keep Tyler Russell upright, he should be able to pick the Aggie secondary apart.