The 10-month wait is over and the college football world can finally turn its full attention to the rematch between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M.
All eyes will be on College Station, Texas, Saturday as the Crimson Tide travels to face the Aggies in both teams’ first SEC game.
“Obviously we’ve got a big challenge coming up next weekend, playing against a very, very good team,” head coach Nick Saban said on Thursday. “[They’ve got] a lot of outstanding players, fantastic quarterback and a very tough place to play. So it’ll challenge our mettle in a lot of ways, especially our mental toughness, our ability to sustain, our ability to execute in difficult circumstances, especially when things don’t go our way.”
Alabama is coming off a bye week and is focused on not allowing the Aggie offense to have its way again. Texas A&M scored three quick touchdowns in the first quarter of last year’s contest, and the Crimson Tide was never able to come back from the deficit.
Safety Vinnie Sunseri is well aware of Texas A&M’s potent offensive attack, powered by redshirt sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel.
The Aggies have scored 117 points in their first two games while averaging 380.5 passing yards, according to ESPN.com. Manziel threw for 403 yards and three scores in the Aggies’ latest victory over Sam Houston State.
But Sunseri said he and the Alabama defense respect Manziel and his ability to expose defenses with his arm and legs.
“[They have a] fast offense, really well coached,” Sunseri said. “They don’t do a lot of stupid things, and they don’t make a lot of mistakes. But when they do, you have to make them pay for them. Just really excited for the game. They’re a great team, and we’re ready to go.”
Manziel catapulted the Aggies to victory over Alabama last season and pushed himself into the lead for the Heisman trophy with the November upset of the then-undefeated Crimson Tide. He posted 345 yards of total offense with two touchdowns in that game.
Manziel has been in the news not because of his play on the field, but because he allegedly received payment for autographs and was suspended for the first half of the Rice game two weeks ago, even though the NCAA found no proof or wrongdoing from Manziel.
However, Sunseri and Alabama are not paying attention to the Aggie quarterback’s off-field antics. They said they respect his athletic ability and are keyed in on applying pressure to him.
“He’s a great guy. Everybody’s talking about him, but I just look at him as a football player,” Sunseri said. “He’s a great athlete, makes a lot of great plays off scrambles, but he can be a pocket passer, too. So, you know, we have to be ready for everything.”