Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson had a feeling the Aggies' offense had the potential to be something "special" this summer.
The junior noticed during the team's offseason workouts. After struggling to a 4-8 season in 2008, he realized everyone seemed to know what they were doing in their second year in coach Mike Sherman's system.
"Everybody kind of grasped the concepts," Johnson told the Texas A&M media Monday. "We could all just run plays and call drives without the coaches. That really meant everybody understood the offense."
The payoff has been obvious in Texas A&M's first three games. The Aggies, who play Arkansas (1-2) in the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Saturday night, have been rolling on offense en route to a 3-0 start.
The hurry-up, no-huddle attack leads the nation in total offense (574.3 yards a game) and ranks fourth in scoring (45 points). In fact, Texas A&M's 1,723 yards is the best three-game start in school history. The Aggies gained 1,644 yards in its first three games in 1980.
The offensive explosion has created plenty of buzz in College Station, Texas. But Sherman is taking a much more cautious approach with the team's biggest test to date — the Razorbacks — looming.
"We don't put a whole lot of stock into that yet," Sherman said. "We keep it in perspective. We haven't played a team the likes of Arkansas just yet or any of the Big 12 opponents. So it's a little bit skewed.
"You've got to keep things in perspective."
But Arkansas safety Matt Harris said Texas A&M's attack reminds the Razorbacks of Tulsa's offense in 2008.
"They run the spread, lot of plays, get in and get out, so we are going to have to be well-conditioned and pretty disciplined this week," Harris said.
One of the biggest strengths has been Johnson's steady rise as Texas A&M's starting quarterback. Sherman said the biggest reason for his improvement — as well as the offense's — was Johnson's ability to study and embrace the system in the offseason. The results are evident.
Johnson turned in one of the best games of his career against UAB last Saturday, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for three more in a 56-19 win.
He has completed 75 of 111 passes (67.6 percent) for 961 yards and 9 touchdowns without an interception this season. Johnson also is the team's second-leading rusher, adding 196 yards and four rushing touchdowns.
"He has shown consistency, getting better week-in and week-out," Sherman said. "He's making better decisions. He's getting first downs for us with his arm and with his legs and has scored touchdowns in both areas."
Johnson and the Aggies have taken a big step from their production in 2008.
Texas A&M ranked last in the high-powered Big 12 in total offense (340.9 yards a game) and was 11th in scoring offense (25 points a game).
A year in the system, plus the addition of several talented freshmen like offensive tackle Stephen Berrera, running back Christine Michael and receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu have been key to the turnaround.
But Sherman said the Aggies' high-powered offense will face its first big test of the season Saturday.
"Those stats don't mean a whole lot this week," Sherman said. "What's going to matter is us showing up and playing hard and hopefully having a great week of practice and preparation for the Razorbacks."
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