Atlanta—Eric McCoy, the best offensive lineman at Texas A&M, said that in the first players’ meeting with new coach Jimbo Fisher, one thing was made crystal clear.

“He said that if we were not tough and disciplined and if we didn’t take pride in what we do, then we would not be here,” McCoy said during Monday’s SEC Media Days.

“Since Coach Fisher came here guys have gotten tougher.”

With quarterback Johnny Manziel and all those splendid offensive weapons, the Aggies could hang with anybody in their first two years in the SEC (2012-2013).

But as surely as the sun rises in the East, it is a non-negotiable truth in the SEC that in order to compete for a championship on a consistent basis you have to be able to run the ball and stop the run. That takes toughness along both lines of scrimmage. And, to put it bluntly, Texas A&M hasn’t had it, which is a big, big reason why Kevin Sumlin was replaced by Fisher.

Consider this. Here are Texas A&M’s conference rankings in rushing defense for the past five seasons.

 The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.