Mississippi State football wide receiver Rara Thomas catches a touchdown vs. the Memphis Tigers.Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State football vs. Texas A&M Aggies: Q&A with Jay Arnold

I’m no football expert. That’ll never be the case. I’ll never pretend to know everything that is happening on a college football field. I just happen to like Mississippi State football (and college football in general) a lot. I spend the offseason watching highlights and games on YouTube.

But I don’t know the game in depth the way that others do.

So, when presented with the opportunity to ask someone who might have some insight into what it’s like to be a college football player and take part in actual college football games, I figured I would do just that. And when I say that I was presented with this opportunity, I mean that Alex McDaniel Twitter introduced me to Jay Arnold, who played for Texas A&M a few years back, and I thought it’d be fun to ask him some questions.

Jay is great. He’s brilliant. He knows a lot about football and barbecue. And you should absolutely follow him over on Twitter. He does some writing and blogging and I think podcasting? He does a lot. And he talks about barbecue a lot. And also he tried to get Subaru to give him a car, which I can respect a lot. Long live Subarus.

Mississippi State football vs. Texas A&M Aggies: Jay Arnold Q&A

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Ethan Lee: Unlike many of the folks who are going to read this, you actually played college football. With the introduction of NIL, there are a number of new levels of agency that players now have. If you could have done any sort of NIL deal, what would you have done and why?

Jay Arnold: Breweries are unfortunately out of the question due to NCAA guidelines so I probably would’ve tried to get an NIL deal with a barbecue joint. I know Grant Pinkerton has done NIL deals and Pinkerton’s BBQ is fantastic so probably would’ve tried to get in on that.

Ethan Lee: What was your favorite experience as a Texas A&M football player? Is there a specific memory that stands out to you from your time during your playing days?

Jay Arnold: Just running out on Kyle Field is a magical feeling but I really loved bowl week. You don’t usually get the opportunity to experience the town you are playing in if it is an away game. Bowl week is the exception. Add to that the fact that my first start came against Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in 2013 and that was easily one of the best experiences in my life.

Ethan Lee: When you look back on the games you played against Mississippi State, are there any specific moments where you felt like you and A&M accomplished something truly great? Were there any specific moments where you felt like the Bulldogs truly bested you and there was simply nothing you could have done to overcome that?

Jay Arnold: In 2013, the game wasn’t really close – we were in control of most of it at Kyle Field. Alternatively, the 2014 game was pretty much all Mississippi State. Obviously, that ’14 season with Dak in Starkville was a special year for MSU. Seemed like we couldn’t do anything to stop him in that game.

Ethan Lee: Not counting Dak Prescott, do you happen to remember any specific players from Mississippi State that truly stood out to you during your games against the Bulldogs?

Jay Arnold: There were a lot of talented athletes on that Mississippi State team but I remember De’Runnya Wilson being a big part of game prep. He was an extremely talented receiver.

Ethan Lee: This isn’t a rivalry per se, but both institutions are fairly similar in many ways and many on the outside looking in like to liken the two teams. If you were to give this series a name, what would that name be?

Jay Arnold: Two Ag schools that are both use maroon as their primary color, you have to include that in some way right? Call it something like the Battle for the Old Maroon Barn.

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Ethan Lee: You grew up in Texas while Mike Leach was leading things out in Lubbock. As a former football player, is there anything specific that Leach does that strikes you as interesting? As a college football fan, is there anything you wish Leach would do more of?

Jay Arnold: His offenses were always a blast to watch at Texas Tech. Obviously the Graham Harrell/Michael Crabtree season is the big one in everyone’s mind but he had a few great quarterbacks come through. The wide splits were always weird to see. I’m probably not alone in this but I wish he’d mix in different personnel sets a little more often and run the ball more. It’s constant 10 personnel out there which makes it a little more predictable.

Ethan Lee: Mississippi State has won 4 of the last 6 matchups. However, from 2012 to 2015, Texas A&M won 3 of 4. Obviously that’s a small sample size, but do you see this series as being one where one team generally controls it for a few years at a time?

Jay Arnold: I think it just depends on the personnel at the time. The talent is always going to be elite in the SEC but a few key pieces here or there make all the difference. Still a little too early for recognizable trends but maybe in another ten years we’ll have an idea.

Ethan Lee: Who wins this game on Saturday?

Jay Arnold: Honestly, no idea! Texas A&M’s offense hasn’t been inspiring this year but if there is one area that the Aggies have looked good consistently, it’s the secondary. Of course that won’t matter much if the offense can’t get going. I’m leaning Mississippi State just because of the home field advantage but I really think it’s a toss-up.

For more independent Mississippi State news and commentary, follow The Underdog Tribune on Facebook and Twitter. Follow Ethan Lee on Facebook and Twitter.

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