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SEC Mike Q&A
Matt Moscona Q&A
Andy Staples Q&A
J.D. Pickell Q&A
Cole Cubelic Q&A
Jake Crain Q&A
Texas A&M Football

From Radio Row, Day 1: Matt Moscona, Andy Staples, Cole Cubelic & more

July 17, 2023

Monday morning's edition of TexAgs Radio emanated live from the Grand Hyatt Nashville in Nashville, TN, the site of SEC Media Days 2023. Today's special guests included SEC Mike, Matt Moscona, Andy Staples, J.D. Pickell, Cole Cubelic and Jake Crain.

Key notes from SEC Mike interview

  • Thanks for having me. I didn't know if I would ever be on this program again. A little behind the scenes, David called me after the last interview and apologized, but he said, "You dont really think that about A&M,” but I did. That was a fun back-and-forth. I think I was validated. That was the worst season Sam Pittman has had, and they were still better than Texas A&M despite not having as good of a roster.
  • Nick Saban is the greatest of all time. I am picking Alabama third in the SEC West. Not because he's the greatest of all time but because I think he slipped. I don’t have confidence in his coordinators, quarterbacks. I know people put blind faith in Nick Saban, but I'm not going to do it.
  • Jimbo Fisher has a significantly good roster. Jimbo has struggled as a CEO. I like Texas A&M this year because they have Bobby Petrino.
  • The expectation is that Jimbo should beat Brian Kelly, Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. He shouldn't be that good every year, but that's what the expectation is right? They are significantly off that. Now, I think they can get back to that this year. I have A&M second in the SEC West. I would have them first if they were hosting LSU. I think that game at the end of the year will decide the West. I'm giving the edge to LSU, but A&M could easily win that game.
  • I am a Tennessee graduate, but I like A&M in that game in Knoxville. I think A&M on the line of scrimmage is better than Tennessee. That's the aspect of football that we don’t talk enough about.
  • A&M should have the best defensive line in the SEC and maybe the country. That right there is another huge reason I like A&M. They can be dominant.
  • I think A&M's wide receiver group is No. 1 in the SEC with Ainias Smith, Moose Muhammad and Evan Stewart. Stewart may not be the best receiver in the SEC, but he is No. 2 or No. 3. I will take that trio over any in the country right now. I like Noah Thomas and Micah Tease. They have an excellent tight end in Donovan Green. They have everything there. There is no excuse. I'm not saying they have to win 11 games, but we have to make a bowl game. If they don’t win at least eight, I think you fire Jimbo.
  • I love K.J. Jefferson. He is a very good player and has been carrying Arkansas. He is the best running quarterback in the SEC. He had a better completion percentage and yards per average than Bryce Young last year. He is a highly efficient passer. I think Arkansas' defense will still be a trainwreck, and that's why I have them fifth in the SEC West this year.
  • I have Conner Weigman as the fifth-best quarterback in the SEC and ranked higher than Joe Milton at No. 6 on my QB rankings. I only have Milton ranked that high because of the system and Josh Heupel. Milton is a far cry from Hendon Hooker. All these people saying that he is the next Anthony Richardson, I don’t know if that's a compliment. Richardson was not very consistent at Florida.
  • I think A&M beats Alabama. I think they beat Tennessee. You have to get over Ole Miss. They could be really good. I had Jaxson Dart ranked third in my QB rankings. Quinshon Judkins could be a legitimate Heisman contender. He is that good.
  • I have Mississippi State last in the SEC West. They had the coaching change. They bring back production, but does that matter when you are blowing up the scheme? They do not have the pieces to run what they are running.

