On Saturday (11:00 A.M., FSN) at Kyle Field, the Texas A&M Aggies (3-2, 0-1) play host to the #21/#19 Missouri Tigers (5-0, 1-0). The Aggies are coming off of a tough road loss to Arkansas last week, in which they held an early 10-point lead. On Monday, Texas A&M Head Coach, Mike Sherman, talked about his team's current state of mind.
"They were very disappointed after the ball game," began Coach Sherman. "There's no question about that. But, it's a team that they believe in each other, and believe in what we're doing, and they believe in themselves. It's still a confident team, and they work on their mistakes, and they'll have a great practice today in preparation for the next ball game."
As their record would seem to suggest, the Aggies have been both good and bad this season. Their two early season losses are a disappointment to Texas A&M, but both were close games against quality opponents, #12/#13 Arkansas, and #20/#18 Oklahoma State. The worst for A&M is their 18 turnovers, which have resulted in a turnover margin for the Aggies of -1.20/game, which ranks 115th nationally in that category. This is in sharp contrast to Missouri's +1.00/game turnover margin, which is tied for 10th nationally.
"There's no question, you can't play a top twenty team, and turn the ball over three times," stated Coach Sherman.
The good for the Aggies includes their defense, especially their 7th ranked rushing defense, which has surrendered just 81.2 yards/game this season, and is a major component of a much improved overall defensive effort. A&M is ranked 24th nationally in total defense (312 yards/game), and 41st in scoring defense, giving up just 21 points/game. After having a defense last year that was ranked 114th nationally, everyone in Aggieland is very pleased with this much improvement on that side of the football. And, Coach Sherman said on Monday that he thought that the Aggies played their best defense of the season at Arkansas, and that Von Miller played the best game of his career.
On Monday, Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel talked about the Aggie defense.
"I think they're really good," said Coach Pinkel. "I think they're the best third down defense in the league. And, this league's got some great defenses, traditionally. I think they're really, really playing well. Miller's a great, great player."
Among the Aggies' defensive stalwarts are All-American Vonn Miller 6'3" 243 (3 TFLs, 1 QB sack), Damontre Moore 6'4" 248 (5 TFLs, 4 QB sacks), LB Garrick Williams 6'2" 234 (39 tackles), LB Sean Porter 6'2" 220 (31 tackles), and LB Michael Hodges 6'0" 226 (29 tackles, 2 INTs). The Aggies play a 3-man front, but Miller and Moore are hybrid DEs/LBs, and can be found rushing the edge, or dropping back into coverage.
"They're one of the top ten in the nation in rush defense," said Coach Pinkel, continuing to talk about the A&M defense. "They changed defensive coordinators this year. They went to a thirty defense; very, very good scheme. They're very sound in what they do. They're very physical. (They're) very athletic, and run well, because they recruit very well. He's doing a great job of building that program."
Offensively, Texas A&M is led by a trio of play makers, including QB Jerrod Johnson 6'5" 245 (56.4% completions, 12.5 yards/completion, 13 TDs, 297.2 yards/game), RB Christine Michael 5'11" 215 (5.1 yards/carry, 4 TDs, 101.4 yards/game), and WR Jeff Fuller 6'4" 215 (6.8 receptions/game, 14.8 yards/reception, 6 TDs, 100.6 yards/game). WR Ryan Swope 6'0" 204 chips in with 5.8 receptions/game and 10.1 yards/reception. Johnson is always a threat to run the football, as well.
"Johnson's a great player," said Coach Pinkel. "I'm very impressed with him. (He's) a big athlete. He can run well. He's got a great arm. He's got good receivers. They've got a good running game. They're nationally ranked, with high numbers in almost every area. They're really good."
The Aggies are balanced offensively. They run the ball half of the time and pass it half of the time. Their 472 yards/game in total offense ranks 15th nationally, and they rank 27th in scoring offense, at 35 points/game. The real story for the A&M offense has been too many turnovers, more than 3 per game. If not for the excessive number of turnovers, A&M may well have a top ten offense, and would almost certainly be undefeated, and ranked.
Kyle Field has long been known as a very difficult place for visiting teams to play, and A&M fans are some of the best in all of college football.
"They're very impressive," concluded Coach Pinkel, in regard to Texas A&M. "They lost two close games to two nationally ranked teams. They're a very, very good football team."
[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
MIZZOU____________________ TEXAS A&M
414.20 [43rd]___ Total Offense___ 472.60 [15th]
147.00 [67th]___Rushing Offense__ 170.40 [47th]
12___________TDs Rushing___________ 7
267.20 [25th]___Passing Offense__ 302.20 [11th]
134.83 [54th]__ Passing Efficiency__ 126.79 [65th]
8____________TDs Passing___________ 13
35.40 [26th]____Scoring Offense____ 35.00 [27th]
318.60 [30th]___ Total Defense___ 312.00 [24th]
129.20 [41st]__ Rushing Defense____81.20 [7th]
3_________ TDs Allowed Rushing_________ 4
189.40 [40th]___Passing Defense__ 230.80 [84th]
99.74 [7th]____ Pass Effic. Defense__ 111.58 [25th]
3_________ TDs Allowed Passing_________ 7
11.20 [3rd]_____Scoring Defense___ 21.00 [41st]
+1.00 [T-10th]_ Turnover Margin__ –1.20 [115th]
8 / 5________ Fumbles/Lost_______ 14 / 9
4_________ Interceptions Thrown_________ 9
9_________ Interceptions Gained_________ 7
18.23 [114th]__Kickoff Return Avg.__ 25.07 [20th]
7.75 [65th]____ Punt Return Avg.____ 8.00 [61st]
40.68 [11th]___ Net Punting Avg.___ 36.69 [55th]
2.60 [T-27th]______Sacks By_____1.60 [T-80th]
1.00 [T-21st]____ Sacks Allowed____ 3.20 [112th]
39.7% [61st]____3rd Down Conv.___46.0% [31st]
66.7% [T-26th]__4th Down Conv._ 66.7% [T-26th]