Most South Carolina Gamecocks fans are looking forward to this new rivalry that starts Thursday with Texas A&M. However, because the two teams have never played each other, the only thing many people know about the Aggies is a Heisman quarterback they had there the past few seasons. So to get a different perspective, I thought I’d take the opportunity this week to get in some Q&A with Dr. Norris Camacho and James Gardner of the Texas A&M site Good Bull Hunting to get their thoughts about a few things Texas A&M.
First, what is the overall feeling towards the upcoming season there? Are there a lot of high expectations there, or there a sense of not knowing what to expect?Camacho: For me personally, I think we’re about an 8-win team for 2014, but the ceiling for 2015 is very high. Sumlin has earned a lot of goodwill with most fans by winning 20 games in his first 2 years. The offense should be fine, but the big question mark is on defense with so much youth. That’s the big unknown.
Gardner: Like a baseball club in Spring Training, we have flickers (delusions) of the “if a few bounces go our way and the young dudes play out of their minds on defense maybe we’ll get to Atlanta”. It’s just that part of the off season I guess and we’re far enough removed from the first half against Duke to be honest with ourselves and concede that our defense is going to look awful at times in 2014. I’m with Dr. Camacho though – we’re probably a 7-8 win team that should show enough promise for some super high expectations in 2015.
You clearly have two highly rated and capable quarterbacks. With Kenny Hill being named the starter, what did you see in him last year that you liked? I know many times when players have off-field issues, it makes headlines, but how do the players seem to feel about Kenny Hill?
Camacho: I can’t speak for the players’ feelings about Hill, but I think his skillset more closely matches Manziel’s than Allen’s does, and that will probably lead to a smoother transition. Combine that with him having some real game experience, and that’s probably why he got the nod to start since the first game is on such a big stage.
Of course, the real question is will the A&M defense ever stop anyone? Or is the plan simply to try and score as many points as possible and not worry about it? Seriously though, you seem pretty concerned about the “D”, so is there one area in particular that you are just really doubting?
Camacho: Scoring as many points as possible has worked for us fairly well over the past couple of years, so i don’t think we’ll get away from that. I think the biggest concern on defense is the front seven since the secondary is fairly experienced and we’ve heard good things about new DB coach Terry Joseph. The line and linebackers are just so young, though.
What do people in College Station think about this new SEC “rivalry” getting started?
Gardner: We realize that not much makes sense geographically or culturally with a South Carolina-Texas A&M manufactured rivalry, but like I said earlier, everyone is still so damn jacked about being in the SEC that the opportunity to take on a power from the East, Spurrier, etc. is really cool. It’s a helluva lot better than Waco or Lubbock.
What are people there saying about the University of South Carolina?
Camacho: I think there is a great deal of respect for the program. Winning 11 games three years in a row in the SEC is no small feat, and I think there is a lot of respect (if not a sense of kindred spirits) between Spurrier and Sumlin. We’re happy to be playing a program who is a legitimate contender for the East every year.
Four months from now, which player on Texas A&M do you think people will be talking about the most?
Camacho: I think it could be Speedy Noil. We’ll find out if he’s as good as advertised on Thursday, but he’s going to play a lot at WR and returning kicks.
What is the one big question mark you have with the upcoming season?
Camacho: Defense. That’s it. Everything else should be fine.
Finally, what is your prediction for the outcome on the game next Thursday night?
Camacho: On the TAILGATE I predicted that South Carolina would win, but A&M would cover, so I guess I’ll go with that.
Gardner: Carolina wins and A&M doesn’t cover.