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November 10, 2012; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) gets hit by Texas A

Alabama Crimson Tide-Texas A&M: 7 things to know, Nick Saban edition

Alabama is traveling to College Station, Texas to take on Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. It is Alabama’s first trip to Kyle Field since 1988 and a highly anticipated match up between these two programs after a incredible game last season.

1. Nick Saban tried to recruit Kevin Sumlin to join staff

Apparently while Nick Saban was leading LSU before making the jump to the NFL he tried to recruit Kevin Sumlin to join his staff. At the time Sumlin was an A&M assistant before going to Oklahoma.

2. Saban told his players not to trash talk

We watched Johnny Manziel get into trash talking bouts with Rice players in the opening week. He signed air autographs, threw up money signs and just generally trash talked players. Saban told his players there is no need to trash talk, or talk to another player.

3. Alabama isn’t taking A&M’s defense lightly

So much attention gets bestowed upon Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel and the offense that their defense gets overlooked at times. They’ve struggled this season so far and have been dealt their fair share of blame in the first two games.

“Defensively, I know some people have questions [about Texas A&M], but to me they played well defensively,” Saban said. “They are physical, they’re tough, they play hard. They have given up a few big plays early in the season, probably due to mental errors or something, I don’t know. We struggled last year in the game with them, and I think it’s going to be the same kind of things of importance on offense.”

4. Alabama won’t try to contain Manziel

Considering his ability to make plays with his feet, you might think the Crimson Tide would try to force Manziel to stay in the pocket.

5. Alabama will focus on A&M’s wide receivers

If you aren’t going to try and take away Manziel’s ground game or contain him, then you need to take away the pass. Saban plans on focusing on the receivers and trying to make Manziel beat them with their feet. The defense will also try to get some coverage sacks.

“[Manziel] is going to make some plays,” Saban said. “He’s a really, really, good player and I think he’s a really good passer. Athletically he extends a lot of plays but he extends a lot of plays fast. It’s not like he’s just a runner. He’s very instinctive on when he should and shouldn’t. He does a good job of keeping his eyes down the field so when he scrambles he can find people that are open and his receivers do a really good job of doing what I call playing ‘scramble roles’ in terms of how they adjust their routes.

“The guy’s going to make plays now, he’s a good player. What you have to do is not allow him to make plays because of what you did incorrectly on defense.”

6. Alabama will zone in on A&M’s offense

“[Texas A&M] is a fantastic offensive football team,” head coach Nick Saban said Monday. “You get 600 yards a game, you average 58 points a game. They did very similar statistically last year. Over time, it’s a great concept. They have the right kind of players to execute the concept, and they do a very good job of executing their plays.

“You can say that they spread you out and run a screen. They go fast. Well, they go fast and run screens, but they execute them well. To me, it’s not the scheme. It’s not the going fast. It’s their ability to do those things and execute extremely well, in terms of what they do and their players have a lot of confidence in it and they do a really good job of it.”

7. Alabama won’t play specialty defense

Texas A&M’s offense is definitely a unique one, not many quarterbacks in the country are the same quality dual threat as Johnny Manziel. Teams could be tempted to change their defense to try and counter Manziel but Saban says there won’t be any specialty defenses on Saturday.

Bonus things to know (because they didn’t come from Saban)

It’s not about revenge.

“It’s the only game we lost last year but I don’t think to me it’s not a revenge game because if we wanted to get revenge we’d have to play that same team last year with the same team we had last year,” wide receiver Amari Cooper said. “It’s not a revenge thing. If you get in a fight with someone you don’t revenge by getting in a fight with someone else.”

A fast start at Kyle Field will help, a lot.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re playing, it’s always good to get off to a fast start,” quarter back AJ McCarron said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s home or away.”

Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Nick Saban Texas A&m Texas Aggies

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