The Texas A&M football team will play the Sam Houston State Bearkats at 6 PM Saturday at Kyle Field. The second game of the season will allow the Aggie coaches another chance to prepare the team for their September 14 matchup with No. 1 Alabama.
The game is a tune-up for the Aggies before they take on the Crimson Tide. They should be able to use it to sort out some of the issues that appeared during the Rice game.
There is a cliche that college football teams improve the most during the first and second game of the season. The Aggies need to improve on defense after they let Rice run over them for 306 yards on the ground.
This is a look at how the Aggies can use the Sam Houston State game to prepare for their showdown with the Crimson Tide.
The Texas A&M defense missed a lot of tackles against Rice. It was not a good defensive showing overall, but the tackling was particularly poor.
You expect defenders to miss some tackles after not being in live game-action for so long, but there was no excuse for the Ags' defense to struggle the way it did. Sometimes you have a situation where the players are in such a rush to make a play, they forget to play with proper technique.
Aggie fans should expect the defense to tackle a lot better against Sam Houston State. If they continue to struggle to take players down against SHSU, then the Aggies need to prepare for a very rough season.
The Aggies played 16 true freshmen against Rice. They started two true freshmen on defense, with 11 true freshmen seeing action in the game on defense.
That is a lot of youth gaining a lot of experience early in their careers. Some of the players obviously had butterflies and were a little overwhelmed by playing in front of 86,000 fans.
The freshmen played better in the second half. The game against SHSU will give them another opportunity to play in front of a large crowd.
The more experience the freshmen get playing in games, the better they will play in the future.
The last time Aggie running back Brandon Williams carried the ball in a college football game, he was wearing an Oklahoma uniform. Williams sat out the 2012 season after transferring to A&M and missed the Rice game while he recovered from an injury.
Williams is expected to see playing time against Sam Houston State. It is important for the coaches to see how Williams plays in a real game.
The SHSU game allows Williams to get some game-time reps without it being against a top defense like Alabama. It should be easier for Williams to acclimate to a live game again without facing one of the top defenses in the country.
Williams has the speed to score a touchdown any time he touches the ball. If he has a long touchdown run or reception against SHSU, then it will just be something else that the Alabama coaches will have to prepare for.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel played a little over a quarter of football against Rice. The freshmen receivers like Jeremy Tabuyo and LaQuvionte Gonzalez need to get more experience playing with him.
In 2012, it took a few games for the receivers to adjust to Manziel's style of play and to learn that they had to get open down field when he started to scramble. The freshmen need to learn that also.
Every quarterback is different and their teammates have to adjust to their style of play. The SHSU game gives those receivers more game-reps with Manziel before the Alabama game.
The Texas A&M defense had a horrible game against Rice. The SHSU game gives the Aggie defenders the opportunity to correct their mistakes before they play in the biggest game of the year.
Alabama does not play a game on September 7. Do you think Alabama coach Nick Saban would like to have a game to sort out the offensive issues on his team before he traveled to College Station?
The SHSU game gives the coaches another opportunity to see what is working and what is not working with the team on both sides of the ball. It gives the coaches another chance to get a look at more players.
If A&M gets a large lead on Sam Houston State then that will mean that the backups will see a lot of snaps in the game. Alabama played a relatively tight game with Virginia Tech where the Tide did not put many of their freshmen in until the fourth quarter.
The Aggie freshmen will have an extra game of experience, and a lot more snaps than their counterparts from Alabama.