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. (4:04 PM)
Hey everyone. Thanks for joining today. Let's get started.
Sam..coming to College Station in a few weeks for the first time. Any must get food/drink spots?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:09 PM)
Tommy, as far as drink spots/bars, I like The Tap, personally. It always seems to have a pretty good atmosphere. As for must-eat places, I don't know that I've really come across anything that I'd say is a "must," but there's decent fare. Blue Baker, which isn't far from the stadium, has some decent pizza and sandwiches. I haven't been to Koppe Bridge, but I'm told there's a solid burger to be had there. There's also a row of three chicken finger places on Texas Ave. right across from campus. Can't go wrong with chicken fingers!
Parker (San Antonio)
So have we seen the Aggies recent SEC success pay off on the recruiting front?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:12 PM)
The Aggies are certainly turning some heads so far with how they've played. It hasn't yielded tangible results (commitments) yet but I think it's building. If the Aggies are to win this week and somehow pull out a home win over LSU, watch out. That could get them some serious steam. But overall, their reputation on the recruiting front is very good with the combination of the SEC, Kevin Sumlin and the new staff, the school's location in Texas (proximity to the Houston-area, specifically) and the production they've had offensively and defensively. Players like what they see on both sides of the ball.
Blake Crow (H-town)
Haven't seen a lot of LA Tech football so far this season. What are some things that have stuck out to you so far in some of their games?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:15 PM)
To me what jumps out about Louisiana Tech is the way the Bulldogs have fun the football. They're of a similar offensive style to Texas A&M and because of that, it's often perceived that all they do is throw it around. That's not true. They've run the ball really well with three different backs, Kenneth Dixon (a true freshman), Ray Holley and Tevin King. There's a healthy balance with that unit so they'll keep opposing defenses off balance.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:16 PM)
And I had a typo there, *run the football, not fun. Typing too fast. :-)
score this weekend? and why?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:19 PM)
Actually just posted that on GigEmNation this afternoon (see here: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/tamu/post?id=2665). I predicted a 48-27 win. I know Louisiana Tech is good (the Bulldogs wouldn't be 5-0 and ranked if they weren't) but Texas A&M really has a good feel for what it's doing offensively now and I think the Aggies are simply more talented. Louisiana Tech is next-to-last in the nation in total defense and passing defense and because of that, I think the Aggies will score points with ease. On the flip side, I don't know that Louisiana Tech has played someone as talented as the Aggies are on defense, even with some missing parts (Steven Jenkins, Howard Matthews and possibly Deshazor Everett and Steven Campbell depending on their health). Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury and the offensive staff is plenty familiar with this crew after having played La. Tech when that portion of the staff was at Houston (a game that La. Tech almost won) but I don't think they'll be caught by surprise again.
How do you think the Aggies recruting class is looking. Not in terms of ranking it next to other schools but in terms of getting guys that fill their needs for depth and based on what you have seen to you believe Sumlin will be a good developer of talent?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:25 PM)
Brian, great question. I think overall the Aggies have done pretty well at addressing their needs. Defensive line (and specifically defensive tackle) was at the top of the list and they have six defensive line commitments (five from defensive tackles), with possibly more to come. They've got a healthy collection of skill position players that will fit in that offense well I think (the Cedar Hill duo, Jeremy Tabuyo, guys like that) and they still have good chances with some of the big fish left out there in the 2013 class. From what I saw at Houston, Kevin Sumlin and his staff were good at developing guys and putting them in the right places. Houston went 13-1 with a guy that had one scholarship offer coming out of high school (Case Keenum) and a walk-on (Patrick Edwards) playing the biggest offensive roles. That team had nobody picked in the NFL draft (though several signed as free agents with teams). And everyone has seen the emergence of Damontre Moore at Texas A&M this year since the new staff arrived. Houston saw the same thing with Sammy Brown, an outside linebacker, from his first year to his second year. The leap was tremendous and that's a big kudos to the coaching staff.
Stat Monitor Repairman (Houston)
Seems like I am always hearing how well the Oregon Ducks are agressively and successfully recruiting Texas players. Seems like Oregon is frequently in the mix for top recruits. Why are local recruits paying so much attention to Oregon? Is this just a fad or what?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:30 PM)
There's a lot of appeal with Oregon. The climate and the area itself is pretty nice and the school gets a lot of attention for the uniforms it has since Nike is nearby and uses it as a marketing tool, essentially. Plus, I hear the facilities are great. The program is very successful right now and the offense/style of play is exciting. A lot of times when recruits visit, they're blown away by that package. I think it's that combination that gets the Ducks into the mix for a lot of kids and they know they can come to Texas to attract some of those kids. I think like all things, it's cyclical. It wasn't always this way and who knows how long it will continue to be? But for now, Oregon's a factor for sure.
Jonathan (Fort Worth)
Sam, should we be concerned about the Ags defense after last week? I know they are only giving up about 14.8 pts per game, but it seemed as though Ole Miss converted most 3rd and 4th downs and piled on a ton of yards. As someone who recently graduated and still has fond memories of the Ags secondary giving up big plays, last week brought back some bad memories.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:34 PM)
There were some issues for sure. The third down defense wasn't great (though it got better late in the game) and the corners were giving too much cushion to receivers. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder addressed the cushion issue this week and I think that played a role in why the Aggies struggled on third downs too. If the cushion issue is rectified, I think that'll help on the third downs. As for yardage, I wouldn't put too much stock into that. At Houston, Sumlin's teams (even last year) yielded a bunch of yards, but they were good on third downs and created turnovers. I would say remain cautiously optimistic about the defense for now. Remember too, they got put in some tough positions with all those turnovers vs. Ole Miss.
Been hearing via TexAgs/gigem247 that Justin Manning has given up on OU. Do you have any info. on this as to whether it's true and why?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:39 PM)
Evan, Manning hasn't told me or any of our reporters anything about eliminating Oklahoma. That doesn't mean that the reports aren't necessarily true (I respect all the folks that cover recruiting because it takes hustle) but personally, I tend to lean toward what a player says. For what it's worth, Manning will be at the Red River Rivalry game between Oklahoma and Texas tomorrow. So read into that what you will. He's set to make an announcement on Oct. 19 at the moment. I'll say this -- even once he makes his announcement, I think his recruitment will be far from over. There's still time until signing day and you never really know with the recruiting process. He told me he was still planning to take some official visits in December, so that's worth keeping an eye on. Regardless, the Aggies I think are in a good position with Manning and they're right in the thick of the mix.
Bilbo (The Shire)
Sam, what teams does A&M have to beat (with good QB play) before JFF gets legit heisman considerations?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:41 PM)
Bilbo, if the Aggies beat LSU on Oct. 20 and Johnny Manziel plays well, I think he gets himself into the conversation. His numbers are hard to ignore but the key to the Heisman is Ws. You can't be in the conversation unless your team is winning. If that scenario were to play out, the way Manziel would stay there is by beating Alabama, or at least playing really well against them. For him to have a legit shot to get an invite to NYC, I think the Aggies would have to be in the mix to win the SEC West at the end (with him playing well throughout the rest of the year), which is asking a lot.
Jay (Fayetteville, Ar)
Have the aggies already exceeded the expectations of the talking heads? How many SEC wins will it take to shut up my B12 "friends"?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:44 PM)
Jay, I think it's a little early to say that the Aggies have "exceeded expectations." They only have one SEC win and that's against a team (Ole Miss) that has struggled to get them. Granted, it was a road win and a hard-fought one and it shouldn't be overlooked, but I think they have to do a little more to say that they've exceeded expectations. I think if Texas A&M goes 5-3, or maybe 6-2, in the SEC, it will raise some eyebrows around the league and the country. If the Aggies go 5-3, you might here some argue that Arkansas and Auburn are down, but I didn't see many people, if any, picking the Aggies to go better than 3-5 or 4-4 in the preseason.
Trey (San Antonio)
With the likely absence of Campbell and Everett due to injury, and Matthews due to suspension, who will go at Safety this week? Hurd, Raven, Jhontel Franklin?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:47 PM)
Trey, I think you'll see Toney Hurd starting at safety next to Steven Terrell if both Everett and Campbell are out. I think Floyd Raven will be prime to see a lot of action as well. I assume that if Everett is out, you'll see Dustin Harris getting another start at cornerback next to De'Vante Harris.
With the problems that LSU has been having with losing players, do you think A&M has a shot at beating LSU (and maybe even Alabama) this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:50 PM)
Based on what I saw offensively from LSU last week against Florida, I do think the Aggies have a shot at beating LSU. Not saying that the Aggies defense is as good as Florida's, but it has played well and I'm not completely sold on the quarterback play for the Tigers. Plus the game is at home. LSU's defense is good, but if they struggle offensively, it'll be a close game and you have to like a home team's chances in a close game. So yeah, I think they have a shot. Alabama might be another story. That's on the road and 'Bama's defense is pretty good. That's a tough scenario for a freshman quarterback.
2 SEC wins...we already beat Arky.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:53 PM)
Scott, thanks. I already forgot about Arkansas. This season has flown by quickly already. So Jay, I stand corrected ... the Aggies have two SEC wins. That being said, my sentiment remains the same. I think they need to do a little more. Overall, I haven't been surprised to see the Aggies play so well. This coaching staff seems to have changed the culture around the program and there is a lot of talent on the team. Remember, the Aggies were a preseason top-10 squad before 2011. There are players there. And I think so far, this staff has done a good job of getting the most out of that talent and I think Johnny Manziel has performed better than could have been expected for a young quarterback.
Sam Khan Jr. (5:01 PM)
Well gang, looks like that will about do it for this week. Thanks so much for joining me for the chat today. See you next time!