Marquis Carpenter, CB: The junior college transffer cornerback received Big 12 All-Conference honorable-mention notice this season thanks to his four interceptions returned for 43 yards. His performance places him tied at No. 5 in Big 12 for interceptions this season.
Carpenter has good size at 6-foot and has shown an ability to jump routes to break up or pull in a pass. Although the Aggie secondary has struggled overall, Carpenter has shown flashes of brilliance at times this season.
Keys: Progression; Anthony Morelli has to run through his progression to keep Carpenter and crew from jumping routes and interrupting the passing lanes. Morelli has to run through the progression and keep an eye on the check-down to mount consistent drives and protect the ball.
A big reason for A&M's high ranking is Franks. In 12 games, the senior has returned 24 kickoffs for 616 yards, a 25.7-yard average.
Keys: Containment; with newly appointed coach Kermit Buggs taking over the kickoff coverage duties for departed coach Brian Norwood, the Nittany Lions have put in extra work in the coverage department. However, they will have to contain Franks given his sharp eye for holes and explosive burst to hit them.
Stephen McGee, QB: McGee is a dual-threat quarterback in that he has the versatility to mix up a play to bait a defense and exploit their gaps. His legs are generally a more dangerous weaponn that his arm. In fact, McGee is the leading rusher for Texas A&M and No. 8 this season in the Big 12. On the year he has rushed for 858 yards on 173 carries (5.0 YPC) and five touchdowns.
Through the air, McGee is ranked No. 12 in the conference, however he has a 57.7 percent completion rate (192 completions on 333 passes for 2,147 yards and 12 touchdowns), so he has the ability to create big plays through the air, particularly when he drops back from the option set.
Keys: Discipline; the entire defense has to play disciplined assignment football and not get baited by McGee's shifts. This is particularly important for the secondary. The DBs can't drop off from the coverage simply because they see an option run. This is when McGee will pull back and launch one.
Mark Dodge, LB: The senior linebacker is TAMU's leading tackler and No. 4 in the conference this season. In 11 games, he has grabbed 108 tackles (38 solo), averaging 9.8 per game.
Dodge also pulled down a sack and has been instrumental in A&M limiting opposing teams to just over 150 yards per game on the ground.
Keys: Penetration; PSU's offensive line will have to break into the second level of A&M's defense to engage Dodge and open up lanes for Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Royster. This means getting off the block quickly and penetrating past the defensive line consistently.
Jorvorskie Lane, TB: To say Lane is a handful for defenders is an understatement. Tipping the scale at 270 pounds (or more), the tailback is build like a small truck and is a north-and-south runner. Lane has been next to unstoppable in short-yardage situations. In fact, through the end of the regular season, he only lost nine yards on the ground.
Lane is a weapon the Aggies will look to in order to get their running attack sparked and take some of the attention off McGee. He will definitely be a test for Penn State's front seven.
Keys: Aggression; The key to slowing down Lane is to get him stuck in traffic in the trench. He's not the type of player who will make a lateral move, cut back or juke anyone given his sheer size. If the Lions, namely LBs Dan Connor and Sean Lee, can clog up Lane's lanes with multiple bodies, he won't be able to rumble down the field and pick up yardage.
Justin Brantly, P: One Aggie player who is not often discussed outside of A&M circles is Justin Brantly. The punter ranked No. 2 in the conference this season, averaging 42.9 yard per boot. He has been key in getting the Aggies advantages in field position and out of some tricky situations.
Brantly has booted 50 punts for 2,145 yards and a long of 62 yards. He has the ability to get the Aggies out of tight field position spots if needed.
Keys: Decision-making; fielding Brantly's punts will be a major factor for PSU's success. More important is the decision on when to fair catch, run and let the punt go. This has been a major issue at times for both Derrick Williams and Anthony Scirrotto.
Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for continuing exclusive coverage of the Alamo Bowl and Penn State football.