"If we finish out like we're supposed to, it's probably one of the greatest wins I've been apart of in my life," McCarron said. "The win only means so much if you finish out strong. If we don't finish out strong, it really doesn't factor in, really. Just another win." One more win puts the Crimson Tide back in the SEC title game for the first time since 2009. Four more puts Alabama back in the BCS national championship, where it would vie for its third national title in the past four seasons. "You always want to be at the top of your own conference and finish out strong in the bowl game," McCarron said. "Like I said, it's going to be a tough game this week. It's definitely not going to be a pushover. We're going to have to come out ready to play and jump on them early."
Even in the two games it lost, Texas A&M held a lead at some point in the first half. It held a 17-7 advantage during the second quarter before ultimately succumbing to Florida in the season opener, and it raced out to a 12-0 lead before LSU flexed its defensive muscle and locked down the Aggies' high-powered offense. "The uptempo, play fast, probably gets people on their heels a little bit," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday. "It's hard to simulate the tempo that they play with in practice. I think that that's probably one of the most difficult things that the defense has to adjust to. "They've got a really good offensive concept and they do a really good job of executing it. They've got balance run and pass, and they make a ton of big plays."
The entire country will be eagerly watching how well this offense can play against another elite defense. After struggling against top-tier defenses in the second halves against LSU and Florida, Johnny Football gets a shot at redemption. Under Kevin Sumlin, it will always be the Aggie offense that sets the ceiling for this team. This week is no different. All eyes will be on a redshirt freshman, and the progress he has made ten games into his career. This week, win or lose, the Aggies get their chance to see exactly how far away the top of the SEC West is.
Texas A&M juniors Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews have provided stability for the dynamic Aggies and have been projected as first-round picks in the 2013 NFL draft. Alabama's tandem of redshirt junior D.J. Fluker and sophomore Cyrus Kouandjio can't claim that, but only because Kouandjio isn't eligible yet. "Both are very quality groups," LSU coach Les Miles said Wednesday after facing the Aggies and Crimson Tide in recent weeks. "Those two young guys at A&M were playing tackle there when we played them in the Cotton Bowl [after the 2010 season], and they've just matured very nicely. The offensive tackles at Alabama are big, mobile, strong guys, and they're a part of two very capable offensive lines. "If you put yourself in a position where you're not ready to take on a very powerful block, they're going to move you and move you a distance."
When you have a QB who's a wild card, like Manziel, you have a chance. He simply has to be mistake free, which has been a little bit of a problem. A&M was very competitive against both Florida and LSU. Granted, both were home games, but, against LSU in particular, if not for a turnover or two, or a ball ricocheting off a wide-open receiver and into the hands of a defender, it might have been a different game. As I said, it's a small chance, but there is one.
Nkemdiche is also being pursued by a number of other programs, including Alabama. Last week, Nkemdiche's mother told the AJC that Alabama impressed her more than any other program and that Alabama was her "No. 1 team".
Earlier in the day, Saban said both RB Eddie Lacy and WR Amari Cooper were making progress from their respective ankle injuries. That appears to be very much the case based on what we saw during today's two open periods. Lacy had some nice burst as he went through drills while Cooper continued to do everything the other wide receivers did during the open period. Both of Lacy's ankles are so heavily taped, you can't even tell which one is injured.