Chat with Sam Khan
Welcome to GigEmNation! On Friday, reporter Sam Khan Jr. stops by to chat about the state of Texas A&M football.
Khan joined ESPN.com in 2012 after nearly seven years with the Houston Chronicle, covering the University of Houston, college sports and high school sports. Khan lives in Houston with his wife.
Send your questions now and join Khan Friday at 4 p.m. ET!
Sam Khan Jr. (4:01 PM)
Welcome everyone and thanks for joining the chat. Let's get started.
What do you think TAMU's record will be next year? People are saying we're going to win around 3 games but I think we'll do better than that.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:05 PM)
Looking at the schedule, I think it's reasonable to expect seven wins. The SEC West is tough, but the non-conference schedule is manageable. I think it's possible A&M goes 4-0 in non conference and I would think they could squeeze out another three wins in conference play. The start will be key though. If they stumble against Louisiana Tech, which is a quality team, then you could be looking at a rough start and an uphill battle to get to a bowl. But if they handle business in the first game, could they carry that momentum into the Florida game and start 2-0 and go into the Arkansas game at 4-0? I don't think that's impossible. Of course the Florida game will be huge.
AK (Dallas )
What is your take on Johnny Manzeil being named the Aggie quaterback over Showers and Joeckel?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:08 PM)
If Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury feel like he's the right guy, then I trust their judgment. The longest look that we've had at the trio was during the Aggies' scrimmage last Saturday and though Joeckel engineered the most touchdown drives, I think it's fair to say that Manziel looked like the best of the three. He moved the team down the field, made quick decisions, showed what he can do with his feet and displayed a capable arm. Those are all qualities you want to see. He was an incredible player at the high school level and he seems to have some of the intangibles you want to see in your quarterback. He's supremely confident in himself which can work both ways - can be good and can be bad. I think it'll make this season intriguing because he's a playmaker who can have the tendency to be reckless, something Kingsbury mentioned. They'll try to make sure he's under some control while not taking away his playmaking instincts.
AK (Dallas )
Just how scared should we be about the DL at TAMU
Sam Khan Jr. (4:12 PM)
I don't know if "scared" is the word but it's something that the fans and coaches will certainly watch closely. Moving to a 4-3 after spending the last two seasons in a 3-4 isn't easy when you've been recruiting to a 3-4 (which of course, the previous staff did to fit its needs). That's one reason why the current staff has recruited so many defensive linemen, tackles in particular. There's solid talent, I think, with the first team. But injuries or fatigue is going to happen and at some point this year, the Aggies could be calling on true freshmen like Alonzo Williams and Polo Manukainiu to log some time at defensive tackle. They're talented guys who have gotten bigger since they've gotten on campus (both are around 270 these days) but it's tough to put true freshmen against SEC offensive linemen. Defensive line will no doubt be a point of concern for the team this season.
How is the SEC a benefit to tamu when they are going to lose the majority of their games. Winning draws recruits, attendance, tv and money. If a team is losing everything else is pointless.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:14 PM)
That's assuming that they lose the majority of their games. While I think there will be some growing pains, I don't necessarily think they're going to get pummeled week-in and week-out like people think. Are they going to beat LSU and Alabama this year? Probably not. But with the talent they have and are recruiting and the staff they've put together, I don't see why they can't be pretty competitive. And Texas A&M didn't just do this for football. They did it for revenue and the chance to expand their brand nationally, by using the exposure the SEC gets to their benefit.
Will Texas A&M, with Manziel as the starting QB, be able to compete immediately for a 9-10 win season? Or is this asking entirely to much for Redshirt Freshman QB to pick up an offense that took Keenum a year to get control of?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:16 PM)
A 9-10 win season I think is asking a lot for a squad with a redshirt freshman QB and youth in other key spots as well (like the secondary, or the defensive line). I don't think Manziel picking up the offense will be the problem, I think he'll pick it up fine. But there's just certain growing pains that many freshmen go through, especially at a position like quarterback.
Greg (Beaumont TX)
Who will be our new "Texas" (big rival) in the SEC? LSU and Arkansas seem like the logical opponents since we've already played some in the past.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:20 PM)
I think long term I could see LSU developing into a big time rival. The Texas/Louisiana border sits virtually in the middle of the two towns, both have rabid, passionate fan bases, they're not terribly far from one another and there will be some battles on the recruiting trail for players (LSU likes to recruit Houston, which is an A&M priority and A
ConfidentAg (College Station)
What would have to happen for the Ags to get 3rd in the SEC west this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:21 PM)
I think for that to be the case, Texas A&M can't lose more than one SEC game at home and take the roadies at Ole Miss, Auburn and Mississippi State. Basically, I think they'd have to beat everyone on their conference schedule except Alabama and LSU, so I'm saying it would take a 6-2 mark.