Key notes from Matt Moscona interview 

  • Texas A&M is the program in the league that has all the resources to be whatever they want to be if they could ever hit this magic unlock button.
  • I think A&M is the most interesting team to follow this week. I am always interested in the new head coaches and the coaches who might be here for the final time. You always ask when it will be enough for Jimbo Fisher to eventually break through. I could be dead wrong, but if you see another 7-5, 8-4 type of season, that could be it for Jimbo. He may be here for the last time if he can't get over that hump. The counterargument is you can't overlook the COVID-19 year.
  • If you made me bet today, I do not think Jimbo will be here next year. I don’t see nine wins for A&M. LSU should win the SEC West this year. This is the worst QB group in the SEC since 2014. Last year was so good, but so many of those guys are gone now. There are only five QBs coming here this week. Who you bring to SEC Media Days is the stability status of your program at the time.
  • I don’t know if I have seen enough of Conner Weigman to say if I am high on him or not. There is a chance for a breakthrough because I think the league is bad at that position. Someone will emerge.
  • The expectation is Georgia will win the SEC East, and Alabama or LSU will come out of the West. What other storylines are there? Shane Beamer has done a great job at South Carolina. Maybe they can break through. Can Tennessee sustain what they started last year with Joe Milton? Maybe. A&M is the team everyone is waiting on. Are you going to break through? If you don’t, at some point, it's got to be curtains for Jimbo.
  • Tennessee could finish second in the SEC East. Josh Heupel is a good offensive coach. They can put up points. They will run into Georgia. They have to go to Tuscaloosa. Could they peak at 10-2? Sure. That won't be enough to win the division. Is 9-3 realistic? Yeah.
  • Denver Harris is super athletic and has the highest ceiling. He probably needs to get technically better at the position. The secondary is the biggest question mark for LSU. I would say they are more talented than a year ago. They hit the transfer portal again. They have nobody who has played together.
  • LSU returns six of their top seven offensive linemen, including all five starters. They will be really good there. The offense should be really good. It will come down to the 50-50 games and making the play to win it. If they can, they should be in the playoff. If not, it will be disappointing.
  • I had LSU going 8-4 last year. They maxed out at 9-3, and they hit that. They won a 50-50 game against Alabama. They were down and came back and won against Ole Miss. They were down at Auburn and made a defensive play to win. They were down on the road at Florida and had an avalanche on offense in the second half. In a lot of those games, they made the play. It was a great year. The expectation is elevated this year.
  • This is the first year since Nick Saban has been at Alabama that I am not giving them the benefit of the doubt. They deserve it, but last year, they played five 50-50 games against Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU and Texas. That was with Bryce Young. You lost him and both coordinators. I'm not burying them, but you have to prove to me that you are still you. We will find that out early with them playing Texas in week two.

Key notes from Andy Staples interview

  • Georgia is the best team, and unless they mess up, the Bulldogs will probably compete to win that third national title. Alabama and LSU are very talented. You can add A&M to the list of teams in the SEC that can beat anyone in the country. I need to see A&M beat Ole Miss. I worry about them against Arkansas, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Talent-wise, I would expect them to play a competitive game, if they are healthy, against the likes of Alabama and LSU. They play up to the competition. They also play down to it. They have to get that figured out.
  • Nick Saban and Kirby Smart beat the crap out of the teams that they are supposed to beat. Georgia had the Missouri game last year, but for the most part, they were just destroying those teams. When you recruit the way A&M has, that's what you are trying to build towards. Do you come to work as consistently as you think you should? Probably not. Imagine getting 100 18-22 years olds to do that. Think about how hard that is. That is why Nick Saban is the greatest of all time because he has figured out how to do that better than anyone else.
  • What happened to Alabama was Georgia. Smart took a couple of players from Alabama's classes. In the class of 2020, four Georgia guys also considered Alabama.
  • Georgia wanted players like Walter Nolen and Shemar Stewart. That's the part where I think NIL makes things interesting. Lincoln Riley at USC knows he needs different body types, but they need them out of high school. That weakens Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State. Suddenly, it's not just three teams that can compete for a national title, and that makes it a more interesting sport.
  • A&M has a high ceiling but a low floor. They have to prove they can move the floor up. I need to see that on the field. This is a team that is talented enough to win ten games. It is also a team that is inconsistent enough to lose seven games.
  • Today is more of a vibe check for me from Jimbo Fisher. Instead of bringing up more issues, just say, "We have a good team. We have a good plan. This is going to work." Whether that happens or not is dependent on what happens in the game. When Jimbo is confident in his team, he makes it very obvious. I remember a Florida State media day that I went to in 2013. They walked out for the team photo, and we talked to Jimbo. I called the AP and asked to change my Preseason AP Poll ballot because I had Florida State too low.

