Fast start paramount to Cotton Bowl chances

IRVING, Texas — One of the talking points this entire week leading up to Friday's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic has been the importance of getting off to a fast start.

It's no secret what a major ingredient to Texas A&M's success has been in 2012, and that's starting out games with a bang.

In all 12 of their contests, the Aggies have scored first, including 20 unanswered points at then-No. 1 Alabama.

In that one, and in nine of their other 11 games, the Aggies have used those fast starts to key them to victories.

And that makes it all the more important that OU prevents that possibility this time around.

"If we can stop them at the start, that's going to be a huge confidence boost for us," said OU linebacker Tom Wort. "You know, you look at the actual numbers and stuff. You see how much they score, you see how fast they start on film. If we slow that down, it's going to be a huge confidence booster for us."

Cornerback Aaron Colvin seconded that and said head coach Bob Stoops has even brought it up during workouts this week.

"It's definitely huge because you know Texas A&M does a great job of starting off fast," Colvin said. "Coach Stoops was naming all stats yesterday at practice, talking about how great they are at outscoring their opponent first quarter, first half. So, we know that we need to start off fast in order to keep them off guard, a little bit off balance and try to get to Johnny Manziel a little bit because he is only a redshirt freshman. Although he does play older than that, it will kind of hurt him."

Meanwhile, the Sooners need to get their offense rolling as well.

They've scored first in 10 of their 12 games, and it's led to equal as many victories as their Cotton Bowl counterparts.

That trend needs to continue in this one.

"It's always one of our number one things, start fast, finish strong," said OU wide receiver Kenny Stills. "We talked about it yesterday as an offense and as a team just make sure that we're not going to be sloppy out there and putting out a bad performance. We're focused on it in practice."

Undoubtedly, if the Sooners can deliver the first punch and avoid A&M's in this battle, they will be in a much better position to win than the alternative.

So, that will be the focus when the two teams lace it up inside Jerry World.

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