OSU-Texas A&M Key Matchups

Robert Allen's key matchups for Oklahoma State's game nationally televised (ESPN) Big 12 opener against Texas A&M on Thursday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.

1. OSU defensive ends Ugo Chinasa, Richetti Jones,
Darius Hart and Jamie Blatnick
vs. A&M offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Brian Thomas
Let's start with Ugo Chinasa, who seems to have made a habit out of playing his best games against Texas A&M. Chinasa could be a key if he takes his game to a high level. At times, Darius Hart, who backs up Chinasa, has played well this season and should as this is his second season since coming from Pearl River Community College in Mississippi.

On the other side, Richetti Jones is having his best season. Like Chinasa and Jamie Blatnick, Jones also has that Texas connection and will want to play his best against the guys from their home state.

Joeckel is a national recruit that was a high school All0American and Thomas is a redshirt sophomore that has earned the position. This will be the first road start for both and the OSU crowd could play an impact here by making a ton of noise for the young Aggie tackles.

Experience is on the Cowboys side of the ledger here and the return of Shane Jarka at tackle could get more inside push that will help the ends.
Edge: Solid to OSU's defensive ends

2. OSU running game with Kendall Hunter
vs. A&M defensive front and safeties
We had this same matchup listed for the Tulsa game and look what happened, Tulsa thought it was so critical they sold out to stop Hunter making him an All-American decoy after the middle of the first period.

Most defensive coaches don't want to get beat by a rushing offense. When the opponent can run the ball, not only can they move and score but they control the clock, the tempo ... everything is controlled by the team that can dominate in the running game.

A&M has better personnel than Tulsa and might be able to defend some against both if they effectively disguise and keep Oklahoma State guessing. Even then, if OSU has the right call it will still work.

What do we think is going to happen? Unlike their matchups when Tim DeRuyter was at Air Force and Dana Holgorsen at Houston, Holgorsen has the All-American running back and the passing game to be balanced in the spread.
Edge: Slight to OSU running game and Hunter

3. OSU offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen
vs. A&M Defensive Coordinator Tim DeRuyter
It's too easy because everybody on both sides in the media has been talking about it. DeRuyter was asked if he had Holgorsen's number after his results while coaching Air Force against Holgorsen at Houston. DeRuyter laughed at the notion.

DeRuyter is a good coach with a good system in the 3-4 and plenty of freedom for playmakers at linebacker like All-American pass rusher deluxe Von Miller at the "joker" and Sean Porter at outside linebacker.

However, at Air Force DeRuyter had extra time getting ready for Houston in bowl matchups. Extra time to teach and train a very disciplined group of defenders. Less time in this situation and players that aren't quite like the academy guys but more athletic.

The biggest change on the Holgorsen side is the addition, as mentioned above, of Kendall Hunter. This way the Cowboys offense can be explosive running the ball, passing horizontally, and passing vertical. It truly is a pick your poison. If Texas A&M can cover them all, DeRuyter is a genius with some really teriffic athletes.
Edge: Dana Holgorsen

Extra Note: I feel similar about the coaching matchup on the other side of the ball for each team. Expect A&M head coach Mike Sherman to lean on the Aggies two running backs, Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael, after protection issues and the passing game coming apart in the close call win over Florida International. Bill Young is a defensive coordinator, like most, that goes into every game with the first priority of stopping the run. This could be really fun with the matchup between two coaching veterans.

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