Key notes from Cole Cubelic interview

  • My top SEC stadiums come from my personal experience. I have had a great time at every A&M game I have covered. I never played there. I played at LSU at night. I played in The Swamp twice. I played in Neyland Stadium a year after they won a national championship. That's by far the loudest stadium I have heard in my life.
  • Kyle Field's atmosphere is incredible. The in-game experience is incredible. The fans are awesome. It's all rotational. You have to factor in the teams. Kyle Field is one of the best atmospheres in college football. The way I labeled it is "Most difficult places to go get a win right now." Because of where Alabama and Georgia are, you have to factor that in. I asked Trevor Knight where the toughest place to play is, and he said Jordan-Hare. Greg McEloy has said that. Neyland is back with the Vols’ resurgence. The way they orange it out, the is not much that in college football. College Station is special. I got introduced to it and thought, "That place is pretty badass." I think the first time I went was in 2015 and called Billy Liucci and said, "You guys belong." That is the SEC. 
  • A&M's offensive line was inconsistent. That comes from a lot of reasons. You went from one of the most player-friendly offensive line coaches that there is in Josh Henson, to an old-school, gritty guy who is tough to play for, Steve Addazio. I love him, and he is great, but he is old-school. A lot of new school kids don't vibe with that very well. When you get guys injured, and the best way for you to keep your best five is to move them around, you would think it makes it easier because it's the same guys. I think it makes it more difficult because I become more concerned about me doing the right thing than us doing the right thing. Football is a reactionary sport. It was inconsistency for A&M. A new coach will coach in a different way. The potential is there. If the continuity is there, that A&M offensive line should be really good this year.
  • Layden Robinson has natural power. He can move you off the football. That is a perfect example of thinking too much. I texted Jimbo Fisher a couple of years ago after he played against South Carolina. I asked him, "Who the hell is this guy? Why is he not playing?" That was a good South Carolina defensive line, and he is just blowing people off the football. Jimbo just laughed and said he had a ways to go, but we are excited about him. He said he had to stop thinking about things. If calms down this year, he has raw power, and he could be a dominant guard in this league. 
  • Conner Weigman will be a really good SEC quarterback. If that offensive line does what we think it can do, that opens up holes in the run game. You have multiple receivers. You have tight ends that are capable. What you see with the versatility of the presentation of the offense will change a lot. I dont think you have to have Isaiah Spiler or Devon Achane running the football cause there will be other things people have to worry about. If that's the case, you dont need a dynamic running back to be successful. That will be the story with a lot of teams. 
  • That early game at A&M is a big one for Auburn. It's a massive test. You get all these transfers, that from a talent standpoint, are better than what Auburn had. All the things we talked about with A&M apply to Auburn’s offensive line. Does it go together? If Auburn holds up against A&M's defensive line, even if they don’t win, I will gain a ton of confidence in what they can accomplish down the road. You will see new energy pretty early. They have receivers that can go. Half of the starting 22 will be transfers. Now you have to organize, coach, instruct and motivate.
  • I think Ole Miss could be last year's LSU and last year's A&M. They have the biggest gap from ceiling to floor. They have three real SEC defensive tackles. Pete Golding can coach defense. Will it keep working for Lane Kiffin? I can see them winning 10. I can see them winning five. I feel that way about every team in the SEC West. I think A&M will be good. The difference between eight and ten, I don't know. Everyone else in the SEC West, I could see them winning four or nine. There is a lot to be excited about with Auburn. Hugh Freeze has some tricks in year one. Mississippi State has a lot returning, but man, that is a 180 with a first-year head coach. Arkansas has maybe the best quarterback-running back tandem in the league, but the offensive line took hits, and they have transfer receivers. The SEC West will be wild. 
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From Radio Row, Day 1: Matt Moscona, Andy Staples, Cole Cubelic & more

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