The Texas A&M football team has had an eventful first two weeks of the season. They have had to deal with suspensions, injuries and poor on the field during their first two games.
The Aggie football program has defined the word "distraction" during the early part of the season. No other program in the country has had to overcome as much simply to play games.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have been able to keep the team focused on the task at hand. They have a 2-0 record as the team prepares to play the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
Adversity can tear a team apart or it can make them stronger. It appears that the Aggies have grown stronger as they have had to face, and overcome, all of these obstacles.
This is a look at the biggest storylines of the Aggies' season up to this point.
The one thing you hope to never have to deal with as a football coach is the death of one of your players. Kevin Sumlin and the Aggie football team lost their teammate Polo Manukainiu to a car accident
Manukainiu passed away while driving from Utah to Texas. He had been visiting family while in Utah, and evidently fell asleep at the wheel.
It is easy to feel invincible when you are 18-22 years old. That is especially the case when you are a collegiate athlete playing in the SEC.
Manukainiu's death was a sobering reminder to the players at A&M of their own mortality. The team decided to wear stickers on the back of their helmets for the 2013 in order to honor Manukainiu.
It has been impossible to turn on a television broadcast about college football for the past month without hearing Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's name.
Manziel has become a media entity unto himself. The coverage on Manziel has approached the paparazzi-like coverage of Justin Bieber.
Since the SEC media days in July to today, Manziel has been the top story in college football. The media flocked to Hoover, Alabama to learn why Manziel had to leave the Manning Passing Academy early.
The coverage continued when Manziel was accused of breaking NCAA rules by signing memorabilia for renumeration. He then set off another media firestorm by getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the Aggies' opening game.
The life and times of Johnny Manziel have been the storyline of the college football season up until this point. The Aggies and Manziel can expect more of the same as long as they keep winning football games.
The Texas A&M football team has had to deal with an unprecedented number of suspensions to start the football season. Their ranks have been depleted by eight different players serving penalties ranging from half of a game to two games.
Starting defensive backs Deshazor Everett and Floyd Raven were suspended for a half, and a game, respectively, for their involvement in a fight.
Cornerback De'Vante Harris, outside linebacker Steven Jenkins, defensive end Gavin Stansbury and backup wide receiver Edward Pope were all suspended for two games for violating athletic department rules.
Everett was then suspended for an additional game after being penalized for targetting against Rice. The susensions have allowed a lot of freshmen to get on the field early on the Aggie defense.
The various suspensions has allowed young players to get some early playing time, which has improved the depth on the defense. At the same time, the suspensions have meant that the first time the Aggie coaches will have all 11 starters on defense on the field at the same time will be when they line up against No. 1 Alabama on September 14.
Beating Alabama is hard enough when a team is at 100 percent. It is even harder when your defense has not faced any live action yet.
Suspensions and the strength of the 2013 recruiting class has led to a major infusion of youth in the Texas A&M football program. The Aggies played 15 true freshmen in their opening game against the Rice Owls.
They are going to lean heavily on these freshmen to play major minutes as the Aggies attempt to win their first national title since 1939. Some of the freshmen have already made a name for themselves.
Freshman receiver Ricky Seals-Jones led the team with 84 receiving yards and a touchdown on three receptions against Rice. His play was highlighted by a 71-yard touchdown catch and run.
Defensive end Daeshon Hall played out of position against Rice. He was asked to play in a 3-technique, but Hall is the ideal 5-technique weak-side pass-rushing defensive end. Even though he played out of position, he still had a very strong game with three tackles and a tackle for loss.
Linebacker Darian Claiborne made some mistakes, but still managed to lead the team with 11 tackles to go along with 1.5 tackles for loss.
If the Aggies are going to compete for a SEC and BCS title in 2013, the freshmen are going to have a major role in accomplishing that goal.