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As the only team to defeat Alabama last season, Texas A&M has the upper hand over the rest of the league in duplicating the feat in 2013. The Aggies surprised many in their first year under head coach Kevin Sumlin, but expectations are high for the team’s second year in the SEC.
Second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel will have to play at the same level he did in his unstoppable Heisman Trophy-winning year of 2012 without his blind-side protector, Luke Joeckel, and feisty pass-rusher, Damontre Moore. Both are projected as first-round talents in this year’s NFL draft.
However, the Aggies did manage to persuade junior offensive tackle Jake Matthews to stay in College Station for his senior season. He will fill the giant void Joeckel left behind, and that should be comforting for Manziel. Matthews was considered by many to be a first-round pick after starting 33 consecutive games since his freshman year.
With Manziel and Matthews back in the fold, the Aggies will look to continue penetrating defenses with its high-octane offensive attack. The dual threat of Manziel bothered Alabama’s defense in last year’s game, allowing Texas A&M to jump out to a 20-0 advantage in the first quarter.
This year, Sumlin added some fuel to the already hot fire with the signing of a big in-state recruit, Ricky Seals-Jones. At 6'5", 230 pounds, Jones will provide Manziel with a monster target against the Tide’s restructuring secondary.
There’s no doubt that the Aggies will be ready for their date with the Tide next season, and they will likely have an overwhelming home-field advantage in College Station. Out of all the teams on Alabama’s 2013 schedule, the Aggies have the greatest chance of stopping the Tide’s quest for a third straight national championship.