OSU-A&M: Matchups

In previous weeks most of the matchups have been with personnel groupings, but this week the matchups are more player or players on player. Take that as a sign that these two teams are a little more evenly matched and that individual players and their performances against opposing players will be the difference in this contest. There are several important battles within the game that will be critical for each side to win.

OSU offensive tackles Kellen Davis or Corey Hilliard vs. Texas A&M defensive end Mike Montgomery
This is a critical match up. Montgomery, who was just okay last year after coming in from Navarro J.C. and being recruited hard by the Cowboys, has grown into a dynamite 6-6, 300-pound defensive end that can really move. Against Iowa State Montgomery made a sensational athletic play when he drifted out in the flat on a zone blitz and went high to tip a ball and intercept it. He is a big-time athlete.
Montgomery can be very disruptive for opposing offenses. He defends the corner well, pass rushes very well, and does a good job of stopping the off-tackle play. He covers a lot of ground. He really concerns the OSU offensive staff.
Kellen Davis is the most athletic of the OSU offensive linemen. He moves really well. Corey Hilliard is not far behind and is very strong. They could get help from the tight ends. The question is where will Montgomery line up. He is usually a five-shaded outside, but the Aggies will line him up on either side and in several spots. They must know where he is and he must be accounted for on each play. Donovan Woods has to know because some of his passes were where Montgomery could get to him.

OSU defensive ends Nathan Peterson and Darnell Smith vs. Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal
The most important aspect of the Cowboys' defensive plan against McNeal and Aggies offense is to keep McNeal contained. He loves to get outside where he can run or pass. He also seems to see downfield better outside, and has shown more patience in waiting on receivers to get open.
A&M also loves to run the zone read with McNeal and Lewis. The defensive end must be strong and in position to make the quarterback's decision a difficult one. Smith and Peterson earned their starting positions during the off week because they defended the corner the best. This week the corner gets shorter and the action will come at them faster. They must hold up. They don't need to make the plays, but they must force the direction of the A&M offense to allow others to make big plays.
Slight edge to OSU

OSU quarterback Donovan Woods vs. Texas A&M free safety Jaxson Appel
The last two years in practice the Cowboys have put a No. 19 jersey on the free safety in green, so the quarterback could always tell where Appel was on the field. He is a huge factor in creating turnovers. He leads the team in tackles and he has broken up three passes. His presence on the field directs the ball the other direction. Woods didn't have to look at a green jersey this week, but he had to be aware of the free safety.
Woods also needs to recognize when A&M is in its nickel package as they will bring in Erik Mayes to play corner and then use Byron Jones as a pass rusher from several locations, including the corner. They also fire right corner Jonte Buhl as well. Jones leads the Aggies with 4½ sacks. Woods has to be ready to hit hot receivers in those situations. Colorado fired the corners a few times which should have served as good prep work along with the reps this week in practice.

OSU running game vs. Texas A&M defense
The most critical question entering the game is whether the Cowboys and the nation's leading rusher Vernand Morency can dominate the Aggies running the football the way they have previous opponents. Woods should be able to throw the ball with some success, and one secret to success may be keeping the Aggies guessing by throwing in some passes in obvious run situations. The Aggies like to move around a lot on defense and they like to personnel for down and distance. Catch the Aggies defense in a wrong alignment and make them think about it all night long.
The ground game doesn't have to grind it out, getting Morency in the secondary for some big plays will be just as effective. The Cowboys can't afford to let A&M get comfortable and front run. Offensive coordinator Mike Gundy and the staff are very good at making opposing defenses sweat it. The more Aggie sweat on the field and with their defensive coordinator Carl Torbush on the sidelines the better. My prediction is 220 yards rushing for the Cowboys and that will be enough to win the game. By the way that is close to a split between the 106 yards the Aggies average allowing and the 285 yards the Cowboys are averaging.
Edge to OSU

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