Obviously the biggest question mark here going into tomorrow's game is the playing status of Texas A&M senior Stephen McGee. After getting hurt earlier in the season, backup Jerrod Johnson has taken over. Head coach Mike Sherman has been very quiet about his quarterback's status for Saturday and even said on Thursday that it'll likely be a game time decision on whether or not McGee can go. If he does, it's a big boost for the Aggies as he's a senior and has plenty of experience playing in big games like this. While he certainly didn't light the world on fire last season or in his first game this season, he's had a solid career and gives the Aggies a chance to win most of their games. Robert Marve has Canes fans excited but he's still unproven as a passer at the college level. While he did a great job of making things happen with his feet, putting the ball into the hands of his playmakers (although five of them were dropped), and didn't seem to be bothered by the crowd in Gainesville, Marve still has a lot to prove as a college quarterback. There's too much uncertainty right now with McGee's status being up in the air so we'll call this even at this time.
Running Backs: Texas A&M
Miami's best back is hurt and Texas A&M's running backs are considered the deepest and most talented group on their entire football team. Michael Goodson is a future NFL running back and Javoarskie Lane, even though he's scored just one touchdown in his last 11 games, is still a short yardage threat and someone who can be a load down by the goal line. Graig Cooper struggled breaking tackles and making things happen against Florida two weeks ago and despite the Canes having a couple backs they can utilize in this game, including senior Derron Thomas, the edge going in has to go to Texas A&M with Javarris James hurt.
Wide Receivers: Miami
Texas A&M's wide receivers will probably be the biggest group Miami faces all season. Their top four guys are all over 6-2 and they're all over 200 pounds. They have a lot of athletic ability, too, so they're bound to win some jump balls and they'll have an advantage when it comes to blocking for the running game. However, Miami's group of faster and more explosive. The A&M coaches said earlier in the week that Miami's receivers will be the fastest and most explosive they'll play all season. While A&M's receivers are averaging 13 yards per catch and Miami's just 7.2, the advantage has to go to Miami because of the number of difference makers the Canes have and the amount of experience. While Texas A&M has one very talented true freshman (Jeff Fuller) who will be in the mix, Miami has a few. It should also be noted that A&M's best receiver so far this season was the third string quarterback just a few months ago and their third leading receiver played quarterback in their last game. They simply don't have the depth of experience that Miami has.
Tight Ends: Miami
Losing Martellus Bennett to the NFL after last season really hurt the Aggies at tight end, where former prep quarterback Jamie McCoy leads the team with just two receptions. That's it for all the tight ends. He's not the biggest tight end around either, so his blocking skills are still a bit suspect. There isn't much proven depth behind him either. Miami's tight ends haven't proved much more than that through the air, as the three who have played have combined for just four catches for 60 yards and no scores. All three are considered good blockers, however, and they're more capable of making plays in the passing game than the tight ends of their opponent this week.
Offensive Line: Miami
Neither offensive line has been real effective in opening up holes for the running game so far this season. Both teams are averaging under four yards per carry. Miami, however, has given up just four sacks in two games while Texas A&M has given up seven. Both lines are huge and don't have a lot of proven depth. Miami, however, does have one of the best left tackles in the conference and they're more experienced as a whole. The Aggies have struggled finding the right mix so far this season and while the Canes are still shuffling guys around as well, the Canes are bigger, more experienced, and have been more productive so far this season so the edge has to go to the Canes here.
Defensive Line: Miami
While Canes fans think they haven't seen enough sacks lately, think about this -- Texas A&M's two best defensive linemen (end Michael Bennett and tackle Kellen Heard) have combined for just two sacks dating all the way to the start of last season. They simply haven't generated any type of pass rush, while the Canes were constantly putting pressure on its first two opposing quarterbacks, including defending Heisman winner Tim Tebow two weeks ago. The Canes have also done a better job of shutting down the run. Miami also appears to have more depth here, even though they could be without their top returning defensive end from a year ago (Eric Moncur), who is still not 100-percent and is doubtful for this week's game.
Texas A&M middle linebacker Matt Featherston is having a solid season in the middle of A&M's defense but there's not much experience among the linebackers and they don't run as well as the group Miami has. A&M's inability to stop opposing running games so far this season has to do with the play of their linebackers in addition to what the defensive line has been doing. The UM linebackers are coming off a strong performance against Florida and should only get better after making a few key mistakes in that game, which should be corrected by now.
Defensive Backs: Miami
The Aggies have done a solid job of defending the pass so far this season but that might have more to do with teams being able to run the ball so well on them, not having the need to throw much. One of their top returning corners from last season still isn't 100-percent and they're shuffled some guys around back there. They don't have the speed, experience, or playmaking ability that Miami's group has.
Special Teams: Miami
Miami's special teams units were bad last week. One could argue that if the special teams units were just average against Florida two weeks that, that could have been a 3-0 game in favor of Miami heading into the fourth quarter. If the Canes continue to play that poorly on special teams, it'll have a hard time winning half their games the rest of the season. While Matt Bosher had a solid day punting the ball last week, Texas A&M has one of the best punters in all of college football and that's a big weapon for them. The Canes seem to have more big play potential in the return game and the the fact that the Aggies don't have a single player on its roster who has ever kicked a field goal in college has to give the edge to Miami going in.