Hi Sam, love reading your tweets! How many wins will a&m have to get (or who will we have to upset) in order to get some respect among the SEC schools our first year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:25 PM)
Hey Dustin, thanks. I think if A&M upsets one of the big boys (LSU or Alabama) that'll immediately raise some eyebrows. Even if they don't, I think they can get some respect if they go over .500 in the SEC (at least 5-3). Even if they go 4-4, if they keep all their games close and competitive and don't get rolled, I think they'll earn some stripes.
Who do you see as the first two A&M commits for the 2014 class?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:28 PM)
I think the first will be Cedric Collins, the defensive back from Dallas Skyline, who is announcing next week (top three: Baylor, Nebraska, Texas A&M). The next one is a little tougher read. I'll go out on a limb and say Hoza Scott, LB from La Porte. He likes the Aggies, his mom likes them and I'll always bet on mom. He's not going to announce until after the season though (at least that's what he said in a few weeks ago), so who knows? A
Which recruits do you think A&M has a shot at adding to finish out this 2013 recruiting class?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:32 PM)
A few names that I think A&M still has a shot at: Ricky Seals-Jones (WR Sealy, Texas), Isaac Savaiinea (LB, Honolulu Punahou), Justin Manning (DT, Dallas Kimball), Mike Mitchell (LB, Plano (TX) Prestonwood). I think if they get one of the above names, they'd be happy.
How do the players feel about the uniforms? And does it help a&m in recruiting to have these new uniforms?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:33 PM)
From all accounts, the players seem to like the new uniforms. Many have mentioned they were big fans of the all-white combo with the white helmets. Many like the new maroon metallic/matte/adonized helmet as well.
How do you see the carries split between Michael, Malena, & T. Williams?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:34 PM)
I think it'll depend on production. I think you'll see Michael getting the most to start the year, but don't expect him to get 20+ carries a game. That's not how this offensive coaching staff operated at Houston. They split it up to keep guys fresh. I would suspect Michael could get 20 touches though, if you include receptions. I think you'll see it start with Michael, Malena and Trey Williams in that order with Trey getting a few touches, but as the season wears on, the staff will adjust to whoever is most productive.
Willey (San Antonio)
Yes our QB's are young and green. Our wide receivers (other than Swope and "EZ") are young. C-mike seems to have a hard time staying on the field the entire season, molina is 5'2, and our freshman Trey Williams is a freshman. Can you tell me where our offence is solid. except the oline with our 2 potential first round draft picks.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:36 PM)
All those guys you named are pretty talented. There is some inexperience with Manziel and some of the receivers. But there's talent there and the one thing this offense does is get the ball to playmakers in space. It all starts up front and the fact that A&M has 95 starts returning on the offensive line is huge for the first year of this staff and this offense.
Let's start off with a clarification, what exactly does "GigEm" mean?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:39 PM)
Gig 'em is the thumb signal for Aggies (basically a thumbs up). According to Texas A&M, the story comes from yell practice before a 1930 game against TCU when a board of regents member asked "What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?" The response was "Gig 'em Aggies."You learn something new every day: http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/symbols/gigem.html
Oliver (Austin, TX)
All these people who claim we're going to be the next whipping-boy should add the words "we hope" to the end of that sentence. If we surprise people and do better than expected even this season, the landscape will change dramatically -- something that scares "those people" more than they would ever admit.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:40 PM)
I don't know that other SEC teams would be "scared" necessarily if A&M does better than expected. I think a lot of coaches in the league have a respect for Kevin Sumlin and what he did with the program at Houston and understand that A
David (somewhere over the rainbow)
So, thinking about the division as a whole, I see the 3 through 5 spots in the sec west coming down to Arkansas, Auburn, and A&M. Where do you see the aggies finishing in comparison to those 2 other teams?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:42 PM)
I could see them finishing in between the two, particularly if they split those two. If they beat Arkansas and they have started strong in the first four leading up to that (say 3-1 or 4-0), then I could see them finishing above both, just carrying some early season momentum. If they drop the Florida and Arkansas games to start SEC play, then I think they would finish below those two.
Do you see Showers transferring(at any point) or will he stay? Thanks Sam.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:45 PM)
I don't imagine it would happen this season, because right now he's working with the twos and I'm sure he's aware that he's one play away from being in the lineup. He strikes me as a mature young man in the times I've spoken with him. Now, if Manziel takes this job and runs with it and it becomes clear that Manziel will hang on to the job long term, then I wouldn't rule it out before next season. If it happens, it'd probably have to be this next offseason because he's eligibility clock is ticking (he'll be a junior in 2013).
Sam - So far all your thoughts seem spot on to me. Big question - does A&M pull a huge upset this year and, if so, which one? Home game vs. LSU?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:47 PM)
Thanks Matt. I'll classify beating LSU or Alabama as "huge" upsets. I don't think they will, but if they were to pull one off, yes, I'd say the LSU home game.
Does Sumlin's style of offense really have a chance to work in the SEC?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:50 PM)
I think it does, particularly if the Aggies recruit at or above the level that they have been. Their offense is about tempo, quick decisions and getting the best players the ball in space. I think it has a real chance to do well. Does it mean they'll go in and start beating Alabama every year? Probably not, but seeing teams like Arkansas and Auburn spread it out in recent years makes me believe that A&M should be successful as long as they have the right QB and plenty of talent at the skill positions. The tempo part of this offense can really neutralize a defensive line because the QB gets rid of the ball so quickly that it can be difficult for a defensive line to get a quality pass rush.
Don (Los Angeles)
Do you think TAMU will play defense this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:53 PM)
Yes, I think they will elect to put a defense on the field, with all 11 positions being occupied. (Kidding, kidding). There will be some rough spots along the way because of the defensive line depth and several young cornerbacks. They're talented and athletic in the secondary but inexperience will hurt against opposing quarterback with experience. And if injuries hit the d-line, it could be real rough sledding.
Be honest, how much did Justin Tucker's kick sting????
Sam Khan Jr. (4:55 PM)
It did not sting me because I'm not an Aggie, I just cover the team. And I wasn't covering them last year, but instead watching the game on TV from the comfort of a couch. Great game though, heck of a finish. As someone who has been born and raised in the state, I'm a little sad that Texas and Texas A&M won't be playing again in football for the foreseeable future.
Rich (Cimini, NJ)
TAMU? GigEm? What gives?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:55 PM)
New job, new challenge. I'm enjoying it so far though!
ConfidentAg (College Station)
Did you know i'm a legend on Texags?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:56 PM)
I did not, but I know TexAgs is pretty popular, so tip of the cap to you, ConfidentAg!
A question you probably don't have an answer to(but that's ok)--what is the future of Kyle Field? Thanks
Sam Khan Jr. (4:59 PM)
There will be major renovations, but to what extent, I don't think that's certain quite yet. There's no doubt they want to update it and by hiring Populous, they'll certainly have a lot of design options to choose from.
did the running back that transfered from ou ge3t cleared to play this season?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:00 PM)
There has been no ruling made yet on Brandon Williams. That's taken a little longer than everyone thought it might. If I had to guess, I'd say he probably won't be granted the eligibility and will have to sit out, but you never know.
Thoughts on Trey Williams? How good can he be in this offense?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:02 PM)
I think Trey Williams can be a star in this offense. I had the chance to watch him for a couple of years when he was at Dekaney High School in Spring, TX, and in A&M's scrimmage last Saturday he showed all the ability that I was accustomed to seeing. He can make people miss and he can be a weapon in the return game. I think you'll see the Aggies utilize him in both spots this fall and with his speed and agility, I think he'll be extremely productive in the years to come.
ConfidentAg (College Station)
What SEC match-up that includes the Ags do you think is the most interesting?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:04 PM)
The Florida game will be compelling because it's A&M's first SEC game and so many eyes will be on the Aggies to see how they fare. I'm also really interested to see the Arkansas game knowing how that went last season. I'm sure the returning guys will be fired up because they felt like they should have closed it out and won that game. Arkansas is compelling because of their talent returning on offense and the head coaching situation, obviously. I'm curious to see how they respond.
The chance of honey badger coming to A&M? Would we even want him?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:05 PM)
I can't see it happening. And I don't know that the coaches would welcome someone who would undoubtedly bring a lot of attention -- for the wrong reasons -- to the program.
Do you have a nickname for Johnny Manziel?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:06 PM)
I don't have a nickname for him but I'm told that they call him "Johnny Football." I believe it goes back to his high school days at Kerrville Tivy.
Who emerges as the leader on defense. The reason they struggled late last year wasn't necessarily because Von Miller's skills were gone, it was because his leadership was gone. Who steps in and rallies the troops this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:07 PM)
I think it'll be senior LB Sean Porter. He's becoming more vocal and he's really spent a lot of time in the film room. The coaches seem to like what they're seeing from him in terms of on the field play and the way he's leading.
Sam, David Ubben had the same problem. A lot of your responses cut out after you use the & (ampersand) twice. I think I speak for all of us when I say I like "Texas Aggies" better, anyway! Great blog, keep up the good work!
Sam Khan Jr. (5:08 PM)
Thanks Mark. Duly noted and appreciate you following.
Do you think the Aggies will a commit from RSJ and Mike Mitchell?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:08 PM)
I don't think they'll land both, but I wouldn't be shocked if they got one of them.
theBaum (Houston, TX)
Over/Under...DeMontre Moore and Sean Porter combine for over 15 sacks this season.
Sam Khan Jr. (5:09 PM)
I'll take the over.
Sam Khan Jr. (5:09 PM)
Alright folks that's going to do it for today. Thanks everyone for joining and extra thanks to those who sent in a question. See you next time!