Over the next few weeks we're going to be taking a look at a few of the Pac-12 nonconference opponents a bit more closely in a series we'll call "Better know a noncon" in which we look at the most compelling storylines to follow for each team this offseason.
We started with Michigan State. Now, we take a look at a key week 1 opponent for one Pac-12 school: Texas A&M.
ON THE FIELD
Finally, a Pac-12-SEC match up, as Texas A&M takes on Arizona State in the season opener in the 2015 Advocare Texas Kickoff in Houston.
There are plenty of juicy storylines for this one, too. For starters, the Aggies' quarterback situation. Texas A&M has the No. 1 QB from the 2014 class (Kyle Allen) on campus already, and the No. 1 QB in the 2015 class (Kyler Murray) arrives this summer. Kevin Sumlin is saying that Murray will get a fair shake at the job, but based off Allen's performance at the end of last season (he capped off his five starts with a Liberty Bowl MVP), he's certainly in the driver's seat. Two of our writers did a Take 2 a few weeks ago to discuss the pro's and con's of Allen vs. Murray.
The Dallas Morning News named Allen as one of five Aggies who's set to have a breakout season in 2015. "With the pressure of a five-star recruit in Kyler Murray and Jake Hubanek gunning for the QB1 spot, A&M will have the media’s attention," writes Brandon Wheeland. "Allen has the talent to ensure the headlines are about him."
Wheeland also recently outlined three questions that need to be answered for the Aggies as they enter fall camp.
Is Brandon Williams ready to play two positions?
Quarterback depth chart?
Is John Chavis the answer to fixing the defense?
Williams is the Oklahoma transfer turned Texas A&M running back turned cornerback, now.
"He can always come back and play running back, we know that," Sumlin told Brent Zwerneman. "Let's see what he can do, and he’s excited about it. If he can help us (on defense), and it helps him in his career, it will be a great move for both of us."
"The 6-foot-6 Hall, who arrived two years ago at 220 pounds and is now 260 pounds, caught defensive coordinator John Chavis' eye during spring practice with his athleticism and looks like a player who could come become a quality pass-rusher opposite Garrett," Khan Jr. wrote in mid-May. "If Garrett draws extra attention from opposing offenses this year, which is likely, Hall stands to benefit and could enjoy a breakout season statistically."
Chavis, who Sumlin hired in January, seems to be getting high praise from his players and the reporters that cover Texas A&M. Many believe he could help solve the problems that left the Aggies with the SEC's worst defense in 2014, giving up 450.8 yards per game. But it's not just writers who are laying on the praise for Chavis. (More writer praise for Chavis can be read here.)
Some is coming from an unlikely source... his former head coach Les Miles.
"I root for John Chavis. John Chavis gave us great service here," Miles told NOLA.com in May. "I recognize he's a very quality defensive coordinator and person. So yeah, when we line up against them, I'll walk right across and shake his hand and we'll miss him as a man."
OFF THE FIELD
If you haven't checked out the work that ESPN.com's Paula Lavigne did with college athletes and police citations, check it out here. There were also some deeper studies done of certain schools, including Texas A&M. Lavigne and Outside The Lines found that "15 percent of the players on Texas A&M’s football and men's basketball rosters from 2009 through 2014 have been suspected of crimes. Of those incidents, about 60 percent of the cases resulted in no charges or they were dismissed."
Texas A&M has seen quite the spike in its financial department since coming over to the SEC from the Big 12. This past year the average share per school in the SEC was $31.2 million as opposed to $25.6 million in the Big 12.
Regarding the possibility of a Texas-Texas A&M game... FOX Sports' Teddy Mitrosilis wrote that "Texas is probably more likely to play a football game in Dubai than College Station."