Five questions with David Harris, Texas A&M reporter for the Bryan-College Station Eagle
1. Are you surprised by how well Texas A&M did in its first SEC season?
I would say that surprised is an understatement. I thought the team was a 7-5 squad, at best. I also thought Jameill Showers would be the starting quarterback for the opener and that the defense would get trounced with regularity. So, in a nutshell, I was wrong on just about everything. The fanbase went into 2012 with some definite tempered expectations. They seemed to like the hire of Kevin Sumlin, however, they understood that competing in the SEC was a process. Just the surprise, in and of itself, has made it such a special season. That, coupled with the Heisman, the ‘Bama win and the Cotton Bowl has taken it to another level entirely.
2. Everyone can see the impact Johnny Manziel had on the Aggies, but what — if anything — else changed in Kevin Sumlin’s first year as coach that allowed A&M to make this leap?
The first thing that had to change was the mindset of the program as a whole. Under Mike Sherman — and Dennis Franchione for that matter — A&M was weak-minded, lacking in confidence. It really put a low ceiling on the program. But Sumlin came in, in year one, and completely overhauled things. The Aggies realized in week one that they were, in fact, a good football team. And they played with that sort of confidence every time they stepped on the field, believing they could beat anybody in the nation — see the ‘Bama game.
3. When did you start to sense that Manziel was this kind of impact player?
For me, it was during the 58-10 trouncing of Arkansas. Sure, Manziel had put up solid numbers in the first three games, but to watch a freshman demoralize an SEC team like he did that day was beyond impressive. It wasn’t just that he broke Archie Manning’s record for total offense, it was the way in which he did it. It was almost like he was playing a video game. He was at a different speed, just toying with the Arkansas defenders.
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