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. (4:02 PM)
Hello everyone! Thanks for joining the chat today. Let's get started.
Austin (College station)
So how well do our Ags finish? Record, and Ranking? Tough loss to Florida so far, who's obviously better than #11. We actually look good enough to lose to only Bama and LSU from here on out am I right?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:05 PM)
Austin, I guessed 7-5 at the start of the year and I think I'm going to stick with that for now. I think with what you've seen from the defense, it's very possible to see them go 8-4. That being said, Florida's the only team with a good defense we've seen the Aggies play so far and the offense stalled in the second half (granted it was Johnny Manziel's first game, but it's worth noting). I don't know that I'd say they'll ONLY lose to Alabama and LSU, but what I would say is that I feel like every other game the Aggies play should be up for grabs, meaning every other game is winnable if they do what they have to. I think how they perform this week against Arkansas will tell us a lot.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will the Aggies put John L. Smith and Arkansas out of their misery and place the final nail in Hogs coffin? A win on Saturday by TAMU would extinguish all hope in my opinion.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:08 PM)
Tony, I think the Aggies will win on Saturday. I don't think it'll be an easy win by any stretch because Arkansas is pretty talented. And despite all the negative around the Razorbacks, you have to think there's some confidence because there are several guys who have played and beaten the Aggies. That all being said, I think with the Aggies being at home, so many guys wanting to badly beat Arkansas after what happened last year (and the last three years) and the way the defense has been playing, I think it's enough for the Aggies to pull it out. And if they do beat Arkansas, the Hogs are staring down the barrel of a very bad season, it would appear. Going from national championship contender in the preseason to possibly missing out on a bowl game would be a rough collapse.
Jonathan (Springtown, TX)
Sam, What's the deal with Christian Michael? Surely there has to be some reason why Sumlin continues not to start him. Is this still a carryover from the suspension? Granted, Molina and Williams are really good, but he seems to be the most dominant back the Ags have.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:16 PM)
Jonathan, I think it's a two-fold issue. After the suspension, Michael of course didn't get any carries in the first half of the South Carolina State game. I think there was maybe a little bit of carryover because when you get in Sumlin's doghouse, you have to work your way back into the good graces of the team. And it's not like Michael has lit the world on fire yet this year. He does have a good history of production with the Aggies, but Sumlin and co. weren't here then. Right now, Michael's only averaging 3.0 yards per carry. That's not going to cut it in this offense. He had the most carries among the running backs against Florida and the smallest average output when it comes to yards per touch, so I think that factors into it as well. I think how Michael is used this week will tell us a lot about where he stands moving forward. For what it's worth, Sumlin said there are no more lingering off-the-field matters affecting Michael's status this week.
Mark (Houston, Texas)
Will the bad weather (90% chance of rain and T-storms) benefit A&M or Arkansas tomorrow?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:26 PM)
Mark, just taking a guess here, but I would say it would favor Texas A&M slightly because of the freelancing abilities of Johnny Manziel. It's hard to defend players in the rain when your footing is bad, even more so with a guy like Manziel who extends plays with his feet. Neither team has run the ball particularly well with their running backs this year so I think in that regard, it's a wash (no pun intended).
BRANDON (Austin, Tx )
Johnny has found early favorites in EZ and Mike Evans. What are the chances we see him get Swope more involved as well as the rest of receiving core?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:29 PM)
Brandon, I think as the season goes on you'll see Swope get more and more involved. Part of that is Manziel getting through his progressions. I really think Swope can play the role that someone like Justin Johnson did in this offense for Houston when Sumlin and Kingsbury were over there (for those unaware, Johnson had more than 1200 yards and 12 TDs from the same position Swope is playing) and I think Swope is probably a little faster than Johnson was. With a young quarterback, it takes time and certainly he has a bit of a security blanket in Evans with his deep abilities and EZ has emerged the last two games after not getting targeted. I think eventually, Swope will get his.
Tyler (College Station)
After his SEC record in punt return yards in a single game last week, what do you see Dustin Harris doing the rest of this season?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:37 PM)
Tyler, Harris led the NCAA in punt return average last year and I think he'll either do that again or finish somewhere in the top 10. He has the vision and speed and just a general knack for it and the changes they've made on special teams in the punt return game appear to have helped quite a bit.
Had the Ags played the La. Tech game, do you think they're sitting at 4-0 right now?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:40 PM)
Evan, I think that would have been very possible. The La. Tech game wasn't a cakewalk but if Manziel and the offense would have looked like they did against Florida when they took the field against La. Tech, I think you could have counted that as a win. Add in the fact that it would have given the Aggies a chance to make some adjustments and fix things before the Florida game and I think that could have really helped them in that game (particularly on offense and special teams). Even so, I still thought the Aggies played well in that game, they just struggled offensively in the second half. And Florida's a good team. Who's to say that having game film on the Aggies wouldn't have helped Florida's defense in the first half? Maybe the Aggies don't score 17 in the first half in that case. But to answer your question, I think it would be very realistic to think that. On the flip side, I think La. Tech's best chance to beat the Aggies would have been in the opener. I think it will be a tough chore now in the middle of the year.
Sam, when do you think Trey Williams will finally start to click? It seems like he is on the verge, but as Sumlin said earlier this week, he keeps trying to hit homeruns instead of getting first downs. Do we see it this week against Arkansas?.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:49 PM)
I think you'll start to see it maybe closer to midseason. Who knows, it could take longer than that. I tend to think it will be sooner because he's so gifted athletically and he's smart enough to know that he has to mold his game. Each game that goes by, you would think that Williams will gain a little more knowledge and get a little bit better. It's a tough adjustment to make. I've seen guys like him, who constantly hit home runs in high school, struggle for an entire season before they really got it. When you're used to dominating and doing things a certain way for several years, it can take some time to adjust. He showed signs against Florida. I think within the next couple of games, it'll happen.
I know a lot of recruits have been coming to the games. Have you seen anything improvement there?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:51 PM)
Cody, I wasn't around last year to get a feel for how the recruiting went, but I have to think it went OK because you see how many freshmen are on this team contributing already (guys like De'Vante Harris, Julien Obioha and Trey Williams). What I have seen is that the Aggies have been able to really appeal to recruits because of the combination of what they have to offer: incredible game-day experience at Kyle Field, nice facilities, energetic new coaching staff with new schemes, and of course the SEC. That's a compelling package to sell and it's absolutely helping them in recruiting.
Will RSJ be an Aggie?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:56 PM)
It's a 50-50 proposition, but my guess is yes, the Aggies will eventually land him.
What about Justin Manning or Mike Mitchell? If you had to say right now, do you think Sumlin & Co. will land either of them?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:03 PM)
Those two are much harder to read. They're in the mix for both, but my guess is no on Mitchell. I think they have a better shot at Manning. When I talked to Manning the other day he said he would "love to be a part" of the Aggies but that he still had to weigh his options. Manning still has officials left to TCU, LSU and USC so a lot can change between now and then. Mitchell's hard to get a hold of, so it's difficult to know where they truly stand with him.
Sam Khan Jr. (5:03 PM)
Alright gang, that'll just about do it for this week. Thanks for joining as always. See you next time!