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Saban vs. Sumlin: prepare for round two

Published 11:24am Thursday, September 12, 2013

Everyone living on planet Earth knows about this game slated for 2:30 p.m. central time, but do they know some of the subtleties of what they will be watching?
Most fans of college football only see the plays and the end result.
Most average fans could care less about the intricacies of what really goes on or what it takes to prepare for a game.
Does the average fan have a clue what really goes into the complexities of being a coach? How about the head coach of a major football program such as Alabama or Texas A&M?
You know something with many parts in an intricate arrangement – translation, a successful football program known as the University of Alabama, headed up by none other than Nick Saban.
Let’s make this perfectly clear. Nick Saban is not your back-slapping, boisterous head coach, nor is he media-friendly or ready to knee slap over a joke.
Now, if you do something that infuriates the head coach, you will find out how the boisterous Saban can become the nightmare your mom warned you about.
No, Nick Saban is as business-like as they get and probably the most uptight head coach in the FBS, unless your  Lane Kiffin or Mack Brown .
Most football junkies feel that giving Saban one year to prepare for the Aggies will translate into an Alabama win.
I can buy that, but remember this: the other head coach had the same year to prepare for the Crimson Tide.
Speaking of the “other” head coach, his name is Kevin Sumlin. The same Kevin Sumlin who Nick Saban attempted to hire not so long ago.
Sumlin is an articulate coach who has an approach to football much different than Nick Saban.
Sumlin is upbeat and allows his players to be free spirited, just short of zany. He also knows he will have six starters on defense returning, just in time for this Saturday’s big game.
You could argue that Alabama played a much tougher first game against a defensive-minded Virginia Tech.
This is true, but if the Hokies had any offense like in years past, that game would have been much different.
Alabama gained a whopping 206 yards against the Hokies, scoring only 14 points on offense.
The Aggies are not Virginia Tech on defense, but the Aggies offense is averaging 58.5 points per game.
Texas A&M reminds me of Oregon on both sides of the ball. They will give up 15-25 points a game, but they will also run wild and wear down the opponent’s defense with quick-strike plays and a hurry up style that will exceed 80 plays by the end of the game.
You cannot play conventional style defense against the Aggies.
They improvise better than anyone, so a broken play gives their playmakers the time to make something happen.
If Alabama gets drawn into chasing Johnny Manziel, that will play right into the hands of what they do best.
The linebackers must stay at home and play the gaps and clog the running lanes. The defensive ends must cover the outside, without committing a full-fledged pass rush.
Now if that all works, then all the undersized secondary needs to do is cover two 6’5” receivers who have speed and terrific hands.
If Manziel has the time to throw the ball, Mike Evans and Rickey Seals-Jones are going to have a huge advantage.
The Aggies have seven receivers they can run out there. Ben Malena and Tra Carson are the backs.
Manziel is a threat every time he touches the ball, but he also has some speedy backs that complement the running game.
For Alabama to win, they must do what they do best: run the football and eat up the clock.
A.J. McCarron must keep the Aggie defense honest and throw some swing passes to his backs coming out of the backfield.
He needs to mix up the plays and spread the Aggies out.
He must also get his tight ends involved in the passing attack.
I give the advantage to Texas A&M and their 12th man fans. Home field will be the difference.
Until next time …
Meyers is a sports columnist for The Outlook. You can follow him on Twitter at @brucemeyers11.