Sumlin is good and he cares more about defense than people give him credit. He was an assistant on RC Slocum's later A&M teams which were known as the "wrecking crew" on defense. Of course, I think he was a receivers coach but I believe you can't help but learn some things regardless of your positional focus. Furthermore, I think their defense got much better by the end of the season. They held a potent Oklahoma offense which had thrashed them in past seasons to only 13 points. Oklahoma had scored 66, 66, 19, 41 against Sherman's Aggies with a 1-3 record overall.
You can tell Sumlin has some interest in defense by the pre-game BCSCG coverage when they brought up the late INT by McCarron for him to diagram. He was talking about how they were basically following their rules on motions into that kind of receiver combination. He even pointed out that Alabama was really running one of their two-point conversion plays which shows he invested some time in the tape on Alabama's offense.
I can't say that TAMU is a bigger threat to us than LSU but I think they're going to knock Arkansas down a notch in pecking order and consistently be our second biggest test of the divisional matchups.
I expect A&M to be our biggest challenge.
DISCLAIMER: I hereby reserve the right to discuss any game on the Alabama schedule I wish, at any time during the season, as I am not a part of the Crimson Tide football program. I am simply a fan who has no impact outside of the money I provide the athletic department via ticket and memorabilia purchases and the energy I can provide when I attend the games. ©2009-2014, crimsonaudio
I guess I'm thinking longterm, but you're right...TAMU is probably the best team on the schedule at this juncture. Of course, who thought TAMU would be our second hardest game and only loss in January 2012? I anticipate at least one team on our schedule ends up being a relative surprise. Probably Auburn as much as it pains me.
Answer to the OP's question: "Absolutely not." Other points discussed in thread:
1. A&M as a program is still very much building and not anywhere close to challenging LSU and Bama as top programs in the SEC. But, there is platform being built and processes being implemented that can lead one to have some optimism for the future.
2. In 2012, A&M beat Bama in the first half by six points. At halftime Saban went into the locker room and rallied his team, made adjustments and Bama beat A&M by one point in the second half. Bama will be better rested and better prepared for A&M in 2013. A&M will have a better offense in 2013. A&M has some holes to fill in their defense...but it will be their second year in the same scheme....quality of A&M's defense in 2013 is a big question mark. Anyway you cut it.....the 2013 game on paper looks exciting. And..anyway you cut it....Bama should be favored in that game. Any reporter saying otherwise is just looking for readers.
Another program that might end up like TAMU was for us in 2012 (an unexpectedly high-quality opponent) is Ole Miss. Not saying they'll beat us but it won't be a cakewalk...getting them in T-town again is probably big.
I know our schedule looks like a 2-game season right now but I have a hunch we'll get 4 quality regular season games out of the schedule when it all plays out. Heck, Ole Miss was probably our 4th or 5th best opponent this season regardless of record. Sadly, some SEC teams didn't play us as hard as even WKU though.
Only is Sumlin is caught with a babe on the back of a Harley, then proceeds to get the boot from an embarrassed university, which in turn hires a ringer like John L to man the ship for one year. Then you might see that kind of total collapse.