The Texas Aggies’ bye week comes at a great time in the season. It actually occurs at the same point in this year’s schedule (Week 6) as it was in 2012. However, last year A&M ultimately ended up playing Louisiana Tech in what was meant to be the bye week. The game had been postponed earlier in the season, and many still believe this unfortunate postponement was the real reason the team lacked game experience in its “new” season opener against Florida. After all, the last game they’d played as a team was the Spring Game the previous April.
In the game against the Gators, the Aggies had a new coach, an entirely new system, a first-year starter at QB (some no-name redshirt freshman), and ESPN’s ultra-famous Gameday crew, front and center. That’s quite a lot to wrap around the heads of those maroon and white-clad fanatics inside Kyle Field. Hey, no pressure.
Oh, it was also A&M’s initiation into the hallowed Southeastern Conference…Big Boy Country. My gosh, it was as if someone had just given the Aggies the keys to the Pearly Gates. A little cool front even blew in to make it all manageable.
And who knows, if the Aggies had won the Florida game — a game in which they once held a double-digit lead — they could have found themselves playing Georgia for the SEC title, and then Notre Dame in the National Championship game. Yes, that’s right. (Hey, there’s no dreamer like an Aggie dreamer!)
With the change in schedule, the Louisiana Tech game actually occurred a week after Aggie fans witnessed a harrowing escape in Oxford by the rising Houdini of the college sports world, Johnny Manziel. That game in Mississippi became Johnny’s original defining moment, yet it would take every single one of Manziel’s 181 yards rushing the following week in Shreveport to pull off the 59-57 win. (Following that game, my all-time school rushing record for quarterbacks of 182 yards still stood firm, but was admittedly shaken.)
Now, the Aggies have a real open week to take full advantage of. I admit I half-expected to see Johnny in the Superdome this past Monday night. His favorite pro QB Drew Brees and his former teammate Ryan Tannehill were dueling. But, I guess it is a pretty long drive to New Orleans from College Station, particularly when you have an afternoon workout in which to participate.
Bye weeks are much more enjoyable when you’ve defeated your previous opponent, as the Aggies did in Fayetteville. Regardless of when the bye arrives, there will always be someone on the team with a nagging assortment of injuries for whom a light work-week and a few extra hours in the training room will do wonders. You’re more mentally prepared when you suit up for your next one, which, this year, happens to again be in Oxford.
“I would say it’s going to be kind of weird,” running back Ben Malena said of the week off. “But this is a long season, and right now during this bye week we’re just trying to refocus and regroup.”
An extra week of team preparation always pays dividends as well. To prove this point, look no further than Alabama the weekend before they played the Aggies. They’d gotten their opener behind them, discovered a few flaws, corrected them, and then spent two more weeks laying the groundwork for slipping by their lone conqueror from the 2012 season. The Crimson Tide parlayed their scheduling situation (and their talent) into a tremendous nail-biting victory.
Now, we soon get to see how well Kevin Sumlin and company handled their first bye week. I’ll guarantee you this; everyone in Aggieland will be glued to their flat screens for the Ole Miss–Auburn game.
One thing I do not expect to see this weekend on my flat screen is Johnny and Rebels’ roundball star Marshall Henderson taking the game in together in a luxury suite in Jordon–Hare Stadium.
But hey, you never know about kids these